I'm Gonna Do It! (I Think)

Business By southernbelle Updated 31 Oct 2005 , 1:47am by southernbelle

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southernbelle Posted 18 Oct 2005 , 1:48am
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I need help and advice from all my friends here. I am looking at space to set up my business. First and foremost is that I have found a space that is right on the town square. It is 600 square feet and the rent is $625.00. I don't know all the details yet but am bound and determined to get my business going whether it is in this space or finding another.

The thing about this space is that it is perfect. Good traffic, already zoned just have to work out some of the details. Working with a real estate agent that sold us our house. My plan is to do cakes, desserts, cupcakes cookies, you know a little sweet shop so to speak.

I have a couple of questions, for those of you in business, I need some idea about what it is going to cost to get started. Such as equipment etc, some examples of what you are doing as far as volume. This is going to be a one person show to begin with (just me) where do you go to search for use equipment. I really have so many questions, just need some advice. Can you help icon_confused.gif

28 replies
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momsandraven Posted 18 Oct 2005 , 1:52am
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Hi Southern Belle,
I can't offer any advice since I'm just a home baker, but wanted to say GOOD FOR YOU!!! You may want to also contact your local S.C.O.R.E. office, they can help you put together a solid business plan, which you will need if you need to borrow money to get your venture off the ground.

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southernbelle Posted 18 Oct 2005 , 2:00am
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Thanks, it's a little scary but exciting at the same time. What does S.C.O.R. E. stand for?

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ThePastryDiva Posted 18 Oct 2005 , 2:10am
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The rent is cheap enough but make sure that you don't have to put to many improvements to bring the space up to code.

Find out from your local licensing agency what is mandatory.

Here in Florida you MUST have a fire suppression hood and a grease trap if you have any kind of food.

I've been hearing horror stories that a fire suppression hood is like 40 thousand! But I have a friend of mine that is a lic Electrician who is quoting me 1 to 5 thousdand depending on the materials needed.

I haven't priced the grease traps as I heard THEY start at 10 thousand...and I don' t know any lic. plumbers!

Make sure that in your contract any and all improvements made to the space go with you when you leave! ( most landlords will NOT give you back any improvements but you can try)

I found a place within walking distance from my school, at 850 a month that is JUST begging me to put in Cake Supplies, but I KNOW that I will want to do cakes too and I dont' think the electric is up to code and there was some black mold on the wall.

Indications that it's not safe for food.

So, check EVERYTHING OUT! and get a lawyer!!!

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JoAnnB Posted 18 Oct 2005 , 6:17am
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If you do not have a deep fryer, you may not need the fire suppression hood. Start with the health department to know what equipment you are required to have- sinks, dishwasher, ovens, bathrooms. The city will tell you about the codes, and insurance is a must.

But you may be able to find used ovens in good condition from a restaurant supply house- you can save a bundle. they are also a good source for used commercial mixers. If you don't have access to a lot of cash, used equipment can get you going.

dishwashing is a pain, but three sinks have less maintenance and expense than a dishwasher.

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ThePastryDiva Posted 18 Oct 2005 , 10:33am
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one source would be the department of Agriculture to get what you need and you can go from there.

Don't be discouraged, I used to be in a state that required nothing,

Just that you were clean! well then things changed, but not by much.

You may be in a state that is not so strict about things!

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momsandraven Posted 18 Oct 2005 , 2:38pm
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SCORE stands for Service Corps Of Retired Executives. They are a group of people (retired, as the title says) that are willing to volunteer their time to help new entrepreneurs get started. You can usually contact them through your local Chamber of Commerce.

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Kiddiekakes Posted 18 Oct 2005 , 2:45pm
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Try Ebay for the used baking equipment.Usually resteraunts that are going out of business and such will put all their equipment on there.Many times I have seen good deals on ovens and baking sheets,large mixers etc..Also try your local auction houses although you will have to check regularily to know what is up for sale or not.

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butrcup Posted 18 Oct 2005 , 7:24pm
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also, get more than one bid on any improvements...electrical, etc. I work with contractors all day long, you'll be amazed at the price differences (and some are just thieves)

Good luck!!!! and Congrats!!!

