You make a Victoria sponge to die for and a lemon drizzle your friends would happily fight over. Do you feel ready to take the leap from occasional baker to professional business? Whether it’s baking from your own oven or setting up a small business outside of the home, this guide will cover the essential steps you need to consider.
You’ll be guided through the pitfalls and insider knowledge needed to get your business of the ground. Baking is a fantastic way to indulge your passion and creativity and to channel it into something everyone can enjoy. So, it’s easy to see why so many people choose to go it alone and start their own bakery. The reality is however, that it’s not all sprinkling icing sugar, rave reviews and all day bakeathons.
Nicola O’keefe runs her business, ‘O’Crumbs’ from her kitchen in York, which officially launched in May 2013. Nicola has always had a passion for baking and describes her cakes as being, “like the ones your grandmother would make”. She stresses the need to let the business grow organically and not to push for too much too soon. “My whole ethos is that I have to have continuity and consistency in everything I produce, so I don’t want to run before I can walk. Do it slowly and manageably. I’m a home baker, so I’m obviously a one man band!” Nicola has had to give up her part-time job as a receptionist to focus fully on the business and give it the attention it needs.
It’s not just the quality of the baking that businesses have to focus on, as Nicola explains. “Social media is so huge. I belong to a networking group, which is a huge support. I think particularly for a baker, it needs to be really visual. It’s something you just have to build into your day. That was a learning curve!” In terms of building the business from the ground up, Nicola was aware of the legislative hurdles that small businesses face.
Not knowing where to go for help can put a lot of potential bakers off. “I found it quite scary and daunting. There are a lot of free resources out there; people just need to look around. People are always happy to give their advice.” she says. Initially, keeping costs and overheads low as a start up is the goal.” You don’t want to spend money unnecessarily.” Nicola adds. “Test the market, you have to learn who and where your client is. Keep yourself focused and the business will naturally evolve.” Lastly but essentially, “Don’t take things personally! Just because someone doesn’t like the carrot cake doesn’t mean it tasted awful, it might just not be the cake that they like!”
Melissa Morgan, or, ‘Ms Cupcake’ as she’s known in the industry, has some essential tips to help you on your way:
Mellissa started her business from home in 2009 after she noticed there was a need for a business to fill the gap for those of us who love cake but struggle to find one that meets our dietary requirements. Thus, Ms Cupcake was born.
How did your business begin?
1.) I started running a market stall in 2010, then after about a year I opened the business, which was a retail shop. It’s really important to start as small as you possibly can because you don’t want lots of overheads.
How important is branding and social media?
2.) Branding is the number one thing you can use to help grow your business. I think that no matter how much money you have to start your business, be it £1000 or £100, you should spend half of it on branding and marketing. That’s the best investment you can possibly make. It allows you to communicate directly with your customers.
What are your key tips for start ups?
3.) Someone once said to me, do you want to bake cakes for a living or do you want to run a cake business? They’re two completely different things! Another piece of advice is act like a bigger brand than you actually are. So you don’t lie about anything but you can certainly make yourself seem like a bigger brand and that instils confidence in the people you’re making cakes for.