Top 10 tips for launching a food startup
We work with startup founders from all over the world to help them build thriving companies. Although starting a business is challenging, there are certain steps you can take to give yourself the best chance of success. In this blog post, you’ll find our top 10 tips for getting your startup off the ground.
Launching a food startup is exciting. Having a great idea for a new product or service that the world needs and actually turning that into a viable business is hugely rewarding. However, it can also be a daunting and difficult process. We’d be very surprised if any entrepreneur reached their goals without making any mistakes along the way.
Now, don’t get us wrong, because mistakes are not always a bad thing. They are how we learn and adapt to be able to do better in the future. However, you don’t necessarily need to make all the mistakes yourself in order to learn from them. You can also learn from the experiences of others.
At the ProVeg Incubator, we support around 20 new startups every year and we continue to help our alumni after they graduate from our programme, for as long as they need us.
From working with such a variety of companies from around the world during different stages of their journeys, we’ve gathered a wealth of information about launching successful businesses. Some members of our team also run their own companies or have done so in the past.
Of course, there is no magic recipe for success; we know you know that already. But, there are some key pieces of advice that we give out to all our startup founders. Now, we’d like to share these with you, too.
Pick the business that is right for you
Your startup will become your life. To get it off the ground and make a real go of it, you’re going to need passion for your business. If your heart isn’t in it, you won’t want to do it for long. Plus, you’ll have a hard time convincing other people like investors and customers to buy into your idea, if you don’t love it yourself. Pick a mission that you truly believe in, and you’re already giving yourself a great start.
Put the right team in place
We cannot emphasise this one enough. Even the best idea in the world won’t come to much if you don’t have the right team to execute it. Having the relevant skills and experience is important, but you should also choose to work with people who share your ambitions, your energy, and your vision for the company.
Do not underestimate branding
Branding is much more than just a logo and a font. It’s your company’s soul. It’s your values, your look-and-feel, and your vision. Nowadays, building a trusted and respectable brand is just as valuable as having a good product. In an ideal world, your product or service would speak for itself, but it cannot. That’s what your branding is for – so don’t leave it to the last minute.
Nail your elevator pitch
When it comes to introducing your company, you should aim to impress. You never know when you might meet somebody who could help your business, and having them listen to a fumbled explanation of your startup will not inspire confidence. Prepare two-to-three short, sharp sentences that describe who you are, what your startup does, and why, and then practice them so you’re ready to make a great first impression. Also, practice and nail other, more detailed versions of your pitch, especially your investor pitch.
Do your research
This one might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people are not thorough. Are you solving a real problem? Is there a big enough market for your solution? Will people actually pay for your product? If so, how much? How will you reach your customers? Do you have competitors, and what are they up to? You should know this information like the back of your hand.
Never stop talking to your customers
That research that we referred to above is not a one-time task. Your customers can continually provide you with valuable insights if you keep engaging with them. Test out ideas with consumers, request feedback, and pay attention to how people interact with your brand. This learning process could help you to improve your brand and product and might even spark fresh, new ideas.
To build a connected community around your brand, you need to provide your audience with added value. A good way to do this is with content marketing. Are you selling plant-based dog food? Don’t just advertise your kibble – write blogs about pet health and nutrition, film behind-the-scenes videos of your startup journey, and share photos of customers enjoying your products. Engage with your customer community. People love stories and are enticed by interesting content shared on the channels they use.
Reach out to people, network, and speak to fellow founders and entrepreneurs. Seek out people you can learn from, and listen to their advice. Check out incubators and accelerators that can support you. You’ll still want to make your own decisions at the end of the day, but having trusted advisors who’ve been there and done that will give you an incredible advantage.
Build in buffers
This is not meant to scare you – but everything is going to take longer than you expect. Bear this in mind when fundraising, looking for production partners, and trying to get listings, for example. Build in time buffers if you can, plan realistically, and always have a Plan B in your back pocket, just in case things don’t go according to plan.
Stay on top of your cash flow
One of the main reasons for startup failure is running out of funds. Establish budgets, track all of your spending, and limit your early expenses in order to help mitigate that risk. Don’t dream when it comes to your financial model – make solid and plausible forecasts. Make solid and plausible forecasts. Also, don’t feel pressured to quit your day job if you can’t afford to do so right away (although, at some point, you will need to fully focus on your startup). Having a steady flow of income can give you financial peace of mind until your business really takes off.
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