NEW! Google Custom Search

Loading

advice - starting a baking business

LibbyBoo's picture

Needing advice from people who've been there...


A friend and I have been talking abou starting a small business. Small being the key word...we would work from our homes and have no employees.  We want to bake wedding/special event cakes and also offer cheesecakes, truffles and a few other select goodies for parties/events.


Problem is, neither of us has ever been to school for any kind of baking, culinary arts, food prep. etc.


We  both are self-taught, and if that disqualifies us from this board or from starting a business, it would be a shame...  still, I know it quite possibly could.


We both have FULLY stocked libraries (and increasing by the week) with books and magazines and articles on cooking, baking, decorating desserts, food science, etc. and we both have gotten several requests for not only our recipes but also for our services - right now, our small community knows they can call on us to provide them with any dessert or meal if they only provide the ingredients.


I say all this not to "strut my stuff" or to try and prove myself...I say all this because I honestly want to know - are we even close to being able to start our own business at this point? 


I mean...is a combination of experience + willingness to learn + limited literary resources enough?


Please understand I don't mean to ask for help with the "business side" of things.  My husband runs a business out of our home, and her husband went to school for business, and manages a restaurant right now, so we have that covered. (The accounting and books and such.) 


I just mean...are we going to 'flop' because we don't have degrees?  Are people going to ask this when they consider hiring us?  Are we going to have to keep our prices lower than most since we're self-taught? And do you honestly think we can gain enough knowledge from books to make desserts in a way that people are willing to pay big bucks for?  Would it be worth it to hold off on the business and to enroll in school? 


Also, keep in mind, we don't plan on offering a full menu...we are going to select 5 desserts and stick with that.  Does that benefit us or will that limit us?  Will people be turned off? Also, will our ovens work or would we have to invest in commercial ovens?


Also...please recommend any and all books you can that you think would help.


I really do appreciate the time you've taken to read this post and I appreciate any TRUE advice you can give me.


Please don't beat around the bush or sugar coat anything.  If starting this business is way out of my league, I'd like to save my time, money, and heart before I get into something that's going to claim them all.


Thank you in advance.


Edited 2/16/2006 10:32 am ET by LibbyBoo

Ricks503's picture

(post #63862, reply #65 of 70)

Your Church may have a kitchen you could rent during the week if they are functioning.

1 - measure the board twice, 2 - cut it once, 3 - measure the space where it is supposed to go        4 - get a new board and go back to step 1

 

 

" There'll be no living with her now" - Captain Jack Sparrow

shaloop's picture

(post #63862, reply #66 of 70)

"so in 2 evenings I figure I can bake about 400-600 pies.  Transporting is another matter!!!"


Where do you store all those pies?  And where do you cool them and store your supplies?  My biggest seller is cheesecake.  These need a place to bake, cool and chill thoroughly.  I preslice cheesecake before boxing up and delivering so they have to be able to chill thoroughly before cutting (like overnight, or at least freeze for about two hours.)  I'd be concerned about food smells from using a communal refrigerator.  I guess its the logistics that I can't figure out.  I would like to have all the issues worked out before I approach someone. 


On a side note, I just got back one of my customers.  Starting next week I'll be making 6 to 10 cakes and cheesecakes per week for this cafe.

Wolvie's picture

(post #63862, reply #67 of 70)

just curious - why do you preslice the cheesecake? I never did that - they didn't even ask me. That being said, the cakes were always refrigerated overnite, so slicing was fairly easy.

 No mans error becomes his own Law; nor obliges him to persist in it


THOMAS HOBBES, Leviathan, part 2, p. 237 (1950).

 

Ricks503's picture

(post #63862, reply #68 of 70)

My question entirely.  It would seem that one place might want to get (or less) slices per cake than what the maker would cut them into, to either increase profit or be able to charge a bit less and sell more and thereby still make more money.

1 - measure the board twice, 2 - cut it once, 3 - measure the space where it is supposed to go        4 - get a new board and go back to step 1

 

 

" There'll be no living with her now" - Captain Jack Sparrow

shaloop's picture

(post #63862, reply #69 of 70)

I don't preslice the layer cakes, only the cheesecakes.  Using hot water and very sharp thin knife to get neat even slices.  I'm not going to say that people around here don't know how to cut a cheesecake, but they're used to theirs coming already sliced (from Sams' or food distributor.)  I guess because I'm just getting started, I want my products to give the best impression possible.  Same reason I don't cut the layer cakes (so they won't dry out.)  If someone preferred that I didn't cut it, I wouldn't.  I also tell them how many slices there are in that size, unless they'd prefer a different number of slices.


 

CHandGreeson's picture

(post #63862, reply #70 of 70)

<<I just got back one of my customers>>

Oooh, who? I miss the Gulf Coast and I am so super-nosey!

