1. Marketing Tips for the Cupcake Business: Getting in touch with your client base.

When you open any type of business it is necessary for potential clients to be able to find you, let’s discuss a few marketing tips for your cupcake business. You have to pull out all the stops and let it be known that your company exists. Things are no different when it comes to the cupcake business. You don’t only need to connect with your clients as they pass your shop; you have got to connect with them on the Internet. Use these few cupcake business marketing tips to build your cupcake shop to a success.

When you are marketing locally put some ads in the local paper, especially in the Sunday paper with a coupon attached. You’ll be surprised how many people will come in to patronize your company from ads placed in the Sunday paper. Also, decorate your windows in a manner to draw interest to your cupcakes. Use attractive colors that make people think of sweet goodness. Attend local events that will allow you to put up a sign, to hand out fliers, or to open a small stand to introduce the locals to your cupcake business. Make sure you stop in to the local Chambers of Commerce to make connections and see if any local non-profit is holding an event where you can show off your goods. Another great option is to send out advertisements to businesses to let them know you can cater an event or to put in their mind that “Friday is Cupcake Day.” The options are endless when marketing to the locals, get creative and think about where your clientele can be found and market your cupcake business there.

Now, marketing locally isn’t enough these days. The locals don’t just spend their time “locally” anymore – they are on the Web.

In fact, your clients may be in a different state than you and you need to reach them to be successful.
On the Internet create a search engine optimized website that tells about your company, what types, flavors, and sizes of cupcakes you offer.
Using search engine optimization can bring your company to the forefront when people are looking for delicious cupcakes or desserts.
Put pictures of your shop and goodies to increase enticement and to make people feel that they already know you.
Next, start a blog on as many social sites you can to get your name out there; write at least once a day. You will be surprised how many friends you can make on the Web.
Don’t forget to advertise on food focused websites; this can get a bit pricey so choose wisely, but it can be well worth it – the world is full of “foodies.”
Or perhaps share a recipe or decorating instruction via YouTube or a food focused website. Finally, don’t forget about creating a press release. This would be for the local crowd as well as on the web.
Don’t understate the power of the Web, everyone is there and everyone can find you and your cupcake business.
Finally, it is important that you include your marketing plan into your cupcake business plan. Since your cupcake business plan should be checked often and treated as a living document there is no better place for your marketing plan to reside. The reason for combining your cupcake business plan and marketing plan is twofold. First, you must account for the funds needed for marketing. All too often business owners treat their marketing plan as a separate entity from the business plan and fail to add the costs of marketing. Secondly, as you review your business plan you should be reviewing your marketing plan; this it to make sure that both documents are viewed and adjusted in concert for your cupcake success. Now that you know a few marketing tips for you cupcake business, get out there and satisfy all those sweet teeth.

2. Before you start a Cupcake Business- 5 Questions to ask Yourself

So you have decided to open a cupcake business. There are some important things you have to think about before you start your cupcake business.

First, although you love to bake and make delicious cupcakes, do you want to do it for a living? You may be thinking what could be better than getting paid for doing what you already love. But the fact is many people love to do something as a hobby a lot more than they do as a job even when it’s their own business. Part of the joy of creating your cupcakes may be that it lets you relax from the day-to-day grind; it’s a release. Suddenly, after deciding to turn that hobby into a job, many find they no longer enjoy what they have loved for years. So before begin signing any papers or ordering products and ingredients, think good and hard if you want what you love to be a job.

Next, do you have a supportive network? This may seem like a simple question – of course your friends and family want to provide support and wish for your success. But the truth is this business can be quite time-consuming, and may take away most of the free time you currently have. A great way to distribute your time between your business and your friends and family is by getting them involved. Ask them for input and advice; share your stories of success; schedule some time that you can put your business aside and enjoy the people who support you most.

Thirdly, do you have your finances in order? Now, we’re not talking about getting a loan to start a business; we are talking about your personal finances. It’s important that you have your finances and financial accounts in order before applying for loan and before taking on a new position as “the boss.” Make sure your family can handle any economical changes to the household funds. It’s always easier when money is being added to the pot, but when money may be “missing” tempers can flair. If you think there may be any of these types of issues, talk to your family about what is and will be going on – they will appreciate it and feel included. Additionally, make sure you get your credit reports and any other financial issues reviewed and taken care of; you’ll need these things in order before applying for a loan.

