starting a cookie baking business guide

Starting a Cookie Baking Business, Guide

You’ve been baking for a while, friends, family love your individual cookies and biscuits. The next step is natural, starting a cookie baking business. You’ve been thinking about it, and now’s the time, to take it to the next logical step.

And to be honest, if you have passion, endurance, resilience and above all, really, really, love what you’re doing then, you’re pretty well set. We’re here to help (no, not to flog you cookie cutters, but if you’re interested, walk this way!). With our guide to getting set up. We’ve picked the brains of some great cookiers, added to our knowledge of setting up a business and away we go.

Here, we’ll cover the basics to getting started. From business plans, to branding. Treat this guide as a ‘have you thought of’ read through. There’s plenty of places you can get freebies and info, which we’ve packed in here. Without further ‘a-dough’ we know, it won’t get any better, let’s get started

Understanding your clients and market

Before you begin, who are your current and with that, future clients? Who is your model client? It might be someone who already buys from you, or, it might be common traits among your customers. Note these down, and build a customer avatar – a what? We know, build a person who is your ideal customer, and give them a name. Ours is called Rachel, she bakes from home, is building her business and collections. Once you have an idea of who your customer or market is, you can hone in and refine your business to meet their needs.

Business Plan

You might think you don’t need this, if you don’t need any investment – sort of true. However, it’s useful to create a business plan, it focuses your mind. The business plan, will ask you questions you hadn’t thought of. A great explanation of a business plan can be found here at the Federation of Small Businesses. Or take a look at this, one page idea from Lisa Goller

One Page Business Plan
Business Plan from Lisa Goller

Unique Selling Point

What is yours? every business has one of some description. Ours? we create custom cookie cutters easily, and create unusual generic shapes, so that you can add your twist. What’s your USP going to be? It’s likely to be the style you use, or a particular recipe, or you only use certain colours. Whatever it may be, link it to your customer avatar, and then feed it into your business planning.

Legal Administration – Business Structure/Registering

Are you going to be a Sole Trader, Partnership with a friend or a Limited Company. Lots to think about here. If you’re not sure what these terms mean check out this blog here on Small Business. When you’ve decided, you need to register your company with Companies House. And make sure that amazing company name you’ve chosen, hasn’t been used before. Check the name here at Companies House, and register your business here. This gives you information on how you can use your new company name. If you have a logo, it might be worth registering that as well.

Legal Administration – Licences and Permits

As a food provider you will definitely need licences etc within the UK. Start by registering a food business on the Govt UK website. If you’re working from home, think about the house insurance, business rates, health and safety issues. You might need to register with your local authority, contact them as well for advice and guidance. Definitely, you’ll need food hygiene and safety training/qualifications, along with label regulations (identification of allergens and ingredients etc). A great starting place is the Food Standards Agency.

Legal Administration – Tax/Insurance

Make sure you register with HMRC as a sole trader, if you have an accountant they can help with this. You need to think about insurance for your business. What do you need to insure? Some thoughts…. equipment, liability (public and product), does your home insurance cover the equipment, is your home insurance still valid if you run a business from home? If you’re the main source of income, what happens if you’re ill? Should you look at a Critical Illness plan.

Budget & Finance – Start Up Costs/Funding/Bank Accounts

Here you want to think about how much it will cost to get started, and bear in mind, it may not be as much as you think. You probably have most of the equipment (and if you’re in need of a starter kit of cookie cutters check out our collection!). How are you going to fund your business? Banks are one option, in which case you’ll definitely need a fully fledged business plan to show them. Other ways to fund…. bank of mum and dad! family? start up loan from the government, peer to peer lending (where ordinary individuals invest in your business for a share of the profits), business grants.

You’ll need a business bank account as well, do your research well. Don’t get caught with huge fees in the second or third years. Most businesses take at least 5 years to really grow.

