Dream of starting your own cake business but not sure where to begin? You've come to the right place. Goodtoknow's jargon-free guide to starting your own cake business steers you through the process with expert advice from successful cake business owners around the UK...
Dream of starting your own cake business but not sure where to begin? You’ve come to the right place. Goodtoknow’s jargon-free guide to starting your own cake business steers you through the process with expert advice from successful cake business owners around the UK…
Before you start selling your delicious cakes and bakes, there's a bit of red tape to sort out. If you're setting up your cake business at home, the first thing you need to do is to contact the environmental health department at your local council to arrange a kitchen inspection and approval of your premises.
Whether you're planning to run your business full-time and register as self-employed, or as a sideline on top of your day job, you'll need to contact HMRC who will issue you with the correct tax codes.
It's a good idea to set up business banking for your cake business. Cake maker Kerry Atterbury recommends Santander, which currently offers a free Business Current Account for life. Barclays Business Start-up account gives you free business banking for 2 years plus free business seminars on topics like attracting more customers.
'Check with your mortgage company and house insurance firm that it's okay for you to work from home,' says Kerry Atterbury of Kerry's Cakes, Shropshire. 'Search online for the best deal on product and public liability insurance,' adds Amy Nolan of Cakesfrommykitchen.co.uk, Derbyshire.
You'll need a hygiene certificate as well as approval from the council. 'Contact your local colleges and learning centres about food handling/hygiene courses. You can sometimes get these for free,' says Kerry Atterbury. You can also complete a food safety level 2 certificate online from various companies (try food-certificate.co.uk).
If you're starting a cake business, start spreading the word among your friends, family and colleagues. Most cake makers get their first orders from people they know. 'Practise your recipes on family and friends, too' suggests Angela Davage, who runs a cake business in Somerset.
Decide which cakes you want to focus on. Cupcakes? Celebration cakes? Wedding cakes? Developing a niche can help you hone the identity of your company's brand, choose the right name to stand out from other businesses. 'Think about what makes you different from other companies. Is there something you do that others in your area don't?' says Lydia Mckee of Sugar & Lace Cake Company, Bucks.
Ingredients will be one of your biggest costs, so it's important to shop around and decide where to source them. Amy Nolan from cakesfrommykitchen.co.uk recommends Costco when you need to buy in bulk. Or you may want to support local farmers by sourcing your eggs, butter and milk from them and making this a feature of your cakes. Don't forget offers at your local supermarket too.
You'll also need to find reliable suppliers for your cake boxes, bases, stands and decorations. Amy Nolan recommends cakestuff.co.uk, while goodtoknow's cupcake queen Victoria Threader rates Sugarshack.co.uk and eBay for decorations. 'Some of the big online suppliers are also good places to get advice and specialised courses,' say Rachel and Annette of Morello Bakery, Hants.
It's time to get baking your cakes and hopefully accept your first of many orders! But there's still a few things to think about...
Pricing your cakes is one of the trickiest things about running a cake business. 'We calculate the cost of ingredients then put a 3-4 Xs mark-up on it to cover decorating and our time,' say Rachel and Annette of Morello Bakery, Hants. 'I use a spreadsheet with the quantity and price of ingredients and baking time. Bear in mind the customer is paying for your skills and experience. Always respect yourself when you price your work.' says Polly Pomfrey of Polly's Patisserie, East Sussex.
'Once you're up and running, marketing is one of the most important things to keep plugging away at,' says Polly Pomfrey. Business cards, flyers, word of mouth, a portfolio of your work to show to prospective clients, and contacting local and national press are all low-cost ways of spreading the word about your brilliant cakes.
A website is key to marketing your business and the easiest place for potential customers to see pictures of your cakes. If you're not sure how to set one up, rope in a technologically minded friend or use blogger.com: Google's free blog service which has lots of easy templates.
Twitter and Facebook are a free and easy way of marketing your business. To create a Facebook page for your business, just go to the pages section on your Facebook homepage and click on 'create a page'. It's also an easy way of communicating with fellow cake makers and swapping advice. Lots of cake business owners hang out on goodtoknow's recipes Facebook page!
Running a successful cake business? Don't forget to tell us about it! Goodtoknow.co.uk is looking for case studies for our new cake business section. Your success story could be read by 2 million UK women - that's a lot of potential new customers!
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