~Charlotte

pamilyn's picture

(post #63862, reply #41 of 70)

Around here there is. There is one woman in town who bakes cookies for Bars. "Barbies batch, baked from scratch" She provides a clear cookie jar and sells them to bars who have bar food. They sell like crazy. Someone goes in for a burger and voila....there is a nice homemade chocolate chip cookie staring them in the face. Pamilyn

The purpose of Art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls

The purpose of Art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls

plantlust's picture

(post #63862, reply #6 of 70)

I would think the other thing to keep in mind is clientele and culture/location.


Who are you going to be selling this product too?
Will your customers stick with plain bread or are they adventurous and willing to pay more for a gorgeous cake?
What's the population in your area, median income etc (you can usually find this info in the public library or local Chamber of Commerce?
And marketing stuff, do people in your area prefer strawberry or chocolate?  That will allow you to target your clientele a little more (plus good chocolate tends to be more expensive than strawberries, which will be a cost issue).
If your product is fabulous, will you have customers will to travel to purchase it?


I remember we had someone on the board (darnit can't remember her name) who ended up in a small town w/a restaurant?, bakery?.  The town & landlord (?) made promises which never materialized.  It was not a joy to wake up in the morning and go to work.  They decided to close.


As much as your heart would love to do this, base the decision on hard numbers.  If you do go into this, come up with a business plan ON PAPER, signed by all partners.  Include what happens to the business if you (or your partner) die, get bought out by a conglomerate waving wads of cash in your direction, become ill etc.   Consider it a prenup. 


Acreageless until Fri/Sat because I really have the winning MEGA/POWERBALL tickets now.

Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with parsley sauce, goat cheese garlic mashed potatoes, Galena Cellars Niagra grape wine & Pie Boss's apple crumble topped with Ruth & Phil's sour cream/cinnamon ice cream.

ashleyd's picture

(post #63862, reply #10 of 70)

I remember we had someone on the board (darnit can't remember her name) who ended up in a small town w/a restaurant?, bakery?. 


Ah yes, the famous train wreck that was Chiffonade's restaurant. All coming back to you now?



Always take a good look at what you're about to eat. It's not so important to know what it is, but it's critical to know what it was.

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

KitchenWitch's picture

(post #63862, reply #11 of 70)

Nice way to rub salt into a wound, Ashley.
You DO realize Chiff still comes to CT, right?

~RuthAnn


<insert witticism here>

~RuthAnn

avak123's picture

(post #63862, reply #12 of 70)

Ashley,


I apologize in advance for my direct nature; however, I am amazed at your absolute hatefuless. So many individuals on this site are so gracious, and you, at times, seem so destructive. Chiffonade, and others you attack, have offered so many helpful posts -  and all you seem to offer are mean and vendictive posts. I don't understand...


As a relative newbie to this site, I am curious why you feel the need to attack so viciously.

ashleyd's picture

(post #63862, reply #13 of 70)

No need to apologise. I regret that you see my posts as vindictive, there is no intended malice, just telling it like it is with a twisted British sense of humour. This wasn't an attack on Chiffonade, a lady of enormous talent, but if you had followed the rather sad story you would realise why I said that. If you don't 'get' my sense of humour or find it offensive then I can only suggest you put me on ignore.


Always take a good look at what you're about to eat. It's not so important to know what it is, but it's critical to know what it was.

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

TracyK's picture

(post #63862, reply #14 of 70)

Personally, I just find it amusing, since you have no trouble jumping all over me when you feel I've somehow crossed a line. I suppose it's "do as I say, not as I do," eh Ashley?

Squirrels are just rats in cuter outfits.
       -- Carrie Bradshaw

MadMom's picture

(post #63862, reply #16 of 70)

Ashley, you know I have met you and like you, but if your comment about Chiff was just your "British sense of humour" perhaps you should remember that most of us here are not Brits, and frankly, I thought it was mean.  Yes, Chiff's restaurant didn't make it.  Unlike most people here, I actually ate her food, and it was delicious.  Did she make a mistake in locating in a small, rather "outdated" Colorado town?  Of course, but at least she tried, which is something very few of us can say.  I hope that comments like yours don't put her off this site, because I always enjoyed hearing from her and felt she had a lot to offer.



Not One More Day!
Not One More Dime! Not One More Life! Not One More Lie!

End the Occupation of Iraq -- Bring the Troops Home Now!

And Take Care of Them When They Get Here!

ashleyd's picture

(post #63862, reply #17 of 70)

Just to clarify that remark, the train wreck thing is watching a sequence of events that develops a momentum all of its own so that nothing short of a miracle will prevent a disaster happening, even though you can see it coming. In Chiff's case it was the closure of the restaurant, which was apparent for a while before it actually happened. It was no criticism of her original idea (as they say nothing ventured, nothing gained), her dedication or culinary ability or the efforts she put in to try and save it. I know because a great friend of mine tried a similar venture in Australia and was beaten down by a series of external influences which could not have been predicted at the start. Does that make it clearer?


