As part of our series in January on ‘How to Start a Business’, Sage Business Expert Claire Martinsen looks at food startups, and whether there’s any money to be made from being a full-time foodie.
Last April, there was a brilliant article in the Independent called Gourmet Gamble: Could you make it as a Food Entrepreneur. It gave an honest insight into the world of being a startup food and drink entrepreneur and is a must-read for anyone thinking of starting their own business.
Starting a food business
With the recession, and the amount of people leaving corporate jobs, there is a big movement towards starting up a food businesses. I’m sure many have a romantic notion that it will be a life of making products in the kitchen on sunny days. The reality is, running your own food business is great – I still absolutely adore every single day – but it’s also blooming hard work, and takes dedication and perseverance.
Once, I spoke at a very smart business event in London, specifically targeted towards women who wanted to start up their own business based on a craft or food idea. The audience was about 250 very smartly dressed women, the majority of whom were frustrated in their corporate jobs and wanted to branch out and do their own thing. At the time, I’d been running Breckland Orchard for about two years.
Is setting up your own business that easy?
One of the questions I got asked was ‘How many months did it take you to earn the same salary as you were on before?’ I was a bit taken aback by the question – the business plan I built had me not taking a salary for at least 2 years – did she really think that setting up your own business was that easy?
Re-investing in your business
The reality of setting up your own food and drink business is that it needs a lot of re-investment into things like equipment and labels. Any profit gleaned needs to be put back into the business to grow it further. There are definitely other businesses that are cheaper to set up than ones that involve physical products like mine. It’s important you go into it with your eyes open.
Go for it
So would I put anyone off setting up? Not at all – my advice would be go for it. It can be the very best of times. But if you expect it to earn you a fortune overnight, then you are probably barking up the wrong tree.
Following 12 years working across Mars Group, Claire started her own business, the award-winning Breckland Orchard in Spring 2009, making ‘posh pop’. The soft drinks are sold in around 800 outlets across the UK including National Trust properties and Harvey Nichols. She blogs about running a small business at http://www.brecklandorchard.co.uk/blog/