Baking business with NO business!!!

CilantrochefCilantrochef Posts: 1subscriber
 Hello All.  We are a small (one person operation) baking business.  A few years ago, my mother in law made the suggestion that we should sell our cookies ( a cross between a biscotti and a shortbread cookie--the product has no name so we often have to describe it to people.  They think its bread or sliced cake, and its also a product that you have to taste to believe.. anywho)thats how we got started.  We began selling to friends and family and then turned to the farmers market.  We have tried (I have to admit Im not a people person so to speak sales wise) to sell to local businesses, but due to the fact that we have no "official commercial kitchen"  I don`t feel comfortable baking and selling from my home to big business.  We turned our attention to the farmers markets (3 years running) and do a brisk business there.  At the markets we sell the cookies and a few "items of the week"  (focaccia;/pizza bread, sweet rolls, and other bread based or cake based items) These sell as well.  Our problem (Im sure you were wondering when we were going to get to that ) is this.  Its a catch 22 situation.  We don`t have the business to afford a commercial kitchen rental, and we cant GET the busines because we dont have a commercial kitchen.  A local business took our product (one that we only can sell either online or during cooler months (a chocolate dipped version of our cookie) and it sells as well as our chocolate covered brownie bites (another favorite) WHEW....my dilema is this...
(1)  How can we build our business so we can become a BUSINESS
(2)  How can I sell the product when Im not sure how to SELL the product
(3) How can we get website traffic to show case our product.  We offer a FREE sample box so you can try before you buy
(4)  Where should look for commercial space (sublease, rent, lease?)
(5)  How do we go about branding our product.  We have changed the logo several times and had it professionally done, but it just doesnt work with the packaging we have chosen (plastic hing containers)
Any ideas, thoughts, suggestions?  I realize that we are all over the place and Im a creative individual, a hands on thinker if you will.  I tend to create in the moment and seek perfection.  This product has been 3 years in the making and is finally where I feel its a sellable product.  But...its has no name.....
 
 
 

Comments

  • iouone2iouone2 Posts: 14subscriber
    entreprenerd... that was a great answer. I can add some of my
    own experience. My online retail store is rather small, but within
    one year, I went from a few drop ship items to having an
    inventory and now working towards importing a 40 foot
    container. Now I am at a difficult point just as Cilantrochef.
    Inventory is running low, but I do not have the 20K to import
    and store a 40 foot container. (In the early days the importer
    would store and sell the contents to me in smaller quantities.
    Now that importer no longer sells retail. Thus, a full container
    purchase is required.

    I know I can push the product, but could never convince a bank
    to lend me the capital. I look at challenges like this as major
    mile markers for accomplishment. This (the time when you don`t
    know how to overcome) is the TOP CHALLENGE of owning a
    business.

    My small advise. Keep looking at new ideas as solutions.
    Remember, not all solutions are packaged complete. Meaning
    you may need to combine a couple of ideas in order to
    accomplish your goal.

    Suggestion: Have you thought about finding a local restaurant
    and renting or bartering for kitchen usage in the off hours?
    Maybe they would let you use the kitchen from midnight to 6am.
    It`s rough hours to work out, but maybe if you became the late
    night cleaning crew (while your goods were baking) they would
    be more likely to open up to you.

    Just a thought.
  • CilantrochefCilantrochef Posts: 1subscriber
    As far as the name goes, while driving about today, I came up with one.  What do you think. (DippyChick) Botti Bites (Our cookies are a cross between a shortbread cookie and a biscotti and Shotti just doesn`t cut it )
    Im looking into the restaurant thing, but it is often a battle of insurance issues that brings it to a screeching hault as well as supply issues.  I would love to build a kitchen but we have no basement.  The county allows for commercial kitchens in homes as long as they are seperate from the home,and come up to health safety codes.
     
    Thanks for the ideas.
  • NicoleCNicoleC Posts: 18subscriber
    If you haven`t already checked with your local Chamber of Commerce and local Small Business Administration office then please consider it.  Sometimes their offices have or can refer you to small business incubator facilities.  Another place to check is with your local Down Town Development Authorities Director and your local municipality`s Community and Economic Development offices because they often know what their community`s needs and resources are.  Plus the Community and Economic Development`s Planning and Zoning offices can often save you alot of headaches when you check with them early on.  For example they can tell you what "uses" can occur within a particular zoning and if any specific ordinances apply toward what you want to do.   Should you decide to lease or purchase a commercial or industrial property anywhere within the United States then  I can be of assistance because I participate in a nationwide real estate referal network.  Good Luck with the growth of your business!
  • iouone2iouone2 Posts: 14subscriber
    RealtorNicole,
    Great suggestion about the different city offices. That
    information is usable on several levels.

    Kathy,
    I am happy you found my website (www.elusivetreasures.com)
    enjoyable. I hope to see you sign up for our Guest List.
    Thanks for taking a look. Any suggestions?
  • CilantrochefCilantrochef Posts: 1subscriber
    If we could talk, that would be great.  I could really use a little help as the summer months and the farmers market get more busy.  If you can please feel free to email me. 
    Selange Giannetto
    [email protected]
  • RojgieanRojgiean Posts: 0subscriber
    I find this an interesting topic, because I bake too, and locally, I have to get my kitchen "certified" if I want to cook comercially.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of obstacles to overcome around here.  I mae cookies, cakes, brownies, and homemade candies -- and am always being told that I should start a business selling them.  If only...
    I have looked into it, and I believe that it would be more hastle than it`s worth currently, but I am watching local regualations, and hoping they will lax them at least a little.  I just don`t want to have to spend thousands of dollars to start a business doing something so simple as making deserts... though I am considering the idea, because of the pure number of people tat keep suggesting that I start my own, based on "birthday cakes" and the desgining that I do with my cakes and deserts.  I painstakingly detailed one for a friend of mine that races nascar... complete with car, skid marks, the "Nascar" logo and his team name under it... the whole shebang for his birthday... over five hours of work put into that cake, with complimentary flavored icing adorning it.  He said it was also the "moistest cake" he had ever tasted.  Needless to say, he went gaga over it, and took pictures.  I still haven`t heard the end of it from him -- simply because I was trying to be nice for his birthday.  Haha.
    As far as response to the original question:

