Great British Bake Off whips up rise in baking businesses, data reveals

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TV shows such as the Great British Bake Off inspiring new bakers

TV shows such as the Great British Bake Off inspiring new bakers

Show such as the Great British Bake Off have inspired a new generation of ‘cake-preneurs’, according to new data from Simply Business, the UK’s largest online business insurance broker.

The company reports it has seen a 54% increase in quote requests from start-up cake making businesses this year and a 325% increase since 2009, as bakers try to emulate the success of recent Great British Bake Off winner, Jo Wheatley; and the star of BBC show Baking Made Easy, Lorraine Pascale.

The figures are based on over 250,000 quote requests received by Simply Business so far this year, of which 2,139 were from new cake making businesses, up from 1,459 at the same time last year and only 370 in 2009. Cake baking is now the 18th most popular start-up business idea, up from 27th last year.

Ninety one per cent of the ‘cake-preneurs’ are women, however there has been a slight increase in male bakers, from 8% in 2010 to 9% this year. The majority of cake businesses are being started by those in their 20s and 30s, with 42% of those starting a cake business falling between the ages of 25 and 34 and a third (32%) between 35 and 44.

Jason Stockwood, CEO, Simply Business, said: “As Simply Business quotes thousands of businesses every week we can quickly spot start-up trends and see which are increasing or decreasing in popularity. With resurgence in home baking due to shows such as the Great British Bake Off, it was only a matter of time before we saw this impact the start-up business market. It is also interesting despite the recession and subsequent tightening of belts, there is still a market for the little luxuries.”

Elsa Santana, aged 34, set up her cake making business, Let it be Cake (www.letitbecake.co.uk), in August 2011 after leaving her career in IT to start a family.  Talking about her experience Santana said:  “I’d been baking cakes for friends and family for years and three months age decided to take the plunge and launch Let it be Cake as a proper business.  Recent TV shows like Cake Boss and The Great British Bake Off definitely acted as an inspiration and catalyst for my business plan – making me realise that there was a real appetite out there for bespoke cakes like mine. Cakes have become an artwork and more people are looking for the tastes and smell of homemade but with a perfect artistic finish, especially for special occasions, which really takes a professional touch to master.

“Cake making offers an appealing business model especially to mums like me as it allows you to work from home in a very creative industry and, most importantly, to control the hours you work. It’s very rewarding seeing the appreciation on your client’s face and makes long hours of fiddly cake decoration worthwhile. Cake makers tend to have a very local customer base so even though there is lots of competition out there, you can carve a niche in your local area.” 

Robin Campbell, age 30, left a career in banking to start up her cake making business, of Cakes by Robin (www.londoncake.co.uk), in 2008.  Campbell said: “TV Programmes like The Great British Bake off are fueling interest in baking, which can be both a blessing and challenge for shops like mine. People are starting to see baking as something that they can do at home and so are becoming more interested in buying baking utensils rather than the finished product. However it’s all about playing to your strengths and finding the opportunity in cultural shifts. I specialise in bespoke wedding cake design so am less threatened by home baking.  I also now run cake decorating classes from my shop, which really taps into the nation’s renewed enthusiasm for home baking.

“Cake making is a great business to be in – it’s creative and you meet so many lovely people. Buying a cake is a joyous occasion for most people so you’re seeing people at their most happiest and helping to facilitate those moments. The down side is that in running your own business you have to work for every pound, and the lack of a stable salary can be stressful.“

Top tips for a successful Cake business:

1. Start small and build up a loyal customer base rather than biting off more than you can chew at the outset. Cake making is easy to do from home and then you can build up to acquiring premises or a shop once you are established

2. Start local, advertising your business through leafleting and word of mouth. It’s also worth contacting local businesses to see if they ever need cakes for events or meetings

3. Sample and sell your products at local markets and events to start building your reputation

4. Create a website with plenty of pictures of your cakes, clear pricing information and location details to attract customers

5. Use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to encourage friends and family to recommend your services and reach new customers

6. Local partnerships can help reach high potential customers. Team up with local wedding and birthday venues to offer discounted cakes to their customers.  Partner with other local businesses such as florists, delicatessens and gift shops to pool your customer bases by recommending each other’s services

7. Offer free delivery and bulk discounts to local customers

8. As when starting any business it’s important to “dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s – make sure you are on top of the paperwork including health and safety regulations and having the right insurance. Businesslink.gov.uk and the Food Standards Agency provides lots of information on what to think about and can put you in touch with any support you might need. Your local borough council is also a good place to go for business advice.