Firstly, I have to say I love my job and a lot of the time it doesn’t feel like work but don’t get me wrong, running a business, any business, is hard work. I run my cake decorating business from home and mostly that is a positive experience but it does have its downside.
- I can set my own work hours to a certain extent. As long as a cake is ready for collection on time then my work hours are flexible. This means I can take a morning, afternoon or evening off to catch up with friends etc (Also see under ‘The bad’)
- I can watch TV or listen to music etc while I work
- I don’t have to commute
- This first one goes along with the setting my own work hours mentioned above. When I am very busy and have several cake orders to complete in a week, there aren’t enough hours in the day. I will often work all morning, afternoon and evening. Many cake decorators are familiar with the ‘up until 2am’ moments. This is usually only something that can happen if someone works from home.
- Other people not taking the business seriously because it is run from home and not understanding the work involved in running a business. Its not just the actual cake production, its also the many hours of designing, paperwork etc
- very occasionally customers will turn up without making an appointment
- as with other self-employment there are no perks, no holiday or sick pay, regular wages etc. If I don’t work I don’t get paid.
- a particular issue with family members is them assuming I can run certain errands for them because I don’t have a boss to answer to. Yes at times this is possible but during very busy periods it isn’t. Every cake I make has a deadline and even if I can make certain decorations ahead of time, a cake is a fresh food item and has to be made as close to the celebration as possible.
- it can be lonely at times
The ‘I Quit’ moments
These don’t happen very often but usually result from having numerous cake orders, some members of the family not pulling their weight around the house (I still have to cook, clean etc) and me feeling a little overwhelmed because of my lengthy to-do-list. I wonder if it would be easier to give up the business and go out to work.
It may seem that there are more bad points than good but for me the good points outweigh the bad because I love what I do and couldn’t imagine not baking and decorating cakes.
I’d be interesting to hear of others experience working from home. Do you find the same lack of understanding from others? How have you tackled any problems that have arisen?
I recently had a request from a customer for a cake featuring a bottle of champagne. She picked an ice bucket design. This was not a design I’d made before and searched online for any hints or tips. The one problem I came up with was that most of the tutorials I found used a lot of cake, several stacked up and carved. The customer only needed to feed up to 20. The solution I came up with was to use my ‘doll’ cake tin. Here it is lined and ready to go.
Its been a while since I used this tin so was unsure how much mix to make. I use Quaint Cakes recipes and mixed up the 10 inch recipe but I had lots left over. I think the 8 inch mix would probably be sufficient. This is the cake as it came out of the oven with cocktail stick markers to help me get the bottom of the ice bucket level.
And the cake after carving into shape.
I halved the cake, filled it with a thin layer of jam and buttercream and gave it a crumbcoat. Once the crumbcoat had firmed up in the fridge I covered the cake with grey icing.
I gave this some time to firm up before turning the cake up the other way ready to decorate. At this point I got immersed in decorating the cake and forgot to take any more photos until I had finished!
Once the cake was the right way up, I covered the top in fondant also. I rolled a length of fondant to go round the base of the ice bucket and cut a strip of fondant to go round the top of the bucket. I also added handles on each side. I then gave the bucket a coat of silver food colour.
The bottle was also trial and error. I’d bought a small champagne bottle mould, meant for using with melted chocolate. I had planned to make the bottle from gum paste but left it too late to make and it wasn’t going to harden enough to be a success. Instead I used RKT, shaped each half of the bottle and then stuck them together. I covered them in a layer of fondant first to smooth out all the bumps and then covered in a light green fondant which I then painted in various shades of green and sprayed with a couple of coats of edible varnish.
I wanted to make the ice as realistic looking as possible. Again I searched the internet for ways to make it that were fairly easy and not too costly. Options available were Isomalt, melted sugar, both needing a silicone ice tray to form the cubes, something I didn’t have. I’d previously used melted Fox’s Glacier Mints to make blue ice shards for a Frozen cake and thought they’d be good for this cake too. Before adding them to the cake I used some grey icing round the bottom of the bottle and all over the top of the cake to give a shape to the ‘ice’, I also painted this silver. I then smashed the mints into pieces, I liked how the smaller bits looked like crushed ice but I also left some larger bits too.
The finished cake
When I first decided to start a cake business I can’t say I gave the business side of it much thought. Yes I knew I had to register with the local Environmental Health Department, sort out insurance etc but deciding what customers I was aiming for, how to advertise, what to charge, these things didn’t cross my mind.
If I’m honest, I’ve only just started to really consider the business of making cakes even though I’ve been selling my cakes for several years.
What has made me think of these things?
I can’t remember where I discovered Cake Coach Online. I think it was via a post on Facebook, I downloaded a couple of free guides and signed up for email updates. A few months ago I purchased the order form and cake pricing calculator, these both quickly became invaluable in keeping track of orders/costings. They are both excel spreadsheets that are quick and easy to complete.
Recently I’ve also signed up for the Cash for Cakes online course. I’ve completed the first month’s module which deals with starting up a cake business, figuring out the market you are aiming for, setting up an action plan and more. The course has made me think of things I’d never considered regarding my business and I think as the course goes on I am going to learn a lot that will definitely make me more successful.
Whether you’re just starting out or been making cakes for a while but are unsure as to how to run the business side of things, I’d definitely recommend checking out all that’s on offer from Cake Coach Online.