Thinking of starting a cupcake business from home? There's no shortage of new cupcake businesses popping up across the country. Personally, we love all the pretty cakes that people are creating, but for every innovative and beautifully crafted cupcake, there are about 10 shocking examples of how not to do it!
Let's be realistic though, it's not enough to just have a website and be able to bake a decent cake. You have to be able to stand out from the crowd. What that entails is for you to decide, but if you're venturing into the cupcake business be aware that competition is fierce, and it is very hard work (don't expect to get rich quick or to become Hummingbird Bakery overnight!)
Let's call a spade a spade, it's not hard to bake a good cake, but it is to bake a phenomenal one. Then there's the marketing, the PR, the accounts, the promotion, the menu construction, the constant evolution of product offerings, the competition benchmarking and the industry trends.
Running a bakery is tough, but if you're doing it for the love of baking then read on to find out how you can become a full-fledged home baker selling to the public:
- Firstly, get registered! Call up your local council and arrange for them to come and inspect your kitchen. This is an absolute must! They're there to help you and will suggest some changes if your kitchen is not up-to-par. Many see the Environmental Health Officer as a person who will always try and catch you out - this is a myth.
- Secondly, get insured! Public liability insurance and business insurance is a must to cover your arse at all times.
- Thirdly, register your company with Companies House (for a limited company, if you're a sole-trader there's no need) and get VAT registered!
Now the boring stuff is out of the way, you can crack on with the fun part!
- Pick a name! Have some fun with this, try and pick something that is unique to you. Just Google it before you start using it and check it's not already trademarked/registered. Be careful not to choose something that another company is already using, otherwise you'll unleash a whole world of legal pain later on.
- Decide on what you're going to bake and get your recipes licked. It's essential to be consistent so your customers know what they're going to get from you every time they order.
- Ask for criticism! Of course your friends and family are going to tell you everything you bake is delicious, they're getting free cake and they love you! Seek an unbiased opinion to give it to you straight, we cannot stress enough how important this is. You're not home-baking anymore, if you do not have a professional quality product then you need to keep practicing until you do.
- Work out how much each batch of cupcakes costs you to make, then add in your overheads (time, energy to produce, materials, etc.) and add your mark-up. Usually a good GP on food items is around 60%. Once you've worked out your pricing, check it against your competitors and ensure you're in line with what they charge, keeping competitive.
- Choose how you're going to promote yourself. We seriously suggest getting someone with some marketing know-how if you don't have any, especially for social media. It's not enough to just create a Facebook page or set-up a Twitter account and expect people to flock to you.
- Get a website! You can choose from loads of free hosting deals and make sure you get some SEO advice so that bad-boy ranks in organic Google searches.
- Make it clear how you're going to sell. Some companies work on an order-form basis with a PayPal set-up for payments, whilst others have a full-blown eCommerce website to allow you to order cupcakes via an online shop - *cough*Wraggamuffins*cough*
- GET OUT THERE!
All of the above is intended for a cupcake start-up on little (to no) budget. If you have money to spend then don't be a wally, get a professional to the specialist bits for you. That's it for now, the basics on how to set-up a cupcake company. It's not easy, but it is rewarding. Good luck and happy baking!