How to Start a Cake Shop

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Successful cake shop owners know that being skilled in the art of making cakes is just one of a number of skills that are required to stay afloat. You'll need excellent organizational skills and customer service, and a keen ability to turn your client's dream cake into a reality. Consulting with clients, meeting with suppliers, getting your business legit and hiring help are all part of operating a successful cake shop. If you've got what it takes, consider starting your own cake shop.

Things You'll Need

  • Location
  • Food handler's permit
  • Equipment
  • Display cases
  • Supplies
  • Assistant
  • Web site
  • Liability insurance
  • Worker's compensation insurance
  • Sales tax permit
  • Federal tax ID
  • Develop a business plan that details how you intend to break into the market. Identify existing cake shops and how you plan to set yourself apart. Detail anticipated expenses for your cake store and how you plan to control your food inventory and minimize waste. Expenses include phone, fax and Internet service, utilities, garbage, merchant services, insurance, advertising costs, supplies, fixtures and furniture, permits and equipment. Create a name for your business and have an artist draw up a logo. Expect to pay at least $15,000 in start-up costs. It may be worth it to invest in an attorney.

  • Visit your health department's Web site to obtain study materials for and enroll in a food handler's course.

  • Scout out a location for your cake store in a high-traffic area. Many cake shops double as small cafes and sell individual goodies and refreshments. Take this into consideration when trying to gauge how much square footage you will need. An ideal location would be an old cake shop or cafe. Just be sure to conduct an inspection on any existing equipment that will be included in the sale. Look for a storefront with large, open windows where you can set up displays and lure in clients. Spend a few days studying potential locations to better gauge traffic.

  • Check with your zoning authority before you sign a lease. Inquire about projected utilities. Ensure that the building is up to code or can easily get there by contacting your building authority. Hire an experienced contractor to renovate your cake store. Then contact your health authority to set up an inspection.

  • Purchase wholesale cake decorating supplies, uniforms, fixtures, packaging materials with your logo, heavy-duty equipment such as refrigeration, display cases, shelves and ovens, as well as decor for your cake store. Don't get too carried away when purchasing store decor; stick to your budget.

  • Design a one-of-a-kind menu featuring signature cakes and goodies. If stumped, enroll in a baking class at your local culinary school. Then create a price list for your goodies.

  • Purchase a Web site for your cake shop business. If you lack experience with Web design, consider hiring someone to help you build your site. Then take high-quality images of your cakes and put them on your site. Include the types of events your cake shop can cater to, such as weddings, banquets, dinners, private parties, corporate events, marketing events, conferences and conventions.

  • Hire an assistant to help you with baking, presentation and secretarial duties, as well as running the register and serving customers if you will operate a small cafe. He or she should be friendly, knowledgeable about the ingredients you use, and capable of making astute suggestions to customers.

  • Offer complimentary coffee and samples to potential clients as they peruse your store looking for cake ideas.

  • Contact floral shops, wedding planners and caterers to team up and exchange clients and services.

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