Opening a bakery involves a lot of different moving parts, but there’s no need to get overwhelmed. Just do your homework, make a plan, and start getting things done.
Though it does not seem like a lot of fun, the first thing to do is to write a business plan. Do not panic — even if your business plan is only five pages, that is much, much better than nothing at all. Simply writing even the skeleton of a plan will force you to consider and define some critical things about your business. So if you really want to succeed, get out a pen and paper and get ready to seriously think about this venture.
The first thing to consider is your market. How big is the town where you want to have your bakery? Are the people there the right customers for the kind of bakery you want to start? Next is competition. How many other bakeries are already in business in your town? Just because you do not see any bakeries selling directly to customers does not mean there aren’t any bakeries — the best bakery work is usually selling to restaurants and hotels, so make sure you get a complete list of every baking-related business in your area. If there are bakeries from nearby towns, list them too.
Next you need to define your background, to make a good case for why you would be a good bakery owner. Did you go to cooking school? Have you worked at a bakery or at a food service business? How are your customer service skills? Are you outgoing enough to promote your business tirelessly? Do you have the kind of perseverance to work twelve hour days six days a week for the first year or two? Put down your strengths and weaknesses, and be honest. Just because you have no accounting experience, for example, does not mean you can’t start a bakery. But it does mean that an introductory class at the local community college might really benefit you, even if you plan to hire an accountant later.
After you’ve evaluated yourself, think about what your bakery might look likeclick for more. Do you want to buy an existing bakery (a good choice if you are relatively new to the bakery business), buy a franchise, or start your own bakery completely from scratch? What locations would be ideal for your new bakery, and how much rent will you have to pay to get them? How much food will you have to sell to pay that rent, plus all your other overhead, and at least a minimum wage to yourself?
Next you need to know what it will take to make this legal — what kinds of business license you’ll need, tax ID numbers and more. What kind of requirements will you have to meet to pass a food service inspection? This can be a real doozy, so get some facts, brace yourself, and try to talk to one of the food inspectors in your town. Take notes, be respectful, and do not panic if you do not know how you are going to meet all their requirements. You can figure that out in the coming weeks by talking to other food service owners and doing your own research. But you should know what is required before you start buying display cabinets and fancy packaging.
That’s a lot of work to do, and we have not even started with inventory, designing a menu, hiring employees or marketing your new bakery. But if you focus on the basics first, and all those secondary tasks will be a lot easier.