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TraciJ Posted 18 Oct 2005 , 8:54pm
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I have to chime in about SCORE. I had an AWESOME experience with them. I had thoughts about doing a different sort of business (still somewhat food related) and they connected me with a retailer and a banker (retired) in the local area. My business was primarily retail as opposed to bakery. They asked me questions (nicely) that I hadn't thought of, and made suggestions for things I was stuck on. They also were VERY encouraging and supportive. They gave me their cards and offered the opportunity to call them if I needed any advice. I would recommend going there to get a lot of insight.

It was an excellent experience.

Also, I was told by my AG department that I didn't need a ventilation system so long as I didn't fry anything. So, you may be OK on that, just get in touch with your local deparment. The people that I've been in contact with regarding my baking have been extremely helpful (though a little nosey!) and knew right off the top of their heads.

Good luck!

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southernbelle Posted 18 Oct 2005 , 9:20pm
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Thank you all for all your help and suggestions. I looked at the space today and it is just perfect. Just some minor remodeling. Zoning is ok already checked with them. Have a call into the Health Department now and am waiting to hear back. One of the Building Insectors did tell me I would have to have a grease trap and a back flow preventor. I have 2 uncles that are plumbers....so is my ex-husband but there is no way I would ask him icon_mad.gif

Anyway, I have been talking to our chamber of commerce here (The Business Resource Center) and he has been helping me free of charge which is what the Business Recource Center is all about. He is retired as well. Wonder if he is part of that S.C.O.R.E. Only problem is he is only here every 2 weeks. I need advice now icon_cry.gif

I have calls in about Insurance, Health Department, Building Inspectors and such....waiting on them to get back to me. I will keep you guys posted and again..........thanks.

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angelcake4u Posted 18 Oct 2005 , 9:45pm
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I am so excited for you! I will have to come by your shop when you get it set up.

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southernbelle Posted 19 Oct 2005 , 9:52pm
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Asked my real estate agent to get me a copy of the lease. DH is in Dallas meeting with some people in Dallas that do this for a living and they have agreed to look over the lease for me.

The #$%^ Health Department has not called me back. I have left 4 messages. Need to know what I need and if my appliances have to be commercial. Everyone else has been great.
Grease Trap----need a 5-10 gallon which runs around $450.00 installed.
Sink---have to have a 3 basin ss sink....$450.00
Back Flow Preventer $300 installed
Stainless Steel Counters $120-$180 depending on the size.

Called my real estate agent last night and gave her a list of questions to ask the lessor plus get me a copy of the lease...she has not gotten back with me!!!!! I have left 3 messages for her as well.

Thanks for letting me vent icon_cry.gif I guess I need to sit back and take a deep breath and let things happen. If they are meant to be...they will be.

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BritBB Posted 19 Oct 2005 , 9:56pm
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The best of luck - keep us informed as to your progress.

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PeachesMcGee Posted 20 Oct 2005 , 3:14pm
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I dont have a store front, but just wanted to give you a piece of advice....everything all works out as long as your intentions are good. Just be sure to ask a lot of questions during each phone call you make. Peole will help you along the way. Also, www.bakers_exchange.com is a good source for equipment
Good luck

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southernbelle Posted 22 Oct 2005 , 2:09am
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Status update.

Went again tonight and looked at the space with dh. Friday when I was on my way back from the Health Department, I stopped in another business that is across the street that is a coffee shop. She sells coffee and frapicino's (sp) sandwiches and salads. We got to talking about rent, business flow etc..........bottom line is that she said we should hook up and see about becoming partners. She has everything in place and wants to expand her business as she is by herself. We hit it off and now her, her dh, myself and my dh are going to sit down and talk this through tomorrow night over dinner. Anyway, will keep everyone posted but it would save me a bit of money, everything would be 50/50 and drawn up by an attorney. I have heard horror stories about partners but also know doing a venture like this by yourself is hard and exhausting. If you had someone who could help????? who knows

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southernbelle Posted 23 Oct 2005 , 4:27am
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Well, from the looks of things I am going to partner up with the coffee shop. We had dinner tonight and talked over a lot of things. She with her dh and me with mine. Both dh and I walked away with good feelings and dh is behind me 100%. We are going to get the ball rolling and draw up the papers and have our attorney look things over. Better yet is she can do some basic cake decorating which will help a lot. Looks like we are shooting for around the first of the year.

