How to start a food business from home
Do you have a passion for cooking or baking? Food businesses in the UK have been doing very well over the past few years. In 2020, an estimated 38% of households ordered takeaway at least once a week, and the industry is expected to be worth £22 billion by 2025.
Even better, you don’t need a restaurant or a food truck to start a food business. You can do it all from your home. But before you get started, there are a few big decisions to make and logistical hurdles to overcome.
Starting a food business from home
Starting a food business from home begins with deciding what food you’re selling. That means knowing how to assess your market and knowing the different options for food businesses you could start.
Finding your niche
Learning how to start a food business from home means finding your niche.
In the context of food, your niche would be your menu. You need to target a certain segment of the population or offer something unique. It can also be a good idea to use your heritage when establishing a niche, to give yourself credibility and establish an appealing brand.
Maybe you have a book of recipes you learned from your Nigerian grandma, or you’ve figured out a modern twist on a popular local staple. The richer the cultural traditions you can draw on, the more defined your marketing can be.
It’s also worth checking apps like UberEats and Deliveroo to see what’s available in your area and what there could be a need for. Maybe there’s a lack of vegan, Mexican, or Korean options in the neighbourhood, and you have a great idea to fill one of these gaps.
When you’re curating your menu, it’s important to remember: keep it small. Narrowing your focus will make your branding sharper. A small menu is also good because it suggests higher quality food and more care placed in each order. Additionally, offering too many choices can make it less likely that customers will buy from you.
Your niche can be anything as long as there’s demand for it. You don’t need to restrict yourself to traditional takeaway fare; you can also start a bakery, cake, or sweets business from home.
Starting a takeaway business from home
When you’re starting a takeaway business from home, you need to be as efficient as possible with your time. Since you’ll be cooking as orders come in, you’ll want to make sure that the second your food is done, it’s out the door. No one wants customers calling to complain that their order was cold.
It’s important to give yourself enough space when you’re cooking so that different foods don’t contaminate each other and so that you’re not wasting time cleaning surfaces over and over. Successfully learning how to start a takeaway business from home in the UK is about quality food and fast turnaround.
Starting a bakery from home
Learning how to start a bakery from home involves several different steps. For example, a bakery or cake business will often take more advance orders.
Also, if you’re working out how to start a cake business from home, you may need to factor in additional storage space. With other food businesses, you don’t have to keep the food at home because you deliver it immediately.
Certain baked goods and sweets have longer shelf lives, so it’s easier to make large quantities in advance. Doing this will make your life easier because you‘ll be able to fulfil orders quickly.
Learning how to start a cake business from home is worth it because artisanal sweets and baked goods is a large market. The industry is worth an estimated £8.7 billion and is still projected to grow.
Write a business plan
When you’re obtaining the licence you need to start a food business from home, one thing that will help is having a business plan. A business plan is a document that lets readers understand what your business is, who your clients are, and how your business will run.
A business plan answers the questions of who you are, who your customers are, how you’ll make money, and what your market is like. It’s useful for giving yourself a concrete roadmap for all your business ideas and keeping yourself organised.
A business plan has a few key sections, including:
An executive summary. This should always be written last, since it’s a summary of the rest of your business plan, included so readers can quickly get a sense of your company.
A company description, where you talk about who works at your business and what you sell.
A market analysis, which gives readers an idea of who your customers are and who you’re competing with.
Financial projections, where you take into account all your costs, product pricing, and expected sales.
Regulations and safety
If your business is providing food regularly, you’re considered a food business and need to abide by the rules set for food businesses. To begin starting a food business, there are regulations and policies you have to follow.
Many of these regulations involve food safety. You need to make sure that what your customers are buying from you is safe to eat. There are 4 major areas to be cognisant of when it comes to hygiene. These are:
Cleaning. Make sure wherever you’re preparing your food is clean so that nothing gets contaminated.
Cooking. There are rules for how thoroughly you need to cook certain dishes. Generally speaking, food should be cooked until it has reached a core temperature of 70℃ for two minutes.
