When my sister mentioned the words cake and free in the same sentence I didn't need any persuading to go along with her to the Cake and Bake Show in Earls Court, London. While I expected a few free cake and chocolate samples, I didn't expect to get a free lesson on starting a business online.
One of the talks was about setting up your own business working from home making and decorating cakes, and if I ever felt sorry for myself with all the skills I've had to learn to put my own business online, my problems pale into insignificance compared to selling decorated cakes. Quite apart from the fact that I have no talent whatsoever in that direction.
Much of what follows applies to any small business that wants to grow in this Internet age.
Starting A Business In Cake Decorating
Obviously many of the problems a cake decorating business has to tackle will be just the same as starting a business of any kind:
- Public and product liability insurance
- Permission to run your a home business from anyone with a financial interest in your home (if you still have a mortgage, or rent your home)
- Permission from the council
- Notifying the Inland Revenue (IRS)
- Cash flow
- Business plan
- Marketing – online AND offline
- Retention of existing customers
But in addition, a cake decoration business has to be aware of:
- Trading Standards
- Food labelling (beware of allergens)
- Stock control
- Costing of time and materials
- Food hygiene regulations
- Contracts for supply of goods (in case deliveries go wrong)
Plus many more pitfalls I was made aware of in a very interesting talk.
So a cake decoration business is going to have to learn all the above skills PLUS the skills I had to learn to take my business online. I suddenly feel as if I'd had an easy life!
Starting An Online Business
Because more and more customers only search online when making their first contact with a new business, website design and marketing expertise are essential. I must confess I doubt that I'd even consider contacting someone who didn't have a website where I could see any finished cakes, variations, prices, and customer testimonials!
So good luck to anyone setting up as a work-from-home cake decorator – with all these new tasks to master, as well as marketing their new business online.
It must be great fun, to make an attractive website with beautifully decorated samples of your work, but how easy is it?
Personally I think it would make much more sense to hire some skills in, and just concentrate on what the new entrepreneur is good at: decorating cakes, together with offline marketing to find new customers and retain existing ones.
The best way to retain existing customers and prospects is, of course, email marketing, sending regular news and offers to previous happy customers. Click here to learn more about the importance of email marketing in small businesses.
You can take a free trial and get a free online marketing course below. When you register with GetResponse you'll find free videos to train you in the skills of email marketing, so even if you don't go on to become a customer you'll learn a lot about the skills you need to know.
Do you use email marketing in your business? If not, what is stopping you? Please let me know in the comments below.