Can't wait to give my notice icon_biggrin.gif

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lionladydi Posted 27 Oct 2005 , 3:17pm
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Southernbelle, I wish you all the luck in the world on your adventure. I cannot caution you enough about partnerships. I was in partners with my mother in a "Mom and Pop" type cafe for 13 yrs. We never had a cross word but there were times that one of had to walk away and bite our tongue for a while. First and foremost is to keep the lines of communication open. Don't hold back and stew about something--always get it out in the open. I always wanted to have a bakery as my girlfriend was such a good cake decorator and I wanted her to work for me. As luck goes, she ended up on disability, and couldn't work. Then I ended up on disability so there went my dreams. I do a little cake decorating but haven't made much money at it. I'm too easy and give them away. Anyone willing to pay, I send to my daughter. Maybe someday she can start a bakery shop! Good luck in your adventure. You may have found your "get rich scheme" and a new best friend all in one package! thumbs_up.gif

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MrsMissey Posted 27 Oct 2005 , 3:23pm
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These are exciting times for you, indeed! I wish you all the best of luck..it is great to hear when someone is able to follow their dreams!!

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adven68 Posted 27 Oct 2005 , 6:14pm
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Sometimes that "good feeling" is all you need....I'm very happy for you and wish you the very best of luck. But, even with all the good thoughts, please be realistic when it comes to your partner.

Before you dive in...think of EVERY possible situation and ask questions. You don't want to be surprised by the answers....Get things in writing....don't be mushy...be straightforward and don't worry about hurting her feelings just by asking for something on paper. (I watch the People's court every day.)

Ask about holidays...her flexibility....find out about her past relationships....

you don't want some lunatic ex of hers stalking her....
ask about ingredients.....does she use stuff you like? does she skimp?....is she clean?.......

a million other questions...but all for a good reason. You don't want to get stuck with something you can't live with.

Sorry for the ring of negativity but I truly am just being cautious for you.

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southernbelle Posted 28 Oct 2005 , 12:40am
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Thanks everyone, I know I need to be cautious about the partnership. I have talked to her several times and she was supposed to call me this morning as soon as she got in touch with her accountant and the atty so that we could get together again tomorrow. I haven't heard anything yet. I have an attorney friend in CO that is going to look over everything for me after we get it prepared. I have asked to see a P & L and have already seen some of the expenses. One way or another, I will do this with or without her.

That space I looked at is still available and I am still thinking about that as well. This partnership has to feel good to me and to her before we go forward. Taking things slow is a good idea. I will keep everybody posted but my plans are full steam ahead either with a partner or without.

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JennT Posted 28 Oct 2005 , 3:45am
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Southernbelle - this is so awesome for you!!!! I was wondering what the name of her shop is? And are ya'll gonna change it or add your name or something? You could do something like..."The Pick-Me-Up Deli" (or whatever her shop's name is)..."Featuring Cakes by Southern Belle" (or whatever your biz name is). Just typing out loud here.....lol.

I would also suggest maybe going to her shop and working there with her for a few days...just to get a feel of what she's like while working and as a boss to her employees - I know you won't be an employee, but once you guys are partners you would need to be in agreement about how to direct/oversee ya'lls employees. And the reason I suggest doing it for a few days is because every day is different - one day, smooth sailing; the next, 9 out of 10 customers are pains in the butt; another day, you're/she's moody....get what I mean? That way you both could see each other in almost every possible situation & see how each other handles certain things. This will help you both to understand what areas one excels in and the other flops in....so you can work better together. Plus it could either further concrete your decision of partnering up or not. Things could look great/perfect on paper, but if your working styles can't mesh (whether they're totally opposite or exactly alike) then it might not work out in the end.

If for some reason you end up taking the space across the street....I agree with all of the above stated. The only thing I have to add is this:

Check with your local/county laws about tenancy. Where I am, if any improvements are needed for the building/space to be brought up to structural/electrical/plumbing, etc. code, then the building owner is responsible. I would be responsible for any equipment or other fixtures installed that were specifically needed for my type of business to meet code. And speak in depth with the building owner about the possiblity of him crediting any improvements that you make towards your rent....such as replacing old, broken or inoperable items like light fixtures, door knobs, mouldings, windows, etc. Sometimes landlords will be more than happy to credit you at least a portion or sometimes even ALL of what your expenses are for things like that if it updates the building or is necessary for function, regardless of the type of business that inhabits the space. Chances are that they would have to do some or all of those things at some point themselves anyway, so they're happy if a tenant wants to go ahead and do it on their own up front and they'll just reimburse you. Saves them a lot of time & $$ in labor and you get what you want, in the style you want it(most likely), when you want it, instead of waiting around on the landlord. Plus, the improvements will pay off for them when they rent the space again after you've moved.

