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Expert tips for starting a cake business

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Peggy Porschen
Starting a cake business on your own can be a daunting task. So here at goodtoknow we thought we'd make things a little easier for you by gathering top tips from women around the country who have done just that - we've even got some advice from star baker Peggy Porschen!

Getting started

'I would recommend that you find out what your unique selling point and real strength is. Don't try and do everything as it makes it really hard to work effectively. Specialise in something you're passionate about and make a collection of 6-12 cakes to start with.' Peggy Porschen

'Take evening classes in cake decorating. There's always something new to learn. I'm doing a 5-day chocolate course next week at Squires Kitchen.' Angela Davage, Angela's Quality Catering Catering & Celebration Cakes, Somerset

'The two most important first steps are to register with HMRC as self-employed and contact your local environmental health department to get your kitchen registered.' Polly Pomfrey, Pollyspatisserie.co.uk, East Sussex

'Contact your local colleges and learning centres about the health & hygiene/food handling courses. If you're lucky you might get it free as these courses are sometimes listed on the free adult education programmes (I got mine free as part of a triple course that also included first aid and manual handling)' Kerry Atterbury, Kerry's Cakes, Shropshire

'The Government's Business Link website has lots of vital information for any new business.' Emma Thompson, Mama's Little Bakery, Middlesex

'A checklist is very helpful when you're in the process of setting up your cake business. Also, think about a timeline - when would you like to be running the business from?' Lydia Mckee, Sugar & Lace Cake Company, Bucks 

'If you're working from your home kitchen there are certain things you have to do to meet environmental health standards. You're not allowed to have a lot of clutter on the sides that can collect dust. You must make sure you have no loose ceiling or floor tiles that could fall off. Plus, it needs to be cleaned regularly. It's a good tip to set up a cleaning timetable to ensure everything that you aren't used to cleaning often gets done, i.e. the fridge or oven.' Amy Nolan, Cakesfrommykitchen.co.uk, Derbyshire

Pricing

'Pricing cakes is always tricky - I have a spreadsheet that does it all for me. I pop in the quantity of ingredients and it looks at things like baking time. Bear in mind when charging for your time that the customer is paying you for your skills, experience and training as a baker, in the same way that you would pay more for a fully-trained hair stylist than a junior.' Polly Pomfrey, Pollyspatisserie.co.uk, East Sussex

'Do some market research, compare your cakes and see what level of the market you want to be in and where you feel your cakes fit in. Make sure that everything your offer has consistent pricing. It's better to start higher as you can always go a little lower if you're not selling enough at that price - it's easier than raising your prices.' Peggy Porschen

'Set yourself an amount an hour for your time and stick to it, then add ingredients and overheads - like electricity for your oven, lighting and petrol if delivering. It's about having the confidence to say: "This is what I can offer you and this is what it's going to cost."' Amy Nolan, Cakesfrommykitchen.co.uk, Derbyshire

Marketing

'Always have business cards and flyers to hand. They don't have to be really fancy, plain and simple works well, and give them out all over the place.' Polly Pomfrey, Pollyspatisserie.co.uk, East Sussex

'Invest in photography, it can be costly but it's worthwhile as I find a good photo of a cake justifies the price.' Peggy Porschen

'I think having good photos of your products is really important. I take my pictures in the same place, at the same angle for consistency so the website looks more professional.' Amy Nolan, Cakesfrommykitchen.co.uk, Derbyshire

'I had a stall at a local farmers' market then took along a photo album with pics of all my celebration cakes and got orders that way.' Angela Davage, Angela's Quality Catering Catering & Celebration Cakes, Somerset

'Get onto social media and connect with other bakers. The support is amazing out there - it can make all the difference.' Clare of Clarescupcakes.co.uk, London

'If you work in the celebration cake business it's important that you check back with your clients that everything went well. There's a lot of competition and it's important to offer a good service and show that you still care after you have your money and have delivered the cake.' Peggy Porschen

'Put business cards as gift tags on cake boxes when you send them out.' Amy Nolan, Cakesfrommykitchen.co.uk, Derbyshire

'If you're bringing out a line of cakes, do look for any local and national awards you can enter. Send samples of your cakes to journalists, which is a good way of getting people to talk about it.' Peggy Porschen

Where to next?

 

How to start a cake business tips, advice and recipes

How to start a cake business: Step-by-step guide 

'I started my own cake company' - one mum's story 

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