After graduating high school I found a calling in the pastry kitchen. I love the science and precision of this art. After joining Thomas Haas’ team and working in some well known chocolate shops in Tokyo and Dubai, I knew it was time to open the shop of my dreams. Despite having the passion, skill and vision to do this, however, I still had a lot to learn about the business side of things.
In 2016 I opened my chocolate bar after creating a collection of 12 fun, layered chocolate bars with crispy, crunchy, chewy, sweet and salty layers inspired by the candy bars of my youth. As we grew our retail shop, we designed a collection of truffles and confections and I stumbled upon the Feeding Growth program. This food business boot camp seemed like a good fit to take my business to the next level and was taught by influential mentors. I would highly recommend this program to anyone thinking of starting a food processing business.
Here are five things I learned that I wish I knew a little sooner:
- Decide on your branding and keep all marketing in the same style. Customers need to see your brand and logo a few times to remember it. Keep your social branding, website and packaging consistent.
- Borrow more than you think you need. Keep some of your start-up funds aside for the unexpected. Throughout the first year of operating I encountered a few financial surprises, from my first hydro bill t my first GST and payroll remittance bills and WorkSafe BC annual premiums. The increasing cost of goods or needing more inventory when we grew as a business also wasn’t something obvious to plan for.
- Price your product right the first time. Once we created our chocolate bars and calculated our costing, we got the good advice to add in future distribution and brokerage margins because it’s not easy to increase prices later. Deciding to put your products into Distribution means another company is going to stock, sell and deliver it to stores. Hiring a Broker is essentially hiring a sales manager who will get your products into more stores. Once you have distribution, it is often recommended to hire a brokerage company to meet sales volumes. Each company will take a piece of profit. Feeding Growth offers an excellent class that explains everything, and gives you tools to calculate margin and profit for each scenario.
- Source your ingredients. Ensure every ingredient meets your quality standards and that there is enough available fr you to purchase. We often pre-order ingredients for our seasonal items and work closely with our main suppliers. Once your ingredients are listed on your packaging with nutritional facts, it’s difficult to find a replacement.
- Buy the right bar-codes, and print your packaging with all the CFIA standards the first time. Do the research to find out what your wholesale customers will require and meet those packaging standards. Hiring an experienced designer in food packaging like this one is essential.