Always take a good look at what you're about to eat. It's not so important to know what it is, but it's critical to know what it was.

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

MEANCHEF's picture

(post #63862, reply #18 of 70)

Ashley, I know you are just imploding lately to take the heat off of me.  I appreciate that. Thanks.

Jean's picture

(post #63862, reply #19 of 70)

How's the move going, have you found another place?  Are you Grandpa again yet? How's your health?

If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, doesn't it  follow  that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted, cowboys  deranged,  models deposed, tree surgeons debarked, and dry cleaners depressed?  
http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/

A  clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/
help to provide free mammograms for women in need
MEANCHEF's picture

(post #63862, reply #20 of 70)

Movers come on the 24th - not really ready yet


Baby due on the 24th also


I had an EMG yesterday - haven't heard from the Dr yet.


Glenys's picture

(post #63862, reply #21 of 70)

What's an EMG? Testing for Extraordinary Male Gift? Extremely Mellow Grandfather?

elizaram's picture

(post #63862, reply #22 of 70)

Electro-Monkey-Gram? :-D




Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic. --Dave Barry



When I was young, all my friends were imaginary. Now that I'm older, all my friends are virtual.

Glenys's picture

(post #63862, reply #23 of 70)

electronically monitored gonads?

What are gonads anyway? Are they any tender part?

MEANCHEF's picture

(post #63862, reply #25 of 70)

Electromyography.  They stick needles in your muscles to see how/if/they work right.


You of all people should know how tender my nads are.


But, unfortunately the doctor has now ordered an MRI.  I think I am going the CM route here.


AmyElliesMom's picture

(post #63862, reply #24 of 70)

Not Meanie, but it's a test of the nerves - they zap you with electricity with a needle, right in the nerve, to see if they are conducting correctly.

Supposedly, it only hurts if the nerves are not conducting properly.

Mom has had several (carpal tunnel) and Ellie had one. Mom's all hurt; Ellie's didn't appear to. Mom has messed up nerves; Ellie does not.

So, Meanie, if it didn't hurt, that might be a good sign.

I think it stands for Electromyleogram, but don't quote me on that.

And the crowd was stilled.  One elderly man, wondering at the sudden silence, turned to the Child and asked him to repeat what he had said.  Wide-eyed, the Child raised his voice and said once again, "Why, the Emperor has no clothes!  He is naked!"
                -- "The Emperor's New Clothes"

 

Save the Earth! It's the only planet with wine and chocolate.

MEANCHEF's picture

(post #63862, reply #26 of 70)

They said minor discomfort which it was.  Although after an hour + it was a pain.


Next is an MRI


AmyElliesMom's picture

(post #63862, reply #27 of 70)

Mom said when they zap her bad nerves, it feels like the worst pain ever. Once, she kicked the doctor administering the test. So, if it didn't hurt that bad, hopefully your nerves are conducting properly.

Hope the MRI comes out clear - or shows something very mild and fixable. 'Cause getting back a bunch of "normal" test results when something is obviously not "normal" is beyond annoying.

And the crowd was stilled.  One elderly man, wondering at the sudden silence, turned to the Child and asked him to repeat what he had said.  Wide-eyed, the Child raised his voice and said once again, "Why, the Emperor has no clothes!  He is naked!"
                -- "The Emperor's New Clothes"

 

Save the Earth! It's the only planet with wine and chocolate.

CookiM0nster's picture

(post #63862, reply #28 of 70)

Don't worry, the MRI won't hurt at all. It's just a matter of lying still for a little while. Piece of cake, as long as you're not claustrophobic.

Hopefully they'll be able to pinpoint the problem soon. You don't want to follow in my footsteps on this, you really don't.

AmyElliesMom's picture

(post #63862, reply #29 of 70)

If you are claustrophobic, ask for a Valium or see if you can find an open scan MRI near you.

And the crowd was stilled.  One elderly man, wondering at the sudden silence, turned to the Child and asked him to repeat what he had said.  Wide-eyed, the Child raised his voice and said once again, "Why, the Emperor has no clothes!  He is naked!"
                -- "The Emperor's New Clothes"

 

Save the Earth! It's the only planet with wine and chocolate.

MEANCHEF's picture

(post #63862, reply #34 of 70)

I am beginning to feel like I am going down your path.

mer's picture

(post #63862, reply #35 of 70)

Good luck with the MRI. It is noisy and tight quarters, so I found it helpful to have a little mantra to repeat in my brain over and over. I found it helpful to come up with something that followed the rhythm of the loud machine. That way I could focus on that rather than wanting to kick my way out of the machine or the imaginary itches that I developed. If you move during the test, you would have to take the test again. That thought was my only motivation to stay still. :) Good luck with everything Meanie. We are behind you.

CookiM0nster's picture

(post #63862, reply #36 of 70)

Hey, at least you've already seen a neurologist. I've still got a month to go.