If you live in Illinois and bake in your spare time, turning your hobby into a home-based business might be a profitable venture. It's easier in Illinois than in other states, so living in the right state already makes going the business route a natural progression. With some home renovations and a desire to succeed, you are on your way to producing fresh baked goods and earning an income.
Obtain any permits and licenses. You will need a business license, which you can get from your local state department, and also a tax ID. Many suppliers will not sell to you if you don't have one. You'll need to choose a business structure to determine what kind of business license to get. A limited liability corporation is a popular business structure, or a sole proprietorship if you are working alone. Illinois is one of several states that allow business to bake from home, but it requires an inspection from the Department of Public Health.
Write a business plan. Even if you are planning to stay small, a written business plan is an invaluable tool for you to clarify your ideas and develop a real plan. You'll map out your activities and get a sense of what this venture really entails. Create sections for business overview, market analysis, strategy and implementation, operations and financial forecasts. This last section is of particular importance as when you do the numbers you'll see what the profit-making potential is for this initiative. A business plan is essential if you are trying to raise funds to get started because investors need to see details and projected numbers. The SBA in Illinois can offer assistance.
Purchase any equipment or supplies that you need to get baking. While a very small business can get started with whatever equipment is already in your kitchen, a commercial oven is recommended to achieve quality and consistency. You may need to renovate another area of your home, such as a garage, for business use. You may need to make any other changes or purchases as per Illinois Health Department inspection guidelines.
Design your line. Figure out what you do best . Fresh brioche? Maple pear pie? Choose a few items and develop the perfect recipe with exact measurements to ensure consistency. Speak to friends and solicit feedback about what they like and are looking to buy. Post queries on Illinois community forums to get objective responses. Check out the competition. Find out what people regularly buy at local bakeries, and see what they're lacking that you could supply.
Get the word out. Carry business cards with you and hand them out whenever the opportunity arises. Donate cakes to charity auctions. Advertise in locals papers and circulars such as the "Skokie Review," which serves Skokie. Make sure to tell friends and family and spread the word. Use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to let people find you and to communicate updates.