Unless you’ve been out of the country or hiding under a rock for the last couple of months, it will have been difficult to avoid The Great British Bake Off. Whether it’s being discussed on social media or taking over our television screens every Wednesday evening, the good-natured baking contest has secured a place in the nation’s affections. Since it burst on to our screens in 2010, Bake Off has soared in popularity, with over 13 million viewers tuning in to see Nadiya Hussein take this year’s baking crown.
Of course everyone loves Paul Hollywood’s pithy put downs and Mel and Sue’s witty asides, but perhaps what’s most interesting about the Bake Off is the effect it’s having on British business.
While some of us are turning to The Apprentice to fill the Victoria sponge-shaped hole in our hearts, many others have been inspired to head to their kitchens and test out their baking skills on their friends and family. This so-called ‘Bake Off effect’ has led to a significant upswing in sales of baking ingredients and equipment – and it doesn’t look like diminishing any time soon, with recent research indicating that the market is set to reach £1.9bn by 2019.
‘Cakepreneurs’ on the Rise
However, it’s not just established baking businesses that are benefiting from the popularity of Bake Off. Alongside the rise in enthusiastic home bakers, is a large cohort of people who have been inspired to turn their passion for baking into a viable business – the ‘cakepreneurs’!
There are currently over 4,000 baking businesses operating in the UK – a 51% increase since Bake Off first appeared on our screens. And this trend looks set to continue with business insurance providers reporting a steady rise in quote requests from potential cake entrepreneurs
Part of a wider trend for home-based, home-made businesses, it’s not difficult to see why setting up a baking company is proving so popular. For many people it offers the opportunity to be creative and to make a living from something that they have a genuine passion for. It’s also ideal for people with family or other commitments as it gives them the flexibility to control their own hours and work from home if needed.
Want a Slice of the Cake?
If you’ve been inspired by the Bake Off effect, setting up your own baking related company may not be as difficult as you think.
The first thing you need to do is to decide on the kind of company you want to run. ‘Cakepreneurs’ can take a number of forms, and there are several different avenues you can pursue, from creating upscale custom-decorated cakes for weddings and other special occasions, through to offering afternoon teas, or passing on your skills via bread making or cupcake courses.
It may seem like there’s a lot of competition out there, but the great thing about cake or baking companies is that the customer base tends to be fairly local, which means that you can carve out a niche for yourself in your area.
It’s best to start small at first, and then once you have built up a good reputation and solid customer base, you can think about expanding your business – whether that’s through acquiring premises, increasing your output or diversifying your services. When growing your business, don’t forget the importance of having a clear, attractive website and strong social media presence – these can be invaluable in generating a buzz and attracting potential new customers.
Starting your own business is always challenging, but being able to do what you love for a living comes with its own rewards. With hard work, talent and perseverance, you too could join the ranks of Bake Off inspired entrepreneurs who are having their cake and eating it.
Elouise Durrant is the founder of The Gourmet Cupcake Company, which specialises in creating beautiful cakes for any occasion. She also provides baking courses for would-be bakers.