Growing Your Food Business
Taking Your Business To The Next Level
You’ve worked hard to start and grow your food business yet at some point or another, all entrepreneurs hit a plateau that they can’t seem to get off of. How do you get your business to the next level?
Take A Look At Your Big Picture Goals – They May Need To Be Redrawn
When you first started out, the big picture goals you had in mind for your company may not accurately reflect where your business is today. Take the time to re-evaluate your business, your business model, and the marketplace and draft out where you’d like to see your business in 5-10 years. Doing so helps give you a new goalpost to work towards.
Find Mentors & Sounding Boards
Entrepreneurship can be terribly lonely and as much as you try to rationalize all the pros and cons of every decision in your head, having other people you can share your ideas with can make a huge difference in your business. Be it finding mentors, business coaches, a Board of Advisors, or trusted friends/family members; having people in your life who will listen to your ideas and challenges, offer critical feedback, and brainstorm with you on ways to move forward can help you see your business in a new light.
Network, Network, Network
A strong, solid, and growing network made up of other food entrepreneurs, vendors, and other business owners can help your business grow by connecting you to the right people and sharing advice and expertise. The benefit of a strong network cannot be understated but remember that your network is not just there for your taking – you must be willing to be an active participant and help others in your network when they need it. The only way a good network works is if everyone contributes to help each other.
Know If You Need Cash
Growing your business is often not just time consuming but also cash intensive. Whether you need new equipment, a bigger facility, more packaging, more marketing dollars, more staff, or all of the above; it may be hard to truly grow your business as you’d hoped without first understanding how much capital you will need to dedicate to the effort. Draw up a cash forecast that outlines, to the line item, how much you anticipate spending and remember the cardinal rule of entrepreneurship that it always takes longer and costs more than you originally thought! Knowing how much cash you will need to grow enables you to plan proactively on how you’re going to obtain that cash – be it self-funded through the business, through your own investment into the business, or through third party funding/loans – and start to work towards that today so you don’t find yourself with a business that’s ready to grow but without the money to do so.
Jennifer Lewis is the founder of Small Food Business, a website focused on providing resources and information to food entrepreneurs. The site includes hundreds of articles specific to the food industry, a podcast series which includes interviews with industry experts, white papers, and a community forum amongst other things. In addition to being a professionally trained pastry chef and having worked in the food industry from more than 20 years, Jennifer also holds an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.