Starting a small bakery business: Where to start?

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  1. Shesabutterfly profile image94
    Shesabutterflyposted 10 years ago

    My husband thinks it would be a great idea if I started looking into creating my own bakery. I do love to bake, and I create some crazy delicious cookies however I'm not sure I would be cut out for the baking industry. My family loves my baking, but I'm not sure I would be good enough for complete strangers.

    My question is does anybody know what types of bakeries do better than others? Would it be easier to create a bakery/cafe, or simply a bakery? Would starting on-line be a good idea, while I figure out finances for looking into a location to lease a building?

    I wouldn't even know where to begin with a product type either. I make great cookies, and I can make some delicious cupcakes and cheesecakes, but what would sell better? I've started doing some research, but if any one has experience in this I would greatly appreciate your input.

    1. Denise Handlon profile image85
      Denise Handlonposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      Whew, that is a huge order to fill.  I have a lot of questions.  Having been in business previously, a small business is a lot of work.  Go slowly and do a thorough research before diving in.     If at all possible start out in your own home first and develop a clientele.  As the 'business' outgrows your home you can move into another place.

      Also,  do you have any business experience?  Bookkeeping, taxes, etc.  Will you have a staff:  taxes, payroll, etc.   

      There are a TON of steps to take before opening a business and yes, online is definitely a way to market your products, via website, etc.  But, again, even that takes time and devotion.   

      In regards to what types of bakeries do better, well...go to the source, ask around your area, do some hands on investigation and see who is busy and who is not. 

      What would sell better?   I'm not sure what people are looking for in your area, but there are a couple of things to consider and one important one is competition.  You have to know who you are up against...and, that does include all of the wonderful online companies already established.

      I don't mean to discourage you, but I would suggest two things:  1. take it slow and maybe take an online business class (ed2go has some that are 12 week courses  via the local community colleges), or through the community college small business administration-"how to start a business"

      2.  Do not take a refinance your home to make this happen...that is too high of a risk.  Instead, investigate funding through other sources, (not a loan), such as a woman's business group.  There is money out there for women to start businesses if you know where to look.   

      The other consideration:  I noted you are hoping to start a family soon...that in itself is a full time job, so watch the timing of new business & new baby hitting at the same time.   

      I used a lot of visualization for a long time and it definitely helped.  I also played around with possible business names for a long time before the actual business took root.  That's the fun part:  dreaming, keeping a journal of suggestions for product, a logo, a catch phrase, etc.  There are many other things to learn about businesses so do your homework. 

      Best wishes to you in this endeavor.

    2. kschang profile image87
      kschangposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      First, you will need to get certified... and invest in a commercial kitchen. You can't just sell stuff from your home kitchen, at least in most jurisdictions.

      Go visit your local chamber of commerce, or the local Small Business Administration office and/or the city hall office that handles business registration. You may need to get a health inspection certificate, among other things.

    3. profile image53
      Someone Like Meposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Assuming you rent the space, your biggest upfront cost will be purchasing kitchen equipment such as commercial mixers, refrigerators, cooking ovens.

  2. Shesabutterfly profile image94
    Shesabutterflyposted 10 years ago

    Denise--You make some very good points, and some of them I have already discussed with my husband. If I am to start on this journey, it would be a long one. I wouldn't have a business for at least 2 years possibly even 3 or 4. This is something we are just starting to talk about, and I know and am looking forward to doing much research on the process of starting a small business.

    I don't have much experience in small business, but I do have a little. Whether I hire staff or not, I guess would depend on the type of business I decide to try and create.

    I definitely like your idea of starting at home and using the web as a tool to help develop a clientele, that would be something I could easily do once I have done more research on competition, and starting a business in general.

    Thank you so much for your advice and tips, I have found them extremely useful! You have not discouraged me, instead you have given me a drive to dive in and learn as much as I can before we decide on doing anything.

    1. Denise Handlon profile image85
      Denise Handlonposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      I'm glad you weren't discouraged, because it certainly wasn't meant to do that.  I took even longer than 4 yrs before I took the venture, but that's another story.  Yes, properly preparing and then starting out slow and following some of the suggestions, such as Richard's (see comment below) is a great way to get your feet wet and gain experience.  Another part of this that just came to me is to get properly inspected by your state and city for cooking in your home commercially.   Good for you to start the talking stage and as stated earlier, keep a journal or better yet: a binder of all of your ideas as they come to you.  (Remember Queen Latifa in the movie Holiday?  If not, check it out).

  3. livewithrichard profile image74
    livewithrichardposted 10 years ago

    Before I jumped in on a bakery, I would probably start off by picking 1 or 2 products that I am really good at and try to market those items to some local convenience stores, restaurants, and other specialty shops.  You might see this all the time at the counters where there is a box or tray of individually wrapped brownies or cookies.  Create a good label, make sure you are health department certified and work on a brand... Once you have a brand established it will be much easier to go into a full line bakery.  Just a thought....

    1. Denise Handlon profile image85
      Denise Handlonposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      Great points, Richard.  That thought crossed my mine as well and then I forgot to add it in.

