There are some things about being in business that need to be done no matter what size or kind of business you are running. You've got to do the official paperwork for a business in order to be properly set up as a business – things like registering your kitchen, getting a website going, and setting up for tax purposes.
If you haven't done so already, I'd recommend that you also decide on a business name. You can then set up the rest of your business record-keeping. Here are some financial, legal, and practical things to do when setting up your business:
Register your business name with the appropriate authorities.
Register your business for tax purposes where required.
Reserve all the online places you would like your business to be – i.e., purchase a domain name, set up social media accounts (even if you do not yet start using them), and create an email address.
Insure your business. You will need to insure the business and its assets, but also have general liability insurance as you are dealing with the public.
Set up a proper record-keeping process for financial and tax purposes – i.e., a place to keep all of your business records and receipts from purchases.
Secure the services of (or get some recommendations for) lawyers, bookkeepers, and accountants. Depending on your own skills, you may need these people a lot or a little, but having professionals who are familiar with your business is an invaluable resource.
Invest in education about how to run a small business. It can be very tempting to only take decorating skills classes, but nothing about those courses teaches you how to run a business. There are some great small business classes available, and some specific to the baking industry. You are going to need to learn about marketing, pricing, record-keeping, tax issues, and the like, so invest in educating yourself about those things.
Start gathering information that will serve you later: investigate wholesale suppliers in your area; look into equipment sales which might come up; research products similar to yours in your market; and so on. Start to think like a business owner more than a cookie maker.
Setting up your business correctly from the very start can save you a whole lot of trouble later, and while it might seem expensive and frustrating, it's the kind of thing you really cannot afford to do incorrectly. Consumers and venues are also getting a lot smarter and are beginning to ask questions about insurance and registrations, so it's best to set yourself up to answer those questions rather than to scramble around for them later.
All of this might seem rather daunting and like a whole lot of hard work when all you really want to do is sit and make royal icing transfers and play with your pico projector. But getting these things done correctly at the start enables you to make those transfers in the first place.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: If you missed Michelle's last post, read it here. She's writing a mini business series for us!]
Michelle Green is the author of The Business of Baking, the blog that inspires, motivates, and educates bakers and decorators to pursue their sweet business goals.
Photo credit: Michelle Green
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