Thinking of starting a food and drink business, but want a slightly different business model or idea? Here is some inspiration to get you started.

  1. Sell your homemade cakes

What better way to turn your skills into profit than capitalising on the current British love of home baking. Rather than offering a wide range of cakes, consider a niche or speciality offering that will make you stand out and highlight your special skill, ‘the cupcake queen’ for example.

As well as selling directly, contact other local businesses, shops, restaurants and cafés are the obvious choices but wedding planners, event organisers may refer you and bigger businesses often need celebration cakes. You could even offer a ‘cake cheat’ service, home-made, just by somebody else.

See also: Business start-up guide - Cake shop

Think of creative ways to promote your skills and products, who can resist a business card on a biscuit? Make the packaging appealing and branded, it’s a crowded market and you need to have shelf appeal. Don’t under-price yourself, make sure you cost out all the ingredients, delivery, packaging and wastage, then add your profit.

Time tip – an evening to spare: Show off your skills and encourage some healthy competition by organising a cake bake-off with judges and prizes it is bound to generate some media interest.

  1. Launch a pop-up café

A Pop-up café is a fantastic ‘toe in the water’ opportunity, fitting around other commitments you can test your ideas and evaluate what works very quickly without too much investment. Think about how you will get customers to your living room café, with minimal footfall you will need lots of creative marketing a large social media following.

Pop-ups are still quirky so your style and food can be as well, you don’t have to be an egg and chips café. The experience could be different every time it opens, 1950’s dress and food one day then a Palace garden party the next. Keep your customers guessing and interested, the experience is as important as the food; being different and unexpected will generate lots word of mouth and social media recommendations.

See also: Business start-up guide - Cafe

Make sure your staff are enthusiastic and knowledgeable, they are your best ambassadors. Stay within the law, even though it is in your own home you will still need insurance and to comply with regulations.

Time tip- an hour to spare: Take your Pop up café somewhere else for a spot guest appearance – free coffee and cake on picnic blankets in a local park will generate interest and PR.

  1. Prepare and profit from posh ready meals

The market for busy people with a taste for good food is growing fast but you’ll need to offer something different and delicious, there is a lot of competition.

Create a theme across your whole range. Is there a story in your rural roots? Organic? Vegetarian? Or low food miles? People are increasingly concerned about the providence of their food so be open about where who and what makes your meals delicious but responsible.

Develop a story around your meals to make them feel home-made, talk about your cooking processes, your producers, your recipes, your inspiration. It’s more than just a microwave meal. Think creatively about why and when people might be buying ready meals. Offer a local home delivery service or a complete dinner party menu, something more than they will get from their local convenience store.

See also: Keeping your food and drink business legal

Top tip for those can cook up a storm

  • Work closely with local food businesses
  • Share equipment, skills, staff and recommend generously
  • Stock control and wastage threaten the profitability of many food businesses, collaborating and communicating locally can help reduce stress and potential problems

Remember, all food businesses must comply with labelling and food safety standards. Further details on the exact requirements for your business can be discussed with your local Environmental Health or Trading Standards Office. Use your adherence to the rules as a positive marketing message. They protect you and your customer, add credibility, prove professionalism and inspire confidence.

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