Thanks for the encouragement! And thanks Jason and scp1127 for making me question my assumptions -- that is always a good reminder. I live in a fairly affluent neighborhood, so I think I'm ok focusing on the zip code, but it could be that the market research will tell me something else. My zip code has about 11,000 households and 28,000 people. About 70% are married with kids. The average income is just over $90,000. Currently the only bakeries in the zip code are grocery stores, Costco, and Panera. There are some coffee shops selling baked goods as well. There is a custom bakery about 7 miles away, then 2 or 3 more about 10-12 miles away.
So I think there are enough people and enough money, but I do worry if there is enough demand. First, why are there no bakeries now? Maybe I'm lucky, or maybe others are smarter!
Also, it is a very health conscious community, so they may not be willing to buy enough sweets to support a bakery. These are some of the things I'm trying to learn from the market research.
And scp1127 I totally agree with you on the school - I looked long and hard for an entrepreneur degree program that I could do, but it really came down to a choice between that and funding the bakery. It would take such a significant portion of what I have put away for this, that I wouldn't have enough left to open with sufficient funds. I do have a minor in business (and boy do I wish I had done more now), but I'm also taking some entrepreneur and accounting classes at my local community college to refresh. I was already planning to work in a production bakery for a few months, but I will also look for a management opportunity, that is a good idea. I'm just not sure how many are available near here right now...
But I would love to hear your thoughts on the neighborhood stats and also on how you went about estimating your market when you were starting out. The survey and watching the competition are what I know I need to do now, but if there are other thoughts, I'd love to hear them!