Article by AFM Contributing Writer; Cheryl Conklin
We’re sure you can think of plenty of reasons not to start a business just yet. And if you dream of launching a venture in food service or hospitality, you may be even warier than other industries. Yes, 2020 was one of the hardest years on record for the hospitality sector, with lots of businesses closing and workers laid off. What’s more, the pandemic isn’t over, and its effects on the economy are likely to be felt for some time.
However, as Fast Company points out, there are also legitimate reasons to start a business this year. First: opportunity. The pandemic has opened the floodgates to new customer needs. Second, small business loans are being offered with historically low interest rates right now, not to mention the many other funding opportunities available. Third, there are lots of qualified workers looking for employment.
If your heart is saying to start a business this year, then don’t let the uncertainties of the pandemic or the economy kill your dream. To help you get off to a strong start, Amherst Farmers’ Market is here with some practical tips for the brave entrepreneurs out there:
Create a Business Plan
Writing a business plan is crucial because it will help guide you through the various challenges you’ll face when launching and running your company. Once you’ve refined your business idea, create a document that contains all relevant information pertaining to your business. This should include your core values, service description, target market, funding needs, and more.
Plan Your Staff
Having the right-size staff is essential when starting a business. You don’t want too few employees, and you don’t want too many. The key is to strategize your staff where the right people are working in the right positions. Focus on hiring people with versatile skill sets so that you can easily adapt when necessary. Create a positive work environment, and treat your employees well.
Use a Reliable Accounting System
Your accounting software is at the heart of any successful undertaking, and it goes beyond just keeping accurate books for recording and reporting P&L. Investing in a solid software platform like QuickBooks will help you monitor and report expenses, as well as check on business performance in real time, which assists with ordering and managing inventory. When integrated with payroll, it can also improve scheduling of employees and tracking their time.
Diversify Your Offerings
If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that things can change quickly. Going forward, restaurant and hospitality businesses must remain adaptable and diversify their offerings. Always be assessing new concepts in the industry to determine if you should modify your operations and offerings. Consider licensing your most popular products or recipes. And set up an online store where you can sell groceries, merchandise, and other items related to your company.
Also consider the many benefits of working with local farmers. Not only does this introduce the freshest ingredients and produce to your menu, it’s an appealing statement to your regular customers as well as new diners. This is especially true for millennials, who value the farm-to-table aspect and appreciate the support for local farmers. It’s a true win-win for everyone involved.
Hit the Marketing Hard
Lastly, promote your business as effectively as possible. As soon as you have your business idea ready to go, start getting the word out online and around town. Begin building your online presence by creating a top-notch website. Utilize advertising on social media and email. Hand out fliers, and leave brochures and other marketing materials at local businesses in your area. Moreover, plan a local event or two where you give community members a taste of what’s to come!
Sure, there are reasons not to start a business right now. But there are arguably stronger reasons why you should. Remember to develop a detailed business plan that will help you overcome the upcoming obstacles. Start thinking about what kind of staff you need, and strategize how you can remain adaptable and diverse. Finally, market your business like there’s no tomorrow.
Bringing you organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised, locally-sourced blog posts on a semi-weekly basis from the Amherst Farmers' Market.