Starting a baking from home business pros and cons, please???

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Joined Nov 10, 2020
Hi! I'm thinking about starting a baking from home business. Have any of you thought about starting a home bakery? If yes, why haven't you done it yet? (I'm weighing the pros and cons
😅
) And if someone already did it, can you share some advice about doing it? TIA :emoji_two_hearts:
 

phatch

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First you need to verify your town allows this and what it stipulates for requirements.
 
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Then, you have to figure out how you're going to produce your products on a commercial scale with residential appliances, including cold storage. Residential appliances are not designed to handle bulk cooking and storage.

Then there's the business logistics itself. Insurance, point of sale solutions, local and state regulations and covid restrictions will need to be investigated. Additionally, I would strongly encourage you to obtain a safe food handler's certificate for your protection and the protection of your customers.

These are just the highlights.

Good luck. :)
 
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Joined Nov 9, 2020
Biggest problem is commercial production on equipment that is not designed to do that. The other HUGE "goblin in the closet" is your local health department - I have rarely seen them approve any kind of commercial food service venture in someone's kitchen. IF you have a fully NSF compliant Foodsafe compliant kitchen, then maybe. Then you have power requirements - 240 minimum, possibly 3 phase depending on your equipment. Then you have zoning - a LOT of municipalities will require you to rezone to have a commercial operation in your home (residential/commercial at best, commercial only at worst) and some just won't do it. And you don't want to run afoul of your local property authority... That can land you in hot water.

Most people will rent a commercial space and at least the basics of equipment (Mixer, ovens, boards, proofer, chillers, refrigeration, storage, fire suppression, ventillation, etc.). You have to look (honestly) at your current space and decide if you can produce 100 loaves, 40 dozen cookies, etc. A DAY in your kitchen, do it cleanly, and do it safely.

After that, do you have a viable market for your wares? It's one thing to produce a sizeable quantity of your product; it's perhaps more difficult to have a consistant and sizeable outlet for it.

I'm not saying it can't be done, but it can't really be done well in a home kitchen unless you have a kitchen designed for putting out large, professional food. Or can legally and safely convert a garage space to your plans, and then get the OK to run it. Just go in with your eyes open, ok?

Good luck, and good fortine!
 
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Biggest problem is commercial production on equipment that is not designed to do that. The other HUGE "goblin in the closet" is your local health department - I have rarely seen them approve any kind of commercial food service venture in someone's kitchen. IF you have a fully NSF compliant Foodsafe compliant kitchen, then maybe. Then you have power requirements - 240 minimum, possibly 3 phase depending on your equipment. Then you have zoning - a LOT of municipalities will require you to rezone to have a commercial operation in your home (residential/commercial at best, commercial only at worst) and some just won't do it. And you don't want to run afoul of your local property authority... That can land you in hot water.

Most people will rent a commercial space and at least the basics of equipment (Mixer, ovens, boards, proofer, chillers, refrigeration, storage, fire suppression, ventillation, etc.). You have to look (honestly) at your current space and decide if you can produce 100 loaves, 40 dozen cookies, etc. A DAY in your kitchen, do it cleanly, and do it safely.

After that, do you have a viable market for your wares? It's one thing to produce a sizeable quantity of your product; it's perhaps more difficult to have a consistant and sizeable outlet for it.

I'm not saying it can't be done, but it can't really be done well in a home kitchen unless you have a kitchen designed for putting out large, professional food. Or can legally and safely convert a garage space to your plans, and then get the OK to run it. Just go in with your eyes open, ok?

Good luck, and good fortine!
There's some really good advice and information in this comment. But, most states now have fairly advanced "cottage industry" laws that permit home cooks and bakers to produce certain goods without the all the red tape and regulations that would otherwise apply to a commercial operation. Some states also prohibit home cooks from producing certain items. But, that list and its application vary from state to state. :)
 
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There's some really good advice and information in this comment. But, most states now have fairly advanced "cottage industry" laws that permit home cooks and bakers to produce certain goods without the all the red tape and regulations that would otherwise apply to a commercial operation. Some states also prohibit home cooks from producing certain items. But, that list and its application vary from state to state. :)
BuonaSera, Virgil~

The biggest issue with "cottage" is a lot of municipalities have different definitions of what that is. I grew up in a fairly "easy" state to start your own business, but over the years restrictions and regulations have become far, far more restrictive from then. And it's not "state to state", it's "county to county"...

I'm not saying it can't be done - I knew a coffee roaster that ran out of his barn - but the bar is high, and before you even start on this, THOSE are the people you need to get to know, and get involved. The COUNTY are the ones who will walk in and shut you down... (And if you read my intro, you'll know...)

It's not impossible, but fer gods sake do your homework!!!
 
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BuonaSera, Virgil~

The biggest issue with "cottage" is a lot of municipalities have different definitions of what that is. I grew up in a fairly "easy" state to start your own business, but over the years restrictions and regulations have become far, far more restrictive from then. And it's not "state to state", it's "county to county"...

