For many professional bakers and pastry chefs, entrepreneurship is a very attractive option. Starting a baking business means you get to be your own boss, which can mean the freedom to choose your own hours, plan your own menu and set your own salary.
But being the boss also means you'll have more responsibility. You have to be prepared to make tough decisions, such as hiring and firing, handling the financing, and dealing with any problems that arise. In spite of this, many baking entrepreneurs say that running their own business is extremely rewarding—both personally and financially.
Your Recipe for Success
Owning a thriving business means going above and beyond a typical pastry chef job description. A good business owner must incorporate several ingredients into his or her recipe for success:
- Funding: The old adage, "it takes money to make money," is particularly true for small business owners. The up-front costs can add up quickly. Leasing retail space, buying ingredients and purchasing and maintaining equipment are vital elements of starting a baking business. You may need to take out a small business loan or secure funding from investors before you're able to start your business.
- Licensing: Obtaining the proper business licenses and permits from your city and state should be one of your first steps when starting a baking business. Contact your local licensing office for more information about your area's business requirements. You should also consider hiring an accountant to handle your bookkeeping and taxes, and a lawyer to draft contracts and other legal documents.
- Baking Equipment: As any experienced pastry chef or baker knows, the importance of having quality equipment cannot be underestimated. Depending on the size and scope of your baking business, you might need to invest in large commercial ovens and mixers to produce large quantities of baked goods.
- Food Suppliers: Quality food starts with quality ingredients, therefore it is important to initiate and maintain relationships with your local grocery store or commercial food supplier. When selecting a food supplier consider price, location, food quality and customer service.
Making Your Baking Business Rise
Before jumping into the baking business for yourself, here are some questions you should ask to determine if you're up for the challenge:
- What type of baking company you want to run?
- What kind of products will you sell, and how will you market them?
- Can you afford to take a large financial risk to start your business?
- Are you confident in your baking abilities and your business skills?
- Will you need a business partner or other employees to run your business?
- The U.S. Small Business Administration offers a wealth of free online training courses and information to help you through every phase of starting and operating your small business.
- Many states also have their own local or regional small business development centers that offer counseling and assistance to potential entrepreneurs.