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How to Start a Small Food Business at Home

It’s many food lovers’ dream to own their restaurant one day, but setting up a restaurant costs a whole lot of dollars and can take a great deal of organizing. With cottage food laws now in place in every state, why not think a little smaller at first and start planning how to start a small restaurant at home?

During the pandemic, restaurants had to close and many chefs were laid off. What helped to keep them going was learning how to start a small food business at home. They already had the skills to create delicious food, and there are laws in every state now to cover what foods can be sold at home. This allowed them to cook from home and either deliver meals to their local area, have people pick up their orders from their home, or even have people eating in their homes.

The good news is that this opportunity is available to any home cook. You don’t need years of experience, expensive courses, or culinary college. If you’ve got the talent and some great recipes, you too can start a food business from home.

Benefits of Selling Homemade Food Online or from Home

If you start a restaurant, before you’ve even opened, you have a whole list of expenses. You need to buy or rent suitable premises, have a professional kitchen fitted if there isn’t one in place, have the interior fitted out to suit your branding, pay for furniture, kitchen equipment, pans, and knives, cutlery and crockery, bar glasses, a walk-in fridge, and probably more expenses than you’ve even thought of.

You have to pay chefs, kitchen porters, cleaners, wait staff, and bar staff, too. Every month, in fact, every day, you have the pressure of knowing that all of those people rely on you to make enough money to pay their wages. More than that, you have to pay the rent, pay business rates, and cover your tax payments. You have to deal with regular health inspections, the expense of repairs and upgrades to equipment, hiring and firing staff, and dealing with interpersonal issues.

At this point, you’ve not even planned a menu, ordered food, or cooked a single dish. You’ve done none of the things that you wanted to do for a living when you wanted to open a restaurant.

But pull that vision back, scale it down to selling homemade food online that you make at home, and so many of those problems, stresses, and expenses disappear.

You may not need extra staff at all, and if you do, you certainly won’t need as many people as you would to run a full restaurant. Staff management issues are so much less of a problem when there’s only you and your delivery driver or you and someone to serve your food to visiting guests.

You already have a kitchen, so you’ll have a lot of the things you’ll need, and you can take your time and buy other equipment as you go to expand your offerings and make life easier. While you might want an all-singing, all-dancing professional stand mixer, you can probably get by without it at first until you start making more money to afford it. With a home food business, you can bootstrap your way to success, rather than having to find a huge budget upfront, before you’ve made a penny.

Many restaurant owners find themselves having to bring in a business partner to be ‘The Money’, which can cause friction and limit what the owner can do with their own restaurant. They may find themselves in a position where they have to run every decision past their business partner and justify why they want to spend on new equipment.

You don’t need to do that. With a small home-based food business or restaurant, you’re in charge and you get the final say on everything from what to cook, what the specials are, and how you want to present your restaurant to the world.

Having said all that, of course, it’s still a lot of work. You do still need to comply with state and county laws and you still have to pay Uncle Sam his fair share (sorry!).

But you do have far more freedom and far fewer expenses when you work from home and create your own culinary masterpieces to sell.

How to Start Food Business from Home

As with any business, when starting up, you still need to write a business plan. You’ll need to look at your pricing, easy food to sell to make money, what your budget is, and how you’re going to market your business.

The main thing to check when looking at how to start a food business is if you need a permit to sell food from home. Check with your Department of Agriculture or your Department of Health to find out what the rules are on selling food from home. You may need a license and there may be rules on how your kitchen is laid out and whether you need to buy equipment that’s solely for your home restaurant and not for personal use. You might also find there is a limit to how much you can earn from your home food business.

If you’re looking at how to start online food business from home, you may find that in your state you aren’t allowed to sell online, but only from people visiting your home. Or you may find that you can sell food online, but only in your state. Again, do your research before you start your business.

As for marketing, well, Castiron can help both with how to sell food online or at home, and with your marketing. We provide free software that you can use to quickly build a tailored website that was made for home food businesses like yours. And we also provide automated social media and email marketing to help you attract customers, while you focus on where your heart is - making delicious food that you can sell from home.

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