Chilling. If you’re going to store food instead of deliver it immediately, make sure you’re keeping it cold enough that it won’t spoil. Your fridge is legally required to be colder than 8℃, and the recommended temperature is 5℃.
Cross-contamination. Avoiding cross-contamination means being mindful of the raw food you’re handling, and making sure raw and cooked foods don’t intermingle. Give yourself enough kitchen space and clean off all your surfaces to keep everything sanitary.
When you’re starting a takeaway business from home in the UK, you need to register yourself at least 28 days before you open.
Now that you’ve got the legal requirements for starting a food business taken care of, time to make it as effective as possible. Starting a food business from home means figuring out how you’ll deliver to customers.
Organising food delivery
When you’re getting your food from your home to your customers, your options are to use a delivery service or take the food to them yourself. There are advantages and disadvantages to each approach.
Using a delivery service
Many takeaway businesses opt to use third-party delivery services to get orders to customers. Take your time and look at all the companies you could partner with. The major players in the UK are Deliveroo, Uber Eats, and Just Eat.
When you’re looking at delivery services, you’ll likely have to pay a signup fee when you join them, as well as a commission and delivery fee per order. Take your time shopping around and compare each company’s fees.
Partnering with a delivery service can make starting a food business from home easier because of the convenience they provide. You also benefit from their marketing to reach new customers, so every responsibility but cooking is taken care of.
Delivering food yourself
Though delivery services are convenient for a few reasons, they’re also expensive. When you account for delivery fees and the commission percentage that these services take, you’ll need to raise your prices to compensate, which could lose you customers.
And even though you get access to more customers thanks to the more established name and marketing of your food delivery service, all your marketing will be under the service’s name. That means customers may be less likely to remember your business name than if you did marketing yourself.
Finally, because ordering from and delivery by your food business are handled by the service you’re using, the customer experience is beyond your control. So if a delivery is late or wrong, you could be blamed for something you aren’t responsible for.
Fulfilling orders yourself takes more time and requires you to wear more hats than just a chef’s hat. You’ll need to process and deliver orders yourself, which means it would be a good idea to limit your delivery radius so you’re not overburdening yourself.
Whether or not you use a food delivery service depends whether you have the time to handle everything delivery services would. If you do, the savings may well be worth it.
Finding an online ordering system
To run your food business entirely on your own, you’ll need to implement an online ordering system. That way, customers can come to you directly for their food, and can pick up items themselves if they want.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-navigate system where customers can see everything you offer, check out SumUp Online Store. With our simple ecommerce solution, you can upload your menu items in seconds, and give customers multiple delivery options.
Customers can easily pay with their credit or debit card, and they’ll receive email updates about their order.
You’ll be notified whenever new orders come in, and their status will update automatically as they’re delivered.
SumUp only charges a 1.69% fee per transaction, and your online store is free to open.Open your online store
Accepting cashless payments
If you’re delivering food yourself, consider investing in a card reader. Getting paid in person may be useful when your business comes from personal connections or word of mouth, rather than your online presence.
With a card reader, you can easily take payments at the customer’s door. SumUp card readers all accept:
Often, customers prefer not to pay until they’ve received their order. With our card readers, it’s easy to accommodate that preference.
Transactions only take a few seconds, and then you’re on to the next customer.Get your reader
Managing your money
When you’re just starting out as a home business, it’s easy to let your personal and business finances bleed into each other. The easiest way to stop that from happening is to have a business account.
With a SumUp Business Account, you get a free and intuitive way to track and separate your business income, as well as 24/7 access to your money. And if you process transactions using SumUp, the money you earn will be delivered straight to your Business Account the following day, even on weekends.
Starting a food business from home can be a great way to turn your love of cooking into a lucrative new career path. And if you enjoy baking, you might want to consider learning how to start a bakery from home.
Starting a home food business can be a relatively low-cost venture, especially if you handle most of the initial responsibilities yourself. SumUp has all the tools you need to get your new business up and running – from an online store to card readers to a free business account, all accessible through the SumUp App.