Finally, budget, budget, budget. Even if it’s just on an excel spreadsheet (that’s how we do it!!). Create a cashflow spreadsheet, and work out exactly what you need each month to run the business and live. How many cookies do you need to sell to meet/exceed that figure. And if we only say one thing, in this entire article – CHARGE FOR YOUR TIME. Ok, so you can’t necessarily charge £11 an hour for cookies, but you sure can charge for your time. Yep, you’ll get clients saying they can get cheaper in the supermarket etc, They aren’t your clients. Your clients will pay for quality, individually designed cookies, and will love what you create – lecture over, for 5 minutes!

sample cashflow sheet
Cashflow Template from SmartSheet

Branding/Marketing – Your Story – Identity

My story? I can hear you say, I’m just a boring *mum* (insert as you see fit!) and you are definitely not defined by your role. You got here, somehow, what’s your path? What does it feel like to be making cookies at midnight because you spent all day at your office job/being just a mum! Your story is you, use it.

Link that to Brand Identity – what are we talking about? We’re talking what are your colours, your logo, your whole look. How do you talk in your posts on Instagram? what language do you use. Are you formal, friendly, cutesy – get what we’re saying? You can see from this article and our Instagram posts, we try to be friendly and informal. We want you to come over for a cuppa and a chat – how do you want to be perceived/seen?

Branding/Marketing – Marketing Plan/Website

Once you know how you want to be seen, how you are going to be, well, seen? what’s your plan? When you formally write down how you are going to be seen, you create an action list for yourself. Not only that, but the business plan helps you monitor what’s working and what isn’t. Great Marketing Plan ideas can be found here on the FSB (Federation of Small Businesses).

One key part of marketing, is a website. You don’t have to be a professional to set one up. Using Shopify (even I as a techphobe found it easy to set up) or perhaps Wix, Squarespace. You can have a landing page (one page only, where your clients can see what you sell). Which you can use to direct customers to your Etsy shop (possibly?) Investigate the options, ultimately it needs to be easy for your clients to contact you and/or buy from you – the less clicks the better!

Branding/Marketing – Social Media

You know what we mean by social media, Instagram being the obvious one for beautifully photographed cookies. Consider Facebook for the older generation! Tik Tok for cute funny videos of your makes. Linked In if you think your customer lives there (especially if your ideal customer is a time poor executive?). X (formerly Twitter), YouTube for how to, videos, Pinterest for pinning your creations and linking them back to your website. The key to social media is finding where your customer lives, what are they looking at or using. No point putting loads of effort in to Tik Tok, if your customer doesn’t use it.

Don’t forget, as well, the benefits of scheduling your content. Great apps to do this include Later (again, we’ve used this, super easy), Facebook itself will let you schedule to Instagram and Facebook (if they’re your key platforms), or Hootsuite. Consistency, consistency, your followers are waiting for you to show them your products, to share your news, so you need to do it regularly.

Branding/Marketing – Online vs Offline Selling

Well, really this isn’t a versus question, it’s more a what are you going to do to cover both bases? Online selling comes easier to us, as our world increasingly becomes a click and collect. You may decide to use your website as the main conductor. We’d say (from experience!) that unless your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is amazing from day one, you’ll struggle to reach your customers with just a website. Where else can you sell online? Etsy shop, Folksy, The British Craft House, via Facebook posts on your page, or a Facebook Shop.

Offline, you can begin with Farmers Markets, Craft Fairs of all shapes and sizes. Don’t be disheartened, if you don’t sell massively. Treat it as part of your marketing campaign, people now know you exist. Reach out to local businesses, cafes, corporate business with cookies of their logo.


Phew, you have your colours, who and how you’ll sell the cookies to. Now, what are you going to sell? Ehh cookies obviously, yep we know that. But, what shapes, sizes, flavour, icing type, fondant or royal icing, almond or chocolate flavours? Don’t get overwhelmed…

Recipe – what have been your best cookies so far? You’ll have your own recipe but in case you don’t, here’s ours. Perhaps, pick 2-3 flavours. Are you offering a gluten free option or vegan? what ingredient quality are you going to pitch at? supermarket level or organic?

Styles – the year has many seasons and events, a lot of these will determine the cookie shapes you make. Think February, think hearts for Valentines, but hold on, are your hearts geometric, painted one colour, cutesy, blue? Your style, which you’ve already decided (sort of), in your brand identity, will determine the cookie collections you create.

