Baking for Money, Is it Possible?

You may be wondering, just how did I get started? I have to admit, although I loved the thought of baking for people and getting paid for it, the actual process of running a business  was beyond my expertise.

Initially, although I had secretly dreamed about taking my skills at baking and starting a business, I had not seriously given it a lot of thought until a friend that I worked with part time in a catering company¬† asked if I had ever considered starting a business featuring my baked goods. [Read more…]

We Started a Home Bakery

I have a licensed commercial kitchen that we added to our home. I can’t tell you what an absolute blessing it has been. I am often asked just how we did that. For ten years I ran my home based catering company from home, and did it legally.

I wanted to stay at home with my kids, and investigated all sorts of ways to help generate income. One of the things I was pretty good at, was baking, and many friends suggested I start a business selling some of the great homemade baked goods I made regularly. After investigating the possibilities, I decided to give it a try.

I started my business working out of our churches kitchen. It was a true gift, however, proved to be a lot of work since I had to work in the middle of the night, clean the kitchen and be out by 7:00am in order to get the deliveries made for the corporate breakfast meetings that I baked for. I used that kitchen for about nine months, and then decided I needed my own space.

Okay, this is a long story!

Let’s face it, the story spans ten years, so it will take awhile to tell the whole story. I have decided to break it into bite size pieces, I will include a “To Do” list for you if this sounds like something that fits your dream. Rome was not built in a day, and neither are most successful businesses.

I am an impatient person, you may be too. I can’t stress enough that a fatal mistake too many small business owners make, is lack of complete planning.

I know you may need to start making money now, most of us do. You might not like what I am going to tell you, but realistically, if you are at the very beginning, you could be 2-3 years away from running a profitable business. Please don’t get discouraged right off the bat, if I can do it, chances are really good you can too!

Well, I don’t want to overwhelm you here, so I will end on this note. If you have not read a book in awhile, today is the first day of the rest of you life. The library, bookstores, Amazon, the internet, podcasts, online classes, audio books are about to become a BIG part of your life from now on.

The first thing on my suggested “TO DO” list is to go to the library and checkout “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. It is available on audio, you can listen while you work, drive, walk etc. If you would like to add this book to your personal library, below is a link to Amazon. I must tell you that using this link is a blessing to my family because it is an affiliate link, however there is no additional charge for you. If you prefer, you can simply go to Amazon and search for it by name.

I know that you probably are thinking, what does that have to do with baking.You are right, I don’t think he was known for his baking skills. He does however, provide a critical foundational piece to the success of any business, it is his recipe for success, in business and in life. Enjoy, I’ll talk to you soon.

Please leave a comment or question, I would love to get some great dialog going here as you embark on the path to your specialty baking , and hopefully starting your home bakery business. We can all help each other.

Market Research Really is Your Friend

I would like to tell you a true story.

I had been working with a woman’s business center. One day the director asked me if I would talk to a customer of hers in another state. I told her I would be happy to offer her any help I could.

The next day, the woman called me and we had a long conversation. Basically, she was considering opening a store selling her baked goods, because all her friends were encouraging her to start a retail business. She was convinced that since everyone LOVED her baking, she could open a shop and the customers would simply flock through the doors.

Boy, I have to tell you, she reminded me of me. I had heard the same thing from friends I had. When I started asking my friends opinion about opening the coffee shop, encouragement was coming in from every direction.

I asked her who her target market was, and her answer was “Everyone”. She had never heard of anyone who did not like what she baked. I cringed at her answer, but I totally could identify with it as well. I felt like I was hearing a recording of conversations I may have had years earlier.

I thoughtI had done my market research. In my mind, coffee shops had a great profit margin, and it was a no brain er that “Everyone” loved what I baked. I went to the library, took a look at the business section. There were tons of articles about how coffee shops raked in huge profits.

In addition to that, many friends and acquaintances assured me that “If you build it, they will come.” How could I possibly go wrong? I took the numbers about coffee shops to my class advisers, they took a brief look at it, nodded, and said it looked promising. That was it, market research – done.

The reality of the matter is, most often, people don’t go out of their way to do business with you. They may truly love what you do, however, the majority of us are busy, and even though people may love what you bake, if it takes much time to do business with you, they quite likely won’t.

The problem, is that to be convenient, you have to be in the right spot. We have all heard it, in real estate all that matters is location, location, location. The problem with that reality, is that location usually means big bucks.

If you are just starting out, unless you are independently wealthy, investing big bucks is a huge risk. My point here is that it is prudent to really have more than a hope and a prayer that your business will flourish. Please keep in mind that all those friends who are offering encouragement will not be putting their names on the dotted line, you will.

I guess you think that I am raining on your parade. Believe me, I am all about encouragement, as I have said earlier, if I can do it, just about anyone can. My point here is to follow the steps that help you avoid the pitfalls, and yes, signing a contact that will cost a small fortune is a big pitfall!

From my experience, I would want to advise you to truly take the time to identify your niche market. Being the best at something, is way better than trying to be all things to all people. That just makes you mediocre, and that is not the path to a successful business.

So……the “To Do” this time around is to realistically start your market research. The good news is that you probably don’t have to go to the library and start by looking us SIC codes, you can simply start by searching Google for keywords and the numbers associated with them. For example, if you are wanting to sell pound cake, using your Grandma’s favorite recipe, take a look at the interest in homemade pound cake.

There are a number of research tools you can use for that, Google “keyword research tools”. There are some free ones there and they will give you at least a good place to start.

If you have not yet signed up for my newsletter and top ten favorite ideas to make money baking, I would love you to do that now. In my newsletter, I will go into more details about starting and running your business. Please leave you comments and questions so we can get to
know one another.

There are ways to get around the problem of location, and in the future, I will talk more about that. After making an almost fatal mistake, I was able to regroup, work like crazy to clean up the financial mess I had made, and live to sell another day, another way.