Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Baking as a Business...

I started back at work a month ago and its been that long since my last post!  Wow, working 30 hours a week and caring for 2 young ones while trying to blog and bake and get back into pre-baby weight is not all easy. 

Entrepreneurship, self-employed, being your own boss, and business owner were all words that sparked my interest a couple of years after college.  I grew up witnessing my parents, as well as, every one of my Aunts and Uncles successfully running their own businesses from Auto Body shops to Pizzerias.  Owning and operating your own business is not a foreign concept to me at all; and my family made it look pretty easy (except for the very long hours they would put in everyday).  I guess looking back I did try my hand at business pretty early on, like when my sister and I started a baby-sitting service in our neighborhood.  And, ever since I have attempted venturing into other businesses; some of which just couldn't get started because of funding, while others fizzled out for one reason or another.  Starting this next project/business I feel much different for a few reasons.  I am going to be realistic when setting my goals and understand that not everything is going to turn out as planned, there will be bumps and hills along the way.  This does not mean that I am not also very excited and feel optimistic.  I think because I have such a love and passion for baking that it will come through in many ways; whether in my discussions with folks while networking or in my execution of product.
When I decided to start writing about my newest business adventure in this blog it wasn't necessarily to create a tutorial on how to start a business; however, I think putting myself out there and blogging will help me to be more accountable and thorough.  If this also helps someone to venture into business ownership or start baking more or be motivated in some way then great!

Here is a very rough outline of some basic concepts and steps to think about before starting a home-based baking business.  But, you can find a very thorough guide of how to start a small business in Pennsylvania here.
  •  What makes my product different from the competition?  Having a specialty or signature product will help distinguish yourself from your competitors. 
  • Selecting the kind of bakery... On-line, and baking from home or a commercial kitchen.*
  • Create a business plan, including goals, plan to generate revenue, list expenses, client base, examine competition.
  • Pricing my baked goods.**
  • Marketing, networking, branding, social media.
  • Focus on customers, ask for feedback, talk to customers, etc.
  • Grow and diversify.

* My parents decided to come out of retirement a couple of years ago to open a small Italian Restaurant called Sicilian Trattoria in Elkins Park, PA.  I try to help them out as much as possible.  I bake some of their desserts, serve tables when I can, among other things.  In order to help with food safety I took an accredited class; and I now have my ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification.  My Certification is valid through April 2020.  When I start getting orders I will be able to use a licensed commercial kitchen for my baking. 

** This is the area that I feel is one of the most important parts of a business.  After all, I am in this to make a profit (or at least not fall short of the costs).  I did a lot of research and found a great formula to follow to determine my pricing.  A couple of key things to keep in mind when figuring out prices are not only ingredients, but including cost of supplies, equipment, and operating costs into each recipe.

Here is a check list that I will be completing (not in consecutive order) over the next couple of weeks and months to really get my business started...

  • Register business, obtain a tax ID # here, 
  • Open a merchant account
  • Register new domain name
  • Set-up social media avenues
  • Create menu and price out product
  • Let people know how and where to purchase goods
  • Begin campaign, tell friends, family, co-workers, neighbors
  • Look for events, reach out to potential wholesale clients

I'll be working on all these things, of course while baking along the way.  The last thing I baked was last weekend (at least when I started writing this post). 

              My lemon thyme had survived through the mild winter we had and I just love it.  It smells so much like lemon and the petite little variegated leaves are so pretty.

I decided to try and make the Lemon Thyme Shortbread cookies again. 
This recipe is interesting because it uses cornmeal as well as flour which gives the cookies a slight savory taste and texture. 

 Nothing beats the smell of fresh lemon zest!  And the lemon thyme is so pleasant, too.
Using honey as a sweetener in this recipe adds to the earthy taste.
 I just have to take them out of the oven a teeny bit sooner next time so the edges don't brown so much.  But, other than that, they turned out really well!

Lemon Thyme Shortbread drizzled with honey

Next, I'll post some pictures and tell you about a couple of my summer pie undertakings. 
Till then take care,