Start a baby food business by following these 10 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your baby food business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Check out our How to Start a Business page.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a baby food business?
A baby food business can be started for fairly little money.
Business owners need a commercial kitchen to prepare food in and a retail space to sell food at. The cost of a kitchen can be kept low by renting a commercial kitchen at a church, VFW or other nonprofit organization. At first, an inexpensive booth at a farmer’s market can be used to sell in-person to customers.
Other initial expenses include the price of ingredients and packaging supplies. These can be purchased in small quantities at first to keep upfront expenses down, though. As a business grows, more supplies can be bought with the revenue that’s brought in from sales.
What are the ongoing expenses for a baby food business?
The ongoing expenses for a baby food business include rental costs for a commercial kitchen and the cost of purchasing more supplies. These costs are minimal.
Who is the target market?
A baby food business’ ideal client is a new parent who wants to give their baby high-quality food and has discretionary income. Such a parent will likely be willing to pay a premium for good baby food, and they have the income required to buy premium baby food on a regular basis. Once hooked on a brand, a new parent will likely get baby food for several months or years. They’ll need baby food until their child can eat solid food.
How does a baby food business make money?
A baby food business makes money by selling packaged baby food. Businesses may sell baby food to customers in-person or online. Or, they may sell through other retailers.
How much can you charge customers?
Most baby food comes in a small package that lasts a few meals, at most. These packages generally sell for a few dollars, and sometimes even less than $1.00. Organic and premium baby foods command higher prices than non-organic foods.
While businesses can’t charge a lot for individual packages of baby food, parents usually buy several packages at once. Additionally, parents buy baby food for several months after their baby begins eating food. Investopedia places the amount parents spend on baby food each month at about $60.
How much profit can a baby food business make?
Baby food businesses can be highly profitable. When she was selling baby food only at a local farmer’s market, Carlson brought in $30,000 a month. Businesses that get their foods into national retailers can bring in millions each year.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Baby food businesses can increase profitability by shipping baby food to customers. Little Spoon is a baby food business that does this.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Baby Food Business Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your baby food business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.
Open net-30 accounts
When it comes to establishing your business credit, net-30 vendors are considered the way to go. The term "net-30," which is popular among vendors, refers to a business credit arrangement where the company pays the vendor within 30 days of receiving goods or services.
Net-30 credit terms are often used for businesses that need to obtain inventory quickly but do not have the cash on hand.
Besides establishing business relationships with vendors, net-30 credit accounts get reported to the major business credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business Credit). This is how businesses build business credit so they can qualify for credit cards and other lines of credit.
Recommended: Read our guide on the best net-30 vendors so you can start building business credit now, so you never have to worry about cash flow in the future. Keep in mind that poor cash flow is the #1 reason businesses fail!
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a baby food business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For more information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
When selling food, you will need licensing from a local health department; all establishments serving food are required to pass a health inspection. Tips for faring well on a health inspections
There are federal regulations regarding what can and cannot be added to, sold as, and processed with food. Attached is a resource from the Food and Drug Administration detailing the process of starting a food business: How to Start a Food Business
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
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How to promote & market a baby food business
One of the best ways to market a new baby food business is to directly connect with customers. Parents will recommend a business to other parents if they're pleased with the product. New parents are always asking each other about different things they need.
Connecting with customers directly lets business owners get feedback on their foods and make adjustments. This ensures that business owners develop a product parents like.
How to keep customers coming back
A baby food business can set itself apart from other businesses in the industry by specializing in a particular type of baby food. For example, a business might offer only organic foods, or it might focus on locally sourced foods.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use.
Recommended: Find the best phone system for your business; check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2021.
Start A Baby Food Business In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
Anyone who enjoys young children and isn’t afraid to experiment in the kitchen may like running a baby food business. Coming up with unique recipes requires creativity. Being fond of babies helps business owners connect with parents they hope to sell baby food to.
A baby food business can be started as a part-time endeavor. Baby food can be made during weekday evenings and then sold on weekends. This is what Jennifer Carlson did when she opened a baby food business. She made baby food during the week and froze it. On the weekends, she sold it at a local farmer’s market.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a baby food business?
A baby food business owner spends a lot of time making, packaging, and selling baby food. When not directly working with baby food, business owners take care of other tasks. They clean their kitchen, order supplies, pay bills, and market their baby food business.
At times, business owners also research new flavors. This is a trial-and-error process that involves creating many test batches.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful baby food business?
To run a baby food business, owners must know how to make baby food.
After taking a course, business owners may want to keep a baby food recipe book on hand for reference and inspiration. A few titles that might be helpful include The Big Book of Organic Baby Food, 201 Organic Baby Purees and The Baby and Toddler Cookbook.
What is the growth potential for a baby food business?
A baby food business may be a small operation that only sells baby food locally, or it can be a national business that has food in stores throughout the country. Carlson grew her business from a stand at her local farmer’s market into a national company that has baby food in Wal-Mart, Target, and other major retailers. Similarly, Fran Free grew her baby food business from a small startup into a company that has food in many Whole Foods Market stores and offers private label baby food.
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a baby food business?
How baby food is packaged impacts the final product in three ways. Packaging should be convenient so parents can use it without making a mess. It also should be affordable, so it doesn’t increase the cost of the final product too much. Finally, the packaging used ought to preserve the nutrients in the food.
Choosing the wrong packaging can devastate a business because parents won’t buy the product. When she packaged baby food in frozen form, Free struggled to sell Oh Baby Foods’ baby food. Once she switched to convenient pouches, her company’s sales increased several fold. These shelf-stable pouches are now Free’s primary packaging solution.
How and when to build a team
Most baby food businesses start out with no or few employees. Business owners hire employees to help make and sell baby foods as their business grows and can support employees’ salaries.