According to a recent study, 92% of would-be entrepreneurs do not act upon their business ideas even though they could represent a massive step forward in their careers. The primary reasoning behind this is financial, as many worry about not having the capital set aside to launch a successful brand.
Fortunately, however, no matter what industry you operate within, there are many ways in which you can reduce the costs of running a business. For example, it is entirely possible to start a food-based business with minimal capital.
After all, this is a highly profitable industry to enter, meaning that your business will only go from strength to strength once launched. Furthermore, with so many options to explore, it’s easy to find your niche within the market, whether you’re opening a restaurant, running a food blog, or teaching online cooking classes!
In this article, we’ll explore ten of the top food business ideas that require minimal investment on your behalf, touching upon both traditional food businesses and innovative online ventures. We’ll also provide guidance on how to get started with these business opportunities.
1. Sell artisan food products
Artisan food products are high-quality handmade goods, often made with locally sourced ingredients. There are many different types of artisan foods, including:
- Baked goods
Although they’re often considered something of a luxury product, this kind of business requires minimal investment on behalf of the owner. After all, you can start from the comfort of your home with basic cooking equipment and sell your artisan goods online, through retail partnerships, at a local farmers market, or through partnerships with a food truck business.
In time, as your business grows, you can afford to get fancier equipment, which will open up even more opportunities in the future.
Furthermore, as consumers become more health-conscious, there’s a growing demand for organic food and goods, so much so that people seek them out over fast food items. In fact, one report found that the US Artisan Bakery Market, which was worth $25.7 billion in 2021, is predicted to surpass $30.1 billion by 2028. When selling artisan products, the time and effort required to create them mean you can command a higher price than you’d be able to for mass-produced goods, allowing for a better return on investment (ROI).
Of course, certain challenges are associated with running an artisan food company. For example, it requires a certain level of culinary skills, and you’ll also need to carefully research packaging and labeling protocols and standards. You’ll also need to refine your food business’s marketing strategy to stand out in a competitive market.
However, you can also take many steps to ensure you hit the ground running. This includes:
- Finding a unique product idea that will stand out.
- Sourcing high-quality, local ingredients.
- Perfecting recipes through trial and error.
- Designing attractive packaging.
- Promoting your products/brand online through social media.
- Attending local events.
2. Teach cooking classes or host a food course
Teaching your own cooking classes or food courses is another excellent example of a business you can start with relatively little capital. After all, these classes can be carried offline in a physical location or online via video conferencing platforms or pre-recorded cooking videos. This could mean you can make repeat income through a video you recorded just once.
Furthermore, you don’t have to spend too much to teach online; you mostly need a good internet connection, a camera, and cooking equipment – all of which you likely have at hand already. If you aren’t sure where to get started, you could use an online course platform such as Udemy and Teachable, or self-host courses using a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress.
There’s a growing demand for this kind of service (especially online) as consumers become more health and spend-conscious, meaning they want to enjoy more homemade meals. In addition to generating income through class fees, you could earn money by selling course materials and books or through partnerships with food brands.
While there’s a great demand for this kind of service, that does not mean that there aren’t certain challenges associated with teaching a cooking class. Again, it requires a certain level of culinary skill on your behalf, alongside some teaching experience.
The classes should be both informative and engaging, so you’ll need to know how to perform in front of people or a camera. Logically, if you’re pre-recording your videos, you’ll need to know how to edit them. Marketing is also very important as you’ll want to constantly bring in students. Finally, if you plan on teaching in person, you’ll also need to find a suitable venue.
3. Start a food blog
Starting a food blog is a prime example of how you can turn a hobby into something profitable, whether you share recipes and cooking tips, review your favorite restaurants or products, or create other forms of food-related content. Again, it also requires minimal investment on your end, and there are plenty of ways to monetize your blog as it grows.
To begin with, however, you must choose a suitable hosting platform for your blog. WordPress is the ideal choice, as it involves minimal costs; you simply need to pay for your domain name and hosting service.
One of the reasons why so many food bloggers choose WordPress is its flexibility – there are thousands of available extensions that will let you create your perfect food blog. WordPress themes offer a foundation for your web design and come with various stylistic elements, page templates, and Gutenberg blocks which you can build on and adapt as needed. You’ll be able to change colors and fonts, create totally new pages, and move around elements until you arrive at a website that represents your brand and ethos. There are various WordPress themes that are specifically designed for food bloggers and other food-adjacent businesses.
To add new functionality to your WordPress website, you’ll need plugins. These usually serve a specific purpose and like themes, can be free or premium. For food bloggers, WP Recipe Maker is an essential plugin that allows you to make aesthetically pleasing recipe cards with multiple functionalities that can be beneficial to you as a website owner, as well as your audience.
