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In recent years there’s been a huge boost in people seeking to start a home based cooking business. It’s helped by our national obsession with baking, cooking and, of course, eating!
Whether you’re an expert cake maker or you’re looking to capitalise on the vegan trend, a food business can be the key to a successful and fulfilling home based career.
Assuming that you have a good idea of the kind of food you want to create, there are few more considerations to make:
The first step is to tell HMRC you’re self employed. If you’re setting up as a business you need to register with Companies House. Both are straightforward to do and feel like a big milestone in building your home baking business. Here are some handy guides relating to self-employment:
Importantly, there are legal requirements around food preparation at home and you need to have clear food safety procedures in place.
The first step is to contact your local authority’s environmental health department. They’ll carry out an initial assessment to help decide how often you’ll need to be inspected and whether your business needs formal approval.
There’s useful information about this on the Food Standards Agency website.
While dreaming up menus and dishes is where your heart might be at, you need to have a clear idea of how and where you’ll be selling them.
A local market is often a good place to start, or you could approach cafes and coffee shops to place orders with you. Or perhaps you’re looking to set up a catering business, where you cook for parties or special events.
You will probably need a website – or at least business cards – to start building relationships and reaching your customers.
Pricing is important too: you don’t just need to cover your costs, you need to factor in some kind of salary for yourself to make the business viable.
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A market stall is a very direct form of sales, but you’ll need to work to get customers to stop and be tempted by your food. Consider offering free samples if you’re not the type of person to initiate a chat with passers-by. An offer might help – 8 cupcakes for the price of 6, for example, could tempt people to buy more than they’d planned.
If your business is focused on online sales or catering business, you’ll need to work harder to get attention. Your network will be really important. Start by cooking for friends and family and get them to recommend you. Social media should be a key part of your strategy. Make sure you build a Facebook page and Instagram feed to help people find you, and encourage customers to write you a review.
You might also want to consider starting a blog.
Think too about where you’ll get your ingredients. While it’s easy to buy from your nearest supermarket, you can drive better profits by sourcing things at the lowest possible prices. Have a look at your nearest cash and carry, or search online to buy items in bulk to cut your costs.
Be clear about what you’re aiming for. If you’re making cakes at home to bring in a little extra money, are you happy to stick with that, or do you want it to become something bigger? How much time can you dedicate to your work now and in the future?
Will you be seeking to expand one day and even take on some staff? There are no right or wrong answers, but having a clear idea of what you want from the business is important, and will help you make decisions along the way.
Starting your own business can be nerve-wracking – but it’s exciting and rewarding too. Read some inspirational stories of women who have started their own businesses, and also find some cooking related franchise opportunities below: