Start Here to Launch Your Business
Looking to start or grow your food business? You’re in the right place.
There are a lot of moving parts to growing your food business (production, packaging, marketing, operations, financials, business development, online sales, etc). It’s my aim to provide you with the tools and resources to sort through all of it. Bottom line: I want to help you launch and grow your food business. You’ll find transparent numbers, posts about failure, posts about success, and an open, honest account of what it’s like to grow a food business from the ground up.
Before you scroll down, I invite you to subscribe to my blog to receive the new posts (1-2x a month) and you’ll even get a free guide – “25 Mistakes I Made Running My Food Business.” Just put your email in the box below and hit the button. You’ll be emailed the guide.
18 Comments on this post
on August 24, 2014 at 8:24 am -
Michael, My name is Jorge Caceres I am the owner of a gourmet pickle and preserve company in Birmingham Al. I have been in business around three years. We are in five stores locally. We spent one year in product development and as of right now our line consists of 5 vinegar based shelf stable products. We were pretty naive when we started but have learned much through our work. We have worked every aspect of our business from production, to distribution. Our pickles are all natural. We use a combination of Dried and fresh spices to create globally inspired flavors. We knew that our marketing approach would require us to search out the specialty retail grocers. What makes us unique also makes us very labor intensive. We were hoping by now to have obtained some representation but buyers are thrown off be our high cost. We felt we had done a good job at setting our price but after our first few runs we realized it was costing us more to make our product than we thought. We knew for instance that our kitchen rental was going to be our largest expense.Not only was it expensive but it took us an hour to reach it. The kitchen is part of an instate coop That is set up through our states cooperative extension. But it is also private. All of this combined with our labor and long production hours brought our price up even more. It was always our intension to seek a copacker after we learned every part of production. We still are on the lookout for a copacker that might be able to handle the intricises of our production
for the time being we are looking at finding other soutions to help bring costs back in line. The first is finding a more reasonable kitchen closer to home which will cut that price in half. Having said that when we can market our products through instore demmos they sell. But our direct to store drop offs is inconvient , most grocery stores don’t want to deal with the hassel , they want to meet thier broker or distributer and check off a list. We Knew we would have to start somewhere. We are also handling the instore marketing. At first we tried to do every farmers market and instore demo and we burned ourselves out. We are in the process of adding another line to our invintory ( which will be small batch jams ) It again will be hard work on me but a suppierer product. We are also working on an urban farm on my property to contol our quality and produce our own ingrediants. We also plan ondeveloping our own line of fermented and partially fermented coldpacked pickled vegetables. We have always believed in the slow food movement and would love to cultavate those relationships with our growing restaurant communities. We have quite a few things on our plate and would like help marketing ourselves. The company is named after my first daughter and the jams will be named after my second. One other thing when we started we were trying to do things on a very tight budget. I have been able to add some decent capital behind this and we would like to use it to help create our story and our relationships but we will need some help getting our message out. Thank you Jorge Caceres owner Darlin Rubys ( i hope this was not too much info but this has been my passion and hopeflly a way I can help supprt my family
on August 25, 2014 at 6:28 pm -
Hi Jorge — thanks for your story! You certainly know what you’re doing — and the only way to keep learning is by doing. I’ve made a lot of mistakes myself – and have gotten burnt out multiple times. It’s hard when you are doing this by yourself or have a small team. And don’t get discouraged by buyers not liking to deal direct with vendors. It’s a great relationship builder. Plus, a lot of LARGE companies only deal direct – no distribution at all. Best luck my man!
on January 3, 2015 at 6:14 pm -
I’m sure glad I came across your blog – great insight through hands-on experience at a true small business level. And, surprisingly I too am from Richmond, VT. Went to kindergarten at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, the original Richmond Elementary, Camels Hump Middle School, and finally Mount Mansfield Union High School. I now live in Arlington, VA where my chocolate business is also located. The point of this comment is to say thanks for sharing your business adventures. I’ve learned quite a bit, and made smart business decisions based on your blog articles. Happy New Year & Successful Business Wishes, Rob
on January 8, 2015 at 5:49 pm -
Hey Rob! So freakin’ awesome you’re from Richmond! I just checked out your chocolate business – OH MY! Everything looks so great. Happy you’ve gotten useful information from my blog. Stay tuned for a book in the works! Good luck this year!
on August 11, 2015 at 3:24 pm -
Great blog, man. We have specialty retailers knocking on our door and we’ve got some serious reading to do while we hold them off.
