If you've got a talent for baking tasty treats and an entrepreneurial spirit, then consider starting a home bakery. Gone are the days when you have to lease a store or commercial kitchen to bake for a living. Add your love of baking to some business sense, and you've got a recipe for home-based success.
Find Your Niche
As with most home businesses, you need to create a niche. Because your raw material buying power is limited, your baked product must offer some quality that your customers cannot get for less at the local grocery store. Just being homemade may be enough, but a unique recipe gives you a distinct advantage.
Research Your Market
Next, find out where you can sell your goods. Local fairs, farmer's markets, and locally owned sandwich shops and coffee shops are a good place to start. These venues are more likely than big chain restaurants to have a customer base appreciative of your talents. If you bake something that can be shipped, research similar items online and discover what the demand is for your particular baked item.
Legalize Your Kitchen
Before you start your home bakery, contact your local government agencies. Requirements vary from state to state, but you will likely need a food license and a business license, as well as a health department safety inspection for your kitchen.
Quality and Presentation
What is the first thing your customers notice when they look at your product? They notice how the product looks. Strive for consistency in the appearance of your product. If you sell your baked goods at a food show or farmer's market, choose attractive packaging that begs to be unwrapped. Most important, develop high standards of quality. The flavor of your baked goods should be consistent from one batch to the next.
Market For Success
Whether you beat the pavement, advertise in the local newspapers, advertise on craigslist or a similar combination, marketing will be the most important thing you do outside of baking. It is essential that you come up with a marketing plan for your home bakery; budget what you will spend and stick to it. You may want to employ someone to do this for you, but begin with a commission-based salary, to make sure your marketer can produce the results you need to get your business off the ground.
Network in Your Community
One of the best ways to get the word out about your home bakery is within your local community. Word of mouth is a powerful tool for small business owners, so hand out your business card wherever you go. Also, attend local small business meetings to network with other business owners, as well as learn valuable information about running your business.
If you want to turn your kitchen into a home bakery, you'll need to find your niche and research your market thoroughly. Whether you decide to start small or to go all out, legalize your kitchen, develop quality control standards and come up with a marketing plan. Finally, network in your community to capitalize on word of mouth and other valuable business resources.