Food businesses have sprung up after the pandemic as a way to make ends meet. With so many people on the breadline, opening a new business seems like one of the better ways to move forward. Home-based businesses usually get started as a response to something that a friend or family member said. Food businesses, in particular, have many considerations before they start selling goods. Running a food-based business requires equal parts logistical planning and marketing savvy. It’s not easy, but it can be pretty rewarding. Working for oneself offers a lot of privileges, but not without some risk. To run a food business properly, you need to have a few things sorted out as soon as possible.
Understand and Follow Regulations
Food can be a dangerous business because your products could potentially get people sick if they aren’t prepared to standards. The Balance SMB mentions that to run a home-based food business, you may need both a business license and a food certificate. You can usually obtain these from your local, regional health authority. Even if you don’t intend to serve people at your home, the location you prepare food needs to be inspected and certified by authorities. These regulations are there to protect the business as well as the consumer. If you don’t have proper licensing and certification, you may be subject to fines, and the state may seek to shut down your business. Following regulations might take time, but it’s well worth it in the long run.
Find Your Ideal Customer
Marketing for a small business is now easier than ever before. With the proper social media exposure, you can get many people in your local area following you. Ideally, you’d want to craft ads, which may take some of your money. The returns you get on social media advertising make it a cost-effective way of getting the word out to the local community. Without a market, your business will not thrive. If you’re doing something other people are already doing, you’ll have difficulty differentiating yourself from the crowd. If you’re doing something no one else is doing, you might stand out, but there may not be a market there for you to tap into. Having customers means learning about the product you’re selling and the people who want it.
Market research for a home-based food business usually happens on a shoestring budget. Unlike large corporations who can fling lots of money at advertising, small businesses typically don’t have that luxury. Make Money With Food mentions that a home-based businessperson should delve into primary and secondary research to determine customers’ target demographic, why they’re buying, and if they would buy from you. If you’re in a competitive subset of the food market, you’ll need to make your product more attractive to the customer. It’s there that your marketing prowess comes in.
Don’t Neglect Your Marketing
Many small business owners, not just those involved in food, make the mistake of thinking that their business will automatically attract customers. The truth is that a food business is only as good as its advertising. Putting your name out there comes from doing ads that get you noticed and reach out to the community. For small businesses, community marketing can have a profound effect on their success. People tend to trust local businesses where they can see the owner and converse with them directly. However, even though people may enjoy talking with you about your business, the price is still a significant sticking point.
Pricing could be the most vital thing to the success of your business. You need to balance the cost of your raw materials with the price of making food and transport involved (if any) to drop it off. Home-based food businesspeople sometimes forget that they’re doing this for more than just making back the cost of their ingredients. At the start, the price point should be competitive. Profit is a secondary concern since you’re only just establishing yourself. However, pricing too low could set a dangerous precedent that could drive away customers when you realize your error. Price determination should come before you ever start making any food to sell.
Run Your Enterprise As a Business
A home-based business is precisely that – a business. You may be your own boss, but that doesn’t mean you get to take days off as you feel like it. In fact, most times, solo entrepreneurs spend far more hours working than the staff they hire to help them out. The business mindset is hard to get into, but it may be necessary for a home food business to see success. Don’t think that you can do everything yourself. That’s a recipe for disaster. Running a business needs input from several people. At the start, you may be able to scrape by, but once you get to a point where the company starts eating up a lot of your time, it may be prudent to hire professionals.
Hiring professionals also means you need to have a professional image. A business that shows up as a professional enterprise stands to have a better chance in a competitive market. People go for style and performance. The professional demeanor adds a certain level of class to the establishment. Professionalism also comes with maintaining an online presence and ensuring that the business is adequately represented. A professional attitude should transfer into the business’s operation. Clients will start to demand professional service to go along with your reputation. Missing that cue could lead to clients avoiding your company because they see it as unreliable. No matter how good your food is, this could cause your business to fail.
Managing Finances and Time
The most critical part of being an owner of a home-based food business is managing resources. Time and money are the most important, but even more minor things like planning and preparation before cooking can significantly impact efficiency. Considerations like business incorporation and taxes should also be foremost in your thoughts before opening the business to give you some sense of what you owe the state and federal government. You can find out more about business registration here. It’s a beautiful feeling to own and operate your own business. Home-based food sales is an easy industry to get into but a hard one to excel in.
Infographic created by Clover, a merchant services company