January 13, 2017

Should I Start A Food Business?

Five years ago I posted a rebuttal to an online food publication that stated that the artisan food movement was simply a trend that was past its prime.  Essentially, the artisan food movement was dead and it was time to move onto something else.

That was five years ago.  Yet I’d argue that small food businesses are stronger now than they ever have been.  Consumer demand is at an all-time high in part because of a deep distrust of the manufacturing ethics and ingredients in Big Brands as well as a better understanding that what we put into our body does indeed impact how we feel, act, think, and sleep.

Big Brands don’t like to lose market share or see their sales stagnate (which is what’s happening now) so to combat that there are more mergers and acquisitions of smaller brands than one would have anticipated 5 years ago.  Big Brands know that they need to meet consumer demand and, as such, are buying those products and brands that are seen as performing well already and helping to leverage those to a national stage.

Even if building a business to sell it to a Big Brand isn’t your end goal, there are record number of people shopping at farmers’ markets (and a record number of farmers’ markets to serve that hungry population) and selling online has never been easier (this isn’t to say that it’s easy…see more below).

Things To Consider Before You Get Started

Quickly, a few things to consider if you’re thinking of starting a food business this year:

  1. Do you know what you want to get out of this business?  Do you want to build a business that will ultimately be bought by a Big Brand, a part-time creative endeavor, or something else entirely?
  2. Do you have a plan in place for how what you’re going to sell?  This includes things like knowing where you are going to produce the products and what sales channels you’re going to use to try to sell the products.
  3. Have you done the market research to understand what makes your product different from competitors and why customers will want to buy it from you?
  4. Do you have a relatively good idea of what this business is going to cost to start and what your anticipated first few months of expenses are going to be (at a minimum, better if you can draft out what your first full year of business expenses will look like).  What does your realistic anticipated revenue look like?
  5. Do you have a plan for how you are going to market your business to customers (and to buyers if you plan to sell wholesale)?  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, throwing something up on Facebook when you have time is not a marketing strategy!

By no means a complete list, but if just one of those jumps out at you as something that can’t be answered, now’s the time to work on figuring out the answer.  Don’t worry that the artisan food movement will die before you have a chance to get started, we’ve been hanging in for a while now and I don’t see anyone planning a funeral just yet.

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