There is no question that the right name can draw your target market to you for a food business. It can also single out your specialty food business from others and keep it sharp in clients’ memories. Before you decide on a name, you will need to firm up what kind of specialty food business you plan to have, the scope you want your business to have, and whether you want to convey a particular image. Will you have a highly specialized service (e.g., supplying gourmet whoopie pies to birthday parties or weddings) or a more general one (e.g., a retail outlet with catering services offering whatever specialty food strikes your fancy at the moment)? Will your range be local, national, or international? Do you want to produce only high-budget food items or do you want to cover most price ranges?
Your mission statement should be more than a sentence or two about what you do—it should serve as a framework and reminder of your specific goals and help keep you on track while making decisions down the road. Those decisions might seem confusing, but if you can look at your mission and put them in that context, then your mission statement will be doing the job it’s intended to do. That’s why constructing your mission statement should come from your heart and soul. It should reflect why you wanted to start your business in the first place, the key thing you want to spend most of your time on. It should leave no doubt in anyone’s mind what kind of business you are.
After you have written your mission statement, put it on probation. Ask customers if they feel it expresses what they were looking for when they found you and if what they got was what the mission statement says. When you are sure it’s right, put it on your website and in marketing materials. If you have a retail store, post it where customers will see it and post it where employees will constantly be able to read it and be reminded of why you are doing what you do.
The type of specialty food business you plan to start as well as the size of your business are among the factors that will determine where you set up shop. Your location can be anywhere from your home, in a retail space, or in a commercial warehouse-type location.
If you’re starting small, a homebased specialty food business may be the ideal choice for you. This option keeps overhead low and saves travel time to and from the office. One potential problem is that friends and family might drop in at all hours because you’re “not really working.” Be firm. Set up business hours and stick to them.
Knowing what kind of insurance to carry and how much to obtain is an important aspect of good risk management. Don’t view insurance as an option. It is absolutely imperative for any business to have the appropriate insurance.
To do business (and protect your company as you do it), you’ll need a variety of documents. Invoices and purchase orders are standard fare for any business. However, if you plan to do special orders and events or catering, you will want specific kinds of forms.
Customers must be able to visualize your offering and understand the quality of your work when they read your proposal. Consider including in your proposal some photos of your product that is similar to what the client wants.
Lots of specialty food businesses include event catering in their list of offerings. A signed document detailing all aspects of the expectations of your participation is not only helpful but also imperative to the legal health of your business. Are you to provide dishware, utensils, napkins, chafing dishes? You likely want to be the one setting your food up to be sure it is being presented as you intended, so include that in the agreement.
You know you want to take your whoopie pie recipe to the next level beyond your friends and family telling you they are the best or most creative whoopie pies they have ever seen. You could certainly just start making them and selling them, and perhaps you have. But if you want to make a living at your dream or want to create a whoopie pie empire that you might be able to sell down the road when you are ready to move on, you need to start your empire with a bit more planning.
What you have decided on for a business model will dictate what market you need to research. Figuring out the best place to site your retail shop will require very different research than if you plan to start a mail order business.