Everybody loves cake! That’s why it’s a $125 billion global industry. If you’re a baker with a passion for desserts, then starting a cake business may be right up your alley.
Of course, starting a business is rarely easy, and requires hard work and preparation. Thankfully, you’ve come to the right place, as this step-by-step guide details all you need to know to develop and launch your new cake business.
Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You
Before entering the baking industry, you need to know about the advantages and challenges that come with it. To help you determine if this is the best career path for you, here are some of the typical pros and cons of starting your own cake business:
Pros and cons
- Work from home on your own schedule
- Low start-up costs
- Simple model with steady year-round income
- Easily scalable and can be transferred to production facility
- Unsold products often go stale, leading to loss
- Target market is mainly local, hindering potential
Cake industry trends
For broader industry information, read this Step By Step article on starting a bakery.
Industry size and growth
- Industry size and past growth – The global cake market was valued at $44 billion in 2020, according to market analyst Grand View Research. Thanks to increased urbanization and more disposable income, the $10 billion US market has also been enjoying steady growth.
- Growth forecast – The global market is projected to grow at least 3% annually through 2027.
- Number of people employed – As of May 2021, more than 180,000 bakers were employed in the US, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Trends and challenges
Trends shaping the cake market include:
- Grocery stores and supermarkets are adding in-store bakeries
- Increase in bakery-cafes
- Rising interest in healthier and diet-related products, such as sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, organic, and low-sodium options
- Online sales of cakes are rapidly increasing as more consumers appreciate the convenience of placing an order while at work or on the go
Challenges in the cake industry include:
- Shelf-life issues of ingredients
- Capturing fickle consumers
The most popular types of cake consumed in the US in 2017 were:
- Decorated cakes (26%)
- Cupcakes (17%)
- Dessert cakes (16%)
- Creme pudding/pound cakes (11%)
- Cheesecakes (8%)
What kind of people work in cake shops?
- Gender – 54% of all bakers are female, while around 46% are male.
- Average level of education – 31% of bakers have a high school diploma while 26% hold a bachelor’s degree.
- Average age – The average age of an employed baker is 40 years old.
How much does it cost to start a cake business?
Startup costs for a cake business run from $2,000 to $7,000 or more, and vary depending on the equipment you already have. For instance, if you have a reliable refrigerator and oven, this reduces your costs. The amount that you spend on marketing will also fluctuate your start-up capital requirements.
You don’t need expensive equipment to bake cakes. Most of the necessary tools and equipment will likely already be available in your kitchen. You can easily buy any other items you need from Amazon or eBay, or from a local food and beverage supplier. In addition to equipment and tools, you’ll also need ingredients and packaging material. Finding a grocery or local dealer is your best bet for good deals on bulk baking goods.
|Start-up Costs||Ballpark Range||Average
|Licenses and permits||$300-$500||$400
|Marketing and advertising||$500-$2,000||$1,250
How much can you earn from a cake business?
The median cake size is 10 inches in diameter, with an average sales price of $60. If you start out as a solopreneur working from home, you can expect a profit margin of about 60%, which means you’ll make around $36 for each cake sold.
In your first year or two, you might sell 20 cakes a week. This would give you more than $62,000 in annual revenue, and a profit of around $37,000. After you scale up your operations with a production facility and a full-time staff, your margin will fall to 40%, but you might sell 100 cakes a week. This would give you more than $310,000 in annual revenue and a profit of nearly $125,000.
What barriers to entry are there?
In any food business, the biggest barrier to entry is often the stringent regulations and licensing requirements. Food businesses are regulated by the FDA, which provides a comprehensive guide on starting a food business.
Another barrier to entry includes developing new recipes to stand out in a crowded market. Consumer preferences and dietary requirements change from time to time. You need to establish an adaptable menu that you can customize according to your customers’ changing desires.
Related Business Ideas
If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
Step 2: Hone Your Idea
Now that you know what’s involved in starting a cake business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market.
Why? Identify an opportunity
Research cake businesses and bakeries in your area to examine their products, price points, and customer reviews, and see what sells best. You’re also looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a good gluten-free and vegan cake maker.
You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry, such as sponge cakes or cupcakes.
This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away.
