The UK has gone baking mad. Due in no small part to the plethora of cookery programmes on TV, such as The Great British Bake Off, cake making seems to be more popular than ever. And an increasing number of people are turning their baking hobby into a business enterprise
If you’re thinking of starting a cake-making business, the first thing you need to consider is whether your baking skills are up to it. There’s a big difference between baking at home for friends and family and producing fare for paying customers. Take a look at what the other cake-making businesses are offering in your area and ask yourself whether you could match the quality and standards – or, ideally, surpass them.
If the honest answer is “no”, don’t despair – there’s no need to give up on your dream. You just need to hone your skills. Look for relevant courses in your area such as NVQ and City & Guilds.
You also need to consider if you can offer something different from the competition. Over time you can build up a reputation for quality and reliability, but in the early days of your business people will need a reason to choose your offering over your rivals’. So look for niches you could fill or services you could provide that aren’t currently being offered.
When you’re ready to start, you need to make sure you comply with all the necessary regulations. Even if you’re going to be doing your baking from home you need to register your premises with the environmental health department at your local authority at least 28 days before starting. An inspector will check the premises and facilities comply with the various hygiene and health and safety requirements. You might find you need to make some changes to gain approval.
The Food Standards Agency has put together a booklet called Starting Up – Your first steps to running a catering business. This provides advice and guidance on what you need to do to comply with regulations. You can view the booklet here: http://multimedia.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/publication/starting-up-booklet.pdf.
To find out more about the necessary steps to take, contact your local authority and the FSA – visit: http://www.food.gov.uk.
As well as the facilities and equipment required for baking, you need to consider transport if for delivering orders. You might be able to use your car while you’re building your venture, but you’ll need insurance that covers you for business use. Also think carefully about whether you’ll need something bigger, like a microvan.
Of course, other costs will come in the form of the ingredients you’ll be using. You need to look around for the best prices to maximise your profit margin. Don’t just stick to the supermarkets – look for deals with wholesalers.
When it comes to pricing your products, you need to take all your costs into account so you make enough money for your business to be profitable. But you also need to be competitive, so don’t price yourself out of the market.
To get your business off the ground, you need to make people aware of your services. Think about advertising and distributing fliers if you can afford it. The internet can also be an effective marketing tool. Build a website and display your cakes in their best light. Also, use social media to spread the word. You could even start a blog and promote yourself as a baking expert – your posts and recipes might get shared around the web, meaning excellent publicity for your business.