The last year saw a 20% increase in cake and bread baking businesses opening across the UK, in part inspired by The Great British Bake Off.
If you're a talented baker and are keen to share your skills with a wider audience, you might be considering starting a baking business from home.
Identify your niche
It's important to think about the products you'll sell and what will set you aside from the competition. This is especially true in your local area, where your early customers are likely to be located.
Research what's available both locally and further afield. Can you do something different that customers will still want? Maybe you'll use ingredients that are sourced from local independent suppliers, or you’ll concentrate just on showstopper celebration cakes.
Being able to demonstrate that you can make a few products in your chosen area really well is a good way to engage potential customers.
When and where will you make your products?
You're likely to be baking and decorating in your home kitchen, somewhere that may also be used by others to prepare and eat meals.
You'll therefore need to be realistic about when you can bake uninterrupted, and how much you can make in that time.
Consider factors such as allowing time for products to cool before decorating, and how many products you can bake at once in your oven. It’s good to take time to think about this in detail as you may have less time than you thought.
Your new business will need to comply with the relevant regulations as set out by the Food Standards Authority.
This will include being registered with the environmental health department of your local council.
Most councils will have an online form for you to complete, which must be done at least 28 days before you want to start selling food.
They may then wish to inspect your home kitchen before giving you a food hygiene rating. The inspection will look at things including:
- How and when you clean your kitchen, for example before you produce any food for sale
- Where you source and store ingredients and the records you keep of this
- Food hygiene best practice
- That no pets are allowed in the kitchen when you are producing food for sale, and that no toilet opens directly onto the kitchen area
If you're unsure about any aspect of registering your home kitchen, give your local council a call before proceeding with your plans. They should be happy to advise.
Marketing your new business
Getting word out about your new business is crucial if you want to find new customers. Luckily, cakes and bread tend to be popular!
When starting up, consider some sampling sessions of your products with potential customers.
You could have an open evening at your house and invite the neighbours round, or use a stall at a local market or event to trial your products. Collect feedback and use it to refine your products to what your customers want.
Make sure you have information to hand to give out to people stating what you’re going to produce and how they can order from you.
Having an online presence is crucial for today's businesses. As well as raising your business profile, your customers will expect to find and contact you online.
Social media channels can also be used to showcase your products, post details of when and where you are selling, build connections with other local businesses and find potential local customers. Use great images and engage your customers.
Great inspiration for your food or drink business at the Food Exchange in London on 29 September. The event featuring buyers from Selfridges and Sainsbury's plus the former marketing director of Pret A Manger and the co-founder of Green & Black's. Book a ticket here.