Feed your way to a successful business
So you’re a foodie. You live and die by the Food Network and Cooking Channel. You experiment with recipes and create specialties such as horseradish jelly. You may even have family versions of “Chopped” to see who is the best culinary expert in the house.
How does that translate into a business?
While many opportunities exist to feed the masses and amass a fortune, not everything you cook or conjure up can be sold on the market. Michigan has what is called a Cottage Food Law that regulates what homemade food can be sold. You can see the list of food items at the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) website at www.michigan.gov/mdard/0,4610,7-125-50772_45851_45856—,00.html#ProductList.
That shouldn’t dash your dreams. You might just have to adjust your goals to meet the cottage food requirements. Or you could take a business in a different direction.
Small Business lists other culinary possibilities including starting a catering business or becoming a personal chef. Again Michigan law might dictate how you go about your business.
If you are preparing the food for catering in your kitchen, you might need a food establishment license. But as a rule, a home kitchen where food is already prepared for family members will not meet regulations to be licensed.
To avoid the licensing conundrum, MDARD suggests renting a kitchen that is already licensed, such as a rental hall or church kitchen, until you earn enough to establish a more permanent location. The licensee might rent you the kitchen but not want the liability that comes with that rental, so you still may have to get a separate temporary license.
If you’re going the personal chef route, you do not need a license from the state of Michigan when arrangements have been made to cook in homes other than your own. You would require a license if you were selling a product. Home chefs might still consider obtaining liability insurance as a safety net.
If you enjoy teaching and cooking, maybe you want to set up a cooking instructor business. You can either do it live in the homes of other people as a kind of cooking party, or get someone to record your lessons and sell those as a set or series.
If you don’t really want to cook but want to be involved in food, you could consider becoming a nutrition coach. You would work with clients to design and follow an eating plan to help them meet their health goals. You don’t need a state license to be a nutrition counselor, nor do you need to be a registered dietitian or nutritionist. However, being a registered nutritionist will lend credence to your business and possibly allow you to up the price of your services.
And if you really don’t want people eating the food you make, try food blogging. Small Business said it is one of the fastest and easiest ways to make money from being a foodie. Share your recipes through text or video on your blog; post them to Pintrest and foodie websites where it is allowed. You make money through affiliate marketing, where you promote a specific brand of food. You can also earn a paycheck through advertisers who want to be part of your blog. If you have a strong following, consider writing and self-publishing a cookbook to sell to your fans.