Why Not Everyone Has What It Takes To Run A Food Business

I’m approached just about every week by people who want to run food based businesses. There are even more people who, when I say that I help small businesses, confess that they’ve always wanted to run a café, sell cakes or open yet another sandwich shop.

When I point out that running a café or restaurant is very high risk business with only 1 in 3 restaurants surviving their first 3 years, people are still determined to go ahead.

Why people want to run a food business

Many such people have no experience of working in the trade and seem to base their desire on a mixture of their love of food wanting to be their own boss.

Now being self-employed can be a great way to develop a flexible lifestyle and to have control over what you do, but the very nature of running a food based business means that you soon lose the control that you craved.

The café and restaurant trade, in particular, is very hard, often physically hard work, and the need to have set opening times means that there is very little scope to take a day off when you want to, or to have those days when you can kick back a little and sit in the park doing some creative planning.

The need for constant quality control, problems with absenteeism and staff retention in a traditionally poorly paying industry means that the owner can rarely relax. You might be able to set the menus and decide on the décor, but you will rarely have control over your own time.

Marketing is more important than cooking skills

Another popular idea is to make food to supply to shops, restaurants and delis. Many people seem to think that skills in the kitchen will automatically make them good at creating thousands of bottles of salad dressing. Unfortunately, supplying even high end gourmet items is more a matter of chemistry and engineering than cookery and the skillset is completely different.

The other skill that is essential for success in this area is being able to sell your wares to the right channels. It’s very difficult to get outlets to agree to take a new product, especially in an industry where new products are being launched every week. The businesses that I’ve seen succeed in this area have benefited from persistence in sales and offering something unique.

People are often motivated by their love of food and think that they have something to offer because they can cook. They end up either giving up because it’s too hard (and who can blame them?) or succeeding because they have the right marketing skills. It’s rarely anything to do with food at all at the end of the day.

Get help to develop the right skills

So if you’re tempted to start up a food based business or you have one already, and you would like to talk about how to develop the business skills you need, come and buy me a cup of coffee and we’ll talk turkey.


Photo credit to Jazmin Quaynor from Unsplash