Entrepreneurship: 7 Ways to break into the Nigerian cake industry

One of the leading Nigerian cake masters. Sheyi cake boss

Yes you love baking cakes, you have gone to a cake school to learn or decorating seem an effortless work to you because it comes to you naturally. Either cake designing's an hobby or an entrepreneurial business for you but now you wish to take it to the next level by becoming a professional cake master, the difference between a novice cake decorator and a cake master is turning the skill of  cake artistry  into a profitable business venture and successful break into the cake  industry. Everyone loves cake, there is a growing demand for the sweet confectionery as can be seen with the increasing number of cake and sugar craft professionals, confection and sugar companies and social venues which are fully booked almost every day of the week in Nigeria

The  wedding ,birthday cakes and desserts being the most lucrative now. For a new start up, You can either decide to specialize or encompass the whole cake works in your business. Though you may find it intimidating and stressful at the start-up,cake designing is a rewarding investment ,all you need is to be patient, be reliable, willing to learn, pay attention to details, develop great customer relations and the long hours of hard work will eventually pay off.
Tre are seven (7) guidelines I propose to break into the competitive Nigerian Cake industry

1. Improve on your social net worth
Be friendly,network,get to know other cake vendors, create new contacts and keep existing relationships. If you are a one man employee, its great to have friends,who will be ready to help out when emergencies arise. Offer help ,don't be a " use nad dump" kind of person, You also have a lot to learn from others. Always have your business cards handy with your address and social media handles printed on them,share them at every good opportunity. If other decoeators are booked and looking for a friend to recommend, be that friend. Be genuine, don't strive too hard, false froiendship is easy to spot. Be nice and keep a smile on always.

2. Be unique and creative in your designs: The cake industry is full of talented people who put efforts into bringing customers dreams to realities so to be outstanding in this creative industry, you must strive hard to make your work stand out, satisfying and always up to or beyond expectation, this will ensure customers come back and also get recommendations .

Create designs which are a representation of your client's personality, theme of event and suitable for the occasion, don't be known for copying other vendor's designs, even when clients being samples of the designs they want, let your touch reflect in the final work.

3. Marketing: Your first impression matters, word-of mouth spreads faster and quickly in the cake industry, so make sure you turn out quality cakes that keeps people talking. More so if other vendor or clients enjoy working with you, they will refer you to their friends too. Offer samples of your treats at networking and social events, have an online presence, get a Facebook page .if you are just starting, always factor in advertising costs into your business plan but keep it minimal, research the optimal advert medium which gives the widest reach and makes more meaningful impact on your targeted audience without having to spend huge amounts.

Get a catalog or photo album of your cakes, try to take a picture before you send the cake out ,its better to use quality professional pictures. Seek for new opportunities to show samples of your works,attend cake shows or exhibitions , place ads in cake magazines, wedding blogs, with event companies and other event vendors like photographers, caterers, stylists  The more people or media you can get to spread your cake business gospel around and recommend you, the better for you.

4. Maintaining your customer base: Keep record of new and returnee customers, even of the referring individuals or companies , end thank you messages, ask for feedback, visit other vendors. Have a timely delivery system, either employ a driver or get a reliable cab hire service , you don't want the cake arriving in the middle or at the end of an event. Only take on jobs you know you can meet up and deliver , don't be afraid to turn down jobs if you do not have the professional capacity or the timing is inappropriate for you, the best alternative is to refer the job to another cake vendor who you can vouch for.

5. Have a business plan:
The role of the above mentioned items in your becoming a successful cake master  can t be over emphasized, it is the  road map which describes the route to your destination.It gives you an idea of what to expect, if you have met your required goals, break even, or fighting a losing battle.  A business plan  should describe your mode of operation, targeted clients (exclusive or middle class
0marketing strategy,source and availability  of raw materials,  efforts to be made for the cake business to succeed, location either from home or a workshop, financial budget and operational costs.  You should have a list of initial investments (savings, loans, contributions from outsiders),expected income  and profit margins. Do not overshoot your budget or generate expenses  which can lead to a business failure. Your cake  business should be seen as a project  with a set  time period for the business to have profitable returns from startup to project completion. For a start you need a work space, cake equipment (mixer, oven, formica board, icing set), cake ingredients (flour, icing sugar, eggs), a staff or get help from a friend or family member. Do your effective research to find out more on the requirements for cake making.

6. Be organized and prepared

To thrive in the competitive cake industry, you need to be prepared and always appear put together always.Dress nicely always, presentation matters, your packaging also makes the difference. Keep a scheduler for your work periods and appointments. Don't over exhaust yourself. Always have a plan B for any eventuality.Have time to rest, freshen up before meeting with clients or making a presentation or delivery , you do not want them to see the exhaustion or fatigue on your face. Get all the necessary details before you take on a job, the quantity, color, type of event, expected delivery time, mode of payment, address ,name of contact and other details useful for the success of the job completion. For bigger jobs, involving more financial implications have a contract drawn up explaining terms of agreement and signed by both parties .

7. Be Informed

Information is power,Update your Knowledge frequently ,know your competition, the industry experts, followers and movers. Therefore to remain a formidable force in the cake industry, you have follow and know the existing and future trends of the cake business , keep abreast of new designs and techniques, carry out more research. There are lot of cake tutorials and videos online and in print, you can also enrol in a cake school and learn from the expert cake masters. Read and research more,Be consistent, stay focused, don't stay in a rut, be more exposed, learn from your mistakes and develop on your strengths. In a short while,you will be a renowned professional cake artist.

See these two Nigerian cake masters and their creations below:  Seun Emmanuel Oke (Cake master) and Sheyi Oke  (Sheyi cake boss)

sheyi cake boss
Sheyi at work

Other Nigerian cake companies include:- Sweet indulgence, Cakes by Tosan, Cafe Concerto, Cake and Candy, Exotique Cakes,  Cakes and Cream, Absolute Elegance, Yellow Velvet Cakes and Licious Desserts.

What tips do you have for breaking into the wedding industry?