So you've found the perfect recipe and want to create a business that will enable you to sell your cookies to the public. While starting a home-based business is a noble venture, starting a business that involves the sale of food can be very difficult. It is extremely important that you research local regulations regarding the sale of food before you get started.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Your personal cookie recipes/completed products
- Packaging materials
Visit the website for the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA is responsible for setting the food safety guidelines that are followed around the country.
Make some phone calls to determine what your specific state guidelines may be regarding food preparation and sales. In some states, for example, you are not allowed to sell foods that have been canned in the home. In other areas you will find that people selling food are not allowed to prepare their goods in the same kitchens they use for their daily meals. Find out what types of licenses or permits your state requires.
Call your local township to find out what zoning and licensing laws apply to starting a home-based business. You may need to call your city clerk, your county clerk, or both to ensure you are in compliance with all local laws.
Register your business trade name, trademark, logo and any other pertinent information. Your city or county officials will have the information you need in order to do this in your area. You may need to obtain additional legal assistance if you'd prefer to form an LLC, partnership or corporation.
Obtain a state sales tax certificate. Every state has different guidelines, so you'll have to call your own state's business development bureau for information on how to apply.
Call your local insurance agent and find out what type of general liability insurance coverage you need in order to protect yourself and your business.
Decide on a method for packaging your product. You will, again, need to check and make sure your city or state does not have specific regulations regarding how foods may be packaged. Otherwise you can wrap groups of cookies in cling film or put dozens at a time in small paper bags. Create a label with your logo to stick on each package, and your customers will be more likely to remember you. No matter how simple or sophisticated your packaging, make sure it includes your name, logo and contact information.
Research the cost of ingredients, the amount you need to prepare a batch of cookies and the cost of similar cookies being sold in your area. Use all of this information to set a price that is both fair and profitable. Set prices for individual cookies, small bundles, dozens and even larger orders such as party tray sizes.
Approach local stores, shops and businesses to find out if you can leave or sell your cookies in their stores. Your local news stand, bookstore or coffee shop may be looking for local products to sell. Local offices may allow you to sell cookies to their employees during morning or afternoon snack times. Be creative in your prospecting.
Design a website for your business. An online presence is incredibly important to any online or offline business today. Include your website address on your flyers and labels, and customers who enjoy your cookies will likely seek you out when they're ready to order more.
Tips and warnings
- Make sure you check all of your local and state ordinances before you open shop. It's better to take extra time in starting your business than it is to end up paying a fine if you make a mistake.
- Consider hiring an accountant to help you keep track of sales and tax issues.
- Take time to carefully develop the labels that go on your products. Make sure you include ingredients, especially if they include nuts or other common allergens.
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