If every time you prepare a dish, the diners melt in praise for you, or your friends ask you to be the chef whenever you stay to eat at home, a food business may be the ideal venture for you.
Surely the idea of opening your own restaurant has ever crossed your mind. The problem is that as is the economic situation today, this type of business can be expensive.
Renting a room with enough space, kitchen equipment and furniture to receive customers, hire employees to help you. All this involves a series of expenses that you may not be able to assume at the moment.
So here I will tell you in 10 steps how to start your own food business if you do not have capital to invest, and through what means you can start this venture to sell your culinary delights.
How to Start a Food Business with Little Money
Investigate the regulations and licenses you will need:
A food business needs to be legally registered as the other ventures. But it must also have a series of licenses and special permits for the health of people.
That’s why your obligation is to think first about what medium you are going to sell the dishes (an online store, a food truck, a catering service) and then investigate what permits you need for the sale.
Normally to distribute special products like alcoholic beverages or seafood you will need to have a special license that you must request.
Go to the city council of your city and ask them to advise you there about the necessary paperwork, what documents they require, how long the process takes.
Each country, and even each department, province or autonomous community, is governed by different rules that you must know.
Register your business as a legal company:
Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of believing that starting a business from home or virtually do not require legal registration.
But doing this simple procedure can save you a lot of headaches in the future.
To start this project you will have to register as a self-employed person, and register your business in the records necessary to comply with the established law. Again, your council or official body can guide you well about what documents and procedures you will have to follow to get it.
Create a name and logo for your business:
The name and logo are what will give identity to your food business, and so your customers will know you and will remember better of you.
Think of them as if they were your name and your last names, they will appear on your invoices, on the stickers of the boxes where you set the food, on the brochures, business cards or posters you make.
They are really important elements to build your brand image and reach your customers.
Decide the type of food you will sell and the means to do it:
There are many types of food you can sell, from fast food, desserts, homemade dishes, or even personalized cakes.
What is recommended is that you specialize in a particular type of food to stand out in this industry and attract more buyers, and that you cook something in which you are an expert or that you are willing to learn to do well?
You can focus on making fun cupcakes, or delicious sushi dishes, or making irresistible homemade meals or vegetarian dishes.
In the specialty that sales will be the key to your success because today that is what wins: companies that are experts in giving customers a service or product in particular.
Think also about what medium you will offer your dishes: will you create a web page to serve your meals at home, or do you prefer to start a catering service? Maybe a truck or street stalls?
The decision will depend on how you want to manage your food business, from where, and also the budget you have to start it.
Is there a real market for your business:
You can make the world’s most delicious birthday cakes or pizzas better than the ones they sell in Italy. But if there is no real market interested in those meals, you will not generate much income.
For this reason before investing your time and money in your food business you must do a small market study to check the feasibility of your project.
If you are going to sell nationally, go to forums and blogs where you talk about food or places that people like to see to see what interests them or what they would like to try.
See if there are already restaurants that offer the same menu that you want to provide; Talk to your friends, family and contacts to know your opinion.
You can even look at business or lifestyle magazines to find out the latest kitchen trends that are triumphing, or statistics on what type of foods consumers like the most.
Seeks quality suppliers for raw materials:
Once you know what food you are going to sell, in what medium you are going to do it, and you are sure that there is a market for that specialty, it is time to take action looking for suppliers to buy your ingredients.
Make a test menu in which you list the dishes you will offer in a day, see what ingredients you will need for all of them, and calculate the approximate amounts to point them.
With that information, look for food wholesalers or big stores and compare prices and quality of raw materials to see in which sites you can make a better purchase.
If you are going to use non-perishable foods, such as rice or honey, do not hesitate to buy these ingredients in large quantities because this way you will access wholesale discounts.
See also if the supermarkets in your city have customer cards where by registering you can enjoy special offers and promotions to buy your ingredients at a lower price.
And, although this will depend a bit on your budget, do not forget the kitchen equipment. If your frying pans, pots or oven are already aired and do not work as they should, buy new material.
Or if you need a special appliance to create your dishes (like a rod mixer, for example), buy it to cook professionally.
Look for suppliers to pack your meals:
If you are going to offer service at home, or have decided to set up a food truck, it is imperative that your food business also have packaging such as containers, boxes, or even glasses and cutlery so your customers can take your prepared meals and eat them quietly .
A well-wrapped dish is important so that the food stays warm, does not spill, or does not come in contact with dirt or other agents that can make it inedible.
So you should look for wholesale suppliers to buy these types of packaging and be able to put your culinary creations in them.
