Starting your own small food business whether from home or a big production facility, with no money or a ton of capital, online or offline, whether you want to sell it in a super market or out of a food truck, is equally nerve-racking and exhilarating.
A food making business truly is one of the few great small business ideas that can yield profit forever, if done right. It’s a business that’s forever on demand. We all have to eat, which makes food business always profitable.
Moreover, it can be a great part time small business idea or a full time one depending on your needs and specific situation. However, being able to cook fine food and yummy desserts isn’t going to guarantee your financial success. Knowing how to cook is an entirely different thing than starting a food based business.
While you now have mastered the techniques of your craft in the culinary school, your next step is to learn how to start and operate a business. Here are 6 steps you need to take in order to launch your very own small food business:
1- Identify Your Product
First off, you have to develop a real and clear image of the things you could possibly sell to generate income. The initial step would be to determine which kind of foods you are going to make. Specifically, you should figure out what product the customer is going to buy and continue to buy.
You have to determine a niche for yourself. Food as a niche is a very broad niche that covers lots of different things. To start a successful small business you need to target smaller and more targeted niches within the food industry. So, you have to ask yourself “am I going to be selling baked goods like cakes and cookies, refrigerated food items, canned food or…?” You also need to determine if you want to open a bakery or perhaps a restaurant? Or whether you want to just cater or maybe become a personal chef.
Additionally, you have to consider if you intend to restrict your products to desserts. Rather than merely pursuing the age-old concept of opting for what you know, perhaps you might want to branch out to other food related businesses that could fulfill your objectives and give you the results you anticipate. You could choose to open a sandwich store, a gourmet food store, or maybe a take-out restaurant.
You will find a number of food related small businesses you’ll be able to build. Compose a list of the things you wish, and take note of your weaknesses and strengths. See what sort of enterprise would go well with you and your abilities and desires.
2- Developing Your Product
Launching a food business is challenging. You’ve got to be in a position to create a product which is going to fulfill a consumer’s need and yield a profit. The product has to be of top quality, hold to health and safety requirements as well as populate a marketing niche.
Furthermore, you are going to invest numerous hours of tests and groundwork to produce a successful recipe that could be well suited for industrial manufacturing. Try to find solutions to make sure that your goods won’t change their visual appearance and coloration due to chemical reaction from ingredients. Additional quality details you must assess include things like texture as well as taste.
Tests also needs to be implemented to see whether your products have sufficient life expectancy, specifically if you are going to display your products. Come up with solutions to deal with typical problems when it comes to dealing with food, such as mold, bacteria and yeast. The condition of the room, like light additionally leads to product or quality decline. It is essential to understand the length of time a new product has to be stored and within what temperate along with other external conditions.
As part of your possess, you should also conduct taste tests in order to get an idea of how others feel about the taste of your product. A taste test can be done very easily and inexpensively. All you need is a few friends and family members who are willing to sample your products and give you some feedback.
Before you conduct the test, have some questions ready, so participant can give precise and relevant feedback after the have sampled the product. The results on such tests will help you gauge the commercial potential of your product and whether or not there is enough demand for such products.
3- Preparing For Production
Once you have passed the first few stages (product identification and testing), your next step would be to figure out whether or not you have the technology and assets that are needed for large scale production of the product.
For example; if you plan on selling wedding cakes, you have to think about whether or not you have enough space to bake, store and package wedding cakes in large quantities.
If you are planning to do the product production in another place beside your home, perhaps a rental warehouse or a garage, you need to ensure the place has the right condition for food production, such as proper ventilation and lighting, waste disposal option such as ability of recycling, energy conservation, safety and sanitation, storage area and anything else that’s crucial to being able to produce healthy and clean food safely and with ease.
You also need to ensure that everything falls within the boundaries of the rules and regulations set by the FDA.
One of the most important elements in producing food products in large scale is consistency. You can’t have different size or different tasting cup cakes in the same batch.
To ensure consistency, you have to think about establishing quality control steps where you or your future employees can check the products. You will also have to come up with measures to correct any problem that you may detect during quality control tests.
Lest face it, lots of us eat with our eyes. You can have the best tasting cup cake in the whole world, but if your package fails to stand out and attract buyers between hundreds of other items on the shelf, you are not going to make any money.
So, packaging is an important part of developing a successful food business. Consumers normally prefer attractive, colorful and of course, conveniently packaged products over ugly looking packages that are hard to open.
An important to consider before you decide and develop your packages is ensuring that the package and the material that its made of doesn’t react negatively with the food resulting in change of taste and possibly damaging the product to the point where it becomes a danger to the consumer.
A good food package should be lightweight, cheap to produce on large scale and have resistant to tearing.
5- Marketing Your Food Business
This is where you can make or break your food business, or any other kinds of small business for that matter. Of course, the exact marketing strategy will depend on your specific business. But generally you will have to learn about the best ways to distribute your products, and know the best sales outlets for getting your products to consumer’s hand.
There are many options here as far as sales outlets are concerned, like small coffee shops, local restaurants and bakeries, retail food stores, street stands, flea markets and so on. It should be noted though, that in order to sell through retail stores you have to obtain a UPC or Universal Product Code which gets displayed on the label. You can get a UPC from the Uniform Product Code Council.
Generally most food businesses start by introducing their new food product to a small area to get a feel for the market and how it reacts to the new product. You could, for example, start by introducing your product to your neighbors, then expand it to local area, state, region, country and perhaps one day to other countries around the globe.
6- Government Regulations Concerning The Food Production Industry
It would be foolish to start a food business without extensive research on laws and regulations governing the food production industry. There are many big and small, both state-wide and on the federal level that you have to abide by if you want to run a food production business. For example; There are some states that don’t allow large scale food production from home.
There are certain food businesses that are required by law to have someone from the company (either you or one of your employees) become a Certified Food Handler through special training.
Also, you need to keep in mind that your local Public Health Department will inspect your production facility from time to time to make sure everything is up to the standards.
However, food products that are produced for wholesale distribution will be under the state Department of Agriculture supervision. And if you are planning on building a new processing facility, DA is the agency that will be in charge of inspecting it.
Of course, if your products are going to cross state boundaries for distribution, federal rules and regulations applies to your business as well. The two federal agencies that are in charge of overseeing and regulating the food industry, when it comes to food safety, are the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). It would be a good idea to visit both these sites and learn about laws that may impact you and how you are planning to produce your food products.
You will need a lot of hard work to make this happen. You will also need a lot of help along the way. So, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
A great place to visit before you even take the first step would be the USBA (US Small Business Administration). USBA helps small businesses grow in many ways. They have lots of tools and resources that can make your journey easier.
Remember, the single most important thing that’s needed to build and maintain a successful food business is your talent and commitment. You have to be a true entrepreneur to succeed with this business. You must be willing to take bold risks at times, and you need to have confidence in your ability to build a successful small food business.
After that comes the willingness to work hard and high level of a commitment. But perhaps the biggest part of it all is that you must have fun and enjoy what you do. And that is how you start a food business.