Once your website is up and running, you’ll face the typical challenges that any small enterprise must contend with – such as developing a consistent content schedule, building an audience, and generating income. Fortunately, however, food blogs can be monetized in a wide variety of ways, such as through:
- Writing sponsored posts.
- Selling digital cookbooks.
- Selling online courses.
- Ad revenue.
- Affiliate marketing.
The last option is usually what people go for when trying to earn some extra money from food blogging. So, if you want to go this road, the WP Recipe Maker plugin offers you an easy way to include affiliate links for ingredients and cooking equipment.
If you’re unfamiliar with the affiliate marketing process, you’ll receive a small commission each time the user clicks on a link you’ve shared to a specific product or service.
However, WP Recipe Maker can be an incredibly valuable tool for starting a food blog on WordPress in other ways, too. For example, it greatly simplifies the process of creating and sharing recipes online and ensures the content is SEO-friendly.
For each recipe, you’ll get tailored suggestions about improving recipe metadata. This means your content is optimized to perform well and rank highly on all search engines, increasing the traffic and engagement you’ll receive.
You can also use this plugin to access a range of fully customizable templates that will enable you to design a web page that is both visually striking and appealing. This will help you to develop a consistent brand while also heightening engagement. For example, adding images to your recipes makes them easier to follow, especially for beginners.
4. Become a personal nutritionist
If your goal in the food industry is to help others, consider becoming a personal nutritionist. When working as a nutritionist, you can help your clients better manage their health by providing personalized diet plans, healthy recipes, and nutritional advice.
Again, this business venture requires minimal investment on behalf of the founder, especially if you decide to conduct your consultations online. There’s also a growing demand for these services, meaning building a customer base should be relatively straightforward.
Nonetheless, it’s important to note that you must obtain a nutritionist certification before you launch your business. This will ensure that you’re an expert in your field, and once working, you should stay up to date with ongoing nutritional research and studies.
However, the costs associated with becoming certified can quickly be recouped when you monetize this skill. After all, in addition to client fees, you can generate income through selling personalized meal plans and partnerships with health and fitness brands.
If you are considering this career, you should:
- Obtain your nutritionist certification.
- Define your target audience (focusing on a niche market).
- Set up an online store and online consultation platform.
- Advertise your services on social media.
- Attend local fitness and wellbeing events.
5. Sell meal kits
In recent years, meal kit businesses such as Hello Fresh and Blue Apron have exploded in popularity. After all, they tap into a large demographic of consumers looking for an easy way to prepare fresh meals at home.
Again, there are many ways in which you can limit your spending when launching this kind of brand. For example, you can cut costs by sourcing local ingredients from other small businesses and delivering within a limited area.
Of course, you must consider the logistical challenges of a meal-prepping and food-delivery business. You must ensure that you collaborate with trustworthy local suppliers, manage health and safety standards, and maintain a database of appealing recipes.
While you may want to start offering basic meal kits, you can increase your profitability over time by introducing premium dishes or add-ons, such as side dishes and desserts. You can also form profitable partnerships with local suppliers.
When starting this business, you should ensure that you:
- Define your target audience to identify a specific niche (such as busy professionals, parents, and families).
- Develop a rotating menu of dishes to encourage repeat customers.
- Set up a website and online ordering system.
- Promote your business online and through local events.
6. Start a microbrewery
As the name suggests, a microbrewery is a small-scale, independently-owned brewery that produces a limited amount of beers. Believe it or not, this is another venture that can begin at home, though you can always scale into new premises if there’s enough demand for your products.
The most significant benefit of this kind of business venture is that it allows you to create something genuinely unique. This can make it much easier to generate sales, especially among local craft beer enthusiasts.
Of course, you must also ensure that you have the relevant brewing knowledge and skills ahead of time – otherwise, you risk introducing a subpar product into a competitive market. You should also ensure you source high-quality ingredients for your beers.
To succeed within this market, you may also want to seek out the support of investors. This ensures you’ve got enough financial backing to brew delicious craft beers and ensure that your practices are up to date with regulatory standards and practices.
In addition to generating income through sales, you could increase profits by hosting brewery tours or selling branded merchandise.
Before starting this kind of business, you should:
- Carry out extensive research into local and state alcohol laws and regulations.
- Familiarize yourself with the brewing process, from ingredient sourcing to packaging.
- Develop a solid business plan and pitch deck that can be used to grow your brand and capture the attention of potential investors.
- Connect with local bars and liquor stores.
- Promote your brand on social media.
7. Become a food influencer
Social media is no longer a simple communication tool; for some, it’s the basis of their careers. Food influencers, like the Minimalist Baker, use social media to share their passion for food and connect with like-minded people.
This requires minimal investment, as most of your work will be carried out from your smartphone. However, it’s also important to note that it may take a while to generate income as an influencer. Yet, as your following grows, you can generate income through engagement, brand partnerships, sponsored posts, affiliate marketing, and selling digital products such as cookbooks.
