Love to bake and decorate cakes? Learn how to start a cake business from home and share the sweetness with your community using the tips and tricks in this tutorial!
When I was a kid, my Gram used to bake the most spectacular cakes and sell them to friends, family and neighbors for their special occasions. She never started a full-time business doing it, although, she certainly could have had an amazing cake business.
Her cakes were beautiful and everyone loved them. But, for her it was more of a hobby and something she enjoyed doing…it was never about the money.
After my children were born, I picked up on Gram’s hobby and started making fancy cakes for birthdays and special events. Just like Gram, I love doing it and secretively, I’ve always dreamed of opening a cake shop, but it has just never happened.
While I certainly learned enough about how to start a cake business from Gram, I have dogs and therefore having a cake shop at home, just isn’t possible.
So, instead, I thought it’d be fun to share these tips with you…maybe you want to start a cake business from home, but you’re just not sure how. Maybe you’re concerned that you can’t afford to start the business or perhaps, you just don’t think you can do it from home. But, you can!
Throughout this post, I’m sharing all my tips on how to start a cake business from home, learned from the best (My Gram), along with ways to get started without spending a bunch of money on supplies and equipment.
WARNING: This is a long post, you guys! It comes in at just under 2,000 words, so if you’re not interested in starting a cake business, maybe you want to head over to my Make Money page and learn about starting a business of a different kind.
However, if you’re set on learning how to start a cake business from home, let’s get started!
How to Start a Cake Business From Home
Create a Plan for Your Cake Business
A dream without a plan is just a wish…
While I think it is really important to have a plan for your business, I’m not sure that a traditional business plan is appropriate for you if you’re starting a cake business at home.
I think that your best bet is to write out what your plans are in a simple format that will help you get from Point A (the idea) to Point B (execution).
What are your goals? What are you going to do to accomplish them?
However, for those of you that need a basic blueprint, I’ve attempted a simple questionnaire below that should help you flush out your basic plan. Okay, keep in mind I’m not a business plan writer here, but the basics go back to elementary school…
What are you making?
Cakes, obviously, but what kind of cakes? Are you planning to make cakes for children’s birthday parties? Wedding cakes? Sugar Free Cakes? Gluten Free Cakes? Everyday cakes? Pancakes? ALL THE CAKES?
You see where I’m going here? It needs to be clear to you (and your customers!) that you make children’s cakes (or whatever you choose). Don’t leave people wondering if they should call you for a wedding cake.
How will you make it?
What tools do you need to start your cake business? Do you have any of those at home already? Will you offer a single size/style cake or will you offer a variety of options? How many decorating tips do you need to get started?
In other words, make a list of the supplies and equipment you need to start your business. You don’t have to start with all the fancy equipment! Start small and work your way up to the bigger stuff (see more tips below to make this happen faster!).
Who is it for?
You sort of answered this question in the “What are you making?” section, when you decided what type of cakes to make. But, now is the time to flush it out.
It’s time to really get down to the nitty-gritty of your customer. It’s up to you to figure out exactly who you want to buy your cakes and this of course, depends on what kinds of cakes you’re selling.
Will you market to Moms of small children? Brides? People with special diets? Anyone that wants to buy a cake?
The answers to all of these questions will depend on what type of cakes you are making, so it’s imperative that you decide that before you move forward.
When will you make it?
What is the time frame for purchasing a cake? Will it take you 2 days to make and deliver the cake? Will you need a week? It’s important that you determine your time frames before offering your cakes for sale.
You don’t want a customer calling you at 6:00 pm on a Friday night needing a cake for a 1:00pm birthday party on Saturday. Rushing through cake orders is no way to grow your business and it’ll only leave you feeling frazzled and dissatisfied.
Where will you make it?
And here comes the tough one…the one that leaves me secretively dreaming of my future cake shop…Where to bake the cakes! Of course, you can do it in your own kitchen, but…
Depending on the state you live in, you’ll be required to have a home inspection done by either the Department of Health or your local Department of Agriculture. So, you’ll need to have a spotless kitchen without pets. (It’s possible that some states will allow pets, but I know New York and Vermont do not allow pets inside the home when selling baked goods.)
If you are unable to do it in your home kitchen and still want to start a cake business from home, consider building a cooking shed or an addition that houses a sterile kitchen. Just make sure to keep the pets out!
