Are you thinking of starting a cake decorating business from home? If so, you are not alone. And lately, people are becoming interested in the cupcake business as well. But as with any business idea, having the dream is only the first part of the equation. And working with food usually involves quite a bit more preparation, health department requirements, and possibly licenses that must be in place before you open your doors for business.
One of the most difficult things for people who want to run a cake decorating business from home, or even a small cupcake business from home, is wading through the regulations, zoning, and licensing requirements. It can be discouraging for someone who has never done this before! But don’t worry. There are plenty of people who have accomplished this before you, and you can now learn from them.
Here are a few tips to get you started on the right foot, before you go out and buy your equipment and business cards!
Business Plan or Blueprint
Whether you are starting a cake decorating business from home or any other business, you should not do anything before you have written out a business plan or at least an outline of how you are going to conduct your business. For help with a business plan, you can contact the Small Business Administration for assistance, or pick up any number of books on the subject. Paula Spencer, who is a well-known cake decorator, has a book dedicated specifically to the start-up of a cake decorating business. This is discussed in further detail, below.
What about Licensing?
First things first. As part of your business plan, call or get online with your State or Local government, and explain that you are interested in running a cake decorating business. Let them know specifically if you are planning to use your home, or if you are planning on renting kitchen space. Ask them exactly what you need to do, and what regulations you will need to follow.
Every state or city is different, so it is very important to start off on the right foot. The resources noted below can help you create a step by step plan of how to proceed.
Is my kitchen big enough?
One problem many people have is a lack of a commercial style kitchen. If this is your biggest stumbling block, here is a very creative idea that many others have used! Most towns have churches and various organizations that already have commercial kitchens in place.
You can ask the directors of any of these organizations if you could use the kitchens part-time in exchange for either a donation (perhaps even a donation of one of your creations for their events!) or a set fee.
You might be surprised at how welcoming one or more of these places might be!
Once you know that you will be able to legally open your business and have your necessary permits in place, here are a few ideas to get you started without breaking your budget.
If you already have some cake and cupcake decorating experience behind you, you probably have at least some basic baking and cake decorating supplies.
Unless your business plan allows for some larger purchases, start small and build up some business before buying tons of supplies. The resources listed below can help guide you in the essentials that you’ll need before opening your doors. Here are some ways you can test the waters fairly inexpensively. You can put the word out at day cares and elementary schools that you are available to make cake pops or cupcakes for parties or school events.
You can offer a theme party; for example, you can bring unfrosted cake pops or cupcakes, and supervise the children in dipping the cake pops in a topping, or having a “cupcake bar” where the children tell you what type of frosting they want on their cupcakes. If they are old enough and if there is enough supervision, they can frost their own cupcakes.
With a little ingenuity, you can make a name for yourself as a cake or cupcake decorator without spending thousands of dollars.
You will need to learn the correct way to price your cakes, how to prepare orders and contracts, and how to determine the size cake you will need for any given job. Don’t worry! There are formulas available that will help you learn this.