How to Start a Small Food Business

by Mallory Ferland; Updated September 26, 2017
Start a Small Food Business

Starting your own business can be both a terrifying and thrilling venture. For many, a small food business is a result of a lifelong dream, and for others they are fresh entrepreneurial start-ups. Whatever the case, small food businesses constitute a huge portion of the private owned companies in the world, indicating a responsive public. There are many ways to go about formulating your own commercial dream; however, what all small food businesses need to begin is a product and passion.

Step 1

Establish a specialty image. There are millions of food businesses in the world already; what is going to make yours stand out? A specialty product, theme, story, image, recipe or aspect that differentiates from the norm is crucial to the developmental stage of a small food business. Most private businesses are labors of love grown from personal niches.

Step 2

Choose locality. Not all products are marketable in every location; a fancy French chocolate shop would mean little to the locals if it were opened in Paris, but it would most certainly attract attention in Boston or Denver. Internet and mail-order businesses are similar in this concern; how far will the products ship? Regionally, nationally or internationally? The movement of a product relies on need; choose a location lacking in what you have to offer.

Step 3

Get your product out. Everything has to start somewhere. Many small food businesses get their start in small farmers markets or as suppliers to local gourmet markets. Booths at most street or public markets are rented from season to season and usually fill quickly. Contact your local farmers markets for individual regulations; many require the purchasing of permits.

Step 4

Collect feedback. Listen to the consumer response, positive and negative. Positive feedback can often give needed boosts of energy and confidence, and critical feedback can help to improve the product. To configure the prices, it is wise to compare against competitors of both large and small production. The initial months of sales will indicate whether a product has too high or too low of a purchase price.

Step 5

Make it legal, get certified. In the United States as well as in many other countries, it is illegal to sell food created in a kitchen that has not been certified by a health inspector. If production of your product is made in-home, there are necessary commercial kitchen elements needed in order to be certified. It is likewise necessary for a commercial kitchen to be certified.

Step 6

Begin advertising. Today, social media tools and the Internet are the easiest and most effective forms of advertisement. Blogs, forums, a business Web site, Facebook, Twitter and even advertising space such as Google Adwords will help get the word out. Visual imagery is a crucial component to product advertisement; logos, names and packaging designs can either be self-created or left in the hands of a graphic designer.

Step 7

Decide on a business plan. What is the long-term business plan; is it to someday grow from an internet business to a physical one? Will it expand to the need for employees? Formulate realistic goals that fit your financial abilities, and consult professional advice from business mentors.

Step 8

Make it a reality. One doesn't need a billion dollars to start a small business, the primary factor in starting and maintaining a successful small food business is a drive and a passion for what you are doing. Everything else follows.

Resources

About the Author

Mallory Ferland has been writing professionally since her start in 2009 as an editorial assistant for Idaho-based Premier Publishing. Her writing and photography have appeared in "Idaho Cuisine" magazine, "Spokane Sizzle" and various online publications. She graduated from Gonzaga University in 2009 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in history and French language and now writes, photographs and teaches English in Sao Paulo, Brazil.