How to start your
home cooking business 🥘 😋

Passionate about food like we are? Read on… (8-9 mins read)

If you’ve always dreamed of owning your own food business, then you might want to consider starting a home-based business. After all, the sooner you start it, the sooner it will gain momentum and become something that supports your professional and personal life. Home-based cooking businesses can be operated from anywhere — in your home, garage, or even a small commercial space.

They don’t require a large investment either and as long as you have some basic kitchen equipment at hand, you should be able to get started right away. Even if you don’t have any experience running a business before, operating a home-based business can be incredibly rewarding and give you great autonomy outside of your 9-to-5 job.

It doesn’t require much capital either — most of the time spent setting up your business is usually spent on finding suppliers for the ingredients and specialty foods that are required to operate it effectively and most importantly finding those early customers.

1. What are the basics?

Ideally, home-based businesses require a combination of food-related skills and business experience. If you are new to the food industry, then it is best to start out by joining a food-related association in your city or town that provides helpful training for people who have no experience in the industry.

Depending on the type of business you want to start, you need to decide what your product or service is and what areas you will be operating from. For example, if you plan on selling ready-made meals like pizza or smoothies, then you will need appropriate kitchen equipment like ovens and microwaves.

You’ll also need storage spaces for ingredients and equipment like refrigerators. When deciding which type of business to start, make sure that it fits into your lifestyle as well as your skillset. You might also want to consider consulting friends and family before making a decision on which type of food business to start — they can give you valuable insight on whether they think this is something you would enjoy doing long term.

2. Where are the expenses involved?

The main initial expense for a home-based business is the investment in equipment and supplies. The cost of this equipment will vary depending on the type of business you want to start. However, once you’ve purchased all your equipment, it stays with you as an asset for a good few years before anything needs a replacement.

Think of what type of suppliers you can get in touch who can get you the best pricing. Even used or second-hand equipment is a good way to start to keep expenses low. Look out for suppliers who sell to catering companies. They will usually point you in the right direction if you need used equipment.

The other main expense would be the inventory of products/ingredients that you will require to cook. Again get in touch with wholesalers to get better pricing and also speak to suppliers who may not require you to buy in bulk all the time. The trick is to buy what you need for a short term before the business settles in and you get an idea of what the day-to-day expenses look like.

Another thing to look at is manpower - would you cook yourself or you will need trained chefs/cooks to get you off the ground? They don’t usually come cheap, so go with recommendations and try out a few cooks so you can work well as a team before making any long-term commitments.

3. Where will the customers come from?

If you’re going to start a home-based business, you have to decide what type of marketing you want to do to reach the right type of customers. When it comes down to it, there are three types of marketing that you should consider: traditional marketing methods, social media advertising, and word-of-mouth recommendations.

Traditional advertising methods include print ads in newspapers and magazines, billboards, and TV ad campaigns. For businesses that have a smaller budget and are looking for a quick way to reach customers, traditional advertising with leaflets and newspaper inserts is a good bet. TV / billboard can be tried once you get a hang of the business and customers and see revenue coming in. Social media advertising is the best option for companies that want to run their campaigns on platforms like Facebook or Instagram and it’s usually cheaper to test out your idea of food and customers you want to reach.

With Facebook ads, there is no limit on how much you can spend in one day or month. Social media has also become more accessible for people who don’t have access to major publications or other forms of traditional advertising.

Word-of-mouth recommendations are the most effective form of marketing because they make up about 80 percent of all customer interactions with companies today.

If your business offers great service or product, then word-of-mouth recommendations will help it gain traction quickly without the need for expensive marketing campaigns. Most people don’t choose their vendors based on what’s written in magazines — they hear about them from friends who use them.

4. Online presence

A home-based business can be run with a combination of online advertising and word of mouth. As long as you have an online presence, it's easy to advertise your business. A website or social media profiles are relatively inexpensive to set up, but they will help you get started in the right direction.

Be sure that you're marketing your business consistently so that potential customers can find out more about your offerings. When you're first starting out, reaching out to family and friends is a great way to get the word out about your new venture. If people are excited about what you offer, they'll be eager to tell their friends about it too!

Important note: Be sure that your food is high-quality and affordable for customers who want something different from the usual restaurant food. This will ensure that people are willing to pay for the convenience and expert cooking skills you provide for them.

5. Compliance and local laws

Before you start a home-based business, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the two most important regulations in India to start a home food business.

a. FSSAIFood Safety and Standards Authority of India is a statutory body established under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India.

b. GSTAn indirect tax (or consumption tax) used in India on the supply of goods and services. It is a comprehensive, multistage, destination-based tax: comprehensive because it has subsumed almost all the indirect taxes except a few state taxes. Multi-staged as it is, the GST is imposed at every step in the production process but is meant to be refunded to all parties in the various stages of production other than the final consumer and as a destination-based tax, it is collected from point of consumption and not point of origin like previous taxes.

