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…]

Will Your Dream Business be a Good Fit for Your Family?

What Do I Mean by a Good Fit?

Well, when considering a good fit, you have to take an honest look at your life and what you want to get out of it. It means choosing a business that fits not only you and your special gifts and talents, but one that fits you all the way around! It also falls in line with your priorities.

If you are choosing a good fit, it won’t rob your family of the time they desperately need and wantto spend with you. Sure, most business owners do spend more time working on their business than employees do. That is understandable, your business is your baby.

The thing is, you have to be careful not to confuse your babies. Just as a parent must work on spending equal amounts of their time individually with each child, this new kid on the block, (your business) can’t be allowed to consume inordinate amounts of your time.

That is why, as you take an honest look at your business idea or dream, you need to accurately consider the amount of time you will need to invest. If you neglect that important aspect, your family may soon grow to resent your business, and trust me, you don’t want that to happen.

In my experience, in the beginning of a business life, you have to nurture it, spend countless hours developing it and doing what it takes to make it grow. It is so easy out of desperation to jump at anyone who waves a dollar bill in your face. It happens to most business owner in the early stages of a business.

That is where it is important to take the time to develop a strategic plan for your business. What do you really want your business to be when it grow up. More importantly, what will your life be like when it grows? By that I want you to include all aspects of your life, and certainly how it will affect your family.

You see, business is a strange animal. In the beginning, it is like pushing a huge ball up hill. At a certain point, you reach the pinnacle point, and then it begins to roll down hill and pick up speed, and you are chasing it. It is then that it can take control of you instead of the other way around.

You are right, I am speaking from experience. In the beginning of my business, I had only planned to provide corporate breakfast, that was my chosen niche because it fit my family needs. I started out on the right path, but reached the pinnacle point, and things got out of whack.

One of my customers asked if I would possibly consider providing lunch for them. I stood my ground at first and said I only did breakfast. They begged, flattered, and promised never to tell anyone that I was providing lunch for them. Long story made short, I caved, they blabbed, other customers got wind of my new lunch offerings and the business took a new directions I had never intended.

I have to confess, that was the beginning of a long road. I kept taking turns that were not on the original road map I had planned, and over time, the business I had dreamed about, was not a good fit for my family, or me.

In closing, to be sure, as any business grows, opportunities appear that you did not imagine. I am not saying you should walk away from those. What I am saying is that you need to evaluate each opportunity to see if it aligns well with you and your dream. Stay focused on your goal.

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.