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Guides & Strategies for Uncommon Businesses

How to Start an Online Food Business

Food-related businesses are among the most complex companies to start. Federal, state, and local regulations designed to ensure safety in the food supply can make it seem overwhelming for someone to start their own business. The hurdles are not insurmountable though, and the rewards can be significant.

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If food is your passion and you want to start an online business, be prepared to do your homework. The first things you need to consider:

  • Does your product or product line serve a niche market? You will have a difficult time competing against major producers in a saturated market.  Markets that are growing quickly, and have plenty of room for new players are:
  1. Gourmet or artisanal foods
  2. Foods that cater to dietary restrictions like gluten-free, allergen-free, and nut-free.
  3. Certified organic or all-natural foods.
  4. Foods that cater to ethical and religious restrictions like kosher, vegan, and halal.
  5. Any food product that is unique and you do not find on supermarket shelves.
  • Will your products package and ship well? Will packaging and shipping, along with production cost, make it cost-prohibitive to produce?
  • Consult an attorney about the rules and regulations surrounding selling food online. Don’t skimp on this step. You need a professional to help you determine what requirements you will have to meet to be able to produce and sell your product. Regulations vary by location. Consult a local attorney before you start your business. Their expertise can save you from mistakes that could end your dream of selling food online.

No matter what area you will be producing food in, these general provisions will be necessary.
• You must have proper storage for all food, both cold and dry.
• You will need a state business license.
• You will need to have a kitchen inspection done by your local health inspector. An inspection is usually required once a year.

Once you know how to obtain the necessary licenses and permits, your next step is a great website.  You have two options in how you will sell your food. You may be selling non-perishable food that others can purchase and have shipped to them. Instead, you may decide to have a local for-delivery food service. If this is the case, you may provide an entire menu of ready-made food.

When you decide what type of products and in what market you will be selling, consider hiring a professional to build your website.  Freelance platforms can provide talented website designers at a reasonable rate.  Check out freelancer.com or Fiverr.com for bids on what it would cost to have your website designed.

Marketing

You know what type of food you will sell. You have a great website ready to go. All your legal requirements are met, and you are ready to go. Now, where do you find your customers?

Start with social media.  Put up a business page, and utilize the online following you already have.  Take beautiful pics of the food you plan to sell and put them on your business page.  Small ads are not that expensive on most social media platforms so consider investing in a few.  Make sure your website uses search engine optimization (SEO) content so that potential customers will be able to find you.

Marketing is the difference in skyrocketing success and crushing defeat for many small businesses.  You may want to consider a short online course in marketing. You may also find classes through your local community college or chamber of commerce. They are worth the investment, as marketing will be crucial to the long-term success of your business. Hiring a consultant for a crash course on how to get started may also be worth the investment.

I read your article great information you have shared. Thanks for sharing useful information. Here one of our product it is a ready made online food ordering e-commerce solution with latest features to handle food orders and delivery.

Judy Graham

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