We’ve all the heard the frightening figure; nine out of ten new food and drinks businesses fail, often within their first year and sometimes even before opening. Why, then, is opening a little cafe, food truck or even a fully fledged restaurant a recurring, resolute dream for so many? Perhaps we’re ignorant to the dangers, maybe we’re blinded by the bright lights, or could it be that we’re just glutton for punishment? It’s probably a little of all three, but more than that, it’s down to passion, and a love for all things delicious. If this is you, then read on; our 5 IDEAL tips for starting your food business on a budget.

START SMALL

Sure, we’d all love to get straight into the bricks’n’mortar without first laying any foundations. But we all know how that story ends, with the walls crumbling around you. Instead, start off small, and we mean micro. So many restaurant success stories of late started as a supper club, pop up or market stall, effective in generating a buzz around their idea without actually having to make the huge investment required to open a four-walls joint immediately. It also pulls in investors, who’ve tried and understood the clarity of your concept, and can get experts on board who are excited about your brainchild and want to get involved, both financially and with invaluable knowledge.

CONSIDER CROWDFUNDING

Once you’ve generated a buzz around your brand via a mix of a consistent, delicious offering, spoken word and social media marketing, consider crowdfunding to generate the finance needed for your transition to a fully fledged business proposition. Kickstarter and Go Fund Me are just two of the many platforms now available; the one constant is the fact that you need to be militant about your marketing in the period running up to launching your foodie business, and during it, keeping your restaurant high on the trending lists and on the lips of influential food influencers, bloggers and reviewers.

FIND YOUR NICHE WITHIN A POPULAR FIELD

With every man and his dog now a connoisseur on all things culinary, it’s no good to simply offer, for instance, ‘authentic Mexican’ and hope for the best. Of course, in a country so large and diverse, there’s no such thing. If you’re going to get punters’ attention and land a dedicated following, it’s a wise move to go really niche with your offering, to stand out from the crowd. How about ‘authentic torta ahogoda from the Zona Rosa district of Guadalajara’? Like catnip to credibility chasers.

SOURCE CHEAPLY

You’re only just starting out, income is yet to be generated in earnest, and cash flow is always a problem early on in a food business’ life. Therefore, in terms of furniture, furnishings and appliances, it’s important not to blow your budget; you’ll need money put aside as a buffer to deal with the inevitable unpredictabilities and emergencies which befall every new food operation. Consider antique shops, auctions or eBay for furniture and second-hand equipment retailers for fleshing out your kitchen. Should you need replacement parts, companies like First Choice are budget-friendly and reliable.

PRACTICALITY OVER PASSION

Do you hear that sound? Is it the hiss of your fire being extinguished? We hope not. It is, however, important to emphasise that practical considerations are just as crucial to business success as your quest to use the best ingredients, using the most traditional methods and paying as much lip service as you can to authenticity. Of course, your passion is what drives the project, but if you’re not prioritising the tastes of your customers, then you’re going to meet difficulty.