If you love training, then there’s a good chance that you have an interest in nutrition, good food and cooking. You should have anyway!
Don’t be one of those idiots who spends £100 a month on Mega Mass 2000 and eats processed rubbish all of the time.
Good businesses start with a great idea, but great businesses start with a real passion – so if you’ve got a love of good food, here’s how to turn it into a brilliant business.
Passion and planning
If you’ve a passion for anything to do with the food industry, from organic produce to full English breakfasts, you can turn it into a business.
Of course, it’s important you like what you do – your local area could be crying out for a vegan restaurant, but if you’re not a fan of vegan cuisine you may struggle to make a go of things – and enthusiasm can give you a head start over the competition. But passion alone is not enough.
So before you launch yourself headlong into your business venture, make sure you’ve got the other qualities necessary to start a successful venture, notably a willingness to work hard and an ability to market your product or service.
And don’t forget there’s more to running a business than the customer-facing aspect, so while those organic jams are your bread and butter, so to speak, you’ll also have to become proficient in everything from bookkeeping to marketing.
Use great ingredients
No matter how outstanding your culinary skills, they’ll count for very little if you use substandard ingredients, so make sure you use the best your budget can afford, be that a wholesale food supplier like Bidvest or your local butcher.
The thing to bear in mind is that, when it comes to food, people know exactly what they like and so everyone is an expert to a certain degree. This means that skimping on the ingredients can be bad for business, especially if you start trying to cut corners to save money – if you do need to make cuts, it might be a better idea to cut back on quantity rather than quality.
Employ passionate people
If you’re in a position to take on employees, try to find people who are as passionate about your product as you are – if your staff believe in what you do, they’ll be more willing to go the extra mile.
So if you’re opening that vegan restaurant, try to employ people with a similar passion for vegan or maybe vegetarian food. If you’re going to be making organics jams, having a marketing team with the same ethical viewpoint means they’ll bang the drum that little bit louder.
You’ll also need a passion for people in that you’ll no doubt, to begin with at least, have to deal with customers face to face. Good communication skills are therefore essential. Energy, enthusiasm and the ability to make people feel good are almost as important as the actual food/product you are selling.
Share your passion
You are the best salesperson your business has, and passing that love of what you do on to your customers is a great way to build up regular custom and build brand advocacy.
So offer free tasting sessions to your more loyal customers, or hand out free samples or outsource your cooking skills to maximise exposure.
You could even get your customers involved in some of your decision-making – if you’re releasing a new flavour or thinking of putting a new item on the menu, ask your customers to come up with suggestions.
Not only could this ensure your most loyal customers keep coming back for more, the positive word-of-mouth exposure you’ll receive will help to drum up new ones.
Make a Checklist – Plan and Research before starting
Be sure to visit the food standards agency website before starting your own food-related business. Remember that all premises have to be passed by environmental health – so it could be worth scheduling a meeting with a local environmental health officer.
Be sure not to make the rookie mistake of thinking that you can pull off a business idea, just because you are passionate about it. Write a full business plan, and seek advice from local start-up groups or organisations, or just a businessman or women that you know well and trust. Know your brand, your brand ‘voice’ and identity and make sure you have at least one unique selling point (USP) and a number of strong selling points (SSPs).
Make sure to have a budget and avoid substantial overhead costs, to begin with if possible. Think positive, but be realistic and don’t overstretch yourself financially. Can your business start off as an online entity, will minimal overheads? This may be a great way to test the waters before investing more money.
Have a Marketing Plan
What will be your route to market? Will you find customers online, at the local market, in their homes? How will you reach them and make them aware of your company? Will your company sell locally, nationwide or internationally?
If you are on a budget, consider using a WordPress platform to create your own website, and ensure that you register your business on Google My Business and local directories such as Freeindex and Yelp.
Have a plan for social media too – will you create Youtube videos to market your skills and foods? Can you reach your potential market via Facebook? Read about Facebook advertising too, as these can be great for targeting people with very specific interests related to food and wellbeing – and you don’t have to spend a lot of money or have a huge budget to see results either.
Reviews are essential. ‘Social proofing’ is the new word-of-mouth. Make it as easy as possible for happy customers to leave positive reviews on Google+ and Facebook. Leave an iPad in reception if possible, have a link to a review page in your email signature. Your not supposed to actively solicit for positive reviews, but you making it easy to leave reviews is definitely a good idea.
Even the greatest ‘business people’ need some luck along the way. If you truly have a passion for food, then my best advice would be to blog (and vlog) about it. You can learn about websites, blogs, marketing etc. this way, and once you have established a good online following, you can look to monetise things.