How Do I Start a Food Business?

How Do I Start a Food Business?
  • Starting a food business has an advantage over other businesses because we all have to eat! Also, you can turn your passion for cooking or serving into a profitable business.
  • If you dream about starting a food business, have enough passion and flair for cooking, want to leave your corporate career and set own schedule, then your career should probably be in food. 
  • To start off and turn your ambition into reality you could really use a lot of tips that would surely help in your entrepreneurial efforts. We've got you covered in this guide!

Your grandma's secret chutney recipe, that meat rubs that all your neighbours’ envy, the cupcakes you made for a friend’s baby shower are talent expressions. The kitchen is your zone of genius, where you whip up foods that amaze and delight your family.

Have you ever thought of turning your skills in the kitchen into a business?

‘When you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.’

Whoever said that must have been thinking of food, for what could be better than creating, tasting and sharing delicious treats? The food industry in Australia is growing by leaps and bounds and it is no surprise that more and more of us want to join the party.

Setting up a food business can be hard work but the rewards are fantastic.

Should I start my own food business?

Here are some key questions to ask yourself before starting a food business. 

  • Do you dream of starting a food business?
  • Do you have a flair for cooking?
  • Are you passionate about food?
  • Do you have a great family recipe?
  • Do you want to leave the corporate world?
  • Do you want to set your own hours?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then maybe your future career should be in food!

Things to know before starting a food business 

So you know you want to start a food business, but where do you begin?

First, think about what kind of food business you want to begin. Are you going to create a food product or start a retail food experience?

A manufactured food product is one that you create yourself either in your own facility or in a facility you contract. These products are then sold online, in retail shops, markets, etc.

Retail & Hospitality food businesses include cafes, restaurants, food trucks and similar locations where food is created and sold as part of an experience.

Starting a food product manufacturing business

starting a food business

A manufactured food product can be one of many things such as a range of sauces, wedding cakes, breakfast cereals or anything really that you purchase for consumption.

There are three ways in which you can manufacture food - at home, in a commercial kitchen or through contract manufacturing.

Which method you choose will depend on your product itself and the stage of business you are in.

Most food entrepreneurs will choose to manufacture at home or in a commercial kitchen initially before they contract out the manufacturing to gain efficiencies in cost and scale.

As you plan to start, here are a few things to check

  • Is your home kitchen suitable for cooking and selling food? Tip - call your local council and find out what you need to do to be compliant. Grab a free guide for home-based food businesses.
  • Protect your IP. Before you share your secret recipe with a manufacturer, make sure you sign a non-disclosure agreement. If your manufacturer is developing the recipe for you, make sure you understand who owns the IP for the product.

Starting a retail & hospitality business

Alternatively, you may want to start a restaurant, cafe or food truck. There are a number of factors to consider before you begin.

For food trucks, you will need to find a suitable vehicle, fit it out and identify how and where you will sell your food truck. Most councils require a permit to operate a food truck locally.

For cafes or restaurants, you can either go with your own unique business or engage in a franchise model.

If you choose the franchise model, make sure you have a lawyer check the contracts and understand your obligations.

The location for your business can be owned or leased. Either way, finding the right location is key and it pays to take the time and ensure you find the right spot for your venture. If you are leasing your location make sure you understand who pays for overheads such as water, electricity, and insurance. Is it you or your landlord?

Speaking of insurance, it is arguably the most important factor when starting a food business. Product and public liability is a minimum requirement. Talk to an insurance broker who can help you find the right insurance to suit your needs. Contact your local council to get the licenses you need such as a liquor license, a food safety inspector license and similar. 

Things to consider when employing staff

Even if you start running your business on your own, at some point you may need to hire staff. Make sure you are prepared for your responsibilities as an employer.

You need to register for PAYG, pay superannuation and ensure that you maintain a safe work environment for your employees. Your accountant can help you get set up as an employer.

How do I get funding for my food business?

Starting a food business does not have to cost a lot of money. Hiring a commercial kitchen is cheap and gives you the flexibility to work to your own schedule and budget.

However, if you want to scale your business to professional and commercial levels, you will need to invest financially.

Whether you fund your business yourself, take a loan or apply for grants, make sure you plan your finances to avoid being caught out. Track your numbers regularly and understand how much you need to invest so your business starts generating returns.

How do I create branding and market my food business?

Now that your business plan is in place, you are ready to start marketing your food business! Writing a business plan is important and something that every food business owner should do.

To start branding and marketing your business, you will need some basics like a logo, packaging design and marketing materials. Consult with a branding professional and a food consultant to ensure you are on the right track!

Use the internet and social media to your advantage with a snappy website and active social profiles. Post regularly on Facebook, Instagram or whichever platform your customers use the most.

You can also consider paying for ads on Facebook or Google to increase your exposure. 

Our final tips for starting a food business

Don't forget, great food is an experience that many of us remember for life. Your business is only as successful as the quality and experience you deliver to your customers. Make sure that you have these 5 points taken care of at the very minimum

  1. Great product
  2. Great service
  3. Safety First
  4. Invest in branding
  5. Market to your target customer

Starting a food business is going to be hard work, no doubt about that. However, if you are passionate about creating and sharing great food then it is a highly rewarding career.

Patience and hard work are key. Beware of burnout, it can take years to turn a profit, don’t expect immediate success because the best things take time.

As a food business, you must also always innovate - study your market, know your customer’s needs and always aim to be ahead of the curve.

Good luck with your new venture!

Megna Murali

Founder at

I am a food business coach based in Australia and I help food businesses overcome the barriers to success through business development, coaching, and intelligent planning. I especially enjoy the launch phase as my clients get to finally see their vision come to life! I started Start Your Food Business with my partner to provide consulting and training for food businesses. We also developed Australia's first, fully comprehensive online course for food businesses