Knowledge is power. With that in mind, GrowBiz tuned into the second of a series of panel discussions hosted by Florida SBDC at FIU and StartUP FIU Food in which small business owners and branding experts shared their advice about starting an F&B business. (You can read about the first discussion here)
The discussion comes at a key time for many food entrepreneurs who are either starting new businesses for the post-COVID world or are strategizing on how to best position or reposition their company now that the worst days may be over. So let’s get into it. Here are five key takeaways from the discussion.
“We all need to come up with a point of difference. Go back to the table and think more about what your point of difference and what is your route to market,” said Paul van Hamond, who started a company that distributes 22 beverages, including two brands – Expressed Juice and Mixology Maker — created by his company. His company now serves over 700 clients in hospitality and retail.
“Do your due diligence, take the emotion and ego out of it, organize your ideas, seek information, create a plan and act on the plan,” said food entrepreneur Vicky Colas, better known as Chef Vicky, an award-winning chef who also runs a commercial kitchen open to other food entrepreneurs.
Separate your personal and business expenses ad be diligent about understanding what is coming into and out of every segment of your business, said Joycelyn Morris of StartUP FIU Food, whose expertise and background is in finance. For example, she said, now that F&B businesses pivoted to online and delivery sales during the pandemic, you want to see how that part of the business is going. You also want to see how each product line is selling so you can remove what is not selling.
“A brand is a lot more than a logo and a website. The brand is about your product and the customer experience – that is the most important part of your branding strategy,” said Tasha Cunningham, a consultant on marketing and branding who specializes in helping small businesses. To protect your brand, she says it is critical to get feedback from your customers often and be sure to address the complaints of disgruntled customers promptly.
“Know your market, know their needs, know your competitors and what makes you different. You are not alone. SBDC at FIU and StartUP FIU Food are here for you,” said Adriana Madrinan, a consultant for SBDC at FIU who specializes in business model optimization, innovation and growth. She also offers expertise in StartUP FIU’s programs. She noted that SBDC offers no-cost one-on-one business consulting in all areas of starting and growing a business and StartUP FIU Food offers accelerator programs and other resources for food entrepreneurs. “We are here to help you.”
Want more? Listen to the webinar here.