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.

How Do I Get More Visitors to my Cake Business Website?

From MarketingLoudly:

Getting your small business listed on the local search engines sites is critical to getting not only more traffic to your website, but more calls on the phone and more new customers in the door.

Local search listings include not only your basic contact information, but they also include a map of your business location. Think of local search listings as the Yellow Pages ads of the 21st century – with one clear advantage – the listings are free!

If you don’t have your small business listed in the following local search engines, you are missing out on targeted FREE traffic in your area. What are you waiting for?? Read on to get your small business listed on the top local search engines..

CitySearch.com /AOL Local / InfoUSA

(Both Citysearch.com and AOL Local use listing information from InfoUSA.com.)
Step 1 – Go to InfoUSA.
Step 2 – Click ‘Add Business Record’.
Step 3 – Click ‘Submit’.

Google Local

Step 1 – Go to Google Local to create a Google Account. You will need this to create your Google Maps listing. If you already have a Google Account, you can login here as well.
Step 2 – Enter your information, and Google will send you a confirmation email.
Step 3 – Click the confirmation link in the email to login to the Google Local Business Center.
Step 4 – Click ‘Add New Business’.
Step 5 – Follow the steps and fill in your practice address, phone number, website, etc. You will also be given a chance to choose a category for your business, as well as enter your store hours, payment methods accepted, brands you endorse, parking information and a wealth of other information about your practice.
Step 6 – Once you have all of your information proofed and spell checked, click ‘Submit’.
Step 7 – Google will then either need you to confirm your submission by calling a 1-800 number (faster) OR having a postcard sent to your physical address (slower). Your listing will not go live until you confirm it by one of these methods.
Step 8 – Once you have confirmed your submission, it will take 4-6 weeks to show up in the Google Maps listings, so be patient.

Yahoo Local

Step 1 – Go to Yahoo Local to create a Yahoo Account. You will need this to create your Yahoo Local listing. If you already have a Yahoo Account, you can login here as well.
Step 2 – Enter your information, and Yahoo will send you a confirmation email.
Step 3 – Click the confirmation link in the email to login to the Yahoo Local Listings Center.
Step 4 – Follow the steps and fill in your practice address, phone number, website, etc. You will also be given a chance to choose a category for your business, as well as enter your store hours, payment methods accepted, brands you endorse, parking information and a wealth of other information about your practice.
Step 6 – Once you have all of your information proofed and spell checked, click ‘Submit’.
Step 7 – Yahoo Local Listings show up in search results very quickly – typically within 5-10 business days.

Cityguides (MSN) / YellowPages.com

(MSN’s City Guides uses listing information from YellowPages.com)
Step 1 – Go to YellowPages.com.
Step 2 – Enter your business phone number to see if your practice is already included in the directory. If it is already included, you will have a chance to update your listing.
Step 3 – If you are not already listed, enter your information on the following screens.
Step 4 – Click ‘Submit’.

Superpages.com

Step 1 – Go to Superpages.com.
Step 2 – Enter your business information.
Step 3 – Select business categories that help customers find
your listing.
Step 4 – Review your listing & profile
Step 5 – Enter account information.
Step 6 – Click ‘Submit’.

Cake Websites

A lot of my readers ask me about getting a website. I wanted to share an offer for web hosting that I personally can vouch for, because my site, cake-business.com is hosted there: 1and1.com. They are so confident you’ll love their services that you can try them free for one year.

I’ve mentioned both in my newsletter and on my blog, the importance of having a website for your business.  As you probably know there are some great no-fee tools out there for creating sites including weebly.com and wix.com and many other platforms that make creating and maintaining a site so easy.  These services enable you to get online easily without the expense. The downside to the no cost providers is that you don’t control the domain name and sometimes there are advertisements embedded in your site.

For those of you who are ready to move beyond the no cost web hosting providers in order to have your own domain name, this offer is running only for three days at 1and1.com.

The last time they ran this deal, I signed up and told many of my clients. Hosting Service is $0.00 for an entire year. If you want to keep your site after one year the cost is $4.99/month. ( a great price)  I love this because there is no risk. You have a year to get a professional site up and running, get Google to start indexing your very own site, and see for yourself if the investment is worth it.

This opportunity also includes $75 dollars in vouchers for pay-per-click advertising on Google, Yahoo and CitySearch — a great way to try some advertising with no risk.

If you do sign up, drop me a line in the comments. I can post some tips on how to get the most out of your new website!

The offer is located on 1and1.com and is called the Home Plan. Remember, it only runs for three more days. (Monday Aug, 31)

If you’ve already set up a website at your own URL, I’d love to see it and I will post it to my blog.

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.

10 “Crafty” Small Businesses for Budding Entrepreneurs | Outright Blog

10 “Crafty” Small Businesses for Budding Entrepreneurs

We all heard growing up that artists don’t make any money. If you had artistic ambitions, perhaps you put them to the side in favor of the daily corporate grind and the promise of a steady salary, health benefits and a retirement plan. Now though, perhaps your job is on shaky ground or worse, gone entirely and you are casting about for a new way to earn a living.

Why not, this time, take a new route that puts money in the bank AND leaves you creatively fulfilled?
The following are ten home based businesses for perfect for artistic types:

Cake Baking/Decorating – Everyone has birthdays, weddings, and other special occasions. Why not encourage them to celebrate with a custom designed cake of your creation? This business requires relatively little capital to start, but cake decorating skills are imperative.

via 10 “Crafty” Small Businesses for Budding Entrepreneurs | Outright Blog.