Since the start of the pandemic, there has been an increase in the number of food businesses and similar enterprises. Trends like delivery and online reservations have also risen in popularity. You may be wondering if a food business is a good next step for you, but first—where do you start?
This article will go through eight things you need to keep in mind when starting a food venture. Namely, you want to consider a business plan, marketing techniques, social media engagement, furniture and equipment supplies, employees, regulations, food logistics, and contingency plans.
How to Start Your Food Business
If you plan on starting a food business, it is best to prepare and make a checklist for what you need to do. With this, you are making sure that you are equipped with enough knowledge and insight.
Food Business Plan
Like any business, a food business should be backed by research through a business plan. Here are integral questions you aim to answer when creating yours:
- Target Market: Who will be buying from you? How old are they? How much is their budget?
- Concept: Is your business a full-service restaurant? What is the style: casual or fine dining?
- Food: Are you specializing in a specific cuisine? Where are the ingredients sourced? Should you include dietary options like vegetarian-friendly, gluten-free, halal, etc.?
- Brand: What does your logo look like? What style do your posters, social media materials, and menu have?
- Location: Where is your business located? Are you near residences or other commercial establishments? Will the area be easy to find?
- Finances: If you took out a loan, how much should you be earning to profit? How many employees will you have? How much is rent, utilities, etc.?
Using the best marketing techniques helps bring your business to your target audience. A website that has information that your customers will look for is a great step. Include a FAQs page, a copy of your menu, location, and other relevant details.
You can also contact local media like newspapers and radio stations where you can put up an advertisement for your opening. Check which platforms your customers are more likely to be tuning in to. For example, millennials may not read a newspaper ad, while older professionals may not have social media.
Word-of-mouth is a powerful way to spread the word about your food business, so try out the following:
- Soft Opening: Plan a soft opening for close family and friends and another for local businesses and media.
- Events: Open your venue to events like office parties, meetings, and concerts to encourage guests to share their experiences with friends or family.
- Stories: People love a good story. Whether it is about the starting of the business, an interesting fact about the location, or a unique characteristic of employees (i.e., all-women restaurant, deaf waiters), you can tell stories that pique people’s interests enough to share with others.
A lot of good businesses are actively engaging with their customers on social media. After all, up to 71% of people decide to purchase a product after seeing it on social media.
Creating an account on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram is free, so you can already start an account with news and photos of your food business. Remember to update your socials regularly and respond to questions promptly.
You can also advertise and send automated messages on social media. The variety of options allows any business to thrive on social media platforms. Overall, strategize your social media activity and measure the results.
Restaurant Furniture and Equipment
What you use in your business affects costs and quality. While you want the best quality, you should refrain from spending your whole budget on equipment and furniture. Go for a nice medium between the two.
Guided by your business plan and budget, figure out both must-haves and nice-to-haves. Look into furniture, Point-of-Sale (POS) Systems, kitchen appliances, cooking utensils, and decorations.
Explore wholesale suppliers, conventions, and secondhand stores thoroughly. Take your time figuring out the best for you and make a list of your options. You should also ask the supplier about any businesses they have partnered with previously.
Your employees are instrumental to your business. The number of employees and their roles may vary, but here are some employees that you will probably need to hire:
- Chef or Cook
- Cleaning Staff
- Team Leader or Manager
Depending on the type of food you serve, you can consider the following, as well:
- Delivery Staff
Do your due diligence in reading through applications and interviewing applicants. Ideal employees for a food business demonstrate the efficiency and work well under pressure.
Licenses and Permits
Your local and national government will have rules for food businesses, so familiarize yourself with the relevant licenses and permits. This may include proof of tax registration, clearance from the local government, a permit to run a business, and other documents. Make sure to acquire these before you even plan on setting a date for your soft opening.
Restaurant Business Logistics
Logistics may look different from one food business to another, depending on the type of business. For example, a mobile food truck will need vastly different kitchen tools from a full-service restaurant. Look into the specifics and spend time getting used to the motions. You do not want to find out that your refrigerator is positioned too far from an outlet on opening day.
You know that you have longevity if you can adapt to unexpected situations. Sudden problems will most likely occur, whether a global pandemic or a sudden traffic jam blocking your food supply. You and your staff should be quick on your feet to resolve any issues and adapt accordingly. Remember to prepare backup plans for when things do not go according to plan.
You Got This
Every business goes through trial and error, especially when starting. Do not be discouraged if it takes time for your company to thrive. With smart planning and the right tools in place, you will have what you need to be successful.