So you want to be a professional cake decorator? Well, though it seems like no big deal on the show “Cake Boss” or “Ace of Cakes”, cake decorating is a lot of work. Opening your own cake decorating business can be a challenge, but with the right know-how you can get it right the first time. After opening and operating my own cake decorating business for almost seven years I have compiled my own list of know-how to open a cake decorating business.
What is the Plan?
First thing you have to ask yourself is what is your ultimate plan? Are you focusing mainly on wedding cakes, or specialty cakes, or even cupcakes? All three? You have to build your base. Some cake decorators will not do cupcakes and some will. Second, are you going to run your cake decorating business from home or another location?
When it comes to first starting out, I highly recommend doing your decorating from home. Cake decorating as a hobby is one thing, but once you start taking orders, increasing the workload, you may realize this is something you do not want to do. It’s better to be working out of your home than be stuck in a commercial lease and realize cake decorating is not your dream.
If you plan on doing wedding cakes, realize that people are now paying you for THEIR DAY. This means expectations are much higher than doing a free wedding cake for your sister or cousin. People will have high demands to get what they pay for and you need to meet them. Be sure you can handle the workload. If it takes you three days to make a wedding cake, you need to speed up. After decorating for seven years, I do one to two wedding cakes on the same day. In doing so I also can complete them in 48 hours if need be. That includes from concept, to baking, to finishing touches. You have to be quick and accurate with your work.
Know Your Demand
Is there a high demand for cake decorators in your area? Or are there already too many? If you live in a high “wedding popular” area, you may be out numbered by other cake decorators. However, is there a high demand that they cannot keep up with? If there are a high demand for wedding cakes, specialty cakes, etc, then you’re services will be a service people need. Therefore, it will be successful.
Know Your Budget
To start any business, you may have to pony up some dough of your own. Many banks will loan start up money, but for cake decorating businesses (which have a lower amount of revenue) they may require some collateral. Be prepared to pay. Be prepared to not make money for a few years as well if this is going to be your full-time job. The sad reality is that when you first start to decorate cakes you will not be able to charge as much as your competitors who have been around for years. Even if you have been decorating as a hobby for ten years, if you have not been in business nor made a name for yourself, your pricing means nothing. So be prepared to not have as much income as you picture “Cake Boss” making.
Create a Plan
The next step is to make a business plan. Whether you plan to take out a loan or not, it’s a good goal-setting piece of material to help your business succeed. Set budgets for spending and income, payroll, and supply. Set quarterly goals for your business to achieve. Not sure where to start on a business plan? There are many sites out there for first-time business owners that will give you a step-by-step instruction on business plans. A good example would be www.myownbusiness.org.
Get Your License
Depending on where you live, there may be special requirements for cake decorators. You will have to register your business not only with the state, but the city you live in. Many will require food permits and home or commercial inspections. The business license processing can take one day to three weeks (depending on your city and county laws). Pick your licensing well. There are many options for a business such as Sole Proprietor, Limited Liability Corporations, Incorporations, S Corporations, etc. Research each option to see which fits best for you before applying for your license.
Make sure you have all permits, contact information, and your plan for your business ready before applying for your license. You will need to have a business address prior to applying, so if you plan on renting a commercial space you best have one picked out prior to the application process.
Get Started, But Slowly
Just remember that after everything is planned and ready to go, you have to take it slowly. Buy inventory as needed. Do not stock up on every single pan size. Purchase pans as needed. That way you can make sure you are only buying the pan sizes you will actually use. You will be surprised to find that often times you will use the same size pan for majority of your orders. Until you know the work volume you are going to get, it’s best to buy baking ingredients as you get orders in. That way if work volume is slow, your products do not go to waste.
Those are just a few simple steps to take in order to start your cake decorating business. I won’t lie, cake decorating is a highly stressful job. If you know what you are doing, confident in your work, and ready to work hard for long hours, you will make it. It won’t happen overnight, but I promise with hard work and dedication it will happen.
Taken from my own experience in starting my own cake decorating business, Kali Katering.