1. Start! As in any endeavours in life, getting started is the most difficult part. Procrastination is the first hurdle we must overcome. We may have the best idea but it remains just that, an idea, until we do something tangible about it. How?
a. Set your goal. If you have a passion for cooking, decide what aspect of your culinary expertise you want to utilize for your business (do you plan to put up a small restaurant? do you prefer to go into catering? will opening an outlet for special delicacy fits you best? etc.) Directly targeting a particular aspect of the business makes it more achievable. Avoid being overwhelmed at the start by targeting several possible aspects of the business at the same time.
b. Learn all you can about the slow food business and add details to your idea to make it more concrete. Read, surf the net, browse over articles in magazines, attend seminars and exhibitions, consult with friends or associates who are or had been in the business. You can learn from their experiences, be they good or bad.
c. Once you have decided which aspect of the food business you think will fit your dream, think of how you will finance it. This may seem to be a major problem but it need not be.
2. Plan how you will finance your dream business. Depending on what you plan to put up, decide how much you are willing or is capable of investing. For a first-timer it is good to plan for a modest, single propriety business. This is a more prudent step to take to minimize possible losses in case things do not go as expected at the start. Also, this will avoid first-timers’ over concern on failing and affect momentum in your plans. To help you finance your dream, you may want to consider these financing sources:
a. Your personal saving
b. Applying for loans with your bank, credit groups, friends, relatives, or NGO organizations. It is advisable not to exhaust your credit limit from any one possible source. Also, approaching as few as sources as possible (preferably only one of them) allows you more fall back assistance in case you grow bigger and require additional financing.
c. Get a business partner who shares the same passion as yours.
3. Now, you are ready to start your business. Consider these important aspects of a business.
a. Location: This may not be a priority if you plan to go into catering but just the same, your cooking facility should be within the area of those you plan to serve. Delivery should not take so much time so fresh food reach your clients faster. This will also save you transport expenses.
However, if you are opening a food outlet like a restaurant, a small stall, or a food cart, consider a place where traffic of potential clients is from moderate to heavy. A stall in food court in malls is a good consideration plus it may cost less than renting a separate space in a shopping complex (but preferably near the food centre as well).
b. Personnel: At the start, hire a minimum number of people. For a small outlet, a cashier (which may be you), two servers, two cooks, and a busboy will suffice. Using disposables will eliminate the need for a dishwasher. But if it is a stall in a fast-food or food court, you dispense with a dishwasher even if reusable utensils since food court managements provide this. Also, there will be no need for a busboy. Daily marketing for supplies can be assigned to your cooks.
c. Work on all the necessary government and health requirements to open up a business legally. Legalizing your business saves you a lot of troubles later on.
d. Marketing strategies: As in any business, advertising play a big part if your are to grow. Here are a few suggestions you may consider:
1) Flyers to let clients know what you offer and for how much.
2) Offer a special price (and smaller portion) for a particular item for the day. This is to let them sample your food without giving it away for free.
3) Offer a free meal for groups of 4 or 5 (whichever is viable to your budget).
4) “Bring-a-friend” incentives (you may give special discount cards to your endorsers).
With the above guidelines, I hope you will find it easier to START your dream food business soon.
NOTE: There are those who engage in this business who give up after only a few months of operation. Among some reasons for this are:
a. Lack of sustained interest.
b. Realization of a better business venture for them. A change of heart is not uncommon.
c. Seeming “slow” growth of the business as per their expectation. Remember, there is a sound Latin adage that says: “Festina lente”(hasten slowly) which can be adopted in running a business.
d. Loss of patience due to the feeling that the business does not seem to grow at all. Usually this situation happens when we fail to apply simple arithmetic in running the day-to-day operation of the business.
Remember that doing exactly the same thing results in getting exactly the same result each time. So if the amount of your investment stays the same each day, your profit will be as was yesterday’s as well. What to do? This may seem to be a slow process BUT it surely works:
At the end of each day, compute your gross income. Deduct a certain percentage of that income (1% or 2%) and add that to your investment for the following day. In this way, your investment grows by so much EACH day painlessly. You will be surprised that your investment (and your net profit) has grown so much in a month’s time or two!