Starting a small business is one of the most challenging things you can do. But it’s also one of the most rewarding. Be your own boss, set your own hours, and make your own money by starting your own bakery. You can bake only what you want to bake, market to the kind of customers who share your unique vision, and free yourself from the meddling of those who will only drag down your momentum. But first, you need to get your ducks in a row. Start with these five steps.
1. Pest-Proof the Building
Pest-proofing may not seem like a top-order item, but it is whenever you’re working with food, especially when you’re working with sweets. You might be asking—won’t extermination contaminate the food I’m baking? How long does rat poison take to work, anyway? Vermin extermination and pest-proofing is something you most certainly can’t do alone. Call a professional exterminator and ask if they can inspect your premises. They can offer you a quote from there.
2. Choose a Bakery Format
There are many different types of bakeries, but they generally fall under four categories:
- Counter bakery
- Food truck
- Cafe + bakery
- Home bakery
Each of these has its benefits and disadvantages. Owning a counter bakery could be a simple countertop interior layout where customers come in, purchase their food, and leave. Alternatively, you could set up a cafe + bakery where you own or rent the space for your bakery. That means you have maximal control of the aesthetics of the space, which can attract customers. On the other hand, you have to deal with all the responsibilities that come with property ownership. With a food truck, you can go to your customers rather than wait for them to come to you. You can save on property expenses with a home bakery, but reaching customers without a sign is harder.
3. Pick a Specialty
Plenty of bakeries offer a daily variety of cookies, cakes, bars, and other sweet treats. But you’re at an advantage if you pick a specialty and market yourself as the local expert. Deciding is easy: What’s your favorite thing to bake? Have a family recipe for incredible lemon meringue? Choose whatever is the most fun for you to make.
4. Hire a Bookkeeper
Small business accounting is a job unto itself. Focus on the daily operations of your business, the quality of your product, and your relationships with your customers. Let someone else handle the money. Just make sure it’s someone you trust.
5. Choose a Business Structure
As there are different types of bakeries, there are different types of business structures, and these, too, fall into four general types:
- Sole proprietorship
- General partnership
- Limited liability company
Each of these has its tax advantages and disadvantages. What’s best for you depends on the size of your business and your ambition. The U.S. Small Business Administration has a guide to picking the best structure for your small business.
Make It Sweet
However you decide to go into business as a professional baker, make sure you always remember to do one thing: make it sweet, savory, and successful.