So you have a recipe that your friends swoon over, and you're looking for a career change. Or, maybe you're getting back into the working world but want to be your own boss. You may love to bake, but if you want to do it for a living, you better make sure that you love to do it all day long. And you better have more than one recipe in your repertoire to add some spice and variety to your offerings. Whether your passion is bread, cakes, cookies or pastries, a baking career can be a viable and rewarding business. So how do you get your big break?
Before you even start getting into the logistics of opening a business, you need to make sure your product is up to snuff. This means giving away samples to as many mouths as possible and asking for feedback -- both good and bad. Everyone knows someone who has a yummy cookie recipe, so if you're relying on yours to make you a living, you need to be sure yours is the best. Your ideal scenario is that someone who's someone tastes your cookies and offers to buy a million of them. But let's face it, that's probably not gonna happen. So what are the next steps?
Before you fire up the oven, you have some research to do. Do you live in a state that allows you to cook food in your home to sell to the public? There aren't many states that do, so you're probably going to have to find a licensed kitchen to work out of. Fortunately, many cities and towns have incubator kitchen space to rent, for people like yourself who are just getting started. If not, you can always approach a nearby restaurant or bakery to see if you can rent some time in their kitchen during their off hours. Churches and hotels also have commercial kitchens, so that may be an option. You're also going to need to get all of your business licenses squared away, and expect this to take a little time. Most states have pretty specific regulations for food businesses, because food-borne illness is a big liability.
How do you envision your bakery business? Do you want a retail bakery space or do you want to sell your products wholesale to other bakeries and restaurants? Do you want to package your goods and see them on the shelves of grocery stores, or do you want to create gifts for corporations? How about a food truck? They're coming back with a bang and are a whole lot cheaper than renting a commercial space with retail rents. But, whatever you decide, it all takes working capital. You'll need a stash of supplies and space to store them, an area to bake, and eventually, people to help you as your business grows. It's important to establish a relationship early on with a banker who can help you figure out how to fund your dream. And then the real work begins.
- Dockett, Marie. "About Starting a Baking Business from Home." Smallbusiness.chron.com, 2010. http://smallbusiness.chron.com/starting-baking-business-home-255.html
- "Small Biz Stats & Trends." Score.org, 2010. http://www.score.org/small_biz_stats.html
- "Starting Your Own Baking Company." Allculinaryschools.com, 2010. http://www.allculinaryschools.com/culinary-careers/guide/baking-pastry/starting-a-baking-company