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Baking for Good: Building a National E-Commerce Bakery on a Budget

Baking for Good: Building a National E-Commerce Bakery on a BudgetName of your company and URL?

Baking for Good, www.bakingforgood.com

Date started?

Baking for Good launched on September 1, 2009.

What is your product or service?

We bake gourmet cookies, brownies, and other sweet treats, and 15% of the proceeds from each purchase goes to a charity of the customer’s choice. We ship nationwide, making our treats perfect gifts to send and receive for any occasion.

Why did you start your company?

I wanted to create a thoughtful gift that would be a great alternative to sending flowers and that people would feel good about ordering and receiving. I decided to tie in the concept of the bake sale, where delicious, hand-baked cookies and brownies are sold to raise money for great causes.

Baking for Good: Building a National E-Commerce Bakery on a Budget

Emily Dubner

How was it financed ?

I launched Baking for Good with $40,000 of personal savings.

Date officially launched?

September 1, 2009.

What free online or offline tools do you use?

Social media has been a huge free resource for us. We’ve attracted new customers and received press attention as a result of our social media presence, especially with Twitter.

We also have encouraged each of our nonprofit partners to get the word out to their supporters about Baking for Good. We consider them to be a built-in marketing network.

Do you use Social Media tools like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or ? Provide exact URL of each

Yes. We are on Facebook at http://facebook.com/bakingforgood and on twitter at http://twitter.com/bakingforgood.

How many people are currently working, including employees (freelancers or independent contractors for specific projects)?

Including contractors and freelancers, we currently have 8 people working for Baking for Good.

What is the best advice you never got?

The best advice I never got was that not only can you not wear every hat for your business, but also you probably shouldn’t. I ran Baking for Good almost entirely on my own for the first year, doing everything myself except for the baking. I managed customer service, marketing, sales, operations, new product development, and business development. Even now, two years in, I still handle all of the customer service and operations work myself. I realize, however, that when I’m tying bakery string on gift boxes and putting FedEx labels on shipping boxes, I’m not growing Baking for Good. As a result, I’ve begun to hire people to play a part in growing Baking for Good so we’re not losing so much time and opportunity by focusing on operations.

What almost killed your business in the start?

I was based in NYC, but the initial bakery I worked with was in California. On the one hand, it didn’t matter so much, because our customers are located everywhere in the U.S. But it was very difficult for me to manage the bakery from afar. I was constantly nervous about our packages because I wasn’t physically there to make sure they were going out perfectly.

It was really tough to find a bakery in New York to work with. I was both very determined and very fortunate to find one that’s just 30 minutes from my home and is able to produce my recipes quickly and flawlessly.

What is the one thing that you did right?

I prioritized having a beautiful, seamless website. While I bootstrapped and resisted unnecessary expenses with Baking for Good at every turn, I knew that the website would be the face of the company, our storefront to the world. So, I invested about ¾ of the $40,000 in web design and development. I haven’t regretted this decision at all.

What was the biggest transition you had to make (i.e. new skill set, habits, abilities, focus)?

It’s been a tough adjustment to realize that my work literally never ends (I’m in charge of customer service for an e-commerce site, which basically means I operate a 24-hour store and receive emails and calls at every hour). More difficult than coming to terms with my work never ending is coming to terms with having to force my work and my day to come to an end. As much as I want to answer customer emails at all hours, I have started to limit my working time after 10pm and before 6am. I have also made it a priority to squeeze in weekend trips and even a vacation to China during the spring last year. When I schedule personal things and commit to them, I realize that Baking for Good can function without me, even if we’re still a very small team.

 

Baking for Good: Building a National E-Commerce Bakery on a BudgetWhat type of marketing or advertising do you do?

We encourage each of our nonprofits to help get the word out about Baking for Good to their supporters. We also are active on Facebook and Twitter and have been blogging regularly in order to improve our SEO. We have spent very little on traditional advertisements but are beginning to experiment with them more (specifically with ad retargeting).

What would make your business more “Successful”?

It’s a top priority to me to drive more traffic to Baking for Good. My primary focus is improving our SEO, and we are also doing some traditional marketing and public relations outreach to increase our target audience’s awareness of Baking for Good.

 

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