Need advice from anyone with bakery business experience (especially home business)


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Hi,

I've been researching, planning, and practicing for the last year in order to open a home bakery business in my small town in Texas. I perfected a few of my recipes, learned a couple new baking skills, and had most of the details hammered out in order to launch before I heard about a new brick-and-mortar bakery that just opened up about two or three blocks away from my house. Now, my confidence is a little shaken.
Most of my motivation for wanting to open a home bakery was to do something I actually liked doing that could supplement my family's income but also allowed me to stay home with my kids. On the business side, it was a great opportunity; in this area, there aren't many actual bakeries aside from the cake counter at the supermarkets and I could market myself to potential customers as a just-like-momma's-type alternative to mass-produced baked goods.
This new bakery is a small business run by a couple of local mothers, with a motherly name, and a whole mess of delicious-looking products. I'm happy for them for doing well, because in the month since they've opened they seem to do a decent amount of business in a location that doesn't get much foot traffic. But I feel a little like my dream has been snatched away.
I considered just going ahead and launching my business anyway; they mostly seem to do decorated cakes, cupcakes, and fancy cookies whereas most of my menu is breads, muffins, and pies. My husband suggested I go ask for a job and get some hands-on experience in the business world of baking, but for one thing, staying home with my kids was the main reason I even looked into baking as a money-making option.
For another, I'm not sure how it would go over if I went to work for them, then one day just up and left to open a competing business. Would I be leaving them shorthanded? Would they feel I took advantage of them? Would it seem like I was encroaching on their territory, so to speak?
I'm just very unsure of how to continue and completely unwilling to let all of my growth and progress over the past year have been for nothing. So if there's anyone who has maybe been in a similar situation or has any insight into what I've mentioned, I would love any words of advice you could give me.

Thanks in advance.
 
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You need to get rid of that romantic notion that running a bakery business out of your home is going to give you a bunch of free time to spend with your kids.

A bakery business is time consuming. Making just one event cake takes a minimum of four days when it’s just you.

Day one: mix and bake cake layers; rest overnight

Day two: torte; fill; degas overnight

Day three: ice; fondant; decorate; store

Day four: box; prepare Storage and serving instructions for cater; deliver

This doesn’t even calculate time to meet with the customer to design the cake; price the cake; shop for ingredients; shop for packaging; make custom decorations; make icings and fillings; clean and prepare equipment; invoice.


When you work for a bakery you clock in and you clock out at set hours.

When you run your own business you work how ever many hours are required to get the job done. And as the only employee you are responsible to complete every function in the bakery: baker; bakery assistant; cake decorator (yes, that is a separate position in a bakery); chocolatier; bakery manager; accountant; dishwasher; delivery person.

As a home baker you cannot offer the same things a commercial bakery offers.

Because of water activity level, you are prohibited from selling foods with a cream filling, a meringue base, fruit fillings have to be within specific pH range. You cannot sell a meat pie.

There restrictions on what can be sold from a home kitchen makes a home based kitchen bakery completely different from a commercial bakery. Two totally different businesses, two totally different markets. You must know your target market and you market to your target market.

Cakes here start at $8per serving, but average $15 - $25. A bride who spends $15 per serving for cake will never order a cake with American powdered sugar icing. That client wants a meringue based buttercream or mascarpone Chantilly cream icing. And those icings are prohibited for sale from a home based kitchen bakery.

Those who operate home based businesses are not marketing to the wedding industry. Or, they are renting space in a commercial kitchen by the hour so they can legally sell all products. But that also means they have to have a different type of license, they cannot have a cottage food operators license.

A pastry chef who I took some wedding cake classes from actually built a commercial kitchen on her property. To offset the cost she uses it for baking classes, rents it to other chefs for their work, including allowing them to hold cooking and training classes there.

So there are ways to operate on a professional level, without actually opening a brick and mortar. Renting space in a commercial kitchen is the most common way to operate at the commercial level, without leasing a building.
 
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I too, ran into all of this when I found out about the cottage law in my state. But I cannot use butter, only shortening with butter extract, and couldn't do wedding cakes with proper frosting clients wanted. I now bake in a small cafe , fill their pastry cakes and use their commercial kitchen to fill orders I have, with the owners permission, of course. This way I can use real butter and frosting on birthday/wedding cakes without compromising flavor.
 
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I too, ran into all of this when I found out about the cottage law in my state. But I cannot use butter, only shortening with butter extract, and couldn't do wedding cakes with proper frosting clients wanted. I now bake in a small cafe , fill their pastry cakes and use their commercial kitchen to fill orders I have, with the owners permission, of course. This way I can use real butter and frosting on birthday/wedding cakes without compromising flavor.

Yes, Home bakers who enjoyed baking think it’s simple to open a home based business. Until they start the business process, they don’t realize how many safety food laws come into play.

It’s very challenging and time consuming to operate a successful business from a home kitchen.

I’m glad you posted about your solution. That’s helpful for others.
 

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