Accounting - Speak to your local accountant/bookkeeper so you can keep the books in order. This sounds like a chore to start with but will make your life easier as you get busier and the business grows. Start early than later.

Banking - Keep personal and business expenses/revenue separate. It’s easier to manage and you know exactly how much the business is worth and gives you more control over the financial aspects of running a business. As they say, business and pleasure should seldom mix.

Food Safety & Allergens - FSSAI gives clear guidance on what to do and what to avoid to keep food safe for consumption. If in doubt ask your local food safety inspector, don’t assume anything - For example, people who order food from you may be allergic to certain common ingredients like nuts, seafood etc, which you need to be aware of and also you should keep your customer up to date with any ingredient that could be allergic. If you are unsure about the legality of your product or service, consult a lawyer who specialises in this field.

Operating a business from a neighbourhood - Some homes have more scrutiny from neighbours than others. It’s important to discuss your plans for operating a home-based business with them before moving ahead with them, wherever possible. In some cases, there may even be restrictions on the number of hours during which activities can take place at home. This will depend on what type of neighbourhood you live in and whether or not there is already an active and thriving local business nearby that could pose competition for yours.

6. Do I need a website or mobile app to get started?

One of the best ways to start a home-based business is by using a mobile app. Apps like Shopify, Bigcommerce, and Volusion allow you to create your own web store with ease but do check out the costing involved upfront.

If you’re thinking about starting a home-based bakery, for example, then it’s easy to create a new store or an account on one of these apps and then start selling your goods online. With these apps, you can also create your own social media pages, which will help build your brand online. Plus, these apps make it easy for people to find you as well. The more exposure you get on social media as well as online through these channels, the more likely customers are going to be drawn in!

7. Get to know your target audience and their needs

Before you set up a home-cooked food business, it’s important to know who your target audience will be. If you are starting a business that caters to children, then you need to find out what their likes and dislikes are. Ask parents if they have any vegetable dishes they particularly love their kids to eat.

Asking these questions before setting up a home-cooked food business can help you shape the product your target audience will love. In addition to determining your target audience, it is also important to figure out the types of food that are most popular with this demographic.

With the right information about your target audience and their preferences, you can start thinking of what type of recipes you would like to offer in your store while still providing something that is comfortable for the customer as well as profitable for you.

8. Decide on a niche and stick to it

One of the most important factors that you need to consider before starting your venture is choosing a niche. You should be careful when deciding on a niche as this will decide the kind of food that you will provide and how much market share you will be able to carve out for yourself.

It’s important that you choose something that has enough room in the market for you to grow, but also something that conforms to your personal preferences. You may want to prioritise a specific geographic region if you think there is enough demand in your area or choose a cuisine based on what has been trending among consumers recently.

Once you have decided on a niche, make sure not to deviate from it too much as it can harm your business just as easily as help it grow. When establishing yourself in your niche, keep hold of your identity.

9. Test your menu and pricing before you launch

At the start of a new business, it’s imperative to test the market and understand your target audience before jumping in head first.

This is where simply conducting a quick survey through social media or asking family friends would help you gauge what kind of food you should be offering.

These surveys will also help you learn more about the price range of your product as well as its competitors. You need to know if there would be enough demand for your product in order to sustain a home-based business. You should also make sure that you maintain an affordable pricing model so that people can afford to purchase it without breaking a sweat.

10. Optimise and centralise operations in one place

When starting out it’s generally a good practice to keep operations centralised and operating from a single point. Once this single unit becomes profitable you can copy the playbook and apply it to other units that you want to use in a different location perhaps.

Nail the unit costs and rigorously track unexpected expenses that effect the bottom line - improve and optimise parts of the business that look like variable costs - eg. choosing the right suppliers, storage of food, etc. Improving these will help your team to focus more on effectively building a brand and marketing your food/cuisine to a wider audience without worrying constantly about overheads and leaking cash.

11. Invest in a cost-effective technology platform

The cloud is a great option for your business because it enables you to have access to all the tools and software you need without needing to invest in building them yourself. Cloud-based server hosting provides an amazing platform that lets you run your business from the convenience of your home with no overhead costs. If you’re looking for a way to save on your operating costs, then a cloud-based system like that might be the answer.

Additionally, if you choose to rent servers from a cloud provider, they will take care of all the maintenance and upkeep while still giving you access to all the components necessary for running your business. You don’t need any technical expertise or know-how to use these services either as they are very intuitive and user-friendly.

12. Financial management and handling cash

Another important factor to consider is the ability to manage your company’s financial transactions. Cloud businesses have the ability to manage their cash flow by letting customers pay online.

Customers can also use a credit card or debit card that they have linked with the business in order to make payments, thereby enabling you to maintain better control over your cash flow and reduce potential risks of losing money because of fraud or chargeback.

