Starting a food business has never been as popular as it is now. According to a recent survey 18% of 1.3 million Brits want to start a food business in the next year or so. This is great for the British economy and the food scene. Variety and competition pushes us all to continue to offer the best product and service we possible can.
But with better access to technology plus the glitz and glam of social media, some people are being led to believe starting a successful food business is easy. Did you know that over 75% of small businesses fail in year 1?
Clearly then, food business ideas are pretty easy to come by but the issue is turning the idea into a thriving business.
Are you contemplating starting a food business in 2017?
Have you been dreaming of turning a family recipe into a money maker?
Just before you jump in, now is the time to consider whether the food business is right for you. Here are just 5 signs it might not be:
- You expect your social life to stay the same.
You can find an abundance of stories about entrepreneurs who say ‘freedom’ and ‘more time’ were among the main reasons they started their own business.
Right here, right now I am here to dispel that myth for new food entrepreneurs.
Most everyday ordinary people are juggling bills, the dreaded commute, housework and children that need to be nurtured. Add starting a business into the mix and your social life will likely suffer. I can personally testify to the fact sacrifices have to be made when starting a business, the biggest one being time and freedom.
The food business is HARD work and the race is not for the swift. Buckets of blood, sweat and tears are shed when trying to build a sustainable food business. Don’t be drawn in by the ‘overnight success’ broadsheet features, as these tend to be rare or involved the skill, talent and input from experienced teams.
If you’re standing at the start line as you read this, be aware things will change. You will be busy, occupied and unavailable at moments you would usually spend with a loved one, partner or children. This is the reality of running any business, particularly if you’re a sole founder or part of a small team.
I seem like a party pooper, don’t I? Ok so starting a food business doesn’t have to end your social life. But here are a few of my practical suggestions:
- Surround yourself with supportive and understanding friends and family.
- Schedule specific time to spend with friends. This way they don’t feel neglected all the time.
- Communicate openly with loved ones when you can’t make an event or occasion.
- Strive for balance (whatever that is for you). You can learn from the experiences of other entrepreneurs juggling family life with the demands of business.
2. You don’t like asking for help.
A problem shared is a problem halved.
You may feel silly or embarrassed for finding yourself lost or confused as to what to do next. You might even assume advice or help will be too expensive. Or you might make the mistake of thinking you can do everything yourself even when it feels like a struggle and you aren’t seeing any progress.
The business climate changes rapidly. Trends come and go, prices change, margins get squeezed, suppliers change etc etc. Navigating the unexpected, disappointment and new challenges can be scary and bring on anxiety.
Now don’t get me wrong, asking for help is not always easy. Asking for help can also make us feel vulnerable.
But I believe this is only the case when we ask the wrong people for help.
‘Thank you Ashanti for creating such a great networking group…far by the most interactive. Everyone supports each other’.
Don’t stay stuck in the mud for longer than necessary. Reach out and start learning from others who can help you move your business forward.
3. You expect to make easy quick cash.
It takes about 5 times more money than you initially estimate (or secretly hope) to start any business. The cost of a website, packaging, labeling, legal fees, materials, production, kitchen fees etc etc can start racking up without you even realizing it.
Costs will unexpectedly tap you on the shoulder or just straight out thump you in the nose! Ovens stop working, fridges break down and prices rise (especially in the current climate). Oh and good staff cost money. So does expert help and guidance to move your business forward.
It is possible to keep costs down in some areas. But you need to concentrate on the most important aspect of a new business – selling your product. Be realistic and prepare to spend money when necessary.
4. You prefer a risk-free life of certainty.
If you move forward with your food business idea, risk and uncertainty will become your new best friends. I suggest you play nice from the start.
You can plan all day and night. You can ply the food business fairies with your best recipe. You can even hire amazing people to work with and for you. But the sad truth of business (and life) is there are no guarantees. I’ve experienced more than one failure, setback or disappointment on my journey so far (even with the knowledge and skills I had at the start).
Most food entrepreneurs will tell you, the journey includes facing adversity, pressure and stressful situations. But you (and your business) can survive if you join supportive communities and get used to operating in a climate of relative uncertainty.
5. You don’t feel comfortable selling.
The ability to sell consistently is key to business growth. I’ve interviewed over 100 food entrepreneurs and they all agree, sales should always be a priority.
But sometimes we don’t quite know how to sell with confidence. It’s also very common for people to experience fear and anxiety when it comes to actually selling products or services to real people. If you want to understand some of the basic principles of selling direct to shop owners and retail buyers listen to this fantastic interview with Marcus Carter.
Are you showing any of the above signs? Or is your gut still telling you to go for it?
Well my friend, if you still want want Food Business Success, join us at the next exclusive ‘Food Business Success’ Masterclass. This is one investment you will not regret.
Did you find this article helpful? Are you an aspiring food entrepreneur?
After 5 years as a Banking Compliance Consultant working for big banks like Santander and Barclays, Ashanti Bentil-Dhue is now a Virgin Start Up Mentor and Contributor, Connector for Women In Food and Business Consultant. Ashanti also hosts networking events for women in food and a fast growing facebook group for food entrepreneurs. If you have a query, send an email to email@example.com or visit the website to find out how she can help your business grow.
@fem_foodpreneur on twitter and instagram