Questions for starting a cake business

There are a number of things that can contribute to success of a new cake business. One of them is to learn as much about the business as you can before you invest a single penny. As a starting point,  I always suggest the new entrepreneur do a self-evaluation. Some of the most basic skills in business cannot be transferred. They need to be innate or part of who you are.

While your commitment to starting a cake business may be strong, it is critical to take the time to answer honestly  some tough questions about running a business in general. Don’t just avoid these questions or provide quick incomplete answers. Your thoughtfulness in  addressing these questions can be very useful in realistically assessing your readiness to start a business. Continue reading Questions for starting a cake business

Making Money in the Cake Business

wedding-cake-cutting

Why do cake decorators get paid upfront before the event — party, wedding, bridal shower, etc?

For weddings, it is important that a deposit of 30 – 50% be provided to hold the date. Moreover, because of the stress of the day, you don’t want to attempt to collect on the wedding day itself. The balance should be paid at least 7 days before the event. In all my years, I can recall only a few protests for this arrangement and even then we worked it out, with the final third of the balance paid on delivery.
Continue reading Making Money in the Cake Business

Google Voice for your Cake Business

What phone number to give out?

Many small cake businesses ask us about the propriety of giving out a non-business phone number to their clients. For example, “Is it OK to give customers your cell phone or even home phone number.”  Those businesses who operate in a rented commercial kitchen or from home need to be accessible and professional.  Some opt for setting up a separate business line or business only cell phone.

Google Voice makes it much easier for small business owners to be readily available to their clients no matter where they are, at home or on the go, without the additional expense of a new phone line. Think of it as a central phone system for your cake businesses.

Once you have an account, Google will handle all of your incoming calls and voicemails re-routing them to your existing phone lines. You’ll never miss another call and more importantly, you can screen your calls live. If you’re a small cake business working out of your home to save money or operating from a rented kitchen and a cell phone, this tool is very cool. As a growing, legitimate business, you don’t want to give out your home or cell number.  With Google Voice you can give customers and suppliers your new Google Voice number instead.

How does it work?

Continue reading Google Voice for your Cake Business

Advice and Inspiration for Beginners

Let them decorate cake:

Here’s an article about some women in upstate NY who find cake decorating  more than a hobby: 2 cake business owners, a decorator and a party store owner who offers classes.

New Berlin’s Kelly Banks started her own cake decorating business in 2005. Banks, who trained at the Culinary Institute of America, decided that she didn’t want to spend all of her time working for someone else after she had her daughter. With that decision, Kelly Banks Cakes was born.

“It started off just being something fun, extra income. Every once in a while someone would ask me to do something for them,” she said. “Now I just have cakes every single weekend. It’s definitely more of a business now that it was even last year.”

Cathy Wise, Party Perfect’s owner, knew she wanted to offer cake decorating classes from the minute she opened her store. Two years ago, “it all just fell into place,” Wise said. “It’s just a fun thing to learn and it’s a great skill to have.”

…Winnie Talbot not only teaches the Wilton classes at Party Perfect, she also decorates ice cream and wedding cakes…

Talbot didn’t intend to become a Wilton teacher.

“I took a bunch of Wilton classes and then I took other cake classes because I wanted to know how to do cakes for our business. Then Wilton started calling me asking me if I’d teach class. I kept telling them `no.’ I didn’t have time. Finally I said, `you know what? If you wait until late fall, then I will start,'” Talbot said.

…Cooperstown-based cake decorator Marjorie Landers has had a few odd requests as well.

“The most unusual cakes I do are groom’s cakes, which can be in any shape or form,” Landers said. “One groom’s cake I did that was a for a groom who was a serpentologist. So that cake was in the shape of a snake.”

But these challenges are part of what has kept her engaged in her work for the last 15 years. “I do enjoy doing new things. It’s fun for the artistic part of me. If you do the same thing over and over again, it gets to be no fun,” Landers said.

via The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY – Otsego, Delaware, Chenango and Schoharie County News, Sports and Opinion – Let them decorate cake: Local women find decorating desserts more than a hobby.

When Sister Is Your Cake Business Partner

Would you go into business with a family member?  Here’s an informative article about two sisters who started a cake business near Wrigley Field in Chicago.

There are several keys to note in this article about starting your own bakery.

First, they started off cautiously.

…holding down day jobs while they figured out their fledgling business concept. In 1998, Brenda moved to Chicago by herself and worked as an administrative assistant for a staffing company with the goal of gaining business skills and locating a viable market. “I don’t like to be one-dimensional. It allowed me to get my feet wet in Chicago and learn a variety of skills,” she says. By the time Mary came to Chicago (with a full set of professional baking and kitchen equipment) two years later—she had been working at an upscale Detroit-area bakery&—a sense of the business and the roles they would play had emerged. Brenda took the lead role in business and Mary focused on the creative side of cake baking and decorating.

Lesson 2: Word of mouth marketing was critical to their success:

“The Cakegirls got the word out themselves, telling friends and co-workers about their “night job” in the kitchen.”

Lesson 3: they used technology to market themselves:

“They gave prospective customers the impression they had a much bigger operation by using voice mail and posting their catalog online.”

Lesson 4: They were patient.

“They opened a business bank account with $500 and deposited any money they earned from baking into it. Within three years, the Mahers had saved $15,000 from sales, having continued to survived on the income from their day jobs.”

Lesson 5: They used the media for free advertising.

“When Chicago magazine ran a feature on them in 2003, orders flooded in, prompting Brenda to buy a minivan for deliveries.

Read the full article at Business Week.

via When Sister Is Your Business Partner – BusinessWeek.

Marketers find Twitter a tweet recipe for success – USATODAY.com

A great article on how one cake business is using social networking to reach her customers for repeat business. If you’re not using Facebook and Twitter to market your business, read this article and get on these sites!

LOS ANGELES — Cake decorator Suzi Finer fills in spare time during the workday updating her “status” on Facebook, telling about 2,000 customers about what she’s working on.

It’s no frivolous exercise: Finer is looking to boost business for her employer, Hansen’s Cakes of Beverly Hills, and says that sales are up 15% to 20% since she embraced Facebook as a sales tool in September. “That’s even in a recession,” she says. “People are still having birthday parties and weddings, and seeing these little bits about cakes on updates get them excited about the possibilities.”

via Marketers find Twitter a tweet recipe for success – USATODAY.com.

One way to start a cake business: a collective

Many aspiring cake business owners are struck by the high cost of rent and other monthly expenses. Here’s a story of three women in Chicago with complimentary businesses that formed  a collective as a means to make it work.

Running a small food business takes a lot of time and resources, and profitability can be very challenging. By sharing resources, the three women share the burden of operating a retail space, a cost that often leads to the ruin of many a small business.

cupcake

via Cake and Commerce: Sweet Collective: Three Pastry Chefs, one business.