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How to Start an Online Food Business at Home

Is your dream to own your own restaurant, grocery, or bakery some day, but you just can't raise the money you need for starting a brick-and-mortar eatery? Then you will want to read our short guide on how to sell food online from home. Selling homemade food online is a great way to get started doing the cooking you love to earn the income you need.

Plan for Success

The surest way to grow your online food business is to plan for success from the very start. Start by being extremely selective about your food ideas to sell online.

You may be a master chef capable of managing a five-course menu in a fine-dining establishment, but those in the know about how to start a small food business at home will always tell you that successful online food sellers start with just one or two food ideas to sell online.

Everyone who sells food online has a website. Every website thrives or fails by search engine optimization, also known as SEO. It is simply easier for Google to find your website and rank you higher in the search results if you give it just one or two foods to rank—or just one or two classes of food that identify your unique skills in the marketplace.

You might be a chocolate chip cookie specialist. There is always a market for chocolate chip cookies, but there isn't always a market for "cookies."

You might make the most wonderful muscadine grape jam in the world. There is always a better market for "muscadine grape jam" than there is for "jam."

Everyone won't necessarily love your product, but you get a great website and use SEO to find more than enough people to keep you busy.

Find Out If You Need a Permit to Sell Food From Home

What comes next in how to start an online food business from home? Make sure you know how to sell food from home legally.

If you want to be the next Martha Stewart or Famous Amos, you want to be sure that you are following all the rules and regulations that apply to your business from the very start.

The truth is, the authorities may leave a small online food business alone. But there may be some health department or commerce department official who decides there is nothing better to do than to make your life miserable. In learning how to make money selling food from home, cover all of these points before you even start:

Don't look on rules and regulations as a constraint on your business. Regard them as something like putting on the brakes when you are about to go too fast. Meeting all the rules and regulations that apply to your business will give you a firm foundation for future success.

Create an Identity for Your Business

Once you are sure what kind of business you can build in your town, county, and state, it's time to start building your brand.

Every business needs a name. Make yours short, memorable, and meaningful. If your name is Polly and you sell pretzels, Polly's Pretzels makes a great identifier. It's OK to use a cute name if it helps people remember you or your products, like Moon Unit's Moon Pies or Jams by Joe.

Once you have a name for your business, register it. You don't want anyone else using the name of your business. Start using that name on your social media accounts, and buy a URL for your website that helps your customers remember who you are.

At this point, how much more preliminary work you have to do depends on your state. Some states will require you to submit your recipes, file a business plan, get a home kitchen inspection, and submit samples for testing by the health department. Other states will just require you to take a $10 online food handler safety course and off you go, no permits, licenses, or registrations needed.

Next, set your prices. Make sure your food costs and overhead are all covered with a generous markup (usually 100 percent) to give you a profit.

After the preliminaries, it's time to build your website. Your website really can't be your entire storefront in most states, but it is a great place to start building more traffic from more sources than you ever imagined was possible for selling great food from home.

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