How do you transform a passion for baking into a full-fledged business? In a Reddit Ask Me Anything thread Wednesday, Bart Greenhut of Los Angeles-based Bart's Bakery explained how he and his wife went from selling batches of homemade chocolate chip cookies in farmers' markets to producing about 1,000 pounds of cookies a day.
Getting there has taken plenty of sacrifice. Nine years ago, Greenhut and his wife, Judy, scraped together 19 years of savings and sold all their belongings to buy a 90-foot tunnel oven, an industrial oven with a conveyer belt for continuous production. For 18 months, they lived out of a bus parked in their bakery's lot.
That oven, he explained, is about 40 years old and cost $45,000—not including the four-week-long disassembly and reassembly process, which cost another $40,000. "We need to upgrade incrementally but as you can imagine we're on a tight budget," he said in a Reddit comment.
As for how the business is doing, Greenhut said profits are "close to zero," given the cost of operation: 40% of revenue to stores, 20% to brokers and sales representatives, 5% to shipping, and the bakery reinvests whatever it takes in. "I think we're going to do a Kickstarter deal in a few weeks," he said, possibly revealing the motivation behind the Reddit AMA. And why not? A potato salad can raise more than $60,000 on the crowdfunding platform.
Aside from telling other entrepreneurs to "be resilient and absolutely relentless," he also laid out his tenets for running a business:
- Provide the highest quality product and service. (Be better than your competition.)
- Have a vision of your business in 5 years.
- Be relentless (Work harder than your competition.)
- Take one day at a time.
- Make good decisions, always go towards the best alternative, don't hesitate to drop something that doesn't work.
Read the full Q&A over on Reddit.