Guide for Foodpreneurs: Tips for Starting a Food Business

Illustration by Andrey Kopyrin via Dribbble

One of the most important takeaways during the lockdown is that you can turn your food hobby into a full-blown business. While that’s certainly easier said than done, having a fresh and unique approach to business is essential.

Most aspiring foodpreneurs are extremely passionate about their intentions, however, this passion for food needs to be supplemented by the necessary skill and professionalism required to establish a food business.

Recent events in the world and stark takeaways during lockdown have shown us all that the business landscape is rapidly changing. This holds true even for the food industry. Prospective business owners and foodpreneurs have to tackle growing competition in the market and a dynamic stream of ideas.

Although competitive, the food industry is set to become a 4-trillion dollar industry by the second half of this decade. Creating unique and individual experiences for your customers by implementing lessons learned during lockdown will be instrumental.

Planning is Indispensable

What most businesses lack is a well-rounded plan that is steeped in reality. The core focus of a foodpreneur is to build a sustainable business model before the business can be launched.

Most businesses have gathered important takeaways during lockdown – all startups need projections, market research, innovation, and a roadmap to move forward.

Whether it is to sell this idea, rope in partners, obtain finances, or make sure your food business makes it through its nascent stages, planning is integral.

Here’s what you will need to make a thorough business plan for your establishment:

 icon-angle-right Know your Market

Several businesses have tried to take off following the lockdown, however, most of them have failed. An essential takeaway during lockdown is to always define your target market, something new businesses tend to leave out.

Gather data on the people you intend on serving, their age group, and their purchasing power. Once you have these parameters on paper, be sure to look for patterns such as spikes and dips in their purchasing habits. You should also look for food dishes these groups prefer and are more likely to buy.

Takeaways from the lockdown also indicate that to be successful, you should offer foods that are in vogue with market trends and people’s ever-changing interests. Use simple and easy steps to get started on your food business plan.

There are no limitations on how long or short the plan has to be, however, it does need to be relevant and serve the purpose of your business. Business plans constitute the first step in ascertaining potential costs, income, regulations, and also what you will serve to your customers in the days or months to come.

For example, if you don’t want to invest a fortune in the food business you are new to, there are always affordable alternatives to what you want to do. One popular option for food businesses is to operate from a food truck. Food trucks offer several advantages over traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants, including lower overhead costs, greater mobility, and the ability to reach different customer segments.

When starting a food truck business, it’s crucial to ensure that the truck is outfitted with the necessary equipment, such as a kitchen, refrigerator, and sink, and that it meets all health and safety regulations. Several companies like food trucks in Tampa not only offer used trucks for sale but also provide all the necessary training and consultation about the business.

 icon-angle-right Create a Niche for Yourself

It is often ill-advised to offer too many varieties on the menu when you’re a new entrant in the market. The kitchen and the equipment you require are usually built around the menu you have engineered.

Having unpopular or rarely ordered items on the menu can leave you dealing with unnecessary raw material and equipment. This can both generate losses and dampen your confidence. A solution would be to remain constantly updated with current food trends. People tend to order variations of existing popular items more frequently.

While you’re looking for current trends, also be sure to look for a viable price you can offer these foods at. Using social media trends to remain updated can help. Don’t forget to innovate and add your touch to existing recipes. This adds your flavor and a unique selling proposition to your establishment’s offerings.

 icon-angle-right Gather Intel on Competition

This is one of the most important undertakings for a foodpreneur. Studying what fellow foodpreneurs are offering at their establishments is essential to understand what sells, and what you can offer. This involves decoding the recipe itself and the way it is presented.

While this is one aspect of it, studying your competitor’s business also allows you to visit their businesses. Not only is this essential in studying the taste profile of competing offerings, but it can also give you valuable ideas about ambiance, layout, and presentation.

You should also try and attend food shows and food festivals to remain updated on the latest products foodpreneurs and innovators are offering.

Make sure to invest time in food infotainment if you’re truly passionate about food and setting up a sustainable business. This allows you to grab a sneak peek into the products that are yet to be launched in the market, helping you make a potential headway.

Create a Product-focused Business

Most foodpreneurs tend to focus on the peripheral aspects of the business. This takes away from the prime driver of the business – food. Your business isn’t going to work out if your product is subpar, even though you might have the best presentation, aesthetics, and atmosphere to offer in the neighborhood.

Your product is always to be the center of attention and the prime focus of your operation. Several veteran foodpreneurs opine that a return to basics will have excellent payoffs. If the product you offer is loved by your target customer pool, your business is sure to take off.

Here are major points to bear in mind when you’re creating a product-focused food business:

 icon-angle-right Remember the Three Ps

Foodpreneurs need to rely on three basic factors when creating a product – prototype, packaging, and price. Prototyping begins with asking for help from your friends, acquaintances, and family to give you their opinions about your food offerings.

You can choose to offer a tasting so you get concrete opinions about your product. Request for truthful and constructive criticism. Be sure to implement any suggestions and tweak your recipes accordingly and conduct repeat tastings if possible. Now that places are opening up, you can set up free tasting stands in public spaces to get valuable opinions.

Following the menu engineering process, it’s essential to determine appropriate prices for the products you have listed. While underpricing will result in slashing your profit margins, exorbitant prices will be a customer-repellant, leading to a decline in revenue.

A market study and researching the common prices in your locality will help you determine an appropriate price. If you’re offering pre-packaged products, keep the packaging simple, secure, and attractive. Creativity will help you make an impression on the customer, ensuring they return for more.

 icon-angle-right Reviews are Essential

Sometimes all you need to do is ask. Ensure you ask all of your customers for their reviews and feedback. With the return of in-person dining, this opportunity can also help you strike up a personal relationship with your customers, something that has been severely lacking since the onset of the pandemic.

Implementing feedback and reviews will make your customers feel heard and provide an incentive to return for continued business.

 icon-angle-right Don’t Forget to Advertise

The only way to get people to know you’re open for business is by letting them know you’re open for business. Major advances in social media marketing allow you to take advantage of a digital platform with tried and tested techniques.

Be sure to create a chic and user-friendly website. While print media might be on the decline, it still caters to a fairly large audience. Be sure to get advertisements in the local dailies, and also hand out pamphlets if possible. You can also host a modest opening ceremony and offer promotional benefits to your first customers.

While the decision to become a foodpreneur is extremely challenging and full of obstacles, the passion you hold for food will certainly be worth your while. Be sure to do your research, implement valid and successful business strategies, and offer unique yet trendy products to make the best of your idea.

Enter the market with a fully realized offering, and as cliche as it may sound, if you’re truly passionate about food and you really put your heart and soul into it – nothing is impossible!

About the Author!

Damon Shrauner, Senior Sales Consultant and VP on B2B Sales at CKitchen, working in the food service equipment sector since 1994. With his expertise in market analysis, product placement, sales and project management, he will always tell you what to do for the best of your business.

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