Food Entrepreneurs

Written by Shirley Parker
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Food entrepreneurs are people with drive, willpower and creative ideas. Why else would someone take on the challenge of starting a food business, when it is much easier to buy food that is already prepared and readily available? Then, too, if you know nothing about the industry, how do you market that secret family recipe that everyone raves about? Or how do you bottle the salad dressing that you created while at culinary school?

Another hurdle to overcome is that starting a food business can require funds that are simply unavailable. The food entrepreneur might have already invested time and money in becoming certified as a chef and then incurred additional expense in acquiring his or her own basic equipment. Specialty foods may require commercial canning equipment, for example, even when a single product is being considered.

It's possible to find yourself among the successful food entrepreneurs by taking the "one step at a time" approach. Providing personal chef services or catering, or conducting a series of cooking classes may require less upfront expense, while leaving time for research and study of everything that's needed to branch out and achieve another dream. They're certainly a viable alternative for food entrepreneurs who want to ease into the new business and carefully orchestrate their risk-taking.

Food Entrepreneurs, Universities and Other Partners

For advice and help in launching a food business, several universities have Food Entrepreneur Programs, in collaboration with other educational centers in their regions, that provide help through the initial idea to pricing, to food and safety regulations, to structuring a business, and on to one-on-one consultations. These universities include Cornell, Nebraska, Missouri, Rutgers, North Carolina State, and others. Some even have arrangements for sharing expensive processing and testing laboratories. Of course, they must charge reasonable fees for certain aspects of their programs, but the information is invaluable.

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