Ready to start your own cottage food business? Looking for an affordable place to start? A great option for entrepreneurs is a small canned food business. The cottage business produces or packages canned food in a residential kitchen and has relatively small revenues. The food is sold directly to the consumer, at a farmer's market, at a nonprofit venue, or through an online site or marketplace. Cottage food businesses often succeed by finding a particular niche, such as organic, and creating a novel product within that niche.
The government regulates small canned food businesses through cottage food laws. These laws allow small producers to use appliances in their homes to bake, pickle, can, cook, or candy only those products on a state-developed canned food list. These foods typically carry a low risk of food-borne illness and do not need refrigeration. The laws also sometimes limit where producers may sell their products. Laws vary slightly from state to state. After deciding to become a cottage food producer, the first step is to ensure you know how to sell food from home legally.
If you are passionate about canning foods, building a cottage industry around that passion might intrigue you. However, canning for profit is slightly different from canning for your own private use. To succeed, you'll also need a business plan that delineates what you'll produce and shows costs and potential revenue. In consultation with tax advisers, you'll decide whether to be a sole proprietor or limited liability company. You'll also want to establish a business checking account to keep your business's financial resources separate from personal resources. The different accounts also will make tax preparation easier.
Cottage producers of canned goods also will often need to have a valid business license to operate in their state or locality, for example. They may also need an identification number. One of the first things a potential producer must do, then, after establishing the business, is to obtain the license.
You'll also want to be sure you understand the laws, including what you can produce, where you can sell it, and how you must label your products. You'll need to determine whether you are required to invest in commercial canning jars. You'll also likely need to complete a course that explains the canned food safety guidelines in your state. You'll also need to determine how much liability insurance you'll need.
If your state laws allow you to sell canned food online, you'll need to build a website that provides for e-commerce. Castiron is one resource for this. It enables you to have an e-commerce store with an appealing public face that also centralizes your orders, messages, payments, and fulfillment. It also allows you to manage your online marketing more efficiently.
Several cottage food organizations are popping up around the country that can serve as resources for helping you share your experiences with other cottage food producers and understand what you need to do to succeed. Forrager, which provides a podcast on the basics of starting a cottage food business, is one of the largest of these communities. Castiron's Kitchen community is another growing resource for cottage food operators.
Having a solid business plan takes you from canning as a hobby to producing homemade canned goods for sale. In a canning business plan, you answer all the questions associated with your business. Some of these questions are:
You'll need to calculate the costs of producing your product and price home-canned goods so that you make a profit. Fortunately, you can generally find help in developing your business plan. Many retired business executives volunteer for organizations such as SCORE to mentor and empower small business owners. SCORE also may provide good business plan examples to help you develop your own.
Consumer interest in locally-produced cottage foods is increasing. If you have a good product and are passionate about it, now may be an opportune time to start your own canned food business.
My business would not be the same without my Castiron website! It is an easy setup with lots of customization and tons of support! I am so glad I set up my shop last year before the holidays — it really helped increase my sales!
The Whimsical Cookie
Castiron provides me a professional site to my customers increasing my credibility and value while giving me the tools to effectively market and manage my business in an easy, user-friendly manner.
Wesley's Treats Hallie's Sweets
Castiron has made my cottage bakery shine, and my business easy to manage. As a platform they care about my business as much as I do.
Before Castiron, I was taking orders really manually, through emails or texts or Facebook. Now I can send customers straight to my website, and I don’t have to worry about missing any details.
I couldn't run my business without the Castiron platform. It made it so easy to get my shop up and running — it truly removed a massive barrier to me getting started!
I realized that the barrier of having to DM or text me to order was holding a lot of potential customers back.
Now that I have a professional website and a simple ecommerce checkout, I'm seeing a huge increase in new customers and they appreciate how easy Castiron makes ordering.
Easy to start, created specifically for local, handmade food: Castiron’s website builder was created to help you grow. Create a website in minutes with our templates, sell where and how your customers want to buy, and look professional without being technical. Keep customers coming back with email marketing tools, customer records, and more.
Food entrepreneurs, this is your moment. Your community is more and more conscious about what they buy and where it is from. They want food made with love. With ingredients they can pronounce. And they want to support their community while doing it.
Castiron is the best fit for your food business because we're not a one-size-fits-all tool. Selling local food is different from pre-packaged warehouse products. Whether you sell cooking classes, need local pick up, utilize pre-sales to plan inventory, or need a fully custom order form — we got you.
No code required. Add pages, sell your products, build order forms, and show off your beautiful work. We'll handle the tech so you can focus on growing your food business.
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