To increase your chances of success in this field, you should produce different content for different platforms. For example, you should create longer cooking videos for YouTube and shorter videos or infographics for Instagram.
To continue to build your following, you must ensure that you are posting consistently without letting the quality of your content drop. Maintaining a sense of authenticity is essential by partnering with brands you genuinely like.
If you are looking to become a food influencer, you should:
- Find your niche.
- Learn how to take good food photos with your smartphone and produce videos on your phone.
- Develop a consistent posting schedule.
- Learn about social media algorithms so that they work in your favor.
- Engage with your followers.
8. Organize food tastings
Organizing food tastings is another excellent way to turn your passion for food into profit, especially as they appeal to wide audiences, and there will always be a demand for these services. Food tastings allow attendees to sample various foods from a specific cuisine, chef, or local eatery. For example, you could host an ice cream tasting in collaboration with a local gelateria.
As this is a collaborative project, it requires low investment. For example, some of the money put forward to launch the initiative can be invested by your partners, such as the venue or chef.
There are many challenges you may face along the way. You’ll likely need some event planning skills that enable you to find a suitable venue and encourage high-attendance levels each time you host a tasting. You’ll also have to source high-quality ingredients/dishes and create an exciting menu.
In addition to income generated through ticket sales, you can earn money through partnerships with specific brands and restaurants or by selling merchandise and products at the events. For example, you could allow attendees to purchase any of the products they sample during the tasting, earning a commission through doing so.
If you’re looking to organize food tastings, you should:
- Attend a variety of food-tasting events to see how they are structured and organized.
- Choose a unique theme for your event.
- Partner with local personal chefs/restaurants/cafés.
- Promote the event on social media.
- Ask for feedback from previous attendees before your next event.
9. Become a food photographer
Food photography is a type of business that enables you to collaborate with various partners, including food publications (online and in print), restaurants, influencers, and other food-facing businesses. As such, this pursuit offers plenty of ways to make money.
However, to establish yourself as a leading food photographer, you must take high-quality photographs, which means you must invest in camera equipment ahead of time. This includes:
- Lighting (softboxes, reflectors).
- Backdrops or surfaces.
- Basic editing software.
However, once this equipment is sourced, you’re good to go. Before charging for your photography, you must refine your craft. For example, you should learn how to style food for photos, whether this relates to perfecting the lighting or choosing the right props. Once you’ve covered these basics, you should also set up a website for your brand that can function as a digital portfolio.
As you can work on a wide range of projects as a food photographer, there are many different income streams to explore, though it’s worth noting that you must continually network or market your brand to stand out from the crowd.
If you’re looking to work as a food photographer, you should:
- Hone and refine your photography skills so you can work on a wide variety of projects.
- Find your ‘unique’ edge or Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
- Network at local food-based events.
- Maintain a consistent online presence.
- Share your photos online and develop a strong portfolio.
10. Start a meal-planning subscription service
Meal planning subscription services are similar to meal prep services, only without physical products. Instead, you provide your customers with weekly meal plans, recipes, and grocery lists, which can help simplify their cooking experiences and reduce their time in grocery stores.
Again, there are minimal start-up costs associated with this venture, though you may need to hire a registered nutritionist to help you curate the perfect menus for your clients. You should also invest in meal-planning software or tools. For example, the Saved Recipe Collections feature that comes with the WP Recipe Maker Elite Bundle can be used to create meal plans and generate automatic shopping lists for your customers based on their choice of recipes.
Furthermore, in addition to earning profit through your monthly (or yearly) subscription feeds, you can increase your income by offering add-ons such as one-to-one consultations, tiered membership, or paid partnerships with food stores and brands.
If you’re looking to work as a meal-planning subscription provider, you should:
- Consider studying nutrition or hiring a nutritionist to work as part of your team.
- Curate credible, scientifically backed meal plans.
- Continuously update your menus to keep customers interested.
- Reach out to local brands to discuss partnerships.
- Advertise your services digitally.
Elevate your food business with WP Recipe Maker
As evidenced above, there are plenty of ways to start a food startup without making a significant initial investment. However, regardless of which of the 10 ideas listed above you pursue, you should consider setting up a website, if you haven’t already done so. This will help you to carve out a name within the industry and streamline your marketing efforts. And, to maximize your user experience, you may also want to utilize the WP Recipe Maker.
For example, besides supporting your food blogging efforts, it can be used within any business model listed above. For example, the plugin can be used to help you share recipes as:
- A nutritionist who wants to share healthy recipes with their clients.
- A meal planning subscription provider wanting to curate meal plans.
- A food photographer wanting to show your work in context.
- A microbrewery owner wants to showcase your process step-by-step.
- A food influencer who wants to enhance their social media presence with a food blog.
If you’d like to learn more about how the WP Recipe Maker can benefit your business, try the plugin today!