The Business of Cake Decorating # 4
Building Your Business

by Earlene Moore

Begin building your REPUTATION.
In article three we talked about doing cakes for your neighbors and family. These are the people who know you and your abilities best. They will enjoy seeing your skills increase and probably be very helpful in getting rid of those practice (not quite right) decorated cakes that we all have in the beginning. They also know if you keep a clean kitchen and have good working habits. As I mentioned before this is a rather messy product we work with. The sugar, shortning, cake, eggs and etc can make a large mess. Cleaning as we go keeps our work area presentable when we have an unexpected client drop in. Please, no licking fingers, tips and etc. This is an absolute NO NO. Your REPUTATION depends on your product, your cake decorating skill and your own personal hygiene and good working habits.

Keep building your REPUTATION.
Most cake decorators will want to build their business slowly and increase their skills as they are building their business. As your skills grow inform more of your friends, family, work associates, church friends, club friends that you are learning cake decorating and are available for special decorated cakes. The faster you let others know what you are doing - the faster you will be able to build your business.

In almost every community you can create a market for your cake decorating business. Children having birthdays, couples getting married, holiday festivities and new baby showers are among the occasions that we count on for building a business. If you are helping with a festive occasion, volunteer to bring the cake. They may be expecting a plain cake and you will have opportunity to show off your cake decorating skills.

Excerpt from the AOL cake decorating chat August 15, 1996.
Dolores777 - Success or the amount of it: Much of your success depends on your own dedication and mostly --- AMBITION. Recently a married couple attended my 12 week course and started right off making BIG bucks. The wife quit her other job within 2 months to stay home with their baby. The husband goes around taking orders at his job. Example: For Mother’s Day they took orders for 50+ boxes - of - roses cakes at $20.00 each. Add this up! You DO have to work at it to do this well.

Build your REPUTATION - don’t deplete your finances.
Make sure your acquaintances, friends and family understand there will be a fee charged. To give a cake away should be your choice - not what is expected of you. Even if I am planning on giving a cake to a friend, up front I inform them how much the cake they order will be. When they come to pick up the cake I still have the choice of charging them for the cake or giving it to them or only charging them a percentage of the price.

Even with Brides and Grooms cakes I never tell a Bride I will do her cake for free before she picks out the cake she wants. All of my cake albums have information labels attached to each cake. In that label the price per serving is included along with any additional extra charges such as cake tops, lace pieces, arranging fresh or silk flowers and etc. The Bride looking at these albums can make an informed choice without asking a multitude of questions to be able to stay within her budget. If she is a good friend I have the option or privilege of subtracting a portion of the cost of her wedding cake. Or I may chose to give her the entire wedding cake as her wedding present after she has made her choice. In the past I found that if I told a Bride I would do her cake for free and let her pick anything she wanted, I resented it when she picked a labor intensive cake. You might have had a $300 gift in mind and they choose a $1,000 cake. If they think they are going to be required to pay for the entire cake, they are more realistic in their choices.

Still building your REPUTATION.
Surprise co workers with birthday cakes at work. If you are asked to bring a dish to a meal function take a dessert and do a decorated cake. They will be surprised and you will be advertising your skills.

Spreading your REPUTATION beyond your family and friends.
Donate decorated cakes to Girl Scout functions, Ronald McDonald houses, Church functions and other worthwhile organizations in your community. Yes, it does take an investment of your time, talents and cake expense to get your business started. Once you have shown them that you are offering a quality product at a moderate price the orders will begin to come in.

Keeping your REPUTATION with others in your field builds a referral base when they have someone who wants something beyond their skills.
Remember - Don’t undercut the bakery prices - You should be giving them as good or better quality product and you will be building your skills. The best way to make an enemy out of a local bakery is to undercut and talk bad about them. Most bakeries give a tasty product. They must operate on a minimum of baking and decorating time to be able to stay in business. They have a place in our communities. You can fill in where they leave off. The bakeries don’t have the time to do the designs that are labor intensive or require specialized skills. You as a home decorator without the overhead can afford to spend a little more time with the intricate details. We each have our own personal skills to offer our communities. We need to be able to work cooperatively with each other.

Your product and skill level will go a long way toward building your REPUTATION.
Your REPUTATION as a sugar artist is built one day at a time. With one cake at a time. For one party at a time. Sure we get to the point where we do multiple cakes for multiple parties and weddings. But your REPUTATION is still based upon each individual cake that goes out. Always doing your best and making each cake special will go a long way in building your REPUTATION and BUILDING YOUR BUSINESS
Your AMBITION, REPUTATION, AND SPECIALIZED SKILLS can lead to a very successful business in the sugar arts.
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