Make sure they are sturdy, good quality, and if they are environmentally friendly and have a nice design, much better to give a more professional look.
Also do not forget to create stickers with the logo and the name of your company so that they do not forget you, and in which you include data like:
The name of the dish
Your expiration date
Possible allergen ingredients (shellfish, nuts, lactose or cheeses, gluten)
These 3 data can be written by hand with a permanent marker so they are not erased, or printed on the stickers with your computer.
Remember that the food, the containers, and the place where you prepare your recipes must be totally clean and sterilized to avoid any hygiene problems.
Set a price for your dishes:
Aside from how delicious your dishes are, the price you put on them can mean the difference between triumphing with your food business … and failing in the attempt.
To establish them correctly the first thing to calculate is the costs for each elaboration. From there, a good idea is to take a look at the prices of your competitors that sell food the same or similar to yours.
To know more about this, read the following article: How to price your products or services.
Think about how you will send your cooked dishes:
If you want to mount a food truck you can skip this step. But if your sales will be through a website, a catering service, or selling your dishes to a restaurant or local, you must think how you will send them.
Companies that already dedicate themselves to this and cook baked goods like desserts, cakes or chocolates usually choose to send their preparations through a courier company with urgent service.
If you want to do the same, make sure that company is well packages and transport trucks are well chilled for your dishes arrive in good condition.
However, if you are going to offer other types of food (pizzas, soups, main dishes) it is best to do it yourself (or hire someone with a car or motorcycle) to take them at the same time you finish cooking them.
This also applies if you go to start a catering service or will sell your dishes at a restaurant or local.
Here’s what you need is a large enough vehicle to get the necessary food and are safe to not leak, good temperature.
Or you can rent a van well equipped to use it in the moments when you have to transport your plates to the customer’s place.
Your business is not going to promote itself:
One of the biggest mistakes I see every day is to open a business, tell a few friends, and expect sales as if by magic.
It is good that you tell all your acquaintances about your venture, and even give them business cards or brochures to share them with your contacts.
But this alone is not enough. And effectively promoting you effectively in a wider network will not cost you anything.
Open a profile on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for your food business where you upload news, photos, and special offers to reach more consumers.
Go out to the street, put a small table, and offers people to pass a glass with a little of your food as a sample along with a small booklet where you indicate where they can buy.
It puts publicity in the mailboxes of the houses. Create a website that serves as a virtual store and place for your potential customers to contact you and place your orders.
Go to fairs and events in the world of gastronomy to get to know, establish contacts, and increase your popularity.
The important thing here is that you move and put into practice all possible strategies to publicize your new venture.
Do not stand still waiting for sales, look!
In the following article you have other strategies to promote you very effective: How to promote a free business to get customers.
You have already seen that starting a food business with the above steps will be much cheaper than opening your own restaurant, for example.
Without a local, no work permits to pay or employees, and cooking the dishes in your own home with the right equipment and hygiene, the costs will be very low.
But through what means can you offer your culinary creations? Here are 4 helpful ideas:
- Through a web page:
Every day is more traditional food businesses that go to the virtual world, or entrepreneurs who decide to create an online business in which they offer prepared dishes.
For this medium you will need to have a hosting and a domain of your own in which to host your online store, and where your visits will be able to make your orders from home at any time of the day.
Be sure to organize your meals in different categories so that buyers can find your products faster, have a FAQ section where you answer any questions you may have, and send orders as fast as you can.
- Selling to other restaurants or local:
Contact other restaurants, bakeries and bakeries to find out if they are interested in a dish that they do not have in their menu.
For example, if you bake and decorate cupcakes, look for restaurants and food stores where you do not have these cakes to offer them and sell them in your business.
You can also inquire if there are other companies, such as clothing boutiques or office companies , that are interested in giving meals to their customers while they shop (in the case of the boutique) or their employees.
The more sites you get, the greater your profits and the better you will reach.
- Create a catering service:
A catering service can be a great idea to start a food business, especially if you specialize in one type of event in particular (weddings, communions, corporate meals, etc.).
But you must have two very important things: contacts to attract customers and book good places, and capital for extra costs such as renting vans where to take food, and hiring waiters and helpers who serve and lend a hand with the dishes.
- With a food truck or food truck:
A food truck, as with the catering service, is also a more expensive option, since you must buy a truck, condition it, buy a small kitchen to make the dishes inside it, buy the necessary licenses…
However, this venture is growing more and more because it gives you the freedom to move around several areas and get more customers, while being more comfortable since you will not need to use your own kitchen.