Learning how to start a home-based food business will be straightforward for someone who enjoys cooking, and it is a terrific opportunity to make money doing what you love. To make sales, you must first perform research for your business. Just like other businesses, you need a survey, marketing strategies and a business plan.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry says, “A goal without a plan is just a wish”. Everything starts with a plan and creating yours is your success route map. It outlines everything, including what you will sell and the startup costs. With a plan, you will be given answers to the who, what, where, when, why and how.
So, the big question is “HOW DO YOU START?’’
Figure out the food to make and sell: Your Niche
What can you prepare without error the best? Discover what and how you want to make it. No matter how good a cook you are, you cannot start with every dish there is. You can choose to do only continental dishes, or only local dishes, or just two particular meals and nothing else. It can involve selecting a dish from your repertoire of favourite dishes. There are people who only cook jollof rice combos. There are some that focus on only local soups you cannot get just anywhere. Create a unique selling proposition that sets you apart from the competition. You will find a lot of people doing what you want to do, but what sets you apart is how you deliver what you cook, how it tastes, how you package it, how you treat your customers, and others. So first pick a meal that will stand you out from the crowd.
For instance, if you want to start to sell coconut rice and grilled Turkey combo, you must make sure that you have a special taste and recipe, a touch that is different from the regular. Ensure that you have that unique taste that will have customers hooked at first taste. In fact, returning customers should be able to take one look at the meal and decide that you made it. The flavor, the aroma, the taste, everything should have your brand to it. Consider all of these before choosing your combo.
Get a business name
No matter how casually you want to take this business, you need to have a name that will be associated with your brand. It can be as simple as Lizzy’s kitchen, or the Jollof rice queen or something.
How can you determine which name will work best?
It’s crucial to keep in mind that by naming your business, you’re offering prospective clients a chance to learn more about it. One of the first things they will notice is that name. Let’s say your business name does not inspire people to interact with your brand in a positive way. If so, it won’t elicit the same excitement that a distinctive and clever name may.
Be careful to pick a name that is both distinctive and recognizable. Consider the types of food you want to serve and the clientele you want to draw in. If you want to build a strong brand and attract more customers, your name is essential. The name should be catchy and exciting. It should elicit interest and curiousity to know more, or even try out your dishes.
Decide Your Target Audience
Again, you are not serving everyone, so you cannot be marketing to everyone. Are you targeting the working class demography who are too busy to see to their meals themselves? Are you targeting those who cook their own meals, but are always looking out for a treat, something prepared specially and not always available. Get information about your target audience’s geographic, demographic, psychographic, and behavioural traits. To demonstrate what you can offer them, you must demonstrate that you are aware of your location.
Is the location private or public? What age range do they fit into? Their behaviour and responses? How much do they make? How much are they willing to spend on food? Education and marital status? Gender? Race? What are their meal preference?
All of these information will be helpful in preparing and packing meals specifically tailored for them.
Choose your Business model
This is where you decide it will be;
A Full-house model: In this situation, you are always available. They can contact you at any moment of the day to make a purchase because you are always open.
A Part-time model: You let your clients know when you’re available. You choose the timeframe; it may be 8 am to 12 pm every day or 3 pm to 8 pm, depending on what suits you and your surroundings and schedules.
An On-demand model: Customers place orders using the call-or-text method in this model. Customers must pay for the service immediately. As a result, you get the orders via various communication channels, and at the designated time, you begin to make preparations for delivery.
Figure out the equipment needed for this food-home-based business
You already have some of what you will need in your home. Additionally, since this business is associated with the kitchen, you must buy any missing cooking tools and other essential equipment. For instance, you may need an oven, a grill, a food processor, etc. You’ll be required to get quality and authentic products, so look for a reputable supplier.
Work on your pricing
We will like to consider price strategy in terms of value. Determine what you’re giving your consumer and how much that is valuable to them before setting the price. You must take into account the value of your product as you analyze how you are positioned in the market. You can decide if the price is too high or low after you know how much you’re willing to offer.
Keep in mind that if you charge a price that your customers find unreasonable, they will eventually quit placing orders with you. Due to the lower profit, you will experience a financial loss. You should also take into account how much you spend on ingredients and food preparation before deciding on a price. Also factor in a price for your time and effort and split it across the dishes. Since you are working from your kitchen, also factor in a cost for the utilities like gas and electricity.
Read up on pricing strategies for small business owners. Don’t go overboard. Be reasonable.
Labeling, branding, and packaging
How do you want people to recognize your product? You might wish to make plates with stickers on them, customized bags and plates, etc. Get yourself something attractive and presentable. Whatever it is, try to have some form of labels attached to your foods when you deliver.
Logistics and Delivery.
Now, you will have to decide whether to deliver to your customers or let them pick it up. What you can handle and provide will depend on you. However, we advise getting a delivery service and adding the costs to your customer’s bill. There should also be an option to pick up from a designated location if the customer desires that.
Get the word out
No one will see that beautiful red dress if you remain in a dark corner. You need to get the word out about your business. One cannot emphasize this enough. All well-known and successful brands have continued to run advertisements and promotions. Sell yourself to others. Be confident in your business. Every chance you get, discuss what you do.
Build a community, design eye-catching graphics, and provide quality content. Be brave and out there in their faces. For instance, you could use a smartphone app to take a photo of the food, post it to social media, and invite users to like or share it. You may also write a blog piece to explain why you think your home-based meal service is the best. Additionally, you can ask them to provide photos of the meals you’ve delivered. Get your customers to review your dishes and put it out there. There are some people who will never patronize you unless they read a positive review from a returning customer. If you are not sure how to handle reviews, read up on how to play the review game.
License: This is the last point because it may differ based on location and preference. You have the choice to do it or not. Do some research about the area you reside, and be sure to let the local authorities know. Make sure you have the necessary permissions in place before starting this type of business from your house. If it requires government approval or others, it is advised to do such to avoid being penalized.
For persons who like or may need to work from home, a meal delivery service is an ideal venture. Stay-at-home mothers will find it ideal. The same is true if you reside close to the CBD, as the adjacent offices serve as your potential market. As you start your home-based meal business, keep in mind all of these tips and procedures.
If something doesn’t go as planned, don’t give up. In the early phases of any enterprise, setbacks are unavoidable. Keep an open mind and be prepared to modify and enhance your business strategy as you go.