Welcome to Startup Saturday. We’ll be posting every Saturday morning on a business you can launch from home for $500 or less. Today we look at Selling Your Homemade Food Product.
Do you love to bake, cook or whip up a special sauce? What if you could turn it into a moneymaking venture? If friends and family tell you that your pasta sauce is wonderful, or that you make the most delicious rolls or break, or that your birthday cakes can’t be beat, then you have the makings of a successful food entrepreneur.
One of our favorite small business owners was a fourth grade teacher who loved to bake rolls and bread for family get-together and would also bring his bread whenever he and his wife were invited to dinner. Everyone said, “Mike, you should be selling these baked goods.”
In a few months, after hearing these encouraging words again and again, Mike called a local caterer to ask, “Where do you buy your dinner rolls for the weddings and parties you cater?” The reply: “Are you selling? Because if you are, come to our office tomorrow afternoon and bring some samples.”
Mike whipped them up that night and brought them down. The caterer said, “We have a wedding on Saturday, we’ll need 14 dozen.” Mike said,” Uhhh…” The caterer said, “Mike, are you in business to make money or not? Bring me 14 dozen rolls at 10 am on Saturday and you have a steady customer.”
Mike killed himself making the order and eventually found a bakery in town that wasn’t being used from midnight to 4 a.m. He negotiated with the owner to rent the space for 4 hours on weekends; that’s when he completed his orders for the caterer.
You could do this, too. And by using a commercial kitchen that already has a food license, you might not have to take the Food Handler’s Test, but this is regulated state by state, so check with the County Clerk’s office in your community.
If you make anything at home, it is a good idea to keep up with the local regulations. If you bottle your sauce, you’ll need to prepare an official label that explains all of the ingredients. Check with the health department in your state’s office to determine how to list these properly.
You can take your sauce to a variety of upscale food shops and see if they will sell it. Ask them if you can set up a table and offer samples of the product dipped in a piece of bread or on a cracker.
You can also contact companies that make and sell gift baskets and see if they will accept your fresh jellies and jams for one of their food offerings.
You can also sell your food product via mail order or at street fairs and community gatherings. Same for your salad dressing. Make sure it is properly refrigerated and contains an expiration date.
Labels can be printed on a computer. Microsoft Word documents include a template for labels. Check them out. If you have a problem, visit kinkos.com and look at the options. You can also order stickers from a company like VistaPrint.com
Once you start taking orders from shops, you might need to rent a kitchen like Mike did. Call around your region and check out restaurant kitchens, too. They might rent you the space by the hour during the times they are closed.
If you are an expert cake baker, consider starting a niche business such as supplying cakes for kids’ birthday parties. Once word gets around about how fabulous your cakes are, you will have a steady stream of parties to handle. Promote your food business in the local newspaper and build a simple website so people can see your wares. It’s a good idea to print up a flyer and have them ready at all times. Again, Microsoft Word documents has excellent options for brochure and flyer templates.
Selling a food product that you created is a fun way to make money. Next time, you are complimented on your sauce, say ‘thank you,’ and think , ‘Ka-ching!’