Messing around with dough is such a love of mine. Baking bread at home is great, but owning my own bakery was even more amazing! It was just the best thing. So if you are serious about owning a bakery you’ll find many reasons why you should in this article and in the book that I wrote.
Opening a bakery can be very tempting. It looks like such a simple business from the outside, you’ve just got to make bread, and sell it! Of course, it’s a little more complicated than this so before you invest your savings into one, let me explain what’s it like to own a bakery.
Owning a bakery is such a flexible route into entrepreneurship as it can follow many paths. You can hire staff, work on your own, sell direct to customers, sell to restaurants and chains, team up with local suppliers, deliver, don’t deliver, run baking courses, set up market stalls and plenty more! A bakery business can reap extreme profits yet it can also lead to you chasing to break even every month. It can take so many routes and if in a few years you wish to expand it’s easy to do.
What is always great about it is the experience, so here are my 8 reasons why you should open a bakery:
Trying different mixing times, new flours, recipes or whatever you fancy to create new flavours and textures is amazing fun. You’ll become immersed in trying new things to improve a recipe that is pure bliss. If you love being creative and showcasing your talents, owning your own bakery where you can decide on the daily routine is perfect. Being a bakery owner made me excited to get up and attack each day.
Being a business owner means you can flex your personal commitments around your work. Although if you do all the baking yourself you will, of course, have to make the bread every day. After years of following a rota, this was one of the things that I enjoyed the most. When you have your own business, even though the workload will be a lot higher, especially at the start, you will be able to plan your schedule. You may be able to take your children to school, watch the match at the weekend or be home by lunchtime if you wish. See my making bread in bulk guide to learn a few tricks to make your routine easier.
No more “meal deals” or queuing up for stodgy canteen food. If your bakery also functions as a cafe you’ll have good quality food and drinks on site. Expect there to be some nice bread lying around too! Pairing meals with bread has become a special talent of mine over the years.
The feel of a perfectly hydrated dough, the smell of sourdough when you lift the lid off and the successful feeling when the scores on baguettes open up perfectly in the oven. It’s not to be underestimated. I love bread baking. If you love it too, why wouldn’t you want to do it every day?
Even if your bread gets rave reviews in your eyes as a bakery owner it can always be improved. Trying different techniques and learning new ones is an exciting part of the role. I would spend hours (and still do) on YouTube watching Italian bakers prepare these beautiful loaves of bread, often in crazy environments. Seeing bakers use what looks like a cow’s water trough as a mixing bowl is a common occurrence! Many of the things I see, I would not attempt, but they all build a picture of an attitude to bread, making me a better baker.
What’s great about building a dedicated team is you just learn to be telepathic. You don’t need to tell them what to do, they just know. Sometimes there’s a discussion about when to put the bread in the oven or asking for the water bucket to be filled. But the rest of the time the team are having a laugh or talking about their home life. There is also bread to talk about, perhaps sharing techniques we’ve used previously or a name for a new loaf. There was always loads to talk about and many fun times were had!
Being known locally for something is great! It also opens opportunities and new business deals and it’s a great feeling when people stop you in the street to compliment your baking qualities. Within 6 months of opening my bakery, I was around the Mayor’s house for dinner, invited to council meetings and offered free tickets to the ballet. If you like to broaden your network and have the opportunity to try new things it’s a great business to start.
A physical store or delivery service allows you to connect with other bread fanatics. You’ll get to know lots of local people so it’s a perfect business to open if you’ve just relocated to a new area.
Bakery start-up costs will vary by the amount of bread you expect to make. Small batch micro bakeries can be set up at home for £3K-£10K ($4K-$13K), a small bakery-cafe will cost £15K-£35K ($20K-$48K), whereas a high output manufacturing bakery will cost at least £40K ($55K).
If a lot of building work is required to make the environment food-safe or inviting these costs will be at the higher end of the range.
It’s impossible to start a bakery business when you don’t love making bread. You need confidence in your baking ability first. This can be gained from working in one or taking professional baking courses. You should also have a bit of business acumen. You will need to have a plan to set up a new bakery so your investment won’t disappear in a matter of months.
I recommend finding a mentor. Someone based in another region and not a competitor can really help you to build your bakery business. Reach out by getting on the phone or using Linkedin and see if you can get some coaching to take you step-by-step through the process.
I was deeply unprepared when I opened my bakery. There was no marketing, I put too much trust in others without being trained and although the bread was highly rated it couldn’t generate enough income to cover the rent costs of the massive building I’d leased. I wish I’d concentrated solely on bread in smaller premises. Looking back, I took too much for granted, it truly was the most fun experience of my life. I look back now with only positive thoughts and learned many amazing lessons.
As you can see there were many reasons why owning my own bakery was amazing. There’s plenty more too, the most important is loving what you do. Let me know in the comments if this article helped you to make the discussion or ask any questions.