Geez - I just realized how long this is!!! Sorry.... icon_redface.gificon_rolleyes.gif Just been doing all my research for my own business & thought I would share my viewpoints with you. GOOD LUCK!!!! thumbs_up.gif

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lionladydi Posted 28 Oct 2005 , 12:46pm
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JennT has pretty well summed up everything I would have to say. We aren't trying to be negative. Just want you to go into it with your eyes wide open. thumbs_up.gif You're pursuing a dream most of us have had for a long time. Be sure to keep us posted on how it is going. thumbs_up.gif

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southernbelle Posted 29 Oct 2005 , 3:28am
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Here's the latest scoop...I went today to talk to her and pick up a profit and loss statement from the business. She has been in business for 9 months and has gross sales of $23,000 and after all expenses and such has a loss of $1900.00. Not good! To top that off, she wants $12,000 for me to buy into the partnership. I am soooooo disapointed icon_cry.gif

She said she has $22,000 invested in equipment and such and while I understand that the 1st year in business is the toughest, I just don't think this is a viable option for me. Now if she wanted to lease me some space and we kept things seperate, maybe. The space I was originally looking at is still available for $600 a month. I wouldn't take me $12,000 to get started. I need to sit back and take a deep breath here. I have an appointment with a guy tomorrow to see some used bakery equipment, he just closed his doors last month due to health reasons and is getting rid of all his equipment. DH told me to go ahead and quit my job and figure out what would be best. Anyway, I just don't think this partnership is the right avenue to take right now. Love to hear what you guys think, thank you all for your words of encouragement and advice. This site is just full of wonderful people.

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melodyscakes Posted 29 Oct 2005 , 3:49am
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wow! good thing you figured out the partnership wouldnt work out before you got stuck in it!!! i think having your own place would be great!!! especially if you get a good deal on equipment. maybe you could get a small business loan or something and buy everything the guy has...if its what you need. wow! so glad for you, and its great that your husband is so supportive of you!!!
good luck! and keep posting latest, i really want to know whats going on!!!


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lionladydi Posted 29 Oct 2005 , 2:57pm
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Southernbelle, either she has a horrible business or she is skimming on her books. That is less than $2000 a month gross. When my mom and I had our cafe we showed no profit the first year as we put everything back into the business. We didn't even take a wage. Ours was a small business but we did very well in a town with population 2000. If she isn't making any more than that maybe you should rethink the location. As far as the Health Department--they are a pain in the butt. Most things that they find wrong are minor but trust me, they will always find something wrong. As the guy told me, "That's my job." Be careful of used equipment. I've been there, done that, and not only have a hat but the repair bills also. Few people realize how expensive that type of equipment is and how hard a person works trying to run that kind of business. I always have said that cafe work was the hardest and least appreciated work that a person can do. One positive thing for you is that your DH is behind you 100% and that means a lot. Just be careful and don't go too far in debt. I never dealt with the SBA or anyone like that for a loan, only my local bank so I have no advice about that. Good luck and I think you're better off without the partnership.

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Kiddiekakes Posted 29 Oct 2005 , 3:20pm
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Wow!! It sounds like the partnership is not a good move for you!! As you said..it probably won't cost you $12,000 to start up and seeing how her business showed a $1900,00 loss..Hmmmm. I would proceed with the other option of going on your own.Good Luck and keep us posted!!!

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melodyscakes Posted 29 Oct 2005 , 5:50pm
post #28 of 29

also, i would ask her why she thought the profit was so low? is it a bad location? do people not eat out in that town? maybe her food is just bad...but before you sink any money into your own business across the street, i would try and figure out what the deal is, so you arent stuck in a location that is like a ghost town.
good luck!

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southernbelle Posted 31 Oct 2005 , 1:47am
post #29 of 29

Have thought about this all weekend and still don't know what the best solution is. I do know that I am going to tell her that I don't want to partner. Another option is to see if she would be willing to let me lease her kitchen (so I can be legal) and allow her a % if some of my items are left in her store for sale. I do know that I am going to tell her tomorrow that the partnership thing is not a good option for me at this time. I will tell her that with the money she wants for buying in, the p & l that states she is losing money is just not a viable option for me at this time. That my money will be better spent on my own.

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