I'm not saying it can't be done - I knew a coffee roaster that ran out of his barn - but the bar is high, and before you even start on this, THOSE are the people you need to get to know, and get involved. The COUNTY are the ones who will walk in and shut you down... (And if you read my intro, you'll know...)

It's not impossible, but fer gods sake do your homework!!!
I read it and I do know. This is not an issue that is new to this forum nor is it new to me.

In the first instance, 49 states have cottage industry laws that permit home cooks to produce a variety of food items. New Jersey is the exception.. While its true that counties within a state generally retain some jurisdiction over the cottage industry, the individual counties must remain in step with the state's regulations. In other words, if the state say something is not required, the county cannot override it and say that it is.

However, much of that depends on whether or not the food produced is considered "high risk" under the state or county's regulations. Practically speaking, if someone is going to produce high risk food items, more often than not, state or county regulations will require the use a licensed commercial kitchen. But, there are states that have exceptions to the rule and will simply require the home kitchen to be inspected before producing "high risk" food items. A home kitchen inspection is far less strict than a commercial home inspection; another matter with which most of us in this forum have ample experience.

The ultimate point here is that every state requires you to jump through a certain number of hoops to open a CFO, some more than others. But, it is not even close to the regulatory scale of operating a commercial food operation such as a commercial bakery or restaurant.

Here is helpful website that sets forth the nuts and bolts for each state. Note that Rhode Island is listed as not having CFO laws. But, they do. Their laws are rather strange.

https://foodpreneurinstitute.com/cottage-food-law/
 
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The internet is full of forums and groups for people who have started selling items from a licensed residential kitchen. Each town has specific requirements on what they will, and will not, allow to be produced in a residential kitchen. The town I live in will not allow residential kitchens to use italian meringue buttercream while the town my commercial bakery is in does allow residential kitchens to make IMBC. Usually they want to see your menu and know how each item is being produced, which is how they know what they are "certifying". Some people focus on cake, others on cookies, or candied apples ... you need to know what you do well and if that will sell. Everyone is on a hot cocoa bomb trend right now - there's posts on a FB group from people with residential kitchens who have been told by their health dept they cannot produce hot cocoa bombs for sale. So your mileage will vary and the first thing you need to do is figure out what your product is, and if your town's Board of Health allows residential kitchens and what the requirements are to be certified as such. You also need a business license from your town and there may be (or may not be) restrictions (such as you whether or not you can have people come to pick up their orders, there might be a cap on how much you can sell annually. You need business insurance ESPECIALLY if you are producing things from your home. You don't want someone to file a lawsuit (regardless of how frivolous it may be) and you lose your home as a result. Your homeowners insurance does not cover your business. You need separate insurance.
 
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the true entrepeneur doesnt care what authorities think, they go full blast and worry about regulations later.
remember the rental powered scooters ?
they just started popping up everywhere, they didnt seek permission first.
Same thing with UBER.

We started in my partners apt selling cakes wholesale to restaurants in downtown Boston.
Totally illegal, who cares. 12 months later we bought a cafe and gutted it out for a bakery.

If you plan to retail direct to the public...theres a lot of Karens out there, I would avoid that from home kitchens unless completely legal and protected.

BTW, if you have a mortgage on your house many banks will not allow commercial activity.
 
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While many (or most) states do have "cottage industry" laws, every county has a health department. If you've worked in a commercial bakery or kitchen or restaurant or heck, even a donut shop, then you are aware of them and the actual control they wield. And once you're on their radar... you remain on their radar. And those "state cottage industry" laws won't keep them from your door. You're not building computers, fixing appliances, driving a Uber, or or even making custom hot rot parts - you're making stuff people eat.

I'm not saying don't do it, but I AM saying you need to assess the risks of what you're doing, the possible consequences of it should somethig go wrong like a "Karen" going to the health department, a structure fire from an overloaded elecrical system by that Hobart and Proof box and shelf oven, a property tax assessor noticing that strange, consistant sweet bakery aroma coning from a residential neighborhood, a building inspector that's looking at your neighbor's addition and notices the blatant smell of a bakery in the residential neighborhood 2 weeks running...

Do your OWN research, and don't base your risk on what someone else - ESPECIALLY on an internet forum - says you can and cannot do or get away with. They're not the ones who might end up under the eternal microscope of your local county who now is gunning for you.

Whatever you decide, good luck.
 
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My DIL started a baking business. She was having lunch with an acquaintance of ours who owns a farm to table restaurant a town over. She was asking for advice and she got an offer she couldn't refuse. She bakes for the restaurant, but has the run of that part of the back to produce her own goods. Since March there is a steady flow of sourdough bread going out on Fridays to friends and family. She has dessert product at several food coops and is baking orders for a local high end market. Certain small orders she can do at home, but for the most part she works out of the restaurant.

You might look into finding an arrangement like that.
 

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