10 Truths About Running A Cake Business

Whether you’re thinking about starting a cake business or have been running one for years, you are bound to relate to the items on this list and they’ll hopefully give you a giggle.  Here are 10 truths about running a cake business.

You get to work with the highlights of peoples lives.

One of the nicest things about running a cake business is that your daily job runs around the highlights of peoples lives.  Birthdays, weddings, anniversaries etc, cake is used for celebrations and it is so heartwarming to see those parts.

My favourite day of the whole year is Valentines Day when I get to play cupid.  Seeing people’s faces as they open the door and see their loved one has sent them some freshly baked goodies – priceless.

Customers act like you are selling kidneys

Even after eight years it still amazes me how some customers behave.  By the way some people think it is appropriate to act you would think they were buying harvested organs on the black market, not a cute little box of cupcakes!

In this day and age there is definitely a tendency for customers to forget that they are dealing with other humans, and you would not believe how worked up and vicious people can get about a piece of cake!  Don’t worry though, I have a handy guide on how to deal with these kind of nightmare customers!

Cake becomes an inedible object in your mind

When you have worked with cake for a long time, you no longer really see it as something edible, let alone delicious.  Sure, I still have a massive sweet tooth, and i love desserts and anything chocolatey, but an actual slice of cake to me genuinely just doesn’t even seem like food.  I look at it like it were a lump of play doh.  People always say to me ‘How come you’re not obese from being around cakes all day?!’  It’s simple, you do get sick of them.

There’s a lot more to it than just baking pretty cakes all day

It’s a common misconception that bakers and cake business owners just have an easy life sitting about making pretty pies and fabulous cake designs all day, but just a few weeks in this business and you’ll learn very quickly that’s not the case.

If you want to make it there is a lot more to it, just like there is for any business.  Whether it’s baking or banking, you still have to deal with accounting, sales, marketing, procurement, HR, health and safety, product development, operations and production.  Except being a small business owner, you don’t have a big team behind you to back you up.  Running any business is not an easy job, and anyone that thinks it is doesn’t know what they are talking about.

You learn to value your time

When it comes to costing your cakes it forces you to think about what has gone into making them.  As a cake designer, the raw materials are relatively inexpensive, but what really racks up the bill is the amount of time that goes into them.

It is a skilled job that requires patience and attention to detail, it’s not something that can be rushed.  It’s important that anyone running a cake business learns to value their time quickly and know what it’s worth.  Don’t sell yourself short because you’re shy about charging for something intangible.  Decide on an hourly rate that you think your time is worth and stick to it, get used to charging that amount on top of your materials.

Cake is a fantastic social currency

When you are running a cake business you very quickly become ‘the cake girl’ (or guy).  Everywhere you go people always say ‘didn’t you bring any cakes?!’  They are joking (kind of) but cake actually makes a fantastic social currency and I have found it help me out in a multitude of situations.

It’s the ideal gift to bring along to parties or meetings, it is a surefire way to make sure you stick in people’s minds, and it is an absolutely fantastic product to be able to trade with other businesses in exchange for their services.  Don’t underestimate how useful cake can be!

People don’t want too many options

When I started out, I thought it was important to let people customise every aspect of their orders.  Colour, flavour, frosting, filling, topping, decoration etc – there are a lot of options to choose.  But it became apparent that 90% of the time, people don’t really want too many options, they just want to see something they like, pick it and be done.

The number of times I’ve received emails from people saying ‘Hi I’d like a birthday cake, how much will that be?’ with absolutely no information whatsoever.  It’s very frustrating, but it taught me that I needed to change the way the options were presented to the customer.  Pick a few different staples and then maybe have a few customisations options for your customers to choose from, I guarantee your sales will increase.

It’s not a fad

I constantly get people giving me a knowing little smile and saying ‘cupcakes are dying out though aren’t they?’ like they know it all.  Thing is, people have been saying that to me for eight years.  The truth is people will always need cake, it’s not just yummy and pretty and puts a smile on everyone’s faces, but it is culturally integral and has become such a huge part of society and tradition.  Cake ain’t going anywhere!

It’s easy to stand out

You may think that this is an extremely saturated market, and you’d be right, in some ways.  But the truth is it’s easy to stand out in this industry if you have a bit of creativity and a willingness to try new things.

Sure, there are squillions of cake companies out there, but the possibilities are endless and you just need to figure out what makes you different from all the rest.  Cakes are like art, except once created they are eaten and a new one is ordered for the next big occasion!  There is so much room for exploring and so much opportunity to stand out from the crowd.

It’s a totally achievable dream.

Yes, like i said, it is hard work.  Just the same as any startup, in order to make it in the cake business you have to work your socks off.  But it’s a lot more achievable than you might think.

When I say what I do for a living, I’d always get the response ‘Ooooh that’s amazing, I WISH I could do something like that!’  I always look them straight in the eye and say ‘Well…. you can.  Just do it’.  The great thing about this industry is that there are very few barriers to entry, meaning you need little else than a wooden spoon and some ambition to get started.  There’s no excuse not to go for it!

Still unsure?  Check out my ‘How to Start a Cake Business Course’ for a little guidance on how to get going.

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