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17 May 2019

Top tips for starting your own food business

From hickory smoked pork to freshly baked churros, the UK's foodie culture is booming.

Photos of lovingly crafted dishes trend on Instagram while street food markets are buzzing with people seeking fresh food on the go. A new generation of food halls have proved popular and in Altrincham, greater Manchester, have been credited with a revival in the town's fortunes.

Street food in particular has seen a surge in popularity with the UK market forecast to reach £1.2bn in 2018, up 9.1% from 2017, according to The Grocer.

Whether it's capitalising on the vegan boom, artisanal breads, rare-breed meat or foraged food - many food lovers will dream of turning their passion into a profitable business.

So, what sort of things should you think about before you decide to turn your love of cooking into a business?

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Planning ahead

So you want to turn your passion for food into a business? Don't start cooking up that first batch of churros just yet. Take some time to get it down on paper and make sure it all adds up, before you invest any money.

Write a business plan

The food business is a crowded marketplace so it's best to start with some thorough research and crunching some numbers before you make the leap into setting up shop. FSB start-up adviser Chris Allen says the business plan is the "road map to your business" and should cover issues like risks (everything from food life spans to negative reviews), costs, licences, what legal status your business will take and research into your customers and your goals.

Research the market

However passionate you are about your new food business idea, you’re unlikely to have all the answers to the key questions about your market without undertaking some thorough research. The areas to research include customers and your product – how can you tailor your product to meet customer needs?

It’s crucial to research your competitors – who are they? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Pricing is also key – what do customers see as giving value for money that will encourage both loyalty and referral?

Differentiation

Whether you're serving up street food from a brick oven in the back of a converted Mini or opening a board game café, consider your niche. What's going to make your business stand out? Who are you trying to attract?

Cash-flow projection

How much will you need to pay upfront and how much can you expect to make?

A 12-month cash flow forecast should identify how much you will need to make to break even over the course of a year. You can then break that down to what you will need to make on a weekly basis to get to that figure.

See FSB’s guide to writing a business plan.