NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Sharing Your One-of-a Kind Recipe

Sharing Your One-of-a Kind Recipe


          All good cooks have heard it, “this is so good, you should sell it”.  It’s a wonderful compliment to make on a unique food and a talented cook but making fantastic carrot cake at home and turning it into a business are very different stories.

          Starting any business is no easy task, and becoming a food entrepreneur is a special challenge. Succeeding in the food business requires a great recipes, hard work, dedication and the special skills of a food entrepreneur.

          An entrepreneur is a builder—one who sees an opportunity, sizes up its value, and finds the resources to make the most of it. Entrepreneurs are innovators introducing something new to the marketplace, putting a different spin on a product or a process. Ask yourself these questions to see if you fit the description of a successful food entrepreneur.

  • Am I a self-starter? It will be entirely up to you to develop projects, organize your time, and follow through on details.
  • How well do I get along with different personalities? Business owners need to develop working relationships with a variety of people, including customers, vendors, staff, bankers, and others such as lawyers, accountants, or consultants.
  • Am I good at making decisions? Small-business owners are required to make decisions constantly, often quickly, independently, and under pressure.
  • Do I have the physical and emotional stamina to run a business? Can you face six or seven twelve hour workdays every week as you are getting your business underway?
  •           Location is another major decision for a food entrepreneur. Where will you make your product?  Commercial kitchens are a requirement for producing the majority of food products – especially if you plan to market on a major scale.  Alternatives are preparing your product in someone else’s certified kitchen. This way, you separate your home from your workplace and someone else is responsible for meeting kitchen standards. But you will have to pay for the space, and you need to work around someone else’s schedule.  Or, you can hire a co-packer. A copacker is an established food company that you hire to process and package your product according to your specifications.  Most co-packer facilities are located on the east coast so shipping costs to your product.

              You might be able to envision your product flying off the shelves and having a steady income but in reality how will you pay expenses before the money starts coming in? One of the biggest challenges in starting your own business is landing start-up capital. Tapping retirement accounts is never a good idea and the same goes for running up high-interest credit-card debt. Personal resources such as savings, credit cards, or a credit line on your house are all options but if your product fails, what can you afford to lose?  Borrowing money from a bank keeps home and business finances separate. The relationship you create with your bank will be useful as you expand and need additional capital. However, start-up businesses with no track record often find getting a loan difficult. You may have to provide personal collateral, such as your home, to secure the loan.

              In addition to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) requirements, your food business is likely to be subject to other federal, state, and local requirements. These may vary depending on the type of facility you operate.

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