If you are recognized throughout your family for your spice cake. . . If during Thanksgiving dinner, people fight over the last slice of your homemade pumpkin pie. . . You might consider starting a home baking business. Turn these most requested desserts into best sellers.
You may think “I don’t have time” or “I don’t know what to do.” Perhaps with a little organization and planning, and a realization of your earnings potential, you may change your mind. Listed below are seven ideas for you to consider when starting a home baking business:
1. Keep It Small – Home baking is considered a micro business – one in which there’s very little capital investment. Chances are you already have the right equipment and ingredients in your pantry. Keeping it small means offering only the baked goods that you do well, that are not labor intensive and that don’t cost a lot to produce. Don’t try to offer all types of candies, cookies, pies and cakes. If friends know they can count on you for exceptional pecan pie, then offer pecan pie. Stay away from cheesecake, at least for now.
2. Price Your Product – Many a home baker has given her products away because she thought she was competing with the foods in the deli/bakery at Walmart and other supermarkets. Your homemade, from scratch, rich desserts are on a level above the cookie cutter items that are mass produced hundreds or thousands of miles away and then shipped to the store. Supermarket baked items are made from a mix. They are almost always filled with artificial colors and flavors and chemical preservatives. A good rule to follow in pricing your baked goods is to figure the cost of your ingredients and charge three to four times that to cover overhead, packaging and labeling. Likewise, don’t price so high that no one can afford to buy your goodies. Find others who are baking and selling out of their homes. These are your competitors. Your prices should compare with what they charge for similar food items.
3. Promote Your Product. – Remember the holiday season is not just around the corner – it’s here. Now is the time to start telling potential customers about your home bakery and what you have to offer. You can distribute free samples at offices and businesses you frequent, with homemade business cards attached. There are a number of no Cost and low cost ways to draw attention to your holiday baking business. Post an update on Facebook, MySpace and send a Tweet to Twitter. Send a message to your email contacts. Enlist family and friends to tell their friends about your home baking business. Create and post or hand out fliers.
4. Expect A Market – Customers may not flood your door at first. The nearer to the holidays, the busier your home baking business will get. If you promote yourself properly, and your baked goodies are fresh and delicious, they’ll be featured at office parties and other gatherings. Busy families will seek out your bakery items and gladly pay for them. You provide them a valuable service. That’s one less thing they’ll have to worry about.
5. Be Aware of Food Safety Rules – Click here to get food safety training guides that you can use to train yourself. Although your home baking business is just a temporary gig between October and January, you still want to make sure your kitchen, equipment, utensils, ingredients, packaging as well as cooking and storing methods are safe and sanitary. The Prepared Pantry website has fully downloadable baking and cooking lessons that offer valuable information about baking ingredients, their shelf life and expiration dates.
6. Plan Ahead – If possible, bake more than enough pies, cakes or cookies and store extras in the refrigerator, freezer or pantry. Be sure to wrap them tightly to prevent freezer burn and maintain freshness. Certain cakes and pies do no freeze well.
7. Above All, Have Fun – If you end up having more work and more customers than you can handle, enlist the help of family members and close friends. They can help with phone calls and deliveries, even packaging and labeling. If your seasonal baking business grows fast and becomes huge in a month, if people are calling and knocking on your door all hours of the day and night, you should consider a cut off number and politely turn everyone else away. Apologize and remind them to order early next Thanksgiving and Christmas. Remember, it’s the holidays for you, too. You should be able to enjoy yourself with family and friends.
Fix, Mimi Shotland. Start and Run a Home-Based Food Business. Bellingham, WA: Self-Counsel Press