I was wondering whether you have a post related to licensing and registration required before a company can sell its CPG?
We’re trying to figure out what we don’t know and how much the above is going to cost us!
Thanks for your help and keep up the good work!
on August 11, 2015 at 3:30 pm -
Hey Simon — thanks for reading! There is a lot going on when you start a food business. As for licensing and registration, you may find this post useful:
Best of luck!
on November 9, 2015 at 2:21 am -
I bought your book The Co-Packing Guide and in it, there was a link to this website stating that it would take me to a co-packing calculator, but I can’t find it here.
I want to say how happy I am to have found you. The co-packing guide is wonderful and now that I have linked to your website, I see so much more information that will be helpful to me.
I have been working with a co-packer for the last three years. Wish I had read your book first. Being new to the food industry, I decided to let my co-packer source ingredients. Now that I have been at this a while, and after meeting other food industry people, I have decided that I should be sourcing my own ingredients.
Thanks for building this website. I know I’m going to find some great resources here.
on November 9, 2015 at 11:48 am -
Thanks for stopping by my blog and purchasing the Ultimate Guide to Co-Packing. Unfortunately, the co-packing calculator isn’t functioning anymore, but I may make a version in an excel spreadsheet eventually.
About sourcing — your co-packer may take his/her own margin on the ingredients in exchange for their time sourcing and figuring out the unit cost. It is a very common practice in the industry. Best of luck sourcing your own ingredients – it, for the most part, is cheaper that way — just means you have to coordinate shipping, lead times, and inventory amounts.
on April 29, 2016 at 1:40 am -
Hi Michael, I stumbled onto your site and am interested in more information about your books and spreadsheets. Can you tell me what the spreadsheets do? I’m also not sure how current everything is as some of the content seems older. Thanks in advance.
on May 9, 2016 at 6:57 pm -
Hey Matt — sorry for the late reply! I’ve been slammed these days. Everything is pretty current and relies on your input of numbers. You can find a list of the spreadsheets here.
on September 1, 2017 at 10:54 am -
I stumbled across your interesting blog when I was searching for more information about food distributors. We are a team of family apiarists who handcraft gourmet honey products. Our business is based in Queensland, Australia. I’m looking forward to reading through all your great resources!
on December 22, 2017 at 2:49 pm -
I love the work you’ve posted here and I’m interested in getting one of your bundles. The main thing I think our company would use are the spreadsheets. I noticed there was a bundle with 23 spreadsheets and another with 28. What is the difference between the two?
on December 22, 2017 at 8:30 pm -
Thanks for reading the blog! The 23 just has some combined sheets — the link is here: https://gumroad.com/products/YUORZ
on December 4, 2018 at 3:51 pm -
A ton of useful info that a newbie food entrepreneur will find priceless. Thanks for writing this and making it openly available. A lot of questions you’ve answered is exactly what I am facing myself!!
on December 4, 2018 at 10:49 pm -
Thanks, AJ! Glad you’ve gotten a lot of valuable info out of the post.
on January 10, 2019 at 5:21 am -
Your resources are awesome. Do you happen to have any guidance or anywhere you could point to for a lot of the initial steps – detailed steps and processes for taking a product from the kitchen to a package? I.e. testing the shelf life, figuring out how to package it, scale, etc.?
on March 17, 2019 at 12:46 pm -
My course and books walk you through every step. There are also a number of books on Amazon.
AUTHORTae Kyoung White
on February 6, 2020 at 7:47 pm -
I am planning to start food business. I want to make Kimchi and Korean Condiments. I have learned from this blog and also from your videos. My first question is do I have to hire a business lawyer to set up LLC?
How can I get nutrition facts and UPC codes for my products?