Love to cook up a storm? If you’re looking for a side hustle or a new full time enterprise, we’re here to help with a comprehensive guide on starting a food business from home in the UK.
Demand for locally produced artisan foods is rising, and lots of talented home cooks are jumping on the trend.
Starting a home food business gives your fledgling enterprise many benefits. It offers flexibility, low start up overheads, and the chance to test your concept without having to rent business premises.
When setting up in your home kitchen, it’s essential to understand the legal and regulatory requirements to ensure you’re compliant. Our guide will help you understand your obligations, and will offer business inspiration and effective marketing tips.
Ideas for Home Food Businesses
Home food businesses have become increasingly popular in recent years. It is not hard to see why either. They tend to be flexible businesses that many entrepreneurs start up to fit in with their family life.
It comes with all the perks of being your own boss but without a great load of stress. The start up costs are also relatively low, meaning the process can be started quickly. Training is minimal and once you have the correct insurance, you are good to go.
Are you still searching for inspiration? Here’s some of the more popular ways to sell food from home and make money.
Home Cake Business
There are so many occasions deserving of cake. Weddings, birthdays, graduations, christenings, anniversaries, parties – they all need a cake to be perfect. This is why home cake businesses do so well – everyone needs cake.
This type of food business offers so much variation in the cakes that can be offered. Most of these businesses will work to very specific instructions and give their cakes that personal touch.
As well as large celebration cakes, you have also got the option of producing cake boxes. This increase your selling opportunities greatly.
Selling sweets never gets old. Running a sweet business from home has so many advantages. You can work to your preferred schedule and it can fit in around childcare.
Sweets are timeless and there are so many ways to take such a business forward. You can find a niche and work with that, such as retro sweets which are very popular. Or you can offer sweet hampers, sweet bouquets, or themed sweet packages.
This is a great opportunity for those who aren’t particularly keen on baking. You simply bulk buy the sweets you want to sell and go from there. Presentation is key when selling sweets, you’ll do far better if you can come up with a concept that intrigues customers.
The set up costs won’t be high and there isn’t much red tape to navigate before you can begin selling sweets.
Selling Food Online
Selling food online offers so many options for your new home based business. You can access a wide range of customers for a defined niche that might not work locally. Products such as meal kits, coffee, tea and food event boxes are growing in demand.
Finding your niche in this area is important. Once you find what is going to appeal to the community, you can find yourself with a lucrative business. There are many quirky ideas that people look for to make their events a little different. Operating a food box business is something that businesses and other customer types would appreciate.
Food hampers are another great idea because they can be used for so many occasions. They can be designed to order and the starting costs again will be quite low. Again, you aren’t physically making the food either. You just need to find good suppliers and products for your business, and invest time perfecting your presentation.
Once you are up and running you can run the business in a way that suits you and your lifestyle.
Afternoon Tea Delivery
Who doesn’t enjoy a spot of afternoon tea? Those cute little finger sandwiches, cakes galore and dainty salad boxes.
The great thing about afternoon tea businesses is that everyone enjoys them. Also, there doesn’t need to be a specific occasion to enjoy one. Offering to deliver the afternoon tea is a bonus and a great way to build your clientele.
You can to offer a sweet and savoury option for your clients. Also, you can have a cream tea service as well – clotted cream, jam and melt in the mouth scones. You can offer your services to the public and also to business events where nibbles are required.
Perhaps a more ambitious option but lucrative nonetheless, you can start a catering business from home. There are so many events where caterers are required.
Not just big parties either – often small corporate events want a reliable caterer.
This type of business doesn’t cost the earth to set up and you can be up and running quickly. The trickiest part will be getting your business out there to the right people. To do this effectively, you should look at providing a range of catering options.
From low key small lunch ideas to wedding venues, the opportunities are endless. You could consider quirky ploughman lunches, posh salads, sandwich boxes, mini burgers, pigs in blankets and so much more.
This type of business would involve preparing and cooking the food plus time spent travelling to the events. However, it can still fit in with your schedule and provide a good income.
Getting Your Home Food Business Set Up
Once you have decided what type of food business fits your skills, there are some practical tasks to take care of. These are essential to ensure your business is running legally and efficiently.
It is important to be aware of the steps you need to take to set up your food business from home. Missing out on these steps can be costly in the long run so cutting corners just isn’t an option.
Rules on Selling Food From Home
Before you can start running a food business from home, you need to know the rules that apply here. To help, here’s a list of things to be aware of before you can legally become a business.
- You need to register your business with HMRC. This is a legal must as you will need to declare your income annually and pay any tax that is owed.
- You also need to register with Environmental Health or your local council. This is also a legal must. Someone from Environmental Health will come and inspect your work area before you can start selling.
- Download the Safer Food, Better Business pack which is free online. This gives you all the knowledge you need to be aware of concerning food laws. There are also useful checklists you can use such as fridge temperatures.
- A food hygiene certificate may not be a legal requirement. However, you will be asked to demonstrate your compliance with UK food laws. Doing the appropriate training is the best way to achieve this.
- Prepare your food business for an inspection from an EHO. Use your knowledge from the training and the safer food pack to prepare for this.
- Let your mortgage lender or landlord know where applicable. Running businesses from home does not often present problems. However, if there are any issues, it makes sense to find these out from the start.
Food Hygiene Certificates
Although not a legal requirement, a food hygiene certificate is hugely beneficial for a food business from home. It shows compliance and professionalism and shows everyone you understand food legislation.
Holding a hygiene certificate also gives you greater confidence when operating from home. It helps you understand the need for food hygiene practices and why a high standard is required.
