Dreaming about starting a cake decorating business from home? Some tips on how to do it!
I was.....up until April last year when I launched Frizelle Cakes in Chichester, West Sussex.
Since leaving uni I had been in constant employment with large companies and, to be honest, leaving the security of my job to start my own business seemed pretty terrifying! But, after having a baby and relocating from Edinburgh to Chichester, West Sussex my priorities changed. I wanted to stay at home and look after my new baby, I wanted to contribute to our household income... and I was dying for an excuse to see if my cake decorating business could work! Luckily I also had an incredibly supportive husband who was always encouraging. His confidence helped to me to believe that I could make it work, and so I set about planning my business.
Now, ten months later, I can honestly say that starting my home cake decorating business from home was my best career move to date! Although it has been a lot of hard work, it has been fantastically rewarding and I have enjoyed (almost) every minute! But most importantly for me, its given me the perfect work-life balance and I get to spend most days playing with my son (now a cheeky toddler), and teaching him how to make cakes! So, it is achievable.
If you believe you can do it, and you are committed to making your business a success GO FOR IT!! Otherwise you'll never know.
A few tips for starting a Cake Decorating Business from home:
1) Don't pay too much attention to the sceptics!
Yes, so your colleague's cousin makes amazing cakes, and so does your neighbour's niece, and the lady down the road... there's a recession on... you'll have less job security etc. etc. Lots of people make cakes but not many people make exceptional cakes, and even fewer turn this talent into a successful business. If you're passionate and determined you can succeed! (But try to pay attention to some of the sceptics' comments, they may highlight valid points that you need to address). Go for it!
2) Business Plan for your Home Cake Decorating Business
Really think through your idea, do your research, write a Business Plan and ask for feedback on it. Yes this really is worthwhile! Even if you're just running a small home business it's really important that you plan as it makes you think about every aspect of the business, even those tricky parts that you're keen to avoid!
Keep it short and sweet by focusing on the key points. What you are going to sell, who you are going to sell to, how you will price your products/services, what will it cost to run your business (what equipment will you need, how much is business insurance, ingredients costs, packaging etc.), how will you market your business, what are you going to do to make a success of your business and so on.
Make sure that you think through your business concept thoroughly. Then do what you've planned. But remember that your plans will change, probably continuously. Don't beat yourself up when things don't go to plan. Just try another way, you'll get there.
There are loads of business plan templates available online, I found The Princes Trust's business plan template useful, and not too complex. It also comes with a guide for completion.
Particular areas to research are:
Food Safety. Check out the Food Standards Agency Website for all the information you need. Among other things, you will need to contact your local council's Environmental Health Dept who can send you all of the relevant information and undertake Food Hygiene training (Level 2).
Register with your local Council (this is a legal requirement). The Environmental Health Department will be in touch to arrange a kitchen inspection and audit of your food preparation and cleaning procedures. This may seem daunting but don't panic, its in their interest to assist new businesses and they can be a great source of information.
3) Don't under price cakes or Under estimate costs
Check that you're not underpricing and that you haven't underestimated what you will need to spend. I'm convinced that everyone does this to come extent, at least I did. I was so keen to get my first orders that I priced them too cheaply and, although I was not out-of-pocket, these cakes did not contribute enough to my overheads or my time. Also, I'm sure that some customers must have thought that my cakes were suspiciously cheap which actually undermines the high quality of my cakes and of my skill. Review your market pricing, including what competitors charge and your product costs to make (remember to include the cost of your time!).
It's so easy to underestimate the cost of starting up a business. You don't need much to start a home cake decorating business, but if you're passionate about cake decorating its easy to get carried away buying cutters, embossers, veiners, stencils, books, crimpers and other tools. And that's not to mention the professional mixer, tins and other equipment that you need now that you're producing more cakes. Add to this your new website, a couple of Wedding fayres, display Wedding cakes and equipment, business cards, banners and other marketing material and you can see that very quickly you've spent a lot more than you expected!
So, my tips are: Only buy what you need. Try and do things yourself or find a friend who can help. Use Facebook pages and twitter to start to build an online presence. Perhaps start a blog to showcase your work. If you can't afford to have a stand at a wedding fayre attend as a visitor, talk to people and get to know people who work in the industry. Spread the word about what you are doing, tell anyone and everyone, you never know where your next order will come from!
That's all from me for now, I hope you've found my tips helpful. I'm happy to share my experiences of the cake world so if there's anything you'd like to know feel free to ask any questions in the comments section below. I'll do my best to answer quickly.
Thanks for reading,