Home based Bakeries

Posted on February 23, 2017 by Kathryn Alvarez

I started off as a home based bakery on a wing and a prayer with $100 in October of 2012 that I used to secure a domain name, website, ingredients and open a business checking account. Over the years that I've been in business - it came to my attention that home based bakeries have a stigma to them and some people view this as a negative. Believe me, people have actually hung up on me when they learned I did not have a store front especially when I tried to explain I'm an online and delivery only bakery. There have been many bakeries who have started as a home based business and moved to a store front and some you would recognize today because they are big named businesses.

A few things that I've experienced over the years I just feel I need to set straight or explain.

  • I run a full fledged business in which the goal is to earn an income. Someone once said to me - "you are home based so this is just a hobby for you, you don't need the money". What?! WOW! That couldn't be farther from the truth for me. There may be people who bake for a hobby or to have something to do - but that's not me.   
  • "I could get this cheaper from the other home bakery - why do you charge so much?" I reply that its because I am in the business of making money. I have not only studied business since the 6th grade, I've done business plans and feel like I could do them in my sleep. And they aren't small plans either. They are very detailed. I know what it costs to make a product. I know what the current market is and what my competitors charge. As a serious bakery, you can't undercharge or you'll be working for nothing and it will cost you more that what you sell it for. This is a touchy subject for me because some bakers feel that they need to undercut another bakery in order to get the order. But at what cost? Its only hurting them, not me. Know your worth and know what your products cost to make. I bake everything from scratch so it costs me a LOT more time and money for ingredients. This is my business.
  • "Home based businesses are dirty and don't practice safety." That's not true for all of us. I have seen some pictures on Facebook of home based bakeries who are posting their item to show off the item and its near a kitchen sink that has dirty nasty water and a bunch of dirty dishes and dirty stove tops. YUCK!! The light bulb clicked and I then realized this is one reason why home based businesses get a bad rep. Not me. I've always been OCD clean freak and food safety cautious my whole life and I still am that way. I personally have studied and taken food safety courses. And I created the food safety binder I have that I used in the store front. For me, its common sense not to put ANY food item near a sink and you have to continuously change your dish water. I thought every one knew that!! I'm hoping people also know when they need to wear gloves! And my oven, it's the cleanest stove and oven you've ever seen! Any time I had a cleaning crew come in to help me, they always ask me "what do you want us to clean, its already clean?" LOL! No kidding! I clean as I go. I deep clean my oven and my fridge whether they need it or not monthly. I clean every night. My carpet cleaners come every 6 months to clean the carpets in the bedrooms whether they need it or not. (I have wood floors in this house throughout the main areas).  I'm overly cautious. That's who I am. And when I had my store front, inspectors always commented that I had one of the cleanest facilities they had ever seen!!
  • "Why can't you make this cake for me, the other bakery said they would." Referring to a copyrighted cake. Simple. I do NOT want to be sued. Copyrighted logo's, characters, cakes and pictures can not and should not be reproduced or copied without the written consent of the owner. Logo's - especially team logo's you have to pay to use UNLESS you are a registered business purchasing say an edible image from your licensed distributor. When you do this, you have to make the cake exactly how they have it on their site or how they show you. You can't alter it because they are licensed to sell it to you with the intent of it being reproduced how they presented it in their application. I've studied copyright laws and bakeries because as a bakery owner, these are things I need to know. If other bakeries want to risk it, that's no business of mine. My obligation is to my bakery and following the laws. So if you see an item on my Pinterest page, its because I had authorization to make them.
  • "You're hiding something if I can't pick my item up." Not at all! Depending on zoning and in my case zoning and my lease, I am not allowed to have people pick up or come to the house. Because I lease, if something happened, the actual homeowner would be held liable. The traffic I would have would be a nuisance if people picked up to my neighbors. I'm only following the rules and regulations I have to.
  • "You can take off anytime you want." Nope, not me! With an online bakery, orders come in 24/7. There are times I get done cleaning at 11 pm for the day, take my shower and climb into bed and hear "cha-ching!" That's my phone going off saying I have an order. There have been numerous times people will order even 1am and want the item at 9 or 10am. When that happens, I have to get up, get dressed and turn the oven on and start baking again. There are times I have deliveries set already and won't have time in the morning so the only time is now. Then, I get done about 3-3:30 am - clean up, change and go to bed to get up at 7am. Or I'll get orders in the morning and they want it that afternoon. I'm always on call. There are times I try to take off and sometimes I might get a day and sometimes I don't.
  • "All you do is bake." Nope, that's not all I do! Being home based, you can't hire anyone that doesn't live with you or isn't family. I'm a lone wolf. Not only do I bake, but I create bake lists, clean, take orders, print labels, attempt to get something posted to at least one social media page, scan in paperwork, prep sales tax and other things for the accountant, budgets, update the website, shop, order supplies, inventory, respond to emails, deliver, plan the routes and...Whew!
  • "Why do you collect tax if you're home based?" Because I know business and I run a business and I know that you have to have an EIN (Employment Identification Number) with IRS and you have to register with the Kansas Department of Revenue (or whichever state you live in). You report your sales to the Kansas Department of Revenue and collect tax for them that you pay to them monthly, quarterly or yearly based on how you are set up. I've been set up since day 1!

There's probably so much more but these are the ones that I get the most often. And this is my personal experience and knowledge. I've always been proud of myself on running my business with integrity, morals and honesty. I want to combine what I love to do with providing a service to my customers and community, supporting my local communities (sales tax is collected by where I deliver, not where I'm located and that money goes back into their community) and trying to earn a living. As a woman entrepreneur with very little to no support system and with disabilities, I do the best I can. Its my responsibility to do all I can to make sure that what I do is within the law, rules and regulations including food safety. I take my business seriously so I can enjoy it.

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