That’s the consensus of a number of successful food and drink businesses, FoodManufacture.co.uk can reveal.
Sameena Thompson, owner of The Art of Curry, said brand identity and professionalism were the two key areas businesses should focus on.
“Make sure you have a strong brand identity and a great story,” she told FoodManufacture.co.uk.
“Spend time on getting this right, and make it as professional as possible. You know your product is great, so present it in the best way you can with great packaging and a standout website. It will help your customers, suppliers and buyers to know that you are serious about your business.”
Don’t wait for perfection
Dan Knowlson, co-founder of raw chocolate firm Elements for Life, said entrepreneurs shouldn’t focus on making their product perfect before launching it.
“Don't keep putting off getting your idea started for everything to be perfect; it never will be and it’s an excuse for not giving it a go,” he said.
“Get on with it, get your product launched and then continuously improve on what you’re doing. About the only time it’s important to really nail things from the start is if you're aiming to launch straight in to big stores.”
Businesses should also understand whether their product was a “ground breaking” new category or an improved version on something already out there; why they make it; why it is better than other products on the market and why it is the right product for your customer or prospective outlet, Knowlson claimed.
He encouraged people to always follow leads with retailers and not take it too personally if they decided not to list their product.
“Your product is your baby and you love it dearly,” he said. “You can’t see why everyone else won’t love it too. But the fact of life is not everyone will, so don’t take it personally. Which is hard, because its your baby.”
Top tips for start-ups
- Have a strong brand identity
- Continuously improve product
- Trial your product
- Research market
- Seek business support
Meanwhile, click here to find out why Knowlson said food and drink firms should shun the major retailers.
Ian Perry, founder of ready meal firm Badger’s Dairy & Egg Free, said people should thoroughly check their desired market to make sure their product is wanted and needed.
Trials and objective feedback
Charles Baughan, md of Westaway Sausages, said firms never spend a penny until they have trialled their product.
Drinks entrepreneur James Needham, who is currently looking for a manufacturer to produce his fermented tea drink Kombucha, said start-ups should research their product on strangers.
“Friends will always be nice,” he said. “You need objective feedback and if possible you need to frame your research in such a way that it draws out any negatives.”
Jenny Moloney founder and md of Moral Fibre Food, said firms should seek out business support organisations such as Enterprise Nation.
“My one piece of advice, without a doubt, is to invest £20 and join Enterprise Nation,” she said.
“The networking opportunities, a wealth of knowledge at hand and the variety of quality, informative events throughout the year make it the best spend ever for a start-up business.”
Find out more about Enterprise Nation in our exclusive video with its founder Emma Jones.
Samina Courtin, founder of Mon Dessert, said people had to have a lot of grit to make a success of a food business.
She said firms would have to accept setbacks from retail buyers, experience early mornings and late nights and unsuccessful days on market stalls.
“This is the grit that will eventually pay off,” she said. “And when that call comes in to say you’ve got that deal it’s all worth it. You just need to have that grit.”
Start-up bosses: in their words
Knowlson: “Your product is your baby and you love it dearly ... You can’t see why everyone else won’t love it too.”
Thompson: “Make sure you have a strong brand identity and a great story.”
Perry: “Check your market, make sure its a wanted/needed product.”