Monday, May 27, 2013

Craftsy Class Review: How To Start A Cake Business

This class was taught by Lisa Raffael, who owns a home-based cake business. It's aimed at TOTAL newcomers to cake business, so if you already have a business that's up and running you might as well skip it. Just an FYI, it's also aimed at US businesses, and while the information might be able to point international businesses in the right direction, it won't be as specific to your situations. The resources are all intended for the USA also.

This class covers all the legalities of starting a business from the issues of whether you can start a business out of your home or not, naming your business, and structuring the business. But I have to say that I disagree with her advice in a few places. She says that you should just register as a sole proprietor and not worry about an LLC at first. I did that, and when I switched to an LLC it was a major hassle. You basically have to start over and re-file your paperwork to get a new tax ID number, new business license, new FEIN, etc. You might as well start with an LLC and get it all done, especially since an LLC protects you legally better than a sole proprietorship.

I also have to disagree that this is the best time to start a cake business EVER, which she asserts at the very beginning. The market is really saturated right now for a few reasons, so it isn't easy to start a new business and make full-time money. Maybe part-time or semi-part-time, but not full-time.

The section on the logo and designing the website just amused me, since I'm logo-less, always have been, and seem to still be in business. The idea that you have to hire a team of designers to create a logo, website etc is my pet peeve, since it's so easy for anyone and their brother to do that so that they have a website that makes them look fancy when their cakes just suck. But whatever...That's a common complaint in the wedding industry, not just cakes.

I found her advice about advertising interesting because the first thing that she talked about was networking, and she mentioned print advertising kind of an an aside. I actually agree with that, since referrals from other businesses are gold. Her advice about donating to charities is less awesome, though, since it's never been my experience or the experience of other bakers I know that it gets you business. Just donate to organizations that you would want to donate to, but don't feel like you'll get business from it. If you do, that's nice, but it's not common.

The section on social media is basically an ad for facebook...She has the guy who does social media for Craftsy as the guest speaker on this section. I just about died when he said that he thinks that using facebook as your website is a great idea...no. Just no. Maybe if you're doing it part-time and don't mind having messages deleted randomly by facebook then go right ahead. But not if you want to look like a real business. If I told other wedding professionals that my facebook page was my website they'd laugh at me, and for good reason.

It's obvious that she needed a social media person to be a guest because she says that she hasn't figured facebook out yet. This isn't the best tutorial on social media that I've ever heard...Some of the advice the expert was giving was...odd. I would have guessed that he worked for facebook, too, with the emphasis he had on buying ads from them.

The section on client meetings is fairly straightforward. Basic info about what to tell the client beforehand, what to talk about during the appointment, etc.

The final sections on scheduling and delivery would be helpful for anyone who's totally out of it as far as time management goes. Her timeline is pretty much the same as mine is, other than the two weeks ahead to contact the venue. I contact them two days ahead of time and talk to the person who's going to be in charge the day of the event. Two weeks is a little far out, as far as I'm concerned, since they're probably not even thinking about that specific event yet. The instructions on delivering the cake at the venue are almost exactly what I do too, even the "unusual" part about leaving a box for the top tier.

The class materials that are provided for this class have a lot of links to other sites that would answer questions for people who would want to start a business. She also includes checklists that would be helpful for time management etc. The contract that she includes is more of an order sheet than a contract, though, and you should definitely go to an attorney to have a contract drawn up that covers you and is legal in your area. It should include sections on far more than what's included in the example contract that's included.

I have to promote my own book right now...This class covers the technical basics, but if you want to really test yourself to see if you're ready for a home-based business, buy my book! It has nothing to do with how to set up an office, open a bank account, etc., but it will give you a better idea of the mistakes that people make when they start a business. I even had a thank you email once from someone who read it and realized that starting a business wasn't right for her at that point. In my opinion, people generally have no idea what's really involved in having a home-based business, and that's what my book addresses. It's a quick read and it's helpful if you're wondering if you're up for starting a business. It's on Amazon in paperback and also for the kindle.

My final review:

Skill Level: Beginner
Equipment You Have To Have: Nothing, the class comes with a lot of printable checklists and links.
Sleep-Inducing Level: Not too bad, but this is like a lecture class, so if you tend to nod off when you sit in one place for any length of time, watch out.
What It Assumes You Already Know: Nothing.
Unnecessary Difficulty Level Of Methods Demonstrated: Does not apply...
Annoying Host Habits: Not much, she's just talking throughout the class. The rhythm of her voice kind of hesitates ala Walken/Shatner, so that took a little getting used to.
Level of Helpful Hints Learned: If you're thinking of starting a business and have no idea what to do, this class would be helpful. If you have a business and you have a clue, this will get you nowhere, but the title is "How to START a cake business," not "how to improve your cake business," so it's truth in advertising.

Click here for my Craftsy pattern shop, which has a bunch of freebies in it: A Cake To Remember On Craftsy


Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

2 comments:

Jenniffer said...

Kara, I still recommend your book to all the "How do I start a cake business?" e-mails I get! I have even considered buying copies and secretly delivering to some of the "Facebook bakeries" I see popping up!

Kara Buntin said...

thnak you, and ha! Can you imagine if they started getting those anonymously...