A seven-step guide to launching a homemade cookie business this week
Do your friends and family love your cookies – so much that you’re thinking about launching a baked goods enterprise out of your own kitchen? If so, here’s a seven-step guide.
The idea of starting your own business is exciting, but it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the ever-growing to-do list that goes along with making a profit.
To help you get your homemade cookie business off the ground, we’ll take a step-by-step look at exactly what you need to do.
Step one: Research state and local laws
Laws for home-based food businesses (often referred to as a “cottage food business”) are often simple but may require you to change the way you set up your kitchen. You may be required to create a separate area for business food preparation, or to follow certain food safety standards.
You may also need a local business license, and will need to file taxes if you profit $600 per year or more in your business.
Step two: Create a menu, keeping efficiency and costs in mind
It’s tempting to have an extensive menu, but doing so can result in an incredibly high amount of work with a low return. Instead, choose a few varieties of cookies that you’re best at, and create your menu.
Keep in mind, your menu doesn’t have to be static. It’s fun to offer seasonal cookies and refresh your menu from time to time.
Step three: Develop a marketing plan
While you don’t need to hire an advertising professional for a home-based business, you do need to have some idea of how you’ll get the word out.
Whether you plan to pass out flyers at work or church, advertise on social media, or ask family and friends to spread awareness, it’s smart to have an idea of ways you can make others aware of the for-sale deliciousness flowing from your home kitchen.
Step four: Register your business
You’re almost there — and things are getting real. Now, it’s time to register your business as an LLC and consider whether you want to take out an insurance policy if someone claims to become ill after eating your cookies (it’s unlikely, but it’s better to be safe and sorry). You can check out this Marketwatch guide on how to start an LLC.
Step five: Learn about packaging cookies, and decide how to move forward with shipping and/or delivery
Cookies must get to customers as fresh, intact, and delicious as they were when they came out of your oven.
You have many packaging options depending on the type, size, and shelf life of your cookies, including:
- Individually wrapping each cookie in plastic wrap and stacking them back to back in an airtight pouch (great for shipping in the mail)
- Laying each cookie out in a muffin wrapper, iced side facing up, in a box (ideal if you use soft icing to decorate your cookies)
- Displaying cookies in a large plastic tray (great for hand delivery)
When deciding whether you’re going to ship your cookies long-distance, do a test run. Talk with a friend or family member in another state and send them a few cookies in different packages.
Take note of how long it takes for your cookies to reach their destination, the quality of the cookies when they arrive, and the cost of sending cookies in the mail. You may choose to only deliver locally if the quality or freshness of your cookies seriously deteriorates during the shipping process.
Step six: Spread the word
Those close to you are likely already on board with getting your business up and running, and now, it’s time to help others become aware of what you’re doing.
A few ideas to make people aware of your new cookie business:
- Ask local coffee shops to set out samples with your business cards
- Run a raffle for a free dozen cookies on our personal and/or business Facebook page
- Buy space at a local farmer’s market to get to know potential new customers and invite them to sample your offerings
Step seven: Keep refining your business model
There’s no doubt about it — as orders come in, you’ll realize there are some areas of your business model that need some work.
Whether that means changing up how you accept payment, condensing your menu, or changing your advertising methods, know that it’s normal to go through a trial and error period as you figure out what works best for your business needs.