Posted: Thu 8th Nov 2012
"When I walk into my kitchen today, I am not alone. Whether we know it or not, none of us is. We bring fathers and mothers and kitchen tables, and every meal we have ever eaten. Food is never just food. It's also a way of getting at something else: who we are, who we have been, and who we want to be." Molly Wizenberg, _A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table (_2009) Researching the market to find and test your business ideas is vital. "Just because you cook it, it does not mean that they will come," warns Olga Astaniotis of The Olive Grows, a company offering start-up companies kitchen space and business advice. "The subjective opinions of your friends and family and even the uniqueness of your product do not necessarily equate to a brilliant business idea that you are equipped to execute." You will need to make some very smart decisions throughout your business life - especially in the business's early days. This starts with research.
Here are ten places to start finding and testing your ideas for a food business. 1. Ask your local deli or farm shop what they would like to see on their shelves. 2. Social media - get on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube and ask people what they're interested in. Upload photos and videos of different food ideas you've had and see which get the warmest response. 3. The media: TV, magazines and newspapers are a good indication of current food trends. Listen to The Food Programme on BBC Radio Q, and check out great food bloggers. 4. How can you improve upon existing products? Think in terms of flavour and nutrition. Both are big selling points. 5. Attend food networking events, go to food shows, festivals, farmers' markets. Get to know local producers and feed off their enthusiasm. 6. Discover new ingredients in speciality shops and delis. 7. Make a list of everyday food and drink and think about how you could improve on it. Do the same for your favourite meals - both homecooked and from restaurants. 8. Explore the science of nutrition in a short course. 9. Sign up for advanced-level cookery lessons. 10. Ask family and friends. (And experiment on family and friends!)
Networking group More to Life Than Shoes has three research tips for budding foodie entrepreneurs beginning to explore the possibilities out there: 1. Get skilled up. Learn as many new and useful skills as possible. Go on courses - computing, bookkeeping, food safety. Get qualified. Volunteer for a charity or community group in your sector to gain contacts and skills. 2. Embrace the side project. Use time on the train, during lunch, on the bus. Learn as much as you can. Read cookbooks, cookery and lifestyle magazines. Question friends, family, people on farmers' market stalls. 3. Break it down. If you have a job, don't immediately resign. Once you know what you want to do, break it down into smaller steps and take them one at a time. These aren't scary things when you start out small, and they'll make things happen.
Produced in partnership with Country Living Magazine, Cook Wrap Sell is a complete guide to starting, running and growing a home-based food business. It's available as a downloadable ebook for Â£5 or a print book for Â£12.99 from the Enterprise Nation shop. [product id= "56584"] Photo credit: Marshall Astor