Should I Start A Bakery?

Your friend:  “This dessert is so Amazing! You should totally start a bakery!”
You:  “Everyone thinks I should start a bakery!”

Just for the sake of clarity, I will define a bakery as an attempt to sell baked goods whether it’s a home bakery business, a shop, a rented kitchen… Any baking of any baked goods that you want to sell is a bakery business. Agreed?

Full Disclosure: This is not meant to be legal advice. All I offer are my own insights based on my personal ups and downs in both baking and the baking business. I’m always up for giving my two cents.

Pink letters cut out of fondant arranged on a half sheet pan covered in parchment paper with a large pink question mark. Two sugar sculpting tools are arranged on the sheet under the phrase Should I Start a Bakery

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Yeah… But should I start a bakery?

If you are asking the question, “Should I start a bakery?” Then you probably LOVE baking and your friends and family have told you that if you sold your desserts you could make a fortune!

The problem is your friends and family can’t buy enough desserts from you to turn your love of baking into a successful baking business, and we won’t even discuss making a “fortune” here.

What friends and family CAN do is encourage you. They can tell their friends about your baking business and spread the word for you in their business networks. They can help you get your foot in the door at venues and businesses so you can begin to build a great business.

Here are some things to think about before you decide to open a bakery:

1.  You will have to do the work.

Friends and family can’t do the work to create the business for you. You will be the one who is accountable. Truly, you and you alone have to live this life that you are creating for yourself.

It will be you filling orders, managing employees, and paying the bills. Don’t forget you will also be washing many, many dishes, standing on your feet for long hours, feeling the crunch of the holiday baking season.

You will be the one making quotes for customers and answering the phone and reading the reviews and feeling the elation or pain… depending on the author and their mood at the time.

All the glory and all the blame are yours for the taking when you own a bakery.

2.  Know thyself

The adage, “know thyself” everything here. No ego and love of flattery, no desire to “people please” or let others make your decisions should be the deciding factor.

If you decide to open a bakery, you should make the decision based all on you and what direction you want your life to go.

Put aside the false information:

“If you love it, you should make a business from it! Then you will love going to work
every day!”

“Be passionate about your work and it will never feel like work!”

Have you ever eaten waaaaayyyyy toooo much of something you love and get SICK? Surely I am not the only one. Too much of a good thing can become a terrible thing. Not to sound like I am discouraging you, just asking that you consider how much would be too much for you.

3.  Only you know your hopes and dreams.

If you haven’t thought about your future self for a while, let me suggest you spend some time thinking about the next 3-5 years.

There is an exercise in Pat Flynn’s book,Will It Fly? How to Test Your Next Business Idea So You Don’t Waste Your Time and Money that I find invaluable. He suggests pretending you are talking to a really great friend who only has the best intentions for you and is truly happy about your success.

He suggests choosing 4 categories of your life, like career, family, finance, and health and telling the pretend BFF all about them. (Really, the whole book is great if you are considering launching a business.)

If spending 8-12 hours a day in your bakery (even if it’s a home bakery) isn’t in your vision of a happy, fulfilled you, then probably opening a bakery shouldn’t be on the radar.

If running a successful business that everyone is excited about while steering a great team to success is right up your alley, then you are heading in the right direction!

4.  Opening a bakery is more about business than baking.

If you really want to start a bakery, you have to think about selling what you love to bake.

The difference in baking for a customer and baking for family and friends is like night and day. It is so different, I suggest you put your love of baking on hold and study business. I don’t mean for years, or getting an MBA.

Seriously, take a few weeks to get a solid understanding of what it means to be an entrepreneur. Especially if you do not come from a family of entrepreneurs. The thinking is different, the actions are different, money is used differently.

If you are new to running a successful business, allow me to highly recommend, The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It

A business has to make a profit or it dies. It exists for the purpose of making money and supporting the people who it. So many nice bakers at home aren’t comfortable asking for payment for their work. They feel guilty, make sure you are clear on business.

5.  If you can’t put a dollar value on your time and a price tag on your work, you can’t run a business… yet.

If you HATE business and numbers and all you want to do is bake and decorate, I strongly encourage you NOT to start a bakery. There are plenty of other things you can do with your love of baking.

Maybe a Business Partner Would Be a Good Fit?

Another option if you hate business, and are not willing to learn about it, will be to find a good business partner who will handle the business side while you handle the baking side.

By GOOD business partner, I mean someone who actually understands and has experience being an entrepreneur, NOT your BFF who thinks it would be fun. You will have to sign a business operating agreement with this person and get everything in writing from the start. No handshake deals, please!

6.  Can you take a little heat?

Also, how do you feel about criticism? It’s not a daily issue around the baking world, but sometimes customers complain. We live in an age of reviews and internet opinions. Are you willing to put on your professional hat and handle questions, comments, and maybe even criticism?

The thing about criticism in business is that it may be really great. It may change you for the better or bring to your attention something that you really need to hear. Are you the type of person who can hear it, and decides if it is constructive or not? OR do you go into a depressive episode, questioning your self-worth, and climbing into bed for the day?

Not really joking here. Even though it sounds a little funny… “know they self.”

Be honest. What if I said your cake was dry? On your Facebook page… In front of ALL of your other customers… How would you react publicly? The key there was “publicly.” Cuss and cry all you want at home.

Taking the plunge and really deciding:   “Should I start a bakery?”

Opening a bakery is a rabbit hole of possibilities. The options are endless and the configurations of how your business can operate are too. When you start researching different bakeries and businesses you will also find that everybody got started in a different way.

Your circumstances will determine how you start and your tenacity will determine how far you take it.

A graphic with "thinking about opening a bakery" written on a pink rectangle.

Books You Might Find Useful:

When I started my home bakery, I had a lot of questions. I devoured every bit of information I could find. Some of the books that really helped me are in the following links. Although I will earn a commission for your purchase, I would not recommend something to you unless I sincerely thought it could benefit you on your bakery journey.

Further Study:

If you are serious about business and located in the United States, my go-to place is SCORE. They provide many online and in-person resources, including mentorship from real industry professionals. Go check them out HERE!

My second go-to place is the Small Business Administration. You can sign up for an account and learn everything you need to know about starting a business for free! They also have offices throughout the U.S and will be happy to meet with you.

Question Time!

Are you wrestling with the question, “Should I start a bakery?” Do you have more questions or is there another baking business topic you would like to see me cover here?

Please feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment and I will try to help in any way I can.

More about Bakery Business from Sweet Bytes:

Do I Need My Own Recipes to Start a Bakery?

How to Charge for Desserts

Food Safety in Your Home Bakery

How to Find the Target Market for a Bakery

How to Make a Professional Bakery Customer Service Policy

Choosing Between Types of Bakeries for Your New Bakery Start-Up

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About Mikel Ibarra

Mikel Ibarra holds a BFA in painting, is a certified cake decorator, teaches baking and cake decorating classes, and frequently combines her passions for the sake of art. Sweet Bytes is where she shares everything she knows about the art of baking and running a baking business.