8 Things To Know If You’re Starting A Food Business In 2020

Tanvirul Islam Dipto
5 min readSep 13, 2020


The coronavirus pandemic has forced many of us to take up new hobbies to keep busy. It seemed like everyone I knew started baking or cooking. I had my social media feeds filled with loaves of sourdough, fancy cakes, delicious desserts, traditional recipes, and whatnot. I am not much of a baker, but I joined in, too. I learned to make chocolate chip cookies and fluffy buns.

My love for food goes a long way. In the last few years, I had the opportunity to work with 7+ popular food brands. I was fortunate enough to work on every stage of the business, from planning, launching to growing a diversified portfolio of brands.

Are you planning to turn your culinary hobby into a money-making business or start an online food business commercially? I’ve put together some tips to set you up for an incredible start.

Hopefully, at the end of the article, you’ll have clear ideas about where to start and how to plan your next step.

🚀 Start Small

It may seem redundant at this point although, I can’t stress it enough. You need to be prepared to lose it all if it doesn’t work out. So, you may as well as make sure that financial loss is as small as possible. Start with two to four recipes, off the shelf packaging, and buy things at the small quantity to start.

✅ Learn The Best Practices

It’s critical to know how to store cooked food, meat properly, and standard kitchen hygiene practices. The health of your customers should be the utmost priority.

🍱 Menu Selection

Your selection of the menu can make or break your business. You should have a coherent approach to selecting your menu. Try picking items that appeal to a wide range of people instead of a niche. Here’s a few more question you should answer before selecting an item.

How much time do you need for preparation?

If it requires a lot of time to prepare, you may opt-in for taking pre-orders.

Are the ingredients and their substitutes widely available? Can you get the best price for them?

It’s critical to find reliable and affordable vendors to buy them because any ingredient’s unavailability may disrupt service and cause the food quality to go down. If you’re buying them for a higher price, it will be hard to make a profit.

Is it going to travel well?

At this point, it’s most likely that you’ll sell your food online and deliver it. It’s necessary to make sure all of your items are still tasty and holding the original shape after traveling for 45–60 minutes. Test them by putting them in the packaging you’ll use and leaving them for an hour at different temperatures.

🥡 Packaging

Correct packaging and materials are vital to protect the food during transportation, handling, and distribution and to preserve the condition of food as it travels from your home to your consumers.

Remember, you don’t need expensive custom-designed packaging to get started. Custom packaging requires lots of research & trials, a larger quantity, and considerable financial commitment to get it right.

I strongly recommend you to start with off the shelf packaging that you can buy from local supermarkets at a smaller quantity. It’ll save you a significant amount of upfront expenses and help you be more flexible with experiments.

Here are the key things to look for when buying packaging: Sealing, Materials, Durability, and Availability.

Buy Off The Shelf Standard Packaging To Cut Upfront Costs

💸 Know Your Unit Economics

It’s vital to understand your unit economics, to turn a profit. You want to know what exactly the cost of each item, total profit, what’s left after you share your revenue with the aggregators like food panda, Pathao Food, Cookups.

It’s such a critical part of the success that it deserves an article on its own. I’ll share the process of calculating the cost of ingredients and how to calculate your pricing and margins for an entire menu in a separate article. I will link the blog here once it’s published.

Calculating Cost Of Ingredients

👂🏻Feedback, Feedback, Feedback

You’ve got to collect feedback from your customers to understand how well they respond to your product. I can’t stress the importance of feedbacks enough!

Here are a few scenarios where customer feedback will help you grow and ensure quality.

  • You get to build a genuine relationship with your customers.
  • You will learn exactly how to satisfy them.
  • You will understand the market trends and have the opportunity to work on more competitive offerings.
  • It makes customers feel heard and portrays you as a responsible business owner.
  • You will know what’s doing well and what’s not and why. It’ll help you make better iterations.

📸 Use High-Resolution Pictures

The easiest way to take your marketing efforts to the next level is by using well thought out high-resolution photos for your items.

Beautiful photographs will make your customers stop, look, and want to taste it. You don’t need to shell out $$$ to hire a professional photographer to take pictures of your items.

If you’ve got a smartphone with a good camera or a friend who has it, it will do just fine. Most of the established food brands do the same whenever they need to cut costs or optimize their budget.

Pull up some good pictures from Pinterest that have beautiful compositions. Try to replicate them with whatever you have available at your home. You’ll be surprised by your photography skills.

📊 Know Your Growth Metrics

Growth metrics are the indicator of how well your business is performing. It’ll help you make more data-driven decisions as your business grows, and you plan to invest more.

I’ll write a more in-depth article covering the most critical growth metrics for the food businesses and how to calculate them.

For now, here’s a list of the metrics that you should be tracking.

  • The number of orders.
  • The number of customers.
  • The number of unique customers. (new customers who joined over a certain period)
  • The number of delivery.
  • Monthly customer retention.
  • Weekly/monthly GMV. (total sales over a certain period)
  • Average basket/order value.
  • Acquisition cost per customer.
  • Order frequency. (how often each customer is ordering from you)
  • Percentage of returning customers out of total customers.

I would love to hear your thoughts on these topics, so please leave a comment. If you have any questions, please reach out to me on any social media or leave a comment. It’ll try to answer it for you. 💯

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