The cake baking business does not have a reputation as the most corporate of industries. An owner of a cake baking business is more likely to be found in the kitchen than at a conference. Despite this, a number of the key principles that guide success in most industries also apply to the cake baking trade. Networking is of particular importance and should be approached enthusiastically and strategically.
Networking Within the Cake Baking Industry
First and foremost, it is important to communicate with those who are going through similar experiences to you. This involves reaching out to individuals in the cake baking industry. Fellow cake baking professionals can be found online, on cake baking or small business forums. Try posting new threads asking others to share their tips and experiences. You might even like to arrange a meet up with other forum members but be sure to choose a safe location.
Networking at Trade Shows and Exhibitions
Trade Shows and Exhibitions are the perfect places to make a name for your company. They allow you to showcase your products, introduce yourself as a dynamic business owner and forge relationships with other industry professionals, as well as journalists and consumers. Trade shows and exhibitions take place across the UK but Birmingham and London are key destinations to consider. Exhibitor fees can be high, so think carefully about what sorts of shows to attend:
- By all means attend a baking fair but try to think outside the box to reach a wider audience. What about a more general food and drink exhibition, or a lifestyle show?
- Get a stack of business cards printed and take a form along so that interested individuals can sign up to your mailing list
- Which products do you want to showcase?
- Are there any exclusive offers you might feature?
- What literature should you take
- How will you interact with those you meet?
- What key information do you want to get across?
At trade shows and exhibitions, consumers, journalists and professionals alike are bombarded with a huge amount of information in the space of a few hours so it is vital to keep your message simple and full of impact.
Networking with Journalists and Bloggers
The press, online and printed, are experiencing a love affair with baked goods. Intriguingly, new media can prove the small business owner’s best friend. Send a selection of your cakes to bloggers and online magazine editors. If you run a café, invite online tastemakers along to sample your wares. Positive reviews will prove beneficial but the real goal is to secure links to your website. The more traffic your website receives, the more potential customers you can reach.
Try contacting the HR department of local printed magazines and newspapers and offer to cater meetings or parties for them at a competitive price. Keep an eye on key local events and think about how they can be maximised in terms of publicity. If you provide the cakes for a prestigious wedding, for example, your company name may appear in the write-up of the celebration.
Peer Support and Business Associations
Whilst networking is key to securing future sales, it can also prove a valuable source of support. Many start-up cake bakers benefit from meeting others who run small businesses, regardless of the nature of those businesses. You might think about attending a local business association. These can be informal; some groups meet once a fortnight for an early morning breakfast discussion, for example. Here, you can gather wisdom from more experienced business owners. These meetings also allow individuals to relax with those with whom they can relate, sometimes easing the impact of work stress on friends and family. Business associations can also be breeding grounds for money saving skill-swapping deals, useful recommendations and even new custom.
Networking need not inspire dread in the small business owner. If you have a product and a company of which you are proud, inspire yourself to get out there and tell people all about what you do. Networking may well set your cake baking business on the path to longterm success and prosperity.