They say that small businesses are the backbone of the economy, but how are you supposed to actually start a business? It takes money, expertise, unbelievable amounts of time and energy and, frankly, resources that most of us don’t have.
Yet, small businesses start up every day, and there is one trend where a lot of people who don’t have independent wealth or massive financial backing are getting new businesses off the ground. That trend is in the cottage food industry.
This is where you make food in your own home and then sell it for a profit. Since you already have a home and a kitchen, it feels pretty accessible. In fact, when you learn the basics of how to start an online food business at home, you’ll find that there is a real opportunity to join a growing industry and make good money.
If it sounds promising, you will start by thinking about food business ideas from home. What could you make in your own kitchen that people would want to buy? If there are even sparks of ideas, then you can start learning how to start a restaurant from home.
In this article, you’re going to see some of the basics that get you started. You’re going to learn a little bit about some of the things you will need and regulations to consider. When all is said and done, you’ll know the basics of how to start a takeaway business from home, and you can get deep into the real planning phase of your new business.
Money is always a concern. When you’re wondering how to start a food business with no money, you need ways to get started that aren’t expensive. Turning your home kitchen into a business kitchen is a great way to start. With that, your primary monetary focus will be on food business ideas with small capital. You will want foods that you can start off making in small quantities at a low cost.
Food business ideas with low investment often revolve around snacks, jams and other simple items. If you can make non-perishable foods that people like, you can start small and grow as your sales take off. Any easy food to sell to make money is going to be important in the beginning.
Pastries, candies, pies, breads and things of this nature tend to be the most successful when you are looking at how to start a small food business at home. Consider what you could do in this framework to make something special that people really like. If you can find good recipes, then that old question won’t plague you as stubbornly. “How much money do I need to open a small restaurant?” You only need enough to get your ingredients.
This process starts with a brainstorm to find food business from home ideas. Here’s a simple one. Make your own popcorn. You can get cheap kernels pretty easily. You can cook it on a stovetop, the old-fashioned way, and find your own key way to season it. You end up with a unique flavor, and it’s a food that you can make in bulk, for little money, that lasts pretty well. It’s why popcorn is one of the best food products to sell online.
You can go another route and think about street food business ideas. In most states, you can sell approved food items at roadside stands (more on that later). That creates an opportunity to take your unique food business ideas to the people. Sell from your roadside stand, and you can still carry out your business plan with very little overhead.
You might prefer to go to the internet. Online food business ideas are invaluable because the internet can naturally help your business grow over time. You will have to figure out food delivery business ideas along the way, but you can match your unique food products to sell with an online selling platform. Then, depending on local regulations, you can either deliver the food or have people come to you to pick it up.
These are just a few ideas to get you started, and there are plenty more. You can make custom cakes for special events. It would probably start as more of a side business, but it can certainly grow into something full-time.
Instead, you could look into teaching cooking classes. While regulations can be tricky in this market, you can get around that by streaming the classes to learning cooks in their own homes. You are no longer responsible for safety and cleanliness in their home kitchens.
You could also look into personalizing food ideas for people with strict diets or dietary needs. This would be as much a consulting position as a cooking position, and by taking some of the emphasis off of preparing food in your own kitchen, you can lower the overall cost of running the business.
You can do so much more than just find homemade food to sell ideas. When you plan a business around offering a service as much as the food, you can break out of norms and really appeal to a loyal customer base.
One of the most valuable things you can do for your new food business is to create your online presence. When you learn how to sell food online from home, you make marketing, sales processing, growth and many other facets of the business that much easier.
Ultimately, you need an online platform. There are countless in existence, and you’ll have to find the one that works best for you. We made Castiron. It’s an ecommerce platform that specifically helps you learn how to make money selling food from home while providing the tools to succeed from the beginning.
Whether you are tackling how to sell homemade snacks online or how to market food products online, we can help you achieve your goals.
The secret to all of this is just getting started. Take a look at the online tools. You’ll see that the software walks you through the essentials. You can set up an online store for your home kitchen. It helps with sales, marketing and all the rest. When you have powerful software backing your venture, it frees up a lot of your time and mental energy for focusing on the food part.
When you get past the very first steps of planning your home kitchen, you will want to look into starting a food business checklist. This checklist will help you think about all of the little things that are necessary to make your business succeed.
Some items on the checklist will include setting up merchant accounts so you can take electronic payments, getting your license to sell food online, verifying that your kitchen is up to code and plenty more.
Here’s a checklist that can get you started:
This is just the beginning, and it only applies to legal issues. You will want similar checklists for food items, marketing, online tools and your work schedule. That last one is too easy to overlook.
Most importantly, you need to learn the rules on selling food from home. They vary by state. Each state sets its own rules, and in some cases, local restrictions compete with state regulations.
If you are selling food from home in Texas, things are at least a little easier to follow. The Texas cottage food law list is pretty easy to follow. For the most part, if the food never requires refrigeration or heating, it can be cooked at home and sold. You will need a Texas Food Handler’s Certification, but you do not have to worry about a Texas food permit application.
Instead, most of the regulation is built around labels. Instead of a permit to sell food from home in Texas, every sold item has to meet state labeling requirements. As long as this is met, and the food does not require temperature control for long-term storage, it’s safe to go.
That means that selling baked goods from home in Texas is viable (be careful of dairy and other things that need to be refrigerated). It also means that you don’t really have to worry about home commercial kitchen requirements in Texas. If you want to produce food outside of the cottage food limitations, you will need to purchase or lease an inspected and approved commercial kitchen space.
If you want to start a food business from home in Texas, this about covers everything you need to know to get started.
That was the Texas example. If you want to know how to start a food business from home in California, the list of rules will be different. The same will apply to learning how to start a food business from home in Florida or any other state.
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.
Never track down a payment or oversell products again. Real-time inventory tracking and secure payment processing make life easier for you and your customers, and our order form builder makes managing custom requests a breeze.
With our marketing tools, your email marketing can go on autopilot. We make it easy to promote your latest products, announce custom order availability, and stay connected with customers.