If my grandmother’s cake carrier could talk, oh, the stories it would tell. That glorious stainless- steel dome with the wonky black plastic snaps that didn’t quite lock on the bottom plate so you had to hold the whole affair by the bottom or lose the delectable confection inside was the highlight of family parties for as long as I can remember. Gramma Julia was (and forever will be) my baking muse.
She was born in Germany and came to America arriving on the shores of Ellis Island in 1912. She married my grandpa William and they were together for 70 years, raising six daughters, including my mother.
Julia was known for coffee cake and Kuchen and my favorite yellow cake with chocolate icing and layers sliced so thin by a thread she held in her hands like a surgical instrument. Her mother, my great-grandmother Willamenia, was revered for her table-stretching apple strudel recipes.
As I learned alongside my Gramma, I came to understand that baking was always going to be a part of who I was and what I loved doing. Later it became a business, a source of income and a life-long passion I pursue to this day.
What About You?
You’re likely already known amongst your family and friends as the go-to person for dessert, right? You’re sought after at your place of worship or work or by your kid’s school when it comes time to adding something special to their fundraisers or celebrations. You have it in your DNA – you’re a baker. But at what point does baking at home for fun turn into a profitable small business?
Making the decision to turn your hobby into a business is a serious step and one that must be carefully planned and executed. Here’s a shocker: it’s not for everyone – heck, it’s probably not for most people. That’s why I named this blog, “Whisk Warrior.”
There are a lot of battles ahead of you if you want to truly succeed as a home baker.
There were nights after working my full-time job when I returned home to baking orders that had to be filled. Sure, I would have loved to plop down on the couch and watch television, but I made a commitment to deliver to my customers.
Are You Ready to Make that Same Commitment?
When you choose to turn your beloved hobby into a vocation, you will have to face more challenges than you ever could imagine right now. I’m not trying to scare you. Rather, I need you to enter this new journey with your eyes wide open. Long hours, cranky customers, hot kitchens, broken equipment, sold out ingredients, government bureaucracy, convoluted health regulations, order cancellations – those joys are all waiting for you.
The rewards are there, too, if you’re willing to enter into the battle with the right armor and determination to win.
If you’re still brave enough to read on, consider these questions if you really want to turn your baking hobby into a home-based business:
- In your state, are you allowed to operate a home bakery under the Cottage Food Laws?
- Do you understand how physically demanding the work can be?
- Are you able to accept that you’ll make mistakes that will cost you time and money?
- Can you be outgoing enough to sell your products and your business to the public?
- Are you willing to juggle multiple orders and consistently deliver them on time?
- Can you handle dealing with unsatisfied customers and resolving their issues?
- Are you business-minded enough to charge friends and family?
- Do you understand that you will be working long hours, late nights, weekends, holidays, and major sporting events – every season of the year?
- Are you able to say “no” when you need to?
- Can you afford the initial investment to begin your home bakery without going into debt of any kind?
- Seth Godin, a very popular marketing expert, says, “Be genuine. Be remarkable. Be worth connecting with.” Are you ready to start something you truly believe in?
If you answered “no” to most of these questions, you might want to keep baking as a personally fulfilling and cherished hobby. It can be incredibly liberating to know that you love to do something for the pure joy of creating – nothing more.
If you’re still not scared off, don’t say I didn’t warn you!
It’s okay to be intimidated in the beginning of any new venture. It’s the fear that motivates us – it means you care. If you have the fire in your belly, you can learn how to make your home bakery venture a success. Building the foundation of your business takes time, and just like any new endeavor, you will learn and improve as you grow.
Ready to explore a little more? It’s time to investigate.
Here are a few ways you can further research your next big steps to start a home bakery business:
- Learn the Cottage Food Laws for your state. What are the legal and health requirements to sell home-based baked goods? Find out what types of goods you can sell in your state? What are the packaging and labeling requirements? Check out my blog post about starting a legal bakery.
- Next time you bake something for someone as a gift, track the time it takes to actually produce the item. As bakers, we are all guilty of saying, “Oh, that only took me half-an-hour,” but did it really?
- Look around your area for other home-based bakers. What are they selling? How much do they charge? Is there an underserved niche in your area that you could fill with a baked good?
- Volunteer to bake for an upcoming special occasion that you weren’t planning on baking for. Check-in with yourself, how does it feel to be on someone else’s schedule?
- Visit your local farmers market and talk to the baked goods vendors about their experience making handcrafted products. Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions.
- Do some research on Google, watch YouTube videos, hop on a home-baking Facebook group, or take an online class with other experts in the home-baking field to learn more about the challenges and rewards of home baking.
If You Want to Start a Home Bakery, Start Slow
One of the best aspects of starting a home bakery business is you can do it at your own pace. You don’t have to quit your day job and dive right in head first. I recommend you think about taking a few orders over your free weekends to begin to get a feel for what it takes to make this business work. Doing that weekly for several months will build your confidence and skills to deliver a consistent quality product and provide you with a taste of what an expanded business could feel like.
If you have time to add more orders to your weekend you could explore that step next. If you are ready to go even further, you could think about getting a part-time job so you could add more baking hours in your schedule. Or maybe a few weekly orders align with your goals of earning $xx per week along with homeschooling your kids. You design the life and business you want.
To sum it up, you are here right now because baking brings you joy – and spreads joy to others around you. If you want to keep that as a fulfilling hobby, that’s wonderful, I encourage it.
But if you want to take a new step into a brand-new adventure where you can do what you love and earn a living, I’m here for you.
Have you gotten my Essential 5 P’s for Perfect Product Pricing pdf yet? I created this freebie to take the guesswork out of determining how much to charge for baked goods. Sign up for my email list and your very first email has the pdf.
Check out my blog archive for more helpful articles. Follow me on Instagram at @whiskwarrior where I post weekly tips, resources, and personal experiences operating a home bakery and retail bakeshop.