Starting a home-based muffin business can be a great opportunity, particularly for a parent who would like to stay home with their kids, a retired person looking to make extra money or anyone looking to start a business based on a love of baking. Businesses involving baking and cooking require more research and a few more "hoops" to jump through than most home-based businesses. Because you'll be baking a lot, it is very important to make sure this is the type of business you want to do. You might enjoy making a couple of dozen muffins at a time, but do you enjoy making a dozens of muffins everyday? Before you make the leap into a business, make sure this is the type of job you want!
Starting a Home-Based Muffin Business
Write a business plan. Even if you only ever read it yourself, it is essential to write down your goals, ideas, marketing plan, expected expenses and income. There are many books and websites that can help you format a formal business plan. A formal plan will be helpful if you intend to look for financing or need something to present to local officials. Otherwise, a more informal outline for your own purposes will suffice.
Call your local health department. They will get you the right information you need to get your kitchen licensed for use as a commercial facility. Some states will allow you to work from your home kitchen, provided you separate business food from personal food, don't have pets inside, or separate storage facilities. However, some states will not allow a home kitchen to be used. You may need to either build a second kitchen, rent a commercial kitchen (churches and schools will often rent out their facilities) or use a licensed "mobile" kitchen for your business. Sorting out the legalities of a baking business might be the most difficult part of start-up.
Market your muffins. Where will you sell your muffins? Do you intend to sell them to local restaurants, convenience stores or grocery stores for resale? Or would you rather sit at the farmer's market and sell them yourself? Whatever you decide, you will have to determine how you will package them, design and print a label, and figure out your price points. Join the local chamber of commerce and other networking groups and offer to bake them muffins for their breakfast meetings. Bring muffins into local businesses and leave a card. Offer a basket of muffins for a local fundraiser or auction. Become known as the "Muffin" girl or guy.
Buy your supplies. You don't need a huge food distributor right away, but you might want to consider buying your ingredients from a warehouse store, rather than the local grocery store. If you will be making a location specific muffin (blueberries from Maine, for example), you might want to associate with a local grower and tout the virtues of these locally grown ingredients.
Take orders and bake muffins.
Be creative in your marketing. Don't just put a card out or take an ad out in the paper and expect tons of orders. There are lots of ways to get your name and product out there without spending a dime. Be of service to people and you'll get your name known.
Before you expand, concentrate on being the best you can be at what you do. Make the best dozen types of muffins before you add new varieties - or new baked goods.