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The essential guide to food business success

A successful food business takes a lot of work. Unlike other industries, the world of gastronomic cuisine has seen the economic climate make success much more challenging to achieve. Restaurant rents have shot up, diners are savvier, review sites take no prisoners, and it is difficult to break into the industry as a newcomer.

So, why would you bother? Food is a vocation. Many people adore the art of cooking, designing menus, crafting new cuisine and feeding people with their unique style of cooking. If you are keen to break into the industry, you may be classically trained or you may just have a natural flair for food. You might want to set up a restaurant, a more chilled out eatery, a catering unit or you might want to try your hand at the new wave of street food festivals popping up across the globe. Whatever you want to do with food, there is a chance of making a success of your new venture. Read on to discover this essential guide to running a successful foodie empire.

The Food

As the very center of your business plan and ethos should be the food that you cook. Forget about trying to please all of the diners all of the time and creating dishes that have no real heart or soul. Don’t try and hit every region and every flavour profile. You need to cook what you love and carve yourself a niche. There are thousands of pizzerias or Indian restaurants out there. What are you going to do to make your eatery just that little bit different?

Cook from your heritage and apply your ethical standards to your cuisine. Are you vegan? Do you adore fusion food? Did you grow up in the Caribbean? Use your travels, your life experience and your family memories to hone a menu that means something to you.

When it comes to sourcing the ingredients for your dishes, don’t simply opt for the local cash and carry that flies in apples from New Zealand and tomatoes from Chile. You need to think about your environmental carbon footprint and explore a more ethical way of honing your menu. Head to a local smallholding, take a look in the farm sheds, see how they rear their livestock and make a connection to the local community. Supporting the small businesses around you helps you to develop a local network of producers that will help you carve a name for yourself regionally. Consumers and diners like knowing where their food is from, so make a point of exemplifying your commitment to good, local produce and limiting the air miles that your food takes.

Street Food

If a fixed restaurant is too high-risk for you initially, you might want to try the food festival circuit. There are many festivals popping up in the summer that will allow you to test your grub on the masses. Thousands of hungry people turn up to these events eager to sample new morsels of exciting cuisine. These are the places to hone your craft, develop your dishes and take feedback from real-life customers. Friends and family are one thing, but an objective viewpoint is crucial to the development of your food brand.

Think about how you will serve your food. Do you want to use a gazebo or would a fully converted horse trailer be a more unique catering proposition? Hand out business cards and display your social media handles all over your banners and catering unit. You could generate legions of new fans and followers. 

Consider getting a videographer to come down and take a promo video of you serving your dishes and of happy customers eating your delicious food. Keep your pricing sensible and check out your rivals. Use these events as recces to see what your competitors are up to. Make links, be friendly and get out there. The street food scene is massively supportive and everyone is eager to see everyone else succeed. 

Business Plan

While your food is obviously of massive importance to your business, so is your business model. Your food could be the best thing to hit the scene in years, but if you don’t have the financial acumen to go with it, your business could still fail. Think about sourcing investment from the bank or a business angel. Set up a business plan and forecast your profits and revenue for the next three years. This accurate forecast can give you more clout when pitching to potential investors.

Know your gross from your net and know exactly where you will be allocating any invested cash. You need to be able to mitigate any risk that your business might face. If you may struggle to get quality seasonal ingredients in a certain month, what will you do to mitigate this risk to your success? Think outside of the box and show any investor that you have considered every eventuality.

Ethos

Your business needs to have a clear message and story. When setting up your website, craft an about page to tell potential diners what motivates you, the sort of food you love, and why you are in the food business in the first place. Diners want to know the people behind the grub and are eager to understand what makes you tick. If you are looking to cater for weddings or events, you need to hone a more personal and chatty tone that engages people and instills them with a high level of confidence in your food. You will be responsible for making sure that they enjoy their event, so your dishes need to be top quality and provoke memories to be made.

Food is an emotive thing, so to truly get to grips with catering for others, you need to craft more bespoke and personal menus. This will allow you to work closely with others to utilize your own flair and talent, but with ideas from a third party. 

Entering into the food realm is not for the faint-hearted. Competition is fierce and many startups fail relatively quickly. However, follow this guide and you have every chance of success.