In Singapore, eating is said to be our national past-time – and so food establishments are found everywhere, from hawker stalls to food franchises in malls, and the ever-Instagrammable cafes across the island. If you’ve ever thought of jumping on the bandwagon to start a food business, you are not alone.
However, starting a business – food or not – is tricky. A lot of preparation goes into starting a new venture, including conceptualising the products, marketing the brand, and the day-to-day running of the business. For a food business, there is the extra step of taking extremely good care that your food products are up to scratch in terms of taste, presentation, and hygiene.
If you are serious about starting your food business, here are some aspects you need to consider before launching into things proper:
For brick-and-mortar stores like food stalls, the location of the stall is crucial. If you open your eatery along a stretch of other eateries, you will face stiff competition. However, it might also be a good thing as you will get spillover footfall from the regular patrons of the nearby stalls. The best location for food is wherever there are people – so, pick a location near offices, homes, schools, and the like. A visible store front such as near the entrance of a mall, escalators, and train stations is also excellent, so that people can spot your eatery and be enticed to check it out.
Food establishments can come in various kinds, such as a laidback café, a casual eatery, a fast-food joint, or a refined restaurant. Even within these categories, your food business can take on different types of identities. The concept of your restaurant or eatery should be reflected in everything, including the decor of your eatery, the food you serve, and your eatery’s name and logo. For example, if you are going for a traditional Japanese eatery, your restaurant can be decorated with lanterns, Japanese paintings, Japanese styled cutlery, and so on.
The main products of any food business will be the food, of course. Your menu should align with the concept of your business – it would be strange to go to a hipster-looking café only to be served with traditional Chinese food. Most importantly, what keeps customers coming back to your eatery will be the taste of your food, so make sure you have chefs to maintain the quality of your dishes in terms of both taste and hygiene. In an era of social media, food presentation will also be a big bonus, as attractive-looking food will attract more people to try the food.
Getting licenses and permits
In starting a food business in Singapore, you will require certain licensing and permits which will ensure the standard of food safety in your business. Some of these licenses include the Food Shop License from the Singapore Food Agency, and basic food handling certifications for food handlers in your staff team. Additional permits that your business may require depends on the type of business you are doing. For example, you will need to apply for Halal certification if you want to sell Halal food, and you will need an additional license to sell imported food. As with all these licenses, it is not a matter of just applying, but you need to check the requirements and make sure your business adheres to the regulations.
Every business venture requires capital to begin. A substantial amount of money is needed to source for ingredients, rent or buy a location, renovate the stall, buy equipment, hire workers, and so on. As not all potential business owners have the money readily available, you can consider loan options from banks or licensed moneylenders. Knowing the options available to you and the scale of your business will help you make informed decisions on where to source for your capital.
Running a food business requires a lot of logistical setups. After securing a location and shop front, you will need to renovate the space to equip the kitchen with the tools you need, and decorate the seating area to reflect your brand’s image. In particular, you will need to source for cutlery that matches your style – and this is where you realise there are so many types of cutlery designs to choose from! Don’t forget the food packaging supplies if your business offers takeaway options. You can get paper lunch boxes wholesale or opt for plastic containers from a plastic containers supplier in Singapore. To make the restaurant truly unique, you should also invest in an eye-catching signboard for your shop front, as well as branded labels, serviettes, takeaway bags, and other paraphernalia for your business.
Don’t let the challenges of starting a food business hinder your dreams to set up the restaurant or café you envision. With these tips, you will be better prepared for the road ahead. Here’s wishing you all the best in setting up your new venture!