     Hello All.  We are a small (one person operation) baking business.  A few years ago, my mother in law made the suggestion that we should sell our cookies ( a cross between a biscotti and a shortbread cookie--the product has no name so we often have to describe it to people.  They think its bread or sliced cake, and its also a product that you have to taste to believe.. anywho)thats how we got started.  We began selling to friends and family and then turned to the farmers market.  We have tried (I have to admit Im not a people person so to speak sales wise) to sell to local businesses, but due to the fact that we have no "official commercial kitchen"  I don`t feel comfortable baking and selling from my home to big business.  We turned our attention to the farmers markets (3 years running) and do a brisk business there.  At the markets we sell the cookies and a few "items of the week"  (focaccia;/pizza bread, sweet rolls, and other bread based or cake based items) These sell as well.  Our problem (Im sure you were wondering when we were going to get to that ) is this.  Its a catch 22 situation.  We don`t have the business to afford a commercial kitchen rental, and we cant GET the busines because we dont have a commercial kitchen.  A local business took our product (one that we only can sell either online or during cooler months (a chocolate dipped version of our cookie) and it sells as well as our chocolate covered brownie bites (another favorite) WHEW....my dilema is this...
    (1)  How can we build our business so we can become a BUSINESS
    (2)  How can I sell the product when Im not sure how to SELL the product
    (3) How can we get website traffic to show case our product.  We offer a FREE sample box so you can try before you buy
    (4)  Where should look for commercial space (sublease, rent, lease?)
    (5)  How do we go about branding our product.  We have changed the logo several times and had it professionally done, but it just doesnt work with the packaging we have chosen (plastic hing containers)
    Any ideas, thoughts, suggestions?  I realize that we are all over the place and Im a creative individual, a hands on thinker if you will.  I tend to create in the moment and seek perfection.  This product has been 3 years in the making and is finally where I feel its a sellable product.  But...its has no name.....
    [/QUOTE]
    1.) Taking a hobby, and making it a business takes a few steps...  Begin by creating a business plan and operational plan -- this gives you a clear-cut, concise plan for you to follow, so you can focus on what your business needs are (BAKING!).  I would design a company layout, complete with responsibilities.  This way, when you start bringing in help, people know what they should be doing.  I would also ensure that your recipe is secure, and have a non-compete agreement ready for anyone you wanted to hire in.  I would also look into the forms of a company, because it might not be such a good idea to run a sole-proprietorship -- especially with employees.
    2.) Target demographics would be my solution here.  Determine, WHO would be most likely to purchase your products?  Once you know who you are trying to sell to, it makes your work a lot easier!  Determine who, then you can tailor fit your marketing efforts to that specific demographic, and you have a slaes plan in place in no time!  (This way, you don`t try to sell via website to children and preteens, or in the local toystore parkinglot to senior citizens!)
    3.) For web traffic, there are a multitude of methods out there.  Tey range from paid ads to link exchanges.  For your business, I don`t think anyone else is in a better place to determine what is best for your business, other than you.  You might try looking into programs like "Google adsense" or "Yahoo Ads", or you might try searching on a major internet search engine (Google, Yahoo, MSN, Excite, Dogpile, Etc.) for "ad placement" services.
    4.) Again, this is predetermined more by how you write your business plan in step one.  You need to have this part outlined within your business plan, to show how you plan to strategically grow your business.  Rent, Lease, and Sub-Lease all have their good and bad, and should be reviewed carefully in their specifics to help determine which would best suit your business.
    5.) There are many solutions to this, from injection molded special containers to stickers.  You might also look for other methods of packaging your product.  One idea a friend of mine had was to buy a "Food-saver" type of machine, and they packaged their cookies in a baggie, then melted the other side closed, and placed them in special-shaped boxes to help draw attention to them.  This is ONE of many ideas you might find that could help identify your product/brand from others.
    I hope this is helpful!
    I would also be willing to work with you on the name, if you want, feel free to contact me!
    -- Rojgiean
    [email protected]</A>
  • CilantrochefCilantrochef Posts: 1subscriber
    Good ideas, I would be love to speak with you about the name of our company.  Please email me .
  • littlelauralittlelaura Posts: 0subscriber
    Hello!
    You have already been given some great advice from the other members.  I own a web based artisan baking company taht has been open since Nov of last year.  I have found that the best way to generate business is to get the product out.  My "general" marketing plan is handing out samples and doing donation that target the market that I am going after.  It has been working fairly well.  I rarely say no and when orders come in, I do track where they have come from, Google, word of mouth, or a sample I have handed out.
    I do have a couple of wholesale accounts and I have begun to do private labeling. Just remember to keep it simple, and think out side the box.  i was recently approached by a web designer who wanted to re do my site for trade out, how could I say no?  I need a stroner web presense with a cleaner look, it is going to be great and it would not have happened had I not though outside the box.
    Good luck and let me know how you are doing!
    laura
     
     
  • TheCookieBlogTheCookieBlog Posts: 0subscriber
    There is a forum you can join for free: http://cookiebakersinternational.ning.com/
     
    It`s for people starting and running cookie businesses. You can ask questions there.
     
    Hope that helps.
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