If food is your passion, why not start a home-based food business?
Log into Instagram. Open a magazine or a newspaper. Check your Facebook page. And you are bound to see enticing pics of food. Food has always been an integral part of a human being’s life. After all, food is not just sustenance but a way to show love and hospitality. So food never goes out of style! And with more and more self-proclaimed foodies popping up every day, restaurants and home-based food businesses are laughing their way to the bank!
Are you interested in food? You could be an amateur chef. You could be a trained chef. You could have a passion for making pickles, jams or cakes and cookies. You could turn your passion into a home-based business and become a food entrepreneur.
So what are the pros of starting a business like this at home?
1) You can start small and see whether your product/s is taking off. If it isn’t, you can close it down or explore a new product or range of products. If you start a restaurant, your initial investments would be very high and if it bombs, you are going to end up being broke.
2) You can specialize in a niche product of your choice. For example, you may like to make only desserts, or you enjoy catering to people who want vegan food, or you only want to cater for parties. You can choose to do what you love to do.
3) You can work from the comfort of your home. Many entrepreneurs, especially women who have kids and a family to take care of, find it easier to work from home. You can juggle your family life and professional life with greater ease.
4) A home-based food business is ideal for an amateur chef who is testing the waters.
5) The size of the business is entirely up to you. You could stay small and cater to a small band of loyal customers, or you could choose to expand.
6) Your working hours are under your control. For instance, you may decide to only cater parties on weekends. Or serve only breakfast. Which means you finish your work for the day early.
7) Word-of-mouth publicity will gain you more customers without having to spend on advertising, especially in the early days. This is, of course, if your food is exceptionally good.
However, a food business at home can have its cons too.
1) You need to be committed. Once you are in, you must honor your word. Let’s take an example. If you are catering lunches to offices, you can’t suddenly decide one day that you need to go out or just feel too lazy to make lunch that day. You are in for the long haul!
2) In many cities in India, in summer, food can spoil. You need to be extremely careful of where you source your raw materials, how you store them and how you prepare the food. Otherwise, you could make people fall sick. That is a huge responsibility.
3) One bad meal or offering can bring you negative publicity. Continuing with the example given above, let’s say you catered for a party and all those who ate the prawns fell sick. Would any of those people give you a positive review or come back to you? Or let’s say you deliver a cake that is flat, stale or tasteless…again, you’ve lost that customer and her word-of-mouth publicity.
So, how do you go about starting a home catering business?
1) Decide what kind of food you are going to market. Is it meals, is it cakes, is it desserts? Are you planning on offering organic or vegan food? Do you want to specialize in juices, salads, keto diet meals, north Indian food, south Indian food or any other cuisine? Do you plan to cater for parties? Will you send the food there or cater at the venue?
2) How will you make your product accessible to your customers? Do they have to come to your house to collect the food? Or will you be tying up with a home delivery service? Or will you employ people to deliver?
3) Do you have the space and the equipment for your business? Can you afford to invest in equipment? If you don’t have sufficient space, can you make space in another room?
4) Are you going to be doing all the prep work and the cooking? Or will you have help? Employing people will eat into your profits.
5) Do you have dogs or cats? How will you ensure that the food is not contaminated by pet hairs?
6) You will need to make a detailed business plan and marketing plan and also decide on how you want to price your products. Are you looking at premium offerings for a niche market or affordable stuff for a larger consumer base?
7) How do you source your vendors? You will need to do your research and find vendors who are reliable and offer fresh, good-quality materials.
8) And, most importantly, it’s about the food. It has to be delicious if you want people to come back for more. Research your recipes and test them again and again till you feel they are perfect. Because, ultimately, it’s the taste of the food that is your main marketing tool!
Starting a home-based food business is eminently doable. But it’s not a walk in the park. Once you’ve got you menu, vendors, equipment and pricing in place, you need to start attracting customers. It’s hard work but can be extremely rewarding both professionally and financially.