You can advertise your food hygiene training as part of your marketing activities to improve customer trust.
Insurance For Home Food Businesses
The next big consideration is the type of insurance policies you need for your food business. They are not all a legal requirement, but they can provide vital support if needed.
Running a business venture on your own means everything falls on your shoulders. This can be a heavy responsibility which can be lessened knowing you have the legalities in place.
Public Liability Insurance
Public liability insurance provides crucial protection when interacting with the general public. It is advisable to have a strong legal support system in case you ever need it. This security can be gained through a suitable PLI policy.
Operating a food business can lead to challenging and complex situations involving the public. Incidents such as accidents on your premises, food poisoning, or mishaps at events can all be covered by public liability insurance.
As a self-employed individual, you are responsible for resolving customer complaints, including those of a legal nature. Consequently, securing appropriate coverage can offer tremendous peace of mind.
Product Liability Insurance
Food businesses operating from home may also wish to consider purchasing Product Liability insurance. This can offer protection to the business in the event of a product breaking or a complaint being made against a product.
Paying out a small amount annually might be preferable to footing a large bill further down the line. If a customer complains about a product you have provided, this type of cover can help.
Often, you can purchase public and product liability insurance as a combined policy.
Employer’s Liability Insurance
Employer’s liability insurance is a must for any food business wishing to take on staff. Even if you have a single employee who helps out irregularly, you should have this type of insurance.
This type of policies protects businesses against claims from employees who suffer work related injuries or illnesses.
This insurance is crucial for businesses, including those in the food industry, as it can cover legal fees and compensation costs should an employee file a claim.
Business Contents Insurance
You may wish to consider business contents insurance when running a food business from your home. Particularly if you have invested in expensive equipment to operate effectively.
Business equipment will not be covered by your home policy. This type of policy can cover cooking equipment, laptops, mobile phones and anything else needed to run your business.
Creating a Business Plan
Having a detailed business plan is a great idea for any new business. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just an idea of how things will work and your goals for the future.
You want to lay your ideas out in the plan and the steps you wish to take to help achieve your goals. There are a few things to consider when putting together a business plan for your food business.
- Think about the brand you want to create.
- Decide on your niche which then leads to your target audience.
- Be as unique as possible so that you stand out in a crowd.
- Think of the practicalities and who you will sell food to.
- Will you be offering a delivery service?
- Jot some figures down such as expected start up costs and projected profit for the next 5 years.
A business plan is an evolving document that you can keep adding to along the way. You will think of new ideas and putting them down helps you remain organised and motivated.
Food Business Name Ideas
Once you’ve decided your concept, you’ll need to settle on a great food business name. It’s very important not to let this important task become an afterthought
Getting the business name right from the start is a must. This means spending time researching and being creative but to the point. Good branding can greatly increase enquiries, so give your name the time it deserves.
You also want to check no one else in your area is already operating under your preferred name. You don’t want to create any bad feelings between yourself and other established local businesses.
Dessert Business Name Ideas:
- Just Desserts.
- The Pudding Stop.
- Dishy Desserts
Cake Business Name Ideas:
- Sugar and Sprinkles.
- A Piece Of Cake.
- Time For Cake.
Catering Business Name Ideas:
- Catering For You.
- All Events Catering.
- Sugar and Spice Catering.
See Also: Cake business name ideas – see our comprehensive guide to cake and baking brand names.
Registering Your Business With HMRC
You must register your food business within 3 months of opening. You need to open a personal account with HMRC.
Then you will need to register your type of business. Most businesses operating from home do so under the title of a sole trader. However, there is also the option of becoming an LTDcompany.
You need to submit a self assessment tax return each year, even if you do not make enough to be taxed.
Although not a necessity, you may wish to consider opening a separate business bank account. This can help keep your personal and business accounts completely separate.
One advantage to doing this is having everything in one place when it comes to filing your tax return. At a glance, you can see all business activities without having to pick the relevant information. It helps you budget and keeps a careful eye on any profits or losses.
It can also be useful if you wish to hire an accountant as they can have access to your figures without seeing personal information.
Getting the Word Out – Food Business Marketing Tips
You’re all set up, all the legal stuff is in place so now it is about getting the word out there! Drawing in customers can be tricky for any new business but there are things you can try.
- Create an Engaging Social Media Presence: Establish a strong online presence on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, showcasing your products and sharing customer experiences.
- Distribute Flyers and Leaflets: Hand out eye-catching flyers and leaflets to promote your business in the local community and raise awareness.
- Organise Competitions: Run contests and giveaways to encourage customer engagement and create a buzz around your brand.
- Encourage Word of Mouth: Ask satisfied customers to share their positive experiences with friends and family, driving more referrals.
- Advertise Locally: Place adverts in local newspapers, magazines, and online platforms to reach your target audience in your area.
- Offer Drop in Opportunities: Provide an open-house event or tasting sessions to allow potential customers to sample your products and experience your services.
- Participate in Fairs and Markets: Join local food festivals, farmers markets, or community events to showcase your products and increase visibility.
- Talk About Your Business as Much as Possible: Share your passion for your food business with others in everyday settings like playgrounds, hair salons, and charity shops to create interest and generate potential leads.
- Build a Free Website: Utilise free website builders to create a professional-looking website to showcase your products, share your story, and provide contact information for potential customers.
You can legally sell food from home as long as you have the appropriate insurance in place. You should display a food safety certificate to show compliance.
You need to register a food business from home with your local council. They will send out an Environmental Health officer who will inspect your premises.