Many business tycoons in the food industry, including Martha Stewart and Debbie Fields, started their businesses in their own kitchens. Even Yankee Candle, one of the most popular scented candle brands today, was first formulated in Mike Kittredge’s family kitchen. This shows that all you need to start a business is resourcefulness. With that quality, everything will fall into place at the right time.
But starting a food business in your kitchen isn’t as easy as it sounds. Space is one of its most common drawbacks. If a typical home kitchen can’t even accommodate one family, how will it accommodate hundreds of customers? In addition, overusing the kitchen may affect its personal function. If you’re not yet done preparing orders, your family might have to sacrifice dinner time.
That shouldn’t stop you from starting the business, though. Yes, it will be challenging, but letting the drawbacks hold you back is nothing but an excuse for not pursuing your goal. Besides, every business is challenging at first. Just because you started from home doesn’t mean you’ll have it easier.
In addition, you need to take a home-based business as seriously as any other business. Since you’re dealing with food, you have sanitary codes and health protocols to follow. That said, here are the things to consider before starting your home-based food biz:
1. Cottage Food Laws
Many states have implemented cottage food laws to improve income-generating opportunities for their residents. The rules have made it easier for homeowners to start a home-based food business. But it’s not without challenges.
Cottage food laws limit the type of food you can sell. They also put a limit on the amount of money you can earn. If you made a lot, your state might order you to submit the same requirements as a commercial food business. So before getting started, find out the laws and regulations of your state. Whether you’ll face the aforementioned limitations or not, you’ll undoubtedly need permits before operating. You may have to complete a brief training course before obtaining those permits.
2. The Market
After getting familiar with the law, find out if there’s a market for your products. Being a good cook or an accomplished chef isn’t enough to make your food sell. There has to be a market demanding your products in the first place.
Attend conferences and other events related to your business. They are usually organized by small business development centers or a local Chamber of Commerce. You’ll find a network of other entrepreneurs in those events. It will help you conduct market research and get an idea of how business owners in your area achieved their success.
3. Food Safety
The law prohibits the sale of any food that promotes food-borne illnesses. Perishable food or anything that requires refrigeration often falls into that category. Consider pastries, cakes, caffeinated drinks, or home-cooked meals to stay on the safe line. Those are popular options that consumers will get easily attracted to.
However, some baked goods may also pose some risks. Cheesecakes and certain types of pie are two of those; they may not sit well with lactose-intolerant customers. Some types of meat, poultry, and dairy products can also be harmful to people with food sensitivities. Hence, you may have to stick to dry food like granola varieties, chips, French fries, or bread.
4. Labeling Requirements
Like commercial food, your home-baked or home-cooked food should also be labeled. But we’re not referring to showing your business’s name and logo on the packaging. Instead, we’re talking about disclaimers. You should include a label saying, “This product is made at home and has not been inspected.” It might risk your business’s reputation, but it’s all for the best. Better make people aware of the potential risks early on instead of surprising them with food poisoning.
5. Kitchen Design and Efficiency
Making food for sale will incur hefty costs if you have a small kitchen with energy-inefficient appliances. First off, using the stove may heat up the entire space, increasing your cooling bills. And, of course, energy-inefficient appliances consume way too much electricity or gas.
So consider investing in a full-scale kitchen remodeling when your business grows and stabilizes. It will boost the kitchen’s personal function, too. A spacious kitchen with modern appliances will increase your productivity and allow you to make better quality food. What’s more, kitchen remodeling can boost an entire home’s value.
Though starting a home-based food business is challenging, it’s full of perks as well, such as not paying rent, to name one. You’ll get a lot more freedom in your own space and give your products a more personal touch.