Thinking about starting a food business? Why not make it your side hustle to start with. Food – and drink – businesses can make great side hustle ideas.
What’s a side hustle?
A side hustle is a project ‘on the side’ of your day job. It can serve as a trial run to a bigger business while supplementing your income and giving you the freedom to pursue your passion. If you’re thinking about starting a food business, it can pay to start as a side hustle for several reasons:
- You can start small, experiment and learn from mistakes while the stakes are low,
- Your need for external investment is relatively low in comparison to paying staff or business rent,
- It gives you the opportunity to test the market – or prove there is one for your product,
- You can test your idea, gaining valuable feedback, and
- Side hustle ideas can create interest which you can then leverage as you build your business.
The model for a side hustle is that your main job’s salary will support you. While it will require some juggling and working on your hustle in your free time, keeping the day job will provide you with the finance to invest in the things you need, as well as ensure you can pay your bills. However, in these challenging times, the idea of developing a side hustle is attractive as it offers additional income and flexibility.
Side hustle ideas should meet a need
A food side hustle has many possibilities. It seems that the diversity in the food industry is booming and that niche products from smaller enterprises have really taken off over the last few years.
The most successful side hustles (i.e. those that turn into big business down the line) address a consumer need that isn’t being met by anyone else. There are particular opportunities for scalable side hustles when it’s something that mainstream brands are either unaware of, or unable to easily develop products for.
In a previous post, we talked about creating products for specific dietary requirements. This is a great example of where niche products can become significant businesses. So it pays to take the time to fully understand your consumer, and how your product could be made and delivered to them. Be sure to get a real grasp of where your product will fit into the market and make sure you have a really clear idea of its USP and claims. Starting as a side hustle offers the chance to test the water before you go all in.
Specific considerations when starting a food or drink side hustle
Naturally, as a food business, you need to pay attention to food safety. Depending on where you’re selling your product and what shelf-life you’re offering, most things can be produced from a home kitchen. Your main responsibilities are to ensure:
- All food produced is safe to eat
- Food is not processed in such a way as to make it harmful to consumers
- Your products are of the quality you state and that food labelling, advertising or marketing is not misleading
- Records on the source of ingredients are maintained
- Food that is unsafe is withdrawn and incident reports relating to any withdrawal are maintained
- You register your business with your local environmental health department and your food hygiene rating is displayed if you sell food directly to the public
- You use additives appropriately
Where to sell your product online
Once you have your food product, there are a number of platforms offering new producers access to social networks, large established customer bases, marketing services and online portals from which to sell their wares. This usually comes with a membership fee and/or commission.
Artisan food trail
Membership on the Artisan Food Trail gives producers a presence on their website visible to thousands of visitors (both trade and consumer), social networks (a million people a month), marketing services and an online shop.
Yumbles champion passionate small batch producers and take care of the e-commerce for them. They also offer free marketing. Customers pay Yumbles and in turn they notify you of the order so you can prepare it and send it out.
The Food Market
Similar to the formats above, The Food Market works with independent producers or retailers selling gourmet, artisan, free-from or healthy food and drinks made with all-natural ingredients.
Fine Food Specialist
Fine Food Specialist is “the online destination for quality produce and hard-to-find ingredients”. Their online store stocks over 2,000 products.
BoroughBox connects 1000s of customers to hundreds of independent producers across the UK and beyond in their busy online marketplace. Consumers are able to shop directly from producers or from BoroughBox who can store, pick, pack and dispatch on the producer’s behalf.
Not On The High Street
The UK’s number one curated online marketplace with a global reach of over 39 million unique visitors annually, Not On The High Street certainly offers a lot of potential customers for your business. They list your product and market it to customers who pay through their checkout.
It’s also worth considering local or regional groups as new partnerships and cooperatives are springing up to help with home delivery of items.