June 7, 2012
So often it seems like the news is all doom and gloom. Oil prices fluctuating widely, ingredient costs rising, etc etc…it’s an endless cycle sometimes. So let’s end this week on a positive note with five reasons you should be glad you’re running a small food business right now:
1. Your product can’t be copied cheaply by an army of overseas workers. Food products are one are it seems where imitators haven’t been able to copy when you’re doing and sell it at significantly reduced prices. They may be able to create a fake Apple store, but mimicking your famous apply pie is another challenge altogether!
2. If you sell wholesale, by not selling into Big Box stores you’re helping your retailers hold onto their margins. Technology is great in many ways but a lot of folks are bemoaning Amazon’s price comparison app for good reason. This app allows customers to scan an item they find in a brick-and-morter store and see if it can be purchased cheaper on Amazon. If you’re a small food business that’s selling into retail stores – but not into Amazon – then Amazon can’t cut the cost of your product. Not only does this help protect your brand image but in these days of diminishing margins, your retailers will thank you for this and happy retailers means more business for you!
3. Specialty food has never been better. One entrepreneur I spoke with a few months ago said it best when she said “artisan food is the new dot com – everyone wants to be a food entrepreneur.” Plus, according to Specialty Food Magazine, spending on specialty food has never been higher with approximately $75 Billion spent in 2011 which is a 19% increase over 2009.
4. There are more tools than ever at your disposal. Granted, this will sound like the old “I used to walk to school two miles – uphill both ways – in the snow” argument, but there truly are more tools out there now for small businesses than there even were six years ago when I first started my company. With social media you can now cheaply engage with customers, things like Square enable you to easily accept credit card payments, Google Apps can give you a professional looking email address, WordPress can give you a professional looking website…the list goes on and on.
5. You are no loner confined to four walls and a roof. Whereas in the past if you wanted to start a food business your options were pretty much limited to either selling wholesale or starting up some type of restaurant /cafe (with a large startup budget and significant overhead costs), today it’s possible to get started with nothing more than a 10×10 rain canopy overhead. Thanks to the proliferation of farmers’ markets and festivals – not to mention the relaxing of rules around food trucks and trailers and even temporary pop-up establishments – you no longer need to sign a 10-year lease and hope that it all works out as planned. Now you can start with a relatively small investment and test and tweak your idea before signing that lease…if you ever even want to go down that road!