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Have you ever been curious about how to sell homemade cookies and make a small fortune? Luckily, starting a home-based cookie business is both allowed and encouraged by following your local government’s cottage food laws!
Cottage food laws vary by state and jurisdiction but the premise is the same -- you’re allowed to produce and sell a limited amount of non-perishable goods made in your home to customers without obtaining an official license from the health department.
While certain baked goods aren’t allowed (i.e. pastries or buns with fillings such as cheeses, meats, or anything requiring refrigeration), cookies are allowed because they won’t become a food hazard if left unrefrigerated for a few days.
We recommend you look up the cottage food laws specific to your state or jurisdiction for specifics on labeling requirements, sales regulations, as well as how restrictive local cottage food laws are. Each state is slightly different, and knowing the rules and regulations for your local area will pay dividends further down the line.
Within the United States, most states have updated their cottage food laws within the last decade to allow more freedom and flexibility to small business owners wanting to sell homemade food to local customers.
While this differs from state to state, most cottage food laws would allow you to sell your cookies at:
There are also several types of services for getting your cookies to customers that are allowed, which could include:
Starting a local cookie business can be an exciting new venture to take on, and learning how to promote cookies online and potentially turn your business into an online cookie business for additional revenue is also well within the realm of possibility!
You’re finally ready to start your cookie business -- where do you even begin?
Let’s discuss the steps you need to take to get started and begin competing with cookie companies far and wide.
Even though reviewing laws and regulations isn’t the most exciting part of starting a cookie business, it’s absolutely essential. You want to avoid running into legal trouble further down the line and potentially derailing your business progress, so it’s critically important that you dive deep into your local cottage food laws and understand the requirements.
If you reside in the United States, you can begin the research process by taking a look at cottage food laws by state.
This map shows every state and jurisdiction as well as the restrictiveness or freedom they allow homemade food businesses. Some states offer full freedom in all avenues, while others are more restricted in how they allow the sales and distribution of the cookies you’d bake.
In addition to the high-level cottage food laws, there are also labeling requirements and sales restrictions you have to be aware of that differ from state to state.
Once you’ve reviewed the laws and regulations, you’re ready to proceed to the next exciting step!
One of the most important parts of your cookie business will be to standardize your cookie business so you can achieve the same taste and soft gooey freshness all of your customers crave.
Once you’ve looked at several cookie business ideas, whether you want to start a sugar cookie business, chocolate chip cookie business, or a combination of multiple types of cookies, you can begin to test and perfect your recipes.
It’s extremely important that you keep a log or notebook of your specific ingredients and amounts.
Your goal in the process of perfecting, standardizing, and testing your recipe is to be able to re-create it time and time again.
After you’ve standardized your recipes, it’s time to spread the word!
This is where you’ll learn more about marketing your cookie business, both locally and online. You can do this through word of mouth, local media, social media, or even starting your own website. The possibilities are endless!
Now that you know your local jurisdiction’s cottage food laws and the basics of starting up a cookie business, the next step is to create a solid business plan.
Whether your plan is to build a chocolate chip cookie business exclusively or one that combines a multitude of delicious recipes, this can be documented in your business plan.
The purpose of a business plan is to understand the following important points of your business:
Answering these questions is key to developing your cookie business plan and a marketing plan for your homemade cookie business.
What products are you going to sell?
By this point, you should know the types of cookies your business will produce and sell. This could be oatmeal cookies, biscotti, chocolate chip cookies, macaron cookies, decorated sugar cookies, or any combination of these.
What equipment, space, or staff do you need?
As you’re just starting, your cookie business will likely be centered around you from the start. This is a great time to plan out your cookie-making space, as well as determine whether there is any additional equipment you need.
For the future, it’s also good practice to include how you’re going to grow your business and potentially hire staff in the future. You should have this in your cookie business plan. As a cottage food business, you may not want to ever hire employees — or you may have a dream of someday opening your own bakery storefront!
How will you sell your products?
Marketing is one of the most important parts of your business plan and the key to future sales and growth. Determine whether you’ll use social media, local media, online advertising, or another form of marketing to promote your cookie business.
What is your plan for future growth and expansion?
Including this in your business plan lets you plan out a pathway for future expansion and scale. Whether this includes hiring more staff, opening additional locations you’ll sell your cookies from, or simply increasing the production volume, all of this should be documented in your cookie business plan.
Once all these details are ironed out, and you have your business plan put together, you’re ready to begin baking and selling!
My business would not be the same without my Castiron website! It is an easy setup with lots of customization and tons of support! I am so glad I set up my shop last year before the holidays — it really helped increase my sales!
The Whimsical Cookie
Castiron provides me a professional site to my customers increasing my credibility and value while giving me the tools to effectively market and manage my business in an easy, user-friendly manner.
Wesley's Treats Hallie's Sweets
Castiron has made my cottage bakery shine, and my business easy to manage. As a platform they care about my business as much as I do.
Before Castiron, I was taking orders really manually, through emails or texts or Facebook. Now I can send customers straight to my website, and I don’t have to worry about missing any details.
I couldn't run my business without the Castiron platform. It made it so easy to get my shop up and running — it truly removed a massive barrier to me getting started!
I realized that the barrier of having to DM or text me to order was holding a lot of potential customers back.
Now that I have a professional website and a simple ecommerce checkout, I'm seeing a huge increase in new customers and they appreciate how easy Castiron makes ordering.
Easy to start, created specifically for local, handmade food: Castiron’s website builder was created to help you grow. Create a website in minutes with our templates, sell where and how your customers want to buy, and look professional without being technical. Keep customers coming back with email marketing tools, customer records, and more.
Food entrepreneurs, this is your moment. Your community is more and more conscious about what they buy and where it is from. They want food made with love. With ingredients they can pronounce. And they want to support their community while doing it.
Castiron is the best fit for your food business because we're not a one-size-fits-all tool. Selling local food is different from pre-packaged warehouse products. Whether you sell cooking classes, need local pick up, utilize pre-sales to plan inventory, or need a fully custom order form — we got you.
No code required. Add pages, sell your products, build order forms, and show off your beautiful work. We'll handle the tech so you can focus on growing your food business.
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