If you want to open a new business in India, it's important that you research what type of costs other companies are incurring when they operate their company in the cloud. You should ask them about how much they spend on rent or whether they have any additional expenses for utilities; this will help you compare your options and find out which one will work best for your needs and budget!

13. Track inventory & wastage

It’s important to have your food cooked in a well-regulated, hygienic environment in order to avoid food wastage.

In India, it is estimated that at least 70% of the food produced is wasted in the country which means that there’s plenty of room for improvement.

A cloud kitchen can help you improve wastage rates by allowing you to track all your inventory at one central place. You can use this software platform on a daily or weekly basis to monitor inventory levels and also to see what needs replacing when supplies run low. You can manage your supply chain through the cloud as well – you can plan your entire sourcing process in advance, order everything online and keep tabs on how much stock is left for each item before it goes off-sale.

14. Managing effective delivery and order tracking

Mobile orders are also a reason why many Indian startups are now using the cloud to run their businesses. They need to keep track of their delivery and order statistics so that they can grow their business. This way, it will be easier for them to manage the inventory and increase sales.

There are some good delivery platforms like Swiggy, Zomato etc but be mindful of the commission costs when you start off, as they can come back to bite into your profits.

In the beginning, try to deliver food yourself as you can keep the fixed costs down. Once you have found a footing then think of looking at delivery modes where you can pay a fee for the service.

The mantra is - to keep costs down at all costs!

15. Hygiene and food safety

Food poisoning and contamination can lead to serious health hazards. Keeping food safe from bacterial and other microorganism contamination is a major challenge for every food business. There are many ways to reduce the risk of your customers coming into contact with harmful bacteria. Keeping your kitchen clean, storing food correctly, and ensuring that all members of the staff maintain good hygiene practices are some of the most important steps you can take to protect your customers and your brand.

Keep your kitchen clean by washing hands often, cleaning surfaces often, keeping cabinets tidy, and disposing of waste properly. Keeping food at the appropriate temperature and storing it separately also helps prevent spoilage. Maintaining high hygienic standards throughout also helps reduce the risk of cross-contamination and loss of quality when you do prepare meals.

Even the best-kept kitchens can become contaminated with germs if they aren’t cleaned frequently enough. The key to reducing this risk is maintaining a regular schedule for cleaning so that dirt and germs don’t have time to build up in any one area

The most effective way to prevent food from becoming contaminated is to store it properly. The key is to ensure that all foods are stored in the proper containers and at the appropriate temperature. Keeping your fridge in a cool place like 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit helps prevent bacteria from multiplying and sticking to food.

Additionally, make sure that you have a designated time for cleaning your refrigerator every week so that you don't forget about this important step and inadvertently contaminate the rest of your kitchen before it's cleaned.

The idea is to your kitchen cleaner without sacrificing its freshness or quality

If you're going to be preparing raw meat, poultry, fish, or eggs in your kitchen, always clean surfaces with soap and water. To prevent cross-contamination, use separate utensils for each item and wash them after each use.

Some people, such as those with nut allergies, are more susceptible to food-borne illnesses. Allergens like eggs and nuts can cause serious health problems for those who have a severe reaction to them.

To avoid these allergens, make sure you store your food in the refrigerator or freezer. These allergens can also be found in raw materials that typically aren’t cooked, so be careful when purchasing ingredients from different vendors. To avoid cross-contamination, use separate containers for each type of food you prepare.

Storing food properly is essential to food safety. By maintaining a high level of food safety, you can also avoid unnecessary losses.

The most important thing to remember when storing food is that it should always be in an airtight container or bag. This helps reduce exposure to potential contaminants and prevents the growth of harmful bacteria. For example, if you store herbs in a glass jar, they will continue to release moisture and create an ideal environment for microbial growth. If you want to store your fresh vegetables inside a bag or container as well, make sure it’s completely sealed so that no oxygen can get into the package.

If you purchase pre-packaged foods, they are likely packaged properly with airtight packaging and moisture-absorbing bags. However, if you have any concerns about the quality of your prepared foods, use those same methods with these products as well.

10. An experienced business partner could help

Before you start, you might need to find a partner or establish a co-partner with somebody who has experience in the food business. You will not be able to run this business by yourself, as the business grows. You will need someone who can help you with everything from finding customers and suppliers to creating recipes, marketing strategies, and accounting for your business.

Bottom line

Home cooked food business isn't just a new trend, it is a necessity. The number of people who are turning to home-cooked food has increased tremendously in the last few years. With this increase in demand for home-cooked food, there has also been an increase in the number of people looking into starting their own businesses in this industry.

We are here to help if you are a home cook, or chef who wants to start a new business.

Hey, thx for reading this far - if you have any questions about how to grow your existing business or are planning to start a home cooking business, I would be glad to help - Just say hello on WhatsApp

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