Next, have you researched the cupcake industry completely? Go to your local university or city library and take the time to research every aspect. How much has the industry grown over the last few years? How many new cupcake businesses have opened in the last few years and how many in your area? What demographic are you wanting to serve and are there enough of that demographic where you plan to open? These and other basic business questions are important to answer if you plan on a successful cupcake business. Keep notes of questions that run through your mind and spend the day looking up business questions so you are prepared when you get to the library. Have you prepared a business plan? If you are not a business plan expert, try a premade cupcake business plan to help guide you through the process. Knowing the answers to these questions will better prepare you to lead your cupcake business in the right direction.

Finally, think about the demographic in your area and if a cupcake shop could be successful there. Are there any cupcake shops in your area already? Have you thought about a location? You will want a location that receives a high amount of traffic, and that is easily visible. Maybe you don’t want to have a physical shop, but would rather bake from your own kitchen and cater events. Does your area have many conferences, trade shows, or weddings that you could generate business from? There are many things to consider when selecting a location, so do your research and ask yourself these questions before opening your business.

3. What is Required to Open a Cupcake Shop

There are many factors to overcome before opening a cupcake shop. In addition to deciding whether or not you want to open an actual shop or run your business from home, you must also look into getting properly licensed and meet all of the requirements enforced by your state. Many laws vary state-to-state, so check into this before completing your business plan.

The most basic requirement is to think of a company name. What you name your cupcake shop is important so keep trying different names until you happen upon one that you think is great. With all of the cupcake shops and businesses popping up, you’ll want to be sure you come up with something unique. You want a name that is fun, but focused. Potential patrons should be able to know what you offer the minute they see your company’s name. Now, the company name doesn’t have to have the word cupcake in it; but it should convey that you offer some sort of sweets. It’s easy to think this fun part is easy, but coming up with a name is tough especially when cupcake shops are becoming popular.

Now for the real tough part – costs! No one likes figuring out the cost of things, especially when it comes to products and sales. Luckily for you, you want to open a cupcake shop. When you first start out you can work from home with low overhead. Buy the supplies you need to make your cupcakes and determine how many cupcakes you can bake from those ingredients. Let’s say it costs you $3 per dozen of cupcakes. Next, think about how much money you want to earn for creating those cupcakes; perhaps if it takes you 1 hour to create a batch of cupcakes you and want to earn $15 per hour. At this point we know we need $3 worth of ingredients and $15 per hour earning for at total of $18 per hour of costs. Divide that cost by 12 for the batch and you’ll find you need to charge $1.50 per cupcake to cover these costs.

If you are opening an actual cupcake shop you will have to figure the costs per cupcake with a few other things in mind. For example employee costs, electricity, rent, and equipment. The easiest way to determine all your costs is to divide by the amount of hours you intend to be open. First, figure how many employees you plan on having per hour. Next look up on the web or call the local electric company to ask what the normal electrical costs of similar type and size usually is per month. Continue to go on and research costs for rent in the area. Finally, determine what equipment you need and the cost of that equipment. Once you have all these numbers, add them up and divide by the hours you plan to be open and then divide that by how many cupcakes you can make per hour. For a cupcake shop whether ran at home or in an actual shop you’ll add between 25-50% for markup and profit.

You may find a cupcake shop will have you charging between $3.25-3.75 per cupcake. Remember to consider different scenarios when developing your cupcake business plan. The working through of the numbers will ensure your cupcake business plan is as close to actuality as you can expect to see once your cupcake business is up and running.
Once you have determined if you will be opening a cupcake shop or running the business from home, you will need to decide what equipment is necessary. You may need new ovens, a larger refrigerator, or more workspace. Think about what you will use to mix the batter and bake the cupcakes. You may also want a place to temporarily store cupcakes. If you are opening a shop, will you be offering coffee or any other products? All of this needs to be considered when you are planning your budget for equipment.

4. Recipe for cupcakes: Find your signature taste

Who doesn’t love cupcakes? With your mouth watering, you take a bite expecting nothing but goodness. This isn’t always the case if the right ingredients or right recipe were used. Recipes for cupcakes are like any other recipe; the wrong ingredient was used or in the wrong amount. Perhaps the ingredients were mixed in the wrong order or they were cooked in the wrong type of pan; the possibilities are endless. But, there are a few things to keep in mind when dealing with cupcakes recipes.

