Whether you want to start your own business for some extra cash or to escape the layoff treadmill of traditional employment, selling food from home may be a viable option for you. Food businesses have their own set of rules and regulations to adhere to, which scares many people from even trying. There is no reason for this as it is usually fairly simple to get the proper licensing. If you like to cook and like food, your competition for home-baked goodies should be slim.
Begin by checking your local and state regulations for home-based food businesses. In most places, you will need to license your kitchen or rent a licensed kitchen to create your food items. Your county clerk or local Small Business Administration office is the best place to begin researching the requirements (see Resources). Follow the steps they give to get your kitchen licensed. This usually requires an inspection by the local board of health. There are also commercial kitchens you can rent that are already licensed. You can usually find them by looking under catering in the phone book or speaking with a catering company.
Write down the key ingredients in all of the recipes you plan to use. Search for wholesale and bulk companies to purchase them from. When contacting suppliers, let them know you are a business and will be placing bulk orders. Often, they will set up an account for you and give you bulk discounts.
Find a bulk supplier of packaging for your food products. Jars, boxes and bags can be purchased in large quantities. Look for packaging that can support the longest shelf life. When labelling your food product, make sure it includes a use by date, the ingredients and where it was made.
Decide how you are going to sell your product. If you will be selling it by mail order, make up your catalogues or set up a website. If you will be selling in bulk to local businesses, you will need to approach them with samples of your food and encourage them to order from you. Another option is to sell at local craft shows and farmers markets. Honey, produce, canned goods and baked goods do well in these venues.
Brand your containers with cute labels so that your customers can recognise you. Share the cost of a licensed kitchen with another home-based food business.
Insurance is vital in case someone gets sick.