Get the Legal Stuff Out of the Way
Get Your Licenses
I can’t help a ton here, because each state requires different licensing and registrations on home bakery businesses. However, most states will require you to have a food service license.
Plan a visit to your local government office, there will be someone there that can offer all the information you need. You could also visit your states website to find information on starting a cake business where you live.
What Should You Charge?
Well, that’s up to you. Back to your goals…do you want to start a cake business as a hobby or are you hoping to make it into a full-time business?
What is the cost for cake ingredients in your area?
How much time will it take you to complete the cake from start to finish? What would you like to make for an hourly wage?
Figure out what your total costs are, including your hourly wage, for making each type of cake you are planning to offer and multiply it by 3. That’s 1 to buy a new one, 1 for your pocket and 1 to invest back in the business (for supplies, marketing costs, etc.).
We’re going to use a 1/4 sheet cake for an example. These cakes usually serve around 20 people, so they’re perfect for children’s birthday parties, bridal showers, etc.
We’ll call it Cake A…
The ingredients for Cake A cost $5.00…
You want to make $10.00 per hour and it takes you 5 hours to complete Cake A…that’s a total of $50.00 for your hourly wage…
$5.00 (ingredients cost) + $50.00 (hourly wage) = $20.00 x 3 = $60 for the whole cake or $3.00 per serving.
Note – Most cakes are sold at the per serving price, despite the fact that you are selling the entire cake.
The Hard Part Is Done…Now Comes The Fun
Okay, so your business plan is written out, you’ve had the kitchen inspected, your food service license is in hand and you have your price list ready…now what?
Time to Get Supplies
It’s very cheap to start a cake decorating business and it doesn’t require many supplies. There’s no need to go crazy buying a ton of supplies!
Go back to your business plan and the answer you gave to the question “How Will You Make It?”. Offer customers a selection of cake sizes and styles based on the supplies you already have or those that you can acquire without spending a great deal of money.
Already have a couple of basic round pans and a sheet pan? Start by offering only the sizes you have. Or if you want to get really fancy, offer shapes that you can make from the pan sizes you already have. Can you make a heart out of 1 round pan and 1 square pan? You bet, you can – here’s how…
Come up with a couple of different cake flavors and a few frosting options and offer only those in the beginning. Or better yet, use the customers money to expand your supplies!
The girls and I made this adorable cake for Easter a few years ago…it was so much fun!
Instead of having the customer pay when you deliver the cake, set up an agreement where they pay 25% or 50% (whatever works for you) at the time of ordering and the rest during delivery.
By having them pay a portion up front, you can offer different options without having supplies on hand, because you can use their money to go buy the supplies and equipment you need.
Win-Win! The customer gets the fancy cake they’ve been after and you get new supplies so you can offer more options to future customers. You can’t beat that deal!
Invest in Your Cake Business
In addition to using your customers money to buy supplies and equipment, each time you make a sale, take a portion of the final amount and buy a new style pan or new decorating tips or whatever supplies you’re in need of at the time.
Basic Equipment needed to start cake decorating:
In addition to the basic equipment listed above, you’ll also need the ingredients required to make your cakes, but as you can see the requirements are few to get started in the cake decorating business!
Put aside money for the future of your cake business. Do you plan to run it from home forever or would you like to open a cake shop someday?
It’s time to get the word out about your new cake business!
Tell everyone that you’ve started a cake decorating business.
Make some flyers and hang them at your local grocery store, gas station, convenience store…anywhere in your community that offers a bulletin board.
Post an ad on Craigslist or your local advertising board.
Share the news on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or wherever you hang out online. And speaking of social media…use the heck out it!
Post pictures of cakes you’ve made…share comments from happy customers (with their permission, of course!) or even, share updates about new equipment or new flavor options.
Okay, you guys…I’m well over 1800 words and I’m sure you’ve probably given up reading by now…I would have!
But, if you’re still here, I hope I’ve answered all your questions about how to start a cake business – if not, feel free to contact me with your questions, I’ll do the best I can to answer them.
I wish you the very best of luck – it’s such a fun business!
Why not bake a cake today to share with your friends and family or your neighbors? Who knows? It might just get you your first order!
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Have a Spectacular Day!