Quality Control/Testing– every product needs quality control, what are your barometers of control? density of cookie, taste, size? who is going to test the quality? family, friends, blind test.

Surf summer Cookie Cutters
Summer Collection SED Developments 2024


How are you going to produce the cookies? Yes, you’ll definitely bake them, but first you’ll have to make them. What equipment do you need? How are you going to lay out your kitchen? what’s the process to making and decorating a cookie. Start with a trusty flow chart. What are the steps to the perfect decorated cookie. Then match your workspace to those steps within the confines of your kitchen.

What are you going to make the cookies with?. Who will supply your eggs? Is it the local farm, they’re amazing and you’ll support local, but pricier. Or should you go for a major supermarket who supply eggs everyday, relatively unlimited. You may have already sorted this, when you were creating your budget earlier on.

Packaging/Presentation – how are your beautiful cookies going to look? Do they need to go in the post? In this case the packaging will be vastly different to the cookies which are picked up at the door step. You may want to brand the packaging, this could be a simple sticker, or fancy ribbon or colour co-ordinated boxes?


Yayy you’ve made a sale, say a set of 6 cookies (Mother’s Day, Valentines??). You know what you’re going to make them from, and how. You know how they will be packaged. Now, how you are you going to get them to the client?

Shipping/Delivery solutions, what’s the safest way for these cookies to get to the client? Getting a great solution in place is vital. You can test out your choices by sending cookies to friends in the post. The further away, the friend, the better. This way you can judge timescales for arrival, condition of the cookies upon receipt and general service of your shipping partner. When you’re happy with your shipping solution, you can add the extras such as upgrade for express delivery or gift notes/wrap.

Customer Service

You are your brand. We know you want those cookies to arrive perfectly, be enjoyed and the client to spread the word. And they will. However, what can you do to ensure customer service and loyalty?

If a client continually uses you, how can you reward them? This can also be a selling point. If a client then orders from you, you could offer 6 cookies for the price of 5, or 10% off. How can you get that client to return to you?

Feedback and improvement, mean we improve ourselves, painful though feedback can be. Gaining feedback on flavour, appearance, delivery etc will lead you to make changes and grow. Do not fear it. Feedback we’ve received, has lead us to remove certain cutters, make listings clearer and grow our embossing stamp collection. Even if I hung desperately to some designs! It’s hard, sometimes, to look objectively at your own business, this, after all, is your baby.

How can you ensure consistency? Every cookie needs to be the same – well not entirely identical because your selling point is that they are individually made cookies! However they do need to be the same height, weight, colour, how can you achieve this?

Growing to the next stage

What the heck, we’re just starting out. We know, but never too early to be thinking ‘how do I move this forward?’.

Planning is key, you’ll naturally grow your collections. Because you want to try out new shapes and ideas all of the time (we know, we’re there as well). However, with new collections/ideas, should come new business. Hopefully, it will grow to the stage where you, on your own, can’t continue. You’ll need to think about taking on help (proper paid help, not your sister licking the spoon!). Or expanding the kitchen, finding new avenues/channels to sell in.

We’re just putting this out there, think of the future, think how will this business grow. It will probably grow in an entirely different way, but, at least you have thought and planned a little for it.

And Finally….

Crumbs, literally… If you’ve made it to here, we very much hope you don’t feel daunted. Start your amazing business. Yes, there’s absolutely loads to think about, and many black holes in the internet that you’ll fall down whilst researching! We’d say keep focused, make a plan of your plan! keep plotting so that when you’re ready to go live, you have at least 80% of the above sorted.

The absolutely best part of running your own business is that, no one day is the same. That’s why you’re setting yourself up, that, and the chance to create amazing cookies on your terms.

Good luck, we’ll be doing more in this series. And if you need any info, cookie cutters or embossing stamps (just checking!) then give us a shout.

And the disclaimer – this article is written in the spirit of sharing our knowledge. Visitors who rely on this information or content do so at their own risk!

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