The best advice I can give is to visit a SCORE office and talk to a SCORE counselor about starting a business. SCORE is located all over the United States, it is FREE and confidential. The second best advice is to go on line to SCORE at "www.score.org" They have a Virtual Learning Center where you can take 26 FREE on line courses including MARKETING and ADVERTISING. Do you have an Accountant?? Take pictures of your desserts, it is great advertising. Good luck, LUCKIEST
I always see referrals to SCORE on online networking sites - but I've known other people who've had their dreams dashed by SCORE counselors and they actually went on to have successful businesses. I'm one of them. smile So, SCORE is not "the end all be all." I got a person there as a "counselor" who spent his entire career in manufacturing of trucks - he totally didn't understand what I wanted to do with writing, speaking, mentoring and books. He was very discouraging - and I've had a successful home-based business for years now. By all mean avail yourself of what you can get there - but don't let them discourage you if they don't get it.
You need to sit down and figure out how much money it will take to create your desserts - and how much it costs to get them out to people and how much you can get for them in the marketplace. For starters you will need to use a commercial kitchen that meets all the Health Department standards - not your home kitchen. So that needs to be factored into the cost. You'll need to get the word out - so marketing and advertising must be factored into the cost. Also, delivery of your products must be factored in. Maybe delivery by van or truck locally. Maybe shipping costs if you mail products out. Look at the shipping costs for desserts sold via QVC and HSN - the shopping channels. And other costs as well. Oh yes, and don't forget to pay yourself, too. smile
You can niche your business in a number of ways. You can sell your products to restaurants and bakeries. Or you can sell to the general public. Selling to the general public means you usually need to have a storefront location. Not always but usually. There are bakeries now in certain cities that make just cupcakes, for example. They are very fancy with custom marzipan flowers or other designs on the top - but that's all they do. Very specialized. I know one woman whose business is only selling shortbread. She makes a bunch of different kinds - but it's delicious and she ships it all over the USA from orders to her website. Fortunately shortbread is pretty sturdy stuff and every time I've ordered it - it's been perfect. Yum!
You can be a caterer with products like these and run the business from home - even though you still need the commercial kitchen. Btw, there are churches, schools and catering halls (that usually do weekend wedding business) with these kind of kitchen facilities that will rent their kitchen out much less expensively than having one built.
I tell many of my marketing mentoring clients that loving your product is one good reason to start a business - but it's certainly not the only reason. You have to want to build an enterprise. You have to be willing to learn all the other aspects of business to have a success story.
As for as "permits," you need to register your business with your county clerk, of course -- and you may need some type of health permit (check your state health department's web site for more information). For example, Texas requires you to have an initial Food Manufacturer License, and to obtain one for a home-based business, you have to show that any areas of your home where you prepare or store food to be sold are totally separated by closed doors from any living or sleeping areas of the house. Yet certain cities in Texas have made it illegal to prepare food for sale in a private residence period -- so check your county and city health department websites to be sure that you can do what you have in mind.
As for "how to start from low," I assume you mean keeping your costs down to being with. Start simple, making the things you make best. Don't buy large quantities of supplies and ingredients until you have regular customers and know you need large quantities. Resist the temptation to spend your initial profits (or worse yet, go into debt) buying fancier cookware, a new oven, custom-printed cake boxes, or anything like that. Be very tight with money. Initially, only spend it on things that guarantee you more customers. You can upgrade your kitchen, expand your product line, and dress up your image down the road.
As for advertising, several good ideas are already posted. You say that you "sure know how to make good desserts." If you have a community college with a continuing education program in your city, your "know how" could provide extra income and advertising. You could teach an evening class to adults on how to make great desserts. Your students would obviously be dessert-lovers, and while most might use your recipes to make dessert for their families, you'd be the one they call to order special desserts for important dinners or events.
You might also try contacting the hosts/producers of locally broadcast early morning television shows. In the next month or so, these shows will book dozens of local guests to talk about topics of interest related to the holidays. Come up with something unique -- like an authentic traditional or ethnic Christmas dessert, a "themed" creation that would appeal to their viewers, or something for a specific market segment (for example, I love rich desserts, but have two friends who are diabetic -- it's hard to find good desserts for them, so if I saw you on TV with one, I'd probably order ALL my holiday desserts from you).
Also, contact the various private and public charitable organizations in your area that serve children. They are now in the process of arranging holiday parties and such that will draw tons of volunteers and lots of news coverage. Providing dessert for such an event would put you and your product in front of many potential new customers -- plus it'd be something you could feel really good about.
The first thing you have to do is contact your county's Health Department and your state's Department of Agriculture...these are the folks who regulate the laws concerning food preparation. Ask them to send you information on preparing and selling food. If you are going to make your desserts from home, you'll have to meet very strict requirements for cleanliness, garbage removal, pest mitigation, food storage, packaging, etc. You will have to take a test to get your certification as a Food Manager. You will also have to have a delivery method that meets code. For example, if you make Key Lime Pie and keep it refrigerated, you'll have to keep it refrigerated during delivery, too. You will also have to establish yourself as a business in order to be able to purchase your supplies at wholesale prices (which is not a hard thing to do). Then there's the whole tax thing (which is also not hard). There is a ton of paperwork that has to be done, but all it takes is time. If you determine that the rules and regulations and codes are for the benefit of the health of your neighbors, you'll be able accomplish everything that the government asks for (again, not hard, just time consuming). Pay attention to the details and you'll do fine!!!
Hi - I was at a holiday festival this evening and saw (and consumed!) lots of holiday desserts. Wondered about your business . . . How have you progressed? Was any of our input helpful to you? Please give us an update when you can. Thanks!
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Please visit http://cookingwithdenay.com, the web owner is Denay and she will provide you information for free. Please shoot her an email and get on her mailing list. She also has free online chats for food innovators like yourself.
I took a couple of online classes and they were absolutely awesome.
Search in google, for instance you can search by "doing business in your state" and it will automatically take you to different government sites. Also, you can visit different websites that are related to what you want to do and just freely ask them how they got started. Believe me, it helps, I did it myself. As far as the advertsing, you're already doing it by posting your thoughts and ideas in this site. As some one mentioned in another posting, you can advertise with family, in church gathering, parties. Also, yellowpages.com has different packages that you can choose from and they also have one that's free. I hope this helps a little bit.
Bt the way, what kind of desserts do you make? where are you located?
It is called Automatic Recruter software, this could help on a small or large scale business begins recruting immediately after you've set it up, it comes with a built in control panel that is simple to use.
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