How to Start a Business Selling Food

food. image by L. Shat from

Opening a food business can be a slow process, but it also can be rewarding. You're most likely to succeed if you take your time to evaluate the market and choose the best option for your surroundings. Consider local health codes and observe license requirements for your location. Register the business and hire the best employees you can find.

Identify your customer by first deciding on the type of food you want to sell. Start with a list of very general categories; packaged food, cooked food and food for delivery are good examples. Then break down the categories and decide whether you want to serve customers directly, sell to businesses or provide a mix of services.

Find out about the laws and regulations in your area by contacting the local Chamber of Commerce and getting a list of state and city offices responsible for registration or going to the FDA website to search for the link to your city (see Resources).

Register your business with the proper authorities. Where you register depends on the type of food you're planning to sell. If you are planning a business that focuses mainly on packaged food, the regulations are easier to meet than if you plan to open a cafe or restaurant. If you're looking to start a food cart (selling hot dogs, for example), you'll need a different set of paperwork.

Get certified in food safety if you're planning to handle food directly or open a kitchen. Certifications are available from different organizations and companies, usually following a series of classes and an exam. The National Registry of Food Safety Professionals (NRFSP) and ServSafe are considered the top certification providers in the country, and both offer online as well as local training.

Hire professionals. Starting a food business requires qualified people to handle the food preparation and delivery. Working with inexperienced workers can lead to sanctions and problems getting your business up and running.


  • If you need funding from either a bank or investors, create a solid business plan to present to potential creditors.


  • Lack of proper documentation when applying for a loan is one reason banks deny credit to small businesses. Include tax returns, a complete business description, financial forecasts and a summary of your competition.