Let’s face it, a lot of the cookies and cakes we buy from the store are tasteless and filled with all kinds of crappy ingredients. And they aren’t that cheap either, especially for all that junk we’re gonna eat.
Have you tasted some homemade cookies? Maybe your grandmother or mother used to make them or, better, maybe you are into this and have already started preparing such great treats for your family.
In this case you can understand there’s a REAL need for quality cakes and cookie, especially in the urban areas, where most people lack the time or inclination to do their own baking.
This is where you can come in and earn a nice income selling homemade cookies.
What you need to start making money selling homemade cookies
Well, not that much actually.
- some talent – you must be able to produce mouthwatering cookies and cakes, otherwise it’s useless. If you’re gonna pump out the same crappy food we can already buy from the store, you’re toast (pardon the pun). Even if you don’t know how to bake, there are countless recipes and video tutorials, I’m sure you’ll do just fine.
- a kitchen – even a small one with an oven is enough at first. You won’t be cooking monster batches at first at least, so don’t go overboard with buying expensive kitchen appliances and renting a huge kitchen space. Not yet.
- quality ingredients – this is where you’ll make a distinction from all that store-bought crap: use as many fresh/quality ingredients from scratch as possible. This means using flour and making your own mixes, getting some free-range farm eggs, great quality milk, butter, nuts etc. Don’t skimp on ingredient quality, people won’t pay top dollar for low quality food and using the best ingredients will allow you to get those high-paying clients your business needs and differentiate your business further.
How to get your first clients
You are now ready to cook some great treats and find your first clients.
Just like with many business, people who PERSONALLY know you are more likely to purchase stuff from you.
Give your friends and neighbors a taste
So, just cook something delicious and invite your friends over. Or visit them for few minutes, offering them a plate with the tasty cookies.
Make sure you tell them that, if they need cookies and cakes for a special occasion for instance, you can bake them, so that they don’t need to worry about this anymore. Mention the price as well, so that people know what to expect.
Network as much as possible
PTA meetings, block parties, your kid’s soccer games etc. There are countless occasions to mention that you do bake homemade cookies and give them a business card.
It’s easy to set up a Facebook page and promote. I’m sure you also have a personal account, why not use it to drive more clients to your door?
Having a website is gonna multiply your chances to succeed, since you can actually get people to subscribe to a mailing list (thus getting their permission to further connect with you), share your knowledge in a well-written baking related blog etc.
Let word-of-mouth do its job
Unless your cookies are horribly tasting, there are huge chances that you’ll get a lot of repeat business from your current clients and they’ll praise your merchandise even further.
This is why it’s important to make sure your product is top quality. People are willing to pay top dollar for something that does deserve such a price tag.
Promote more before holidays and special occasions
Not all people love the idea of slaving for days in the kitchen to prepare some delicious meals. So you can multiply your promotional efforts near any holidays/special occasion, since chances are you’ll get some clients.
A great friend of mine prepared the New Years Eve meals (both sweet and sour) for someone she knew and, instead of spending a lot of money during this event, she actually started they new year with some money in the bank.
Money management tips
- don’t invest too much at first – get ingredients and start fulfilling the orders.
- SAVE money – this is mandatory. You will need more money down the road, so please don’t splurge it on useless stuff. Prepare for taxes, more investments, maybe a pro-kitchen you’ll rent etc.
- find out how you can go fully legal – I always advise future small business owners to first VALIDATE their business idea. So making few sales without having a legal formation is OK, to find out if people are willing to buy and how would such a business scale up. As soon as you validated your idea, get a legal formation and find out everything you need to take into account so that you are doing this professionally.
- invest money where it really matters – I’m all for being effective and making the steps that will have the biggest impact on your business. I urge you to look into Pareto’s Principle and try understand what will push your business forward the most. Is it a new stove that can simultaneously bake more batches? Is it an expensive mixer that allows you to prepare more dough? Whatever it is, invest in it first and grow your home business.
- get better deals for your ingredients – I’m sure that, at first, you’ll probably get your ingredients from the local markets and stores. As you start needing more ingredients, it makes sense to source out some better deals and lower your acquisition prices.
- hire staff ONLY when needed – it’s pretty easy to get carried away and hire people for your small business. It’s OK do to it, when you really need more full-time help but, before that, you can use your family members or a close friend. As soon as your business is growing, hiring staff becomes a must.
- always have money for more investments, taxes and any other unexpected expenses. Most business go bankrupt because their owners cannot keep up with the business costs anymore. Whether it’s a fine you need to pay, a new type of insurance or your staff’s wages, you need to have your own business emergency fund to run to.
- keep business and personal accounts separate – it’s easier to manage your business money and it’s safer. As soon as you’ll also incorporate as a business, keeping a separate account for your home business will make even more sense.
- keep good records – as you’ll soon find out, running a business also means A LOT of paperwork. Make sure you stay on top of it and also get a good accountant on your team.
More tips to making money selling homemade cookies
Don’t cheapen your products
I know it’s pretty easy to play the ‘price’ game to get more customers. This means you’ll make less profit and invest less in your business.
It’s not a mistake to charge more than the stores charge for similar products, as long as yours are natural, baked from scratch and using only top quality ingredients.
Going after the ‘cheap’ client will only damage your business, especially since there are so many families who are willing to pay more for a great quality product.
Hygiene should be a huge priority
Make sure all your ingredients are fresh and your kitchen is spotless. One customer who gets sick after eating your cookies will destroy your business faster than you can spell indigestion.
Always listen to your clients
Would they like a new type of cookies? Does the filling taste too sweet? Leave pride aside and make sure your baking is ‘speaking’ to their direct needs and tastes.
Use your invaluable customer feedback to perfect your craft and expand your offering.
Purchase the right type of insurance
Make sure both you and your small business are properly covered if anything goes wrong. You are working with people, selling food etc. If the ‘dough’ hits the fan, you should be covered.
This small guide should help you get on the right track with a small baking business. Be professional, bake something delicious and see your business grow.