Before starting any in-depth analysis or research, take half-an-hour to inventory your idea and your current expectations for your product:
- Describe your product as it might entice a consumer.
What sets it apart from other products of the same type?
- Where do you see this product being sold? What need is it satisfying for your audience?
- Describe your product as a consumer would see it on the shelf.
What packaging is there? What does the label say?
Having a clear vision for your product will help you better seek and advocate for the resources you need to make it happen. Moving forward, it is likely that you will have to adapt your vision of your product to food safety regulation and business feasibility.
Preparing for the Road Ahead
Owning your own business is a thrilling enterprise. You are your own boss and can join many others taking pride in the goods they market. Before taking the next step into entrepreneurship consider the following:
Business Development: Successfully growing a food product from an idea to a sellable item and then into a brand involves making informed choices about goals and parameters for the business itself. Such choices require thought and planning.
- Business Plan - Writing a business plan—a document detailing the human, financial, and ideological organization of the entity—can seem to be a large undertaking but clear goals guide you in the right direction, and will help define your business in the eyes of a regulatory agency.
- What is the business goal? – Is this a business you are hoping to build and sell once it gets big or something you plan to invest in until your retirement? Some of these decisions will influence how you will invest for your product development.
- Understand the business: There are several business considerations that should be accounted for before, during and after the product development. Often times, the product development will need to be adjusted based on business shifts. Examples include: formula costs, product claim deliverables, shelf life expectations, etc.
There are resources available to help new business through this process, such as:
- Small Business Association- Starting a Business.
- Franklin County Community Development Corporation Tools and Resources for Business Planning
Expenses: There are a variety of expenses associated with a food product and it is important to be mindful of these finances from the beginning of your product development. Some examples include:
- Labor – There will be many hours invested in sorting out the technical and business logistics.
- Product – Ingredient costs, packaging costs (primary and secondary).
- Operation – Equipment investments or equipment rental fees, processing yield lost during production, processing parameters, storage fees for ingredients, distribution costs (i.e. frozen trucks are significantly more costly than ambient trucks), insurance.
Product Development: The primary goal of a new food product is to deliver a delicious product that satisfies a consumer need. In addition, it needs to be compliant with regulatory policies and safe for consumers to eat.
- Regulation - Be sure to research which federal governing agency your product will follow (i.e. USDA vs FDA). In addition, it is important to understand what regulatory requirements your product will need to follow. Note: Different processed foods have different regulatory requirements.
- Safety – Foods need to be prepared to ensure that they are free from microbial, chemical and physical contaminants.