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Turning your hobby into a business?

wade

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There have recently been several posts on here from members who have been considering turning their hobby of smoking, curing or otherwise preserving food into a cottage business - however there has been little practical advice as to the best way of going about this. It is vitally important that anyone even half considering doing this needs to realize the full impact of what this actually involves and the potential consequences of what they are getting themselves in to, however it should not be something that is considered too difficult to even attempt.

There is a lot involved in getting a business started, however it should not be prohibitively difficult. Many of us on here have already done it. I know what needs to be done in the UK however in the US the regulations will be different and I understand do vary by state and even by city.

In order to help fellow forum members, if any of you have already successfully gone down this path and are now selling your produce to the public could you please share with us what you have had to go through in your particular area and highlight and particular challenges that you may have had to overcome.

What I think is needed here is general, practical guidance and advice (as opposed to the detailed technical government legal speak) which will enable other forum members to begin along this path. They will of course need to become familiar with all of the legal and safety aspects before they begin trading however this is aimed at providing them with helpful pointers to initially send them in the right direction.

Thanks for your help

Wade
 
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wade

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I am sure that there must be at least one entrepreneur out there...
 
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alblancher

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If the will is there the problems become surmountable.    I have started and run several businesses in my younger years and because I had great optimism and energy my lack of technical knowledge was no more then an inconvenience.    If you want to do it bad enough you will do it.  

Now days I prefer to wake up in the morning and ask myself a simple question  "What do you feel like doing today" not  "damn, how am I going to get everything done today?"

First bit of advice,   really, really want and commit to what it is you are about to do.   
 

smokin monkey

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Hi Wade,

Not exactly in the Smokng/Curing Business, but I run a Hog Roast Company, which started as a hobby, but has now taken over all my weekends.

First Step: You have to register with your local Food Standard Agency. They will want to inspect your premises, your HACCP Plan, which has to include the following.

Suppliers List
Maintenance Contractor List
Goods/Food Purchasers
Delivery Details, including temperatures and packaging condition
Fridge and Freezer Logs
Written HACCP Plan to cover each food item produced
Food Cooking Logs
Cleaning Schedule
Cleaning Records
Cleaning Products Used
Opening & Closing Checks
Food Allergies

Second Step: Check with local council to see if premises can be used for business use.

Third Step: Insurance

Fourth Step: Accountant

Fifth Step: Inform HMRC so they can issue your unique tax numbers and register for VAT if turn over is above £79,000.00

These are only some of the work that's involved, that's even before you start producing and marketing.

Good Luck to anybody who is thinking of taking the plunge, working for your self has got to be better than the big bd boss!


Oh, just one last word of warning!

A customer of mine phoned this morning, on a un identified phone number, He was arrested yesterday, after an early morning raid at his house and his business premises, by the Food Standards Agency, Trading Standards and the Police.

They seized computers, laptops mobile phones everything.

They seized any food or materials even from his private freezer as evidence/to destroy so he can not sell.

He is on bail, and appearing in court next week.

He moved to a new business unit, and was working towards getting it registered etc, when a "concerned member of the public" reported him.

Smokin Monkey
 
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wade

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Very similar experience to myself except that I think we also need to mention training in safe food handling. Basic certification is not expensive and the courses are not too arduous, however I would really recommend one of the advanced food handling supervisor courses that gives you a good understanding of HAACP and the documentation that surrounds it.

We are giving you the legal requirements here in the UK however I am sure there must be a few of you out there who can also give them from the US perspective.
 

jlcnuke

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I haven't done this myself, but I have a friend who had his wife start a food company at home and helped with my family's start-up home repair/remodeling company.  A lot of the requirements for a home food business are similar from what I've heard (obviously the agency names change etc over here in the U.S.).  From a pure "starting a business" perspective, however, I do have some education and experience with my family's (education meaning my degree is in business with a concentration in finance so I have taken classes on business law, small business management etc).

One thing I'd like to add is the establishment of the company itself.  There are a variety of a ways to set up a company such as sole proprietorship, limited liability company (LLC) etc.  Each of the various ways of starting a company have benefits and drawbacks.  I am personally a fan of utilizing a LLC for small businesses for the financial protection but you have to make sure you understand the requirements to establish and maintain it in your location.  My primary reason for favoring this type of a business structure is for the personal liability protection should something go wrong in the business itself.  If done properly, an error that makes the business liable for damages (say a customer tells you/one of your employees they have a food allergy and die because someone serves them food containing the thing they are allergic to).  If done properly, if the damages from such an incident exceeded the assets/insurance of an LLC then that would simply bankrupt the company.  If done improperly (or using a business structure that doesn't separate personal/business liability such as a SP) then the owners of the business could be liable for the rest of the damages and their assets could be used to pay those damages (i.e. you could lose your home, car, investments, etc depending upon the legalities in your location and structure of the business).

While thinking about profits and losses, costs, enjoyment of the "job" you are thinking about starting a business for is important, potential legal liabilities and protection from such liabilities should be an important step in the planning and implementation phases of starting your own business.
 

maple sticks

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As I was retiring soon and needed a interesting hobby (also a little income) I started looking at several options. One I decided on was blueberries. I can sell them at the local farmers market. They have laws protecting small producers in Michigan so liability insurance is not an issue. Its fun and gives me something to do, and eat. Not sure if the same law would cover ready to eat cooked food.
 

jtrainor56

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If you go to the BBQ Brethren forums and under Q-Talk there is a thread that has been going since May of last year with the person documenting his adventure.

This is the title of his posting... after reading it you may change your mind! My apologies if this breaks any rules.

~Joe

Open a BBQ restaurant, they said. It will be fun, they said
 

wade

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I tried also registering on the BBQ Brethren site and it is a mess. Several times I tried to register and it told me that I looked like a spammer as I could not provide a US zip code. Also many of the links to help on their main pages appear to link to random posts within their site. I tried to report this to them but the links they provide to report issues trying to register are also broken. It does not appear to be a very professional organisation and they certainly seem to think that the whole world only exists within the USA!
 

jtrainor56

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Wade, I haven't experienced that problem, matter of fact of the 5-6 forums I belong to, they have almost no advertisements. I think you were at the Forum Portal, that page lists the most current activity. If you go to the Forum Index it takes you right in. I almost never go to the portal. Not sure about USA only but I'll ask the moderator.

~Joe
 

wade

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Thanks Joe. I did try to e-mail the moderator a couple of weeks ago but got no response.
 

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