What? Determine your products or services
The next crucial step is determining what sort of cakes you will produce and sell. Would you like to offer a wide variety of pre-made and custom cakes? Or maybe you’d prefer to focus on a single type of cake, such as cheesecakes or sponge cake, and build your brand that way.
Chocolate is the most-searched-for type of cake online, followed by red velvet and carrot. It’s a good idea to do some research and determine if it is more viable, in your area, to focus on wedding cakes, birthday cakes, cupcakes, or some other segment.
If you are new to cake baking, you need to spend some time developing recipes and designing a menu. However, if you are a seasoned cake baker, you may bring the recipes you developed over the years, reducing the time spent conceptualizing. You might also consider offering baking classes or online courses to boost your revenue.
One thing to keep in mind is that sponge cakes last longer than most other cake types before they go stale, reducing your potential losses. Another money-saving option is offering frozen cakes, a market segment that has seen significant growth in recent years.
How much should you charge for your cakes?
Your prices will depend on which types of cake you choose to offer, as well as costs, overhead, and your target profit margin. Keep in mind that your prices will need to be in line with those of your competitors.
Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price point. Remember, the price you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.
Who? Identify your target market
You could choose to concentrate on custom cakes, which would likely get you a lot of birthday orders. In that case, your target markets would be parents, offices and residential communities, and you could find them on Facebook and LinkedIn. If you specialize in a certain kind of cake you might want to focus on selling wholesale to local grocery stores, restaurants and cafes, which you could find on Google Maps and Yelp.
Where? Choose your business premises
In the early stages, you’ll probably run your business from home to keep costs low. But as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers and may choose to rent out a storefront or production facility. Find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.
When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:
- Central location accessible via public transport
- Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
- Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
- Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
Step 3: Brainstorm a Business Name
Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.
Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:
- Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
- Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better
- Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
- Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
- Including keywords, such as “cake” or “cakes”, boosts SEO
- Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “Jim’s Bakery” over “Jim’s Cookies”
- Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
- Use online tools like the Step by Step Business Name Generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.
Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these.
Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.
Step 4: Create a Business Plan
Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:
- Executive Summary: Brief overview of the entire business plan; should be written after the plan is complete.
- Business Overview: Overview of the company, vision, mission, ownership, and corporate goals.
- Product and Services: Describe your offerings in detail.
- Market Analysis: Assess market trends such as variations in demand and prospects for growth, and do a SWOT analysis.
- Competitive Analysis: Analyze main competitors, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and create a list of the advantages of your services.
- Sales and Marketing: Examine your companies’ unique selling propositions (USPs) and develop sales, marketing, and promotional strategies.
- Management Team: Overview of management team, detailing their roles and professional background, along with a corporate hierarchy.
- Operations Plan: Your company’s operational plan includes procurement, office location, key assets and equipment, and other logistical details.
- Financial Plan: Three years of financial planning, including startup costs, break-even analysis, profit and loss estimates, cash flow, and balance sheet.
- Appendix: Include any additional financial or business-related documents.
If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider finding and hiring a business plan specialist at Fiverr to create a top-notch business plan for you.
Step 5: Register Your Business
Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.
Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business!
Choose where to register your company
Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to cakes.
If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state.
Choose your business structure
Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your cake business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely.
Here are the main options:
- Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
- Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
- C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
- S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using ZenBusiness’s online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your Articles of Organization and be on hand to answer any questions you might have.
Step 6: Register for Taxes
The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN.
Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.
It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.
Step 7: Fund your Business
Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:
- Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
- SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
- Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
- Angel investors: Reach out to your entire network in search of people interested in investing in early-stage startups in exchange for a stake. Established angel investors are always looking for good opportunities.
- Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
- Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
- Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.
Your best bet for funding a cake business is likely personal assets and friends and family, though if you have an exciting concept you could also give crowdfunding a shot.
Step 8: Apply for Licenses/Permits
Starting a cake business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.
Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as, health license and permit from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits.
Since you intend to launch a cake business, you will also need to go through the FDA to get approval. The FDA has a set of guidelines for acquiring licenses and permits to operate your cake business:
You may also need state-level licenses and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more.
You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.
This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.
If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.
Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account
Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.
Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your cake business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.
Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account.
Step 10: Get Business Insurance
Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.
