Many people think that the only way you can have a food business is to own a restaurant, but that is a misconception. There are many food businesses you can base out of your home and though you might have to take a couple extra steps to make sure you have the proper licenses and inspections you might be surprised out how easy it is. Since food is the universal language it is easy to understand the appeal of food businesses and if you are looking to start your own business with minimal startup costs using your culinary prowess, we have the right food business ideas for you.
Cookies, Baked Goods, Preserves and More
Many states have cottage food laws that allow you to sell baked goods that you make in your own kitchen at home. You will need to apply for a license and often jump through some hoops like a kitchen inspection and mechanism for keeping ingredients and implements used in your business separate from your personal cooking supplies, but getting a license is usually not that difficult or expensive. This allows you to sell a wide variety of baked goods like cookies and cupcakes as well as jams, preserves and canned foods from your own home kitchen.
Specialty Foods Business
Beyond the baked and canned foods we listed above, there are quite a few specialty goods that you can often make at home to sell to the public. Much of what is available will depend on your local laws, but you can often make chocolates, coffee, candies and even some alcoholic beverages. If you can’t make it in your own home, but it is something that has some shelf life which can be packaged to sell away from where it is made you can look into renting out space in a commercial kitchen. This will allow you to do your food preparation in a licensed facility that will meet your local health codes, but then sell it all while using your home as your base of operations.
Subscription Box Food Business
Many people order boxes that are delivered monthly to their home filled with things they want, from toilet paper to geek couture. There are already several services that will deliver cookies, specialty breads, jams, cupcakes and more directly to a person’s home every month or even every week. You don’t have to start out big on a national scale, but can start in your own community where you deliver these items personally or use the post office, but creating a service that your customers pay a fixed fee for a box of goodies on a fixed schedule can help you build a very reliable and predictable income.
Fundraising Food Business
We all have gotten flyers for cookies, candies, cakes and other food items from friends and family to support a cause. Usually the food is both overpriced and underwhelming. If you want to both make a difference and create an income at the same time starting a business that supplies local fundraisers with delicious products might be right for you. Though there are plenty of nationally recognized fund raising programs a lot of communities are looking for something different and more local. You will probably have to visit schools, clubs and other organizations in your area, but there are many great businesses built on a model where they share profits with organizations looking to raise funds for a worthy cause.
Wedding Food Catering Business
Todays brides are much more likely to find the vendors for cakes, candies and other wedding goodies through the internet and at wedding fairs and expo’s than ever before. This means you don’t have to have a storefront to find your clients and you can create for many different kinds of special events not just weddings. If you do want to specialize in weddings, make sure you offer tastings and a rewards program for local wedding coordinators. They often are some of the best partners for creating a stable business. If you have offerings that work for many different kinds of events like Quinceanera’s , family reunions, corporate events and more, talk to your local event planners and coordinators to make sure they know that you offer a unique experience that will delight their clients.
If your area doesn’t allow for cottage foods or the regulations are a bit more than you are willing to bite off, blogging about food might be your ideal business. Today’s most successful bloggers do more than just write about food, they post pictures, share recipes, host and create how-to videos and share on Pinterest. Most bloggers use affiliate programs to make money though some find sponsors and partnerships to create even more income. As your blog becomes more popular you can offer cook books and branded products like bakeware and cooking utensils.
There are a whole host of TV shows that have created cooking super stars, but not everyone who makes a living teaching others how to be kitchen wizards are found on cable and network TV. YouTube has created a whole new way to deliver cooking education on-demand to the masses. If you have some personality and cooking passion, you might find you can have a business that shares your knowledge with others. Beyond YouTube you can offer private and group cooking lessons and even teach through community education programs. This route will take some persistence, but for the right person this is the perfect home based food business.
Nutritional Coach and/or Educator
There are a lot of people who are trying to eat and be healthier and they have realized that what they currently know isn’t cutting it. Some people need to make radical dietary changes because of food allergies, diabetes, gastric bi-pass surgery, pregnancy or health conditions which means they need to seek out someone to teach them a new way to eat. Though it can be helpful to registered dietician, there are several companies that you can be registered as a nutritional coach through. You may travel to people’s homes or communicate using skype, but this is a growing market. Some nutritionists have developed webinars and video series addressing specific dietary needs and habits and some even specialize in specific diets. There are several ways to make an income, from working as a consultant for a specific diet program, to working with local gyms and health facilities to find your clients.
Commercial Kitchen Space
Many people who use a commercial kitchen schedule the kitchen for just a couple days a week or even as needed for events, so you don’t have to be using a commercial kitchen space every day to build your business. You might be surprised just how flexible you can be with commercial kitchen space and it is often very affordable and might even give you access to large batch commercial mixers and other expensive equipment you might not be able to afford as you start your business up. Though prices vary you can expect to pay about $25 per hour with a monthly minimum that may be as few as 10 hours per month. There are extra charges if you need to have cold storage and you may need to pay extra fees for the rental of some specialized equipment. You can expect to have a 6 burner gas range, grill, two commercial convection ovens and a candy stove.
There are a few specific business models that we think are really awesome to get your baking into the hands of customers and to build a profitable business. Many of these ideas work together or alone, depending on how diversified you want to be and how big you want to grow your business. Also, almost all of these models will work regardless of if you are able to use your own home kitchen or if you need to rent space in a commercial kitchen.
Sell At Farmers Markets and Fairs
Even if you live in a smaller community you probably have a local farmers market where you can sell your goods. In addition to these farmers markets, most communities have fairs and festivals throughout the year where you can purchase booth space. Here you can sell your wares, both to be eaten on the spot and saved for when your customers get home. If you don’t mind traveling you might find that you can sell your goods at larger regional fairs and festivals. This is great if you don’t want to have an event almost every week.
No matter where your food passion takes you, there is a way for you to start your business in your own home. Your goal may be to keep your business home based or to grow into a recognized household name, but regardless which path you want to be on, starting a home based food business can get you there with very little startup cost and a lot of personal and profession satisfaction.