First, good cupcakes are made from great ingredients. Spend the extra few cents on good margarine, butter, or shortening; you can get away with average everyday flour for the most part. If you are adding a touch of vanilla extract use quality stuff or simply add scrapings from a vanilla bean. Check to make sure you have the sugar and not salt or baking powder when you need baking soda. It’s the little things in the batter that make the difference to how it cupcake recipe comes out. Second, don’t overplay with the batter; mix the batter thoroughly and be done with it. Over-working the cupcake batter will break down the recipe leaving cooked cupcakes heavy. Finally, don’t overcook the batter. Remember, although cupcakes are cakes, they are much smaller than a cake and will cook quicker than a cake. Plus, since cupcakes cook in their own cup, they get heat from all directions, which cooks the center quickly. Look for a nice springiness when pressing the top or take a toothpick, put in the center, if it comes out “clean” the cupcake is done.

Another tip for making great cupcakes is making homemade icing; try plain, lemon, or chocolate butter cream. A thick and rich dark chocolate peanut butter ganache is nice. Then again, cream cheese icing with lemon zest, coconut, or vanilla is a wonderful creation. Skip the hard pre-made cupcake toppers; they’re great for kids, but opt for something a bit more sophisticated for the adult palate. Follow these rules, and your cupcake recipe and topping will match perfectly. Once you are happy with the recipe for your cupcakes and have fallen in love with your topping; get daring and start baking with cupcake fillings.

Now, there are basically two ways of filling a cupcake properly. You can use a pastry bag that pushes through a cooked cupcake with some delicious filling. Be careful not to put too much pressure on the bag; you may cause the bag’s tip to come off or push all the way through the cupcake. Another option is to fill the cupcakes papers halfway and cook till just about done and then spoon in some of your filling in the center. The goal is to create a solid enough shell to hold the filling. Once you have the filling in cover with additional batter and continue to cook. Obviously, the former is the best and most efficient way to go about filing cupcakes and the latter can get a bit messy. Please don’t attempt what many have by placing some batter in the paper cups, top with filling, and then add more batter before ever cooking. More often than not the filling spills out and the batter doesn’t cook properly and of course, it will be a mess.

When it comes to fillings for cupcake recipes you want to pay attention to a several issues. First, remember to refrigerate cupcakes that have filling that would normally need refrigerating. Second, make sure that your filling and icing complement each other’s taste and texture and avoid over doing it. Don’t use a chocolate chunk filling with chocolate chunky icing. Instead, opt for a smaller texture such as sprinkles or chocolate shavings. Remember, besides taste and texture, fillings add a level of moisture and creaminess to cupcake recipes, so if you want a highly textured and flavorful icing keep filling simple and luxurious in the mouth. A few excellent, simple, and starter fillings is vanilla custard, citrus cream cheese, and everyday jelly. Of course, you can try anything; you never know what kind of wonderful cupcake recipe creation you’ll concoct.

5. You Must have a Cupcake Business Plan – It’s your Guidance!

For any business to be a success there must be a business plan, and if you are opening a cupcake shop you will need a cupcake business plan. A business plan is more than just a list of ideas and “to-do’s” that you intend to follow. It is both objective numbers and subjective opinion; this information comes from research that has been formulated in such a manner as to create a plan that can be presented for funding.

Your business plan will help you understand what and how your cupcake business is going to function as a living entity. First, your cupcake business plan will provide you with an overview of your company. This overview will help keep you on track and aligned with what you intend your company to be and what you intend to offer. For example, what products will your cupcake shop offer? What type of ingredients will you focus on – organic or Vegan or good old fashioned cupcakes? The overview will also inform you on what the environment your cupcake shop will offer. Are you casual enough to be a teenage hangout or will you be upscale and elite? These questions may seem obvious to you, but they won’t to investors or banks. But more importantly, having such information written down acts as your cupcake shop rule book for those times you may feel like your shop is heading in the wrong direction or developing outside your intention.

Additionally, your cupcake business plan will guide you in your staffing efforts to include management. As a cupcake shop owner you will need to know when to hire new people to keep your business up and going. The hiring of new people will not be your only concern; you must be concerned with the roles that each individual fulfills. With a business plan, you will have each role accounted for and how many people will be needed to fill the needs of that role and when they will be needed. This will keep you on track in every aspect of your company.

Now, don’t get too upset if you do end up feeling that your cupcake shop is heading in the wrong direction or developing outside your intention. Remember, your clients have a lot to do with how your cupcake shop evolves. Customers have a surprisingly powerful impact on a business owner’s product offerings and environment. For you to be successful you will have to adapt.

Adapting to the clientele that you get is not just a function; you must adapt your business plan as well. Adapting the business plan will ensure that your numbers and growth potential are as close to reality and possibility as it can be. You will use this information from your cupcake business plan to guide your financial and non-financial business decisions, train your employees, and create new offerings.