      1. Reality Bytes profile image79
        Reality Bytesposted 10 years agoin reply to this

        I am glad I read through the thread, as I was going to suggest almost the same exact thing.  Probably not as good though..  smile

        1. Denise Handlon profile image85
          Denise Handlonposted 10 years agoin reply to this


      2. Shesabutterfly profile image94
        Shesabutterflyposted 10 years agoin reply to this

        Those are some great ideas. I never thought to do that in order to get a feel for what others think of my baked goods. I just might have to look into that in the future. I know there is a small bakery in the town I live in now, but I'm not sure what they sell. Looks like I might have to go check it out and see what I can find out:)

    2. amgfarhan profile image59
      amgfarhanposted 10 years ago

      Great idea and good luck to start with.

      Start taking orders from people around u ( family / freinds / neighbr ) and trust me within months, you'll be famous...creat a page a in FB and keep going...have dedicated phone/mobile number, so ppl can contct u eaily...

      Goodluck agn.... ^ _ ^

    3. ITcoach profile image58
      ITcoachposted 10 years ago

      I think first of all it should be a detailed evaluation of customers as well as the production, Capital and the targeted clients and know how about the competitors. All the information is required.

    4. WriteAngled profile image76
      WriteAngledposted 10 years ago

      I agree with the suggestion above to start from home and market products to local shops. This could be combined with occasional stalls at special events such as Christmas markets, Easter fairs, etc.

      If that does not keep you busy enough, you can expand into mail order. Just advertising the fact by means of a card/leaflet with your products and on your stalls will bring you such clients.

      By working from home, you can test out, with minimal investment, whether (a) you really like doing this and want to continue, and (b) your products are attractive to buyers.

      Once you are making a reasonable profit like this, you can start to set some of the money aside for investing into dedicated premises. The time it takes you to reach that stage will enable you to decide whether this really is the right choice for you.

      Inevitably, once you do move into commercial premises, you will need to expand your production vastly just to cover the overheads, and you will need to commit to fixed trading hours. This will mean hiring staff. You will probably end up sitting in a back room doing the books and dealing with employee dramas rather than baking. You need to think also about whether you would be happy in such a situation.

      1. Shesabutterfly profile image94
        Shesabutterflyposted 10 years agoin reply to this

        I see your concern, but if I am to start my own bakery business it wouldn't become so big that I couldn't manage it on my own or with a few employees. It's possible to stay small and still bring in a profit.

        I know someone who owns a very famous wedding cake shop and she recently started making cupcakes and she only has a baker and two part time assistants and she is busy 24/7. She is never in a back room working on the books and dealing with drama.

    5. LeanMan profile image84
      LeanManposted 10 years ago

      Some great suggestions, but don't neglect insurance! The last thing you need is someone getting ill and blaming your food even if it is not your fault it could cost you a fortune!

      Make sure you look into  all of the regulations required within your area with regards to the business you want to start.

      Look around and find out if there are any services available that offer free advice to business start ups in your area, even check out your local bank.

      1. Shesabutterfly profile image94
        Shesabutterflyposted 10 years agoin reply to this

        Thanks for the tip LeanMan! Insurance was definitely not on my mind, but it sure is now!smile

    6. Espronsa5 profile image61
      Espronsa5posted 10 years ago

      The best place to find out about business criteria is at your local Chamber of commerce, SBA  and go to a couple networking groups that are in the same line of business you are thinking about starting. this will help give you more insight into what you are going to in bark on.

    7. profile image58
      Southernmapartposted 10 years ago

      Many states have what is called a "Cottage Law" which allows you to bake goods in your home and sell the product directly to customers.  That may be a good place to start without having to jump into major overhead expense before you have had some experience. 

      If you bake to sell to retailers, you may find that you are legally required to have a state-certified kitchen.

    8. tamron profile image69
      tamronposted 10 years ago

      There was a black lady that came into the Barber Shop I use to work at.  She was selling pie's out of the trunk of her car.  I bought 2 pie's from her and they were the best pie's I ever ate.

      She left me a card not even a business card it was a flash card.  With her name and number I ordered several pie's from her.

      Plus after I told everybody at the Barber Shop how good the pie's were they started ordering pie's.  I ordered 4 pie's from her for Thanksgiving she asked me if I would save her the scraps from the turkey.  I asked why?  She said they couldn't afford a turkey to fix for 6 kids.   I asked her how much room does she have in her car.  I gave her 2 big turkeys she just stood there and cried.

      Well anyways it is possible to sell to businesses also if they have a festival or some sort of community gathering you can sell at those too.

      My grandfather owned a bakery and it made him wealth but back then you didn't have the hoops and red tape to deal with in those days.

    9. recommend1 profile image59
      recommend1posted 10 years ago

      Setting up a bakery in the US or Uk is fraught with problem - competition from the frozen dough and cake mix industry that can produce anything cheaper than you can, and sometimes really nice products - to every coffee shop et al.

      Start it in China and you will be flooded with customers from morning to night - the Chinese middle class now has loads of money and they are desperate for new tastes and products.  May be a bit too much of jump for you, but those who have done it so far are raking it in.

    10. kschang profile image87
      kschangposted 10 years ago

      Check with your local chamber of commerce, or small business office first. Some cities do NOT allow sale of food made in "home" kitchens, only commercially certified kitchens (which I'm going to guess you do not have)


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