Start a food staple 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 food staple 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 food staple business?
Depending on the level of involvement in this industry, you will likely have to raise some capital before starting. Let’s also presume that you will be operating a modest staple food shipping company with seven vehicles in your fleet. You are also operating regionally to start off.
- Insurance, licensing, state, federal, and local fees
- Mortgage or lease on a building
- Office set up, including furniture, technology, and utility services
- Leasing or buying vehicles
- Advertising and marketing, company uniforms, signage, and a website
- Manufacturing and processing machines and employees
What are the ongoing expenses for a food staple business?
Maintaining a fleet of delivery trucks and salaries for your employees will make up most of your ongoing costs. If you are also manufacturing or processing staple foods, the maintenance of your factory and machines will also remain a cost. Also, the price to mortgage or lease buildings and vehicles can be factored into the total costs.
Finally, insurance, operating fees, and training and certifying employees will affect your bottom line, as well.
Who is the target market?
Grocers, retail centers, restaurants, and food vendors are your audience.
How does a food staple business make money?
Delivery of products to grocers and retailers completes your part of the loop for this complex commerce ecosystem. Revenue is generated through this and other related services.
How much can you charge customers?
Shipping and delivery costs are the majority of the costs to your customer. A staple food’s cost is often regulated and monitored on a state and federal level. Staple food companies will usually charge a fee for the brokering of the goods, as well.
How much profit can a food staple business make?
Food staple pricing is fairly regulated and standardized, so your earnings will ultimately stem from your ability to keep your overhead costs low. The type of state food you service will also determine your earnings. Overall, most state food services can expect profit margins in the 30% range.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Essential food and lifestyle products can evolve. Be aware of changing trends and capitalize on new opportunities.
Consider shipping non-essential items, as well, when you have excess payload space.
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 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 food staple 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 3D printing design 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 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.
If you are developing a unique product, concept, brand, or design, it is prudent to protect your rights by registering for the appropriate trademarks and copyrights.
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.
How to promote & market a food staple business
Since you’ll more than likely be selling wholesale to vendors who sell to the general public, your marketing and advertising methods may differ a bit.
- Look for ways to connect with your vendors and buyers and keep in contact regularly. They are your business partners. Without being too overbearing, you want to remain in the minds of all your business partners, as much as possible.
- Create a website to help generate leads and give straight-forward information about what your business offers.
- Create a recognizable logo and put it on everything you own (e.g., trucks, vans, hats, shirts, etc.). Brand recognition is vital.
- Know your business and show your partners as much with your business savvy. You are often your business’s best advertising.
How to keep customers coming back
Treat each customer the same, no matter how big or small. Make them all important and develop business strategies that benefit both of you. Offer incentives and deals, when applicable, as a kind of ongoing customer appreciation. As you grow and become more successful, don’t forget all the partners that helped you achieve success.
Still unsure about what kind of business you want to start? Check out the latest Small Business Trends to help inspire you.
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 Food Staple 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?
Individuals with experience in commercial food services, such as sales, manufacturing, and shipping would be solid fits for this business. Also, experience in the grocery industry will be pertinent. Overall, any experience in shipping and supply and demand will come in handy.
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 food staple business?
As the name implies, staple foods and products are in almost constant demand. Therefore, logistics for shipping and receiving are important factors for success. Checking shipping manifests and product inventory will also continually take place. Often, time will also be spent conversing with existing customers and meeting new ones.
Depending on the state food industries your business represents, you may also be spending time on conference calls and industry seminars in order to stay competitive in your field.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful food staple business?
As we mentioned above, the staple food industry is healthy and thriving, as are associated businesses. Understanding how all businesses and industries spider web together helps an entrepreneur make more educated choices and decisions.
For instance, the grocery, farming and agriculture, shipping, trade, and futures markets are tied together around these human necessities. Understanding the financials and supply and demand aspects for each entity helps you to be a stronger business owner.
What is the growth potential for a food staple business?
Staple foods will continue to be in high demand, although the trends towards some food alternatives may adjust the types of foods in greater demand. Just the same, there is ample room for entrepreneurs to enter the staple food market. Growth will continue to happen in the industry, along with consumer appetite. Still, we are in the midst of uncertain times, and competition in this industry also always exists, so be savvy and business smart when you look to expand and grow.
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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.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
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 food staple business?
Because this is such a densely populated market and industry, you may do best to focus on an underrepresented food or product. Some staples of other countries or cultures may need greater exposure, and your business may fill that void. Either way, find a way to stand out.
Find and form partnerships with other smaller, more independent grocers or markets. Help each other grow and form business loyalty in the process.
Keep pricing consistent and fair. Don’t expect to get rich by charging the most and squeezing your customers for your benefit. Build your business through a solid reputation.
How and when to build a team
For a staple food business, you’ll least need some delivery drivers from the start. If you are also a driver and manage the books, you can stay relatively small. As demand grows, your best option is to expand to avoid wearing yourself thin and losing contracts because of lagging service and deliveries.