From Home Baker to Business Owner
The world of baking has never been more exciting, with a growing demand for unique, artisanal treats that cater to diverse tastes and dietary preferences. Launching a baking business is a rewarding and challenging endeavour. It's more than just making something tasty; it's about building a brand, connecting with customers, and ensuring consistency in your menu.
Minh is a former sales manager turned full-time baker and owner of The Good Loaf on the Sunshine Coast. The Good Loaf specializes in sourdough, bagels and coconut pandan milk bread to name a few items on their menu.
Minh comes from a family of cooks and bakers, but it wasn’t until the Covid-19 pandemic that she discovered her love for baking bread. Minh launched The Good Loaf during the summer of 2023 after her home kitchen became too small for the growing demand for her products. She moved into Coho with a part-time package, which gave her access to a shared workstation and equipment in Coho Sunshine Coast.
If you’re a passionate home baker with dreams of turning your delicious creations into a thriving business like Minh, you’re in the right place. Whether you're known for your mouth-watering cupcakes, artisan bread, or delectable pastries, this is your sign to take your baking hobby to the next level. In this blog post, we'll guide you through the steps you need to take to go from home baker to business owner with a glimpse into the first-hand experiences of The Good Loaf owner, Minh.
So, dust off your apron, get ready to mix, and let's begin your adventure toward officially launching your baking business.
Step 1. Develop a business plan
The first step in starting any business is to develop a comprehensive business plan. This document should outline your business concept, target market, financial projections, and marketing strategy. Your business plan will serve as a roadmap for your business, and it will also be essential if you need to secure funding from investors or lenders.
Check out our blog post on how to write a business plan for food and beverage businesses.
Step 2. Choose a kitchen commissary
Once you have a clear idea of what your business will look like, you can start searching for a kitchen commissary that will meet your needs. Commissary kitchens, also known as shared or commercial kitchens, offer several advantages for aspiring bakers:
Professional Environment: Commissary kitchens are equipped with commercial-grade equipment, which is essential for baking on a larger scale. You'll have access to industrial ovens, mixers, refrigerators, and other tools that may be out of reach in a home kitchen.
Food Safety Compliance: These kitchens are designed to meet stringent health and safety regulations. Using a commissary kitchen ensures that your products are prepared in a space that adheres to local health department guidelines, giving both you and your customers peace of mind.
Cost Efficiency: Renting a commissary kitchen can be cost-effective compared to building and maintaining your commercial kitchen. It eliminates the need for significant upfront investments in infrastructure.
Flexibility: Commissary kitchens often offer flexible rental schedules, allowing you to book kitchen time according to your production needs. This flexibility is essential as your business grows.
“Working out of Coho means I have all the space I need, plenty of cooler and freezer room, easy access to commercial equipment, cleaning areas and supplies, and a vibrant atmosphere with no distractions. There will be a learning curve, especially when every piece of equipment has different quirks, but this is part of the growing pains of scaling!”
Some things to consider when choosing a commissary include the location, the cost, and the availability of equipment and storage space. Coho Commissary operates 7 commercial kitchens across BC. Our range of memberships includes part-time, full-time, and dedicated stations so whether you’re just easing into your new business or ready to commit all that you’ve got, you’re only paying for the time you need. All of our kitchens are fully equipped with combi ovens, cooling racks, planetary mixers, and shared essential baking equipment like trays, mixing bowls, and spatulas.
Starting a baking business in a kitchen commissary can be a great way to enter the food industry without the high overhead costs associated with traditional brick-and-mortar bakeries. With the shared kitchen structure, there is also an opportunity to collaborate and learn from fellow entrepreneurs in your community.
“It’s a unique experience to work alongside other cooking and baking start-ups as well as seasoned professionals at all stages. Inspiration is everywhere along with amazing smells, beautiful creations, and even shared tastes (my favourite).
Along with this are the tangible benefits of networking, clean and dedicated space, access to expensive, high-quality equipment, classes and advice from experts, fixed cost for all services and utilities and lots of different package options to allow you to grow at a pace that works for you.”
Step 3: Legal and Regulatory Requirements
Starting a baking business, even from a commissary kitchen, involves adhering to various legal and regulatory requirements. Before you start mixing dough, consider the following steps:
Business Structure: Decide on the legal structure for your business, such as a sole proprietorship, LLC, or corporation. This choice impacts liability, taxes, and more.
Permits and Licenses: Check with your local health department to understand the permits and licenses required for a food-related business. This will typically include a food service establishment permit, as well as any additional licenses or permits that may be required based on the type of products you will be selling. You should also check with your local health department to ensure that you are following all relevant food safety regulations. You may need a food handler's permit, a business license, and possibly more.
Insurance: You will also need to obtain liability insurance to protect your business in case of accidents or unforeseen events. When you join any of Coho Commissary’s locations, we provide you with templates and resources to apply for the right insurance for your region and business type.
“Making decisions about how to get business licenses or set up your own space can be daunting when you don’t have a lot of experience, especially when it comes to working within a commercial kitchen space. Coho allows you to wade in the water rather than jump in head first. They take a lot of the risk and pressure out of the early stages when you know you’ve outgrown your home kitchen.”
Step 4: Develop your product line
Before you can start selling your products, you will need to develop a product line that will appeal to your target market. This will typically involve experimenting with different recipes and techniques to create a range of baked goods that are both tasty and visually appealing. Working out of a commissary, you have the flexibility to research and test your products before bringing them to market.
You should also consider factors such as pricing and packaging, as these can impact the overall appeal of your products.
“I started out sharing my products with friends and neighbours. As I gained confidence in my baked goods, I moved on to the Davis Bay Farmers Market, and the response I got was unexpected and instant. The market literally spoke to me! The confidence I gained allowed me to be creative, try new recipes, and take logistical steps to move my business forward.
Now that I am scaling up, I am choosing products that are easy to make, popular and have good margins. These choices will also allow me to continue making my favourite classics as well.”
Step 5: Market your business
Once you have a product line in place, you will need to start marketing your business to potential customers. Create a compelling brand identity, starting with a memorable logo and marketing plan. This can involve a variety of tactics, such as creating a website or online store, using social media, and participating in local events, festivals, and farmers' markets. You can also consider running promotions and discounts to attract new customers and build a loyal customer base.
Transitioning from a home baker to a business owner in a commissary kitchen is an exciting and rewarding journey. While it involves legal complexities, logistical challenges and a significant commitment of time and effort, the satisfaction of seeing your passion turn into a successful venture is unparalleled. Embrace the process, stay dedicated to your craft, and savour every moment of your sweet success as you officially launch your baking business.
By following these steps and focusing on delivering high-quality products and excellent customer service, you can build a successful baking business that will thrive in the competitive food industry.
If you’re looking for a professional kitchen space to start your business, learn more about Coho’s commissary kitchens across BC. Apply today and we’ll hop on a call to find the right fit for you!