4. Make a Label
Do it yourself. It’s okay if it’s ugly. On the flip side, it’s okay if you think it’s beautiful and amazing and perfect. Most likely it’s not. At the end of the day, what you or your mom or your best friend think about the label is totally meaningless. We could do another blog post on this topic, but at the end of the day all that matters is what your customers think.
Here’s a quick guide to what needs to be included on your label, how to design the different panels of your package, and what needs to be included on each. Note that there are particular requirements for placement and font size when it comes to things like your net weight.
It’s okay if you don’t get these elements of your label exactly right at first if you’re simply selling at farmer’s markets or at small independent stores, but certain retailers like Whole Foods Market won’t accept your product until you’ve perfected your labels.
5. Get Your Product in Front of Customers ASAP
Now that you know what your recipe is, you’ve got minimum viable packaging, nutritional facts, and a label, get your product in front of as many (paying) customers as possible.
(Willingness to pay for your product is a true sign of interest. You don’t want to be in business unless you can generate revenue.)
Ask your customers for their feedback, and consider asking for it anonymously through an online or paper survey. Most people who know you want you to succeed. They may also have on blinders regarding the true quality and viability of your product and therefore aren’t able to give you good, honest, unbiased feedback.
Take your customer feedback and improve your product, then get it back in front of them for another round of feedback, and then improve again. Iteration is the name of the game.
6. Figure out How You Will Produce At Scale
Once you’ve got a solid product and you’re starting to understand how it needs to be packaged and labeled, you’ll need to figure out how you will be able to produce at scale.
We cover this topic on our blog, but there are several options when it comes to producing your recipe at the type of scale that selling retail or wholesale will eventually require. Certain states have cottage laws that will allow you to produce at home for certain products and sell in certain places, like farmer’s markets, up to a certain amount in monthly revenue.
Other states make it easy to get certified to produce at home. You’ll need to do your own research to understand whether this is an option for you.
As a potential next step, you might consider partnering with someone who already has a commercial kitchen (like a local church or maybe a restaurant that is only open for brunch). Alternately, most cities and some small towns have culinary incubators or commercial kitchens that are setup specifically for entrepreneurs to rent by the hour.
As a final option, you might be able to find a co-packer, or co-manufacturer, that is willing to produce your recipe for you. Note that your recipe may not scale in the way you thought it would, or that a co-packer may require you to change your recipe because they can only use a one-pot process whereas you previously required two, for instance.
If you decide to pursue this route, ask good questions.
One important thing to note about co-packers is that most of them have pretty high minimum runs. Many co-packers require minimum runs of ten thousand or more. Given our previous advice to do things as quickly and cheaply as possible, we generally don’t advise starting with a co-packer, but if you can find one who will do a small initial run at a reasonable price, you might have solved your production problem.