Here are some types of insurance to consider:
- General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
- Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
- Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
- Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
- Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
- Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
- Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
- Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of any of the above insurance types.
Step 11: Prepare to Launch
As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business.
Essential software and tools
Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.
Many excellent software tools, such as BatchMaster, FlexiBake, Bake Diary, and Cake Boss , are focused on baking and can help you with sales, inventory, pricing, design and more.
- Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero.
- If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.
Some of your business will come from the casual passerby or online visitors, but still, you should invest in digital marketing! Getting the word out is especially important for new businesses, as it’ll boost customer and brand awareness.
Once your website is up and running, link it to your social media accounts and vice versa. Social media is a great tool for promoting your business because you can create engaging posts that advertise your products:
- Facebook: Great platform for paid advertising, allows you to target specific demographics, like men under age 50 in the Cleveland area.
- Instagram: Same benefits as Facebook but with different target audiences.
- Website: SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Buy Now”. This can sharply increase purchases.
- Google and Yelp: For businesses that rely on local clientele, getting listed on Yelp and Google My Business can be crucial to generating awareness and customers.
Take advantage of your website, social media presence and real-life activities to increase awareness of your cakes and build your brand. Some suggestions include:
- Competitions and giveaways – Generate interest by offering prizes for customers who complete a certain action, such as the first cake bought each week gets 25% off.
- Signage – Put up eye-catching signage at your store and website.
- In-Person Sales – Offer your cakes at local markets, events, trade shows.
- Post a video – Post a video about your cakes. Try using humor and maybe it will go viral!
- Start a blog – Start a blog and post regularly. Change up your content and share on multiple sites.
- Seek out referrals – Offer incentives to generate customer referrals to new clients.
- Paid ads on social media – Choose sites that will reach your target market and do targeted ads.
- Testimonials – Share customer testimonials about how your cakes.
- Create infographics – Post infographics and include them in your content.
Develop your website
Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective customers of your expertise and professionalism. They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google.
You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.
Focus on USPs
Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your cakes meet their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire.
Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your cake business could be:
- Gorgeous custom birthday cakes at great rates!
- Frozen cakes — fresher longer
- The cupcake of your dreams
You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a bakery, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in cakes and desserts for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections.
The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in cakes and pastries. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. Online businesses might also consider affiliate marketing as a way to build relationships with potential partners and boost business.
Step 12: Build Your Team
If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a cake business include:
- Pastry Chefs
- Sales Lead
- Marketing Lead
- General Manager
At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need.
Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent.
Step 13: Start Making Money!
For many people, celebrations aren’t complete without cake. So, a birthday party isn’t complete without the celebrator blowing the candles on a cake. Newlyweds must slice their cake together during their wedding reception, and so on. The cake industry is enjoying steady growth so you should have no trouble finding customers, especially if you can offer something unique and unforgettable. Of course, it has to taste good too!
Now that you have the necessary knowledge, you’re now ready to start your entrepreneurial journey. It’s time to get out there, roll up those sleeves, and start baking and selling beautiful cakes.
Cake Business FAQs
Is a cake business profitable?
A cake business can be an extremely profitable venture, even if you are a solopreneur and operate from home. You will not have any significant operating expenses because there is no need for rent or equipment to purchase.
The cost of ingredients can make up to 20% of your sales, while you may budget an additional 20% for overheads, resulting in a 60% profit margin. The profit margin for a fully functional cake business with a commercial production facility and workforce could range between 30% and 40%.
Is it hard to start a cake business?
Not only are cakes tasty, but they can also be a great business opportunity if you have the right entrepreneurial mindset. Start-ups in this industry face low to moderate barriers of entry, although food health and safety regulations are one hurdle which every F&B business needs to overcome.
Can I sell cakes from home?
Yes. The process of starting a cake business from home is easy and requires little capital. You can deliver the product to clients’ doorsteps or even have the client book their preferred courier, which reduces overhead expenses. You can also accept orders online through your website or social media channels.
Is cake baking a good business?
Cake baking is a good business, because it will allow you to be your own boss while also ensuring consistent revenue. It’s also good for people who want to make some extra income from their side hustle, or those looking for artistic and innovative work that offers plenty of opportunities to learn new skills along the way.