There are countless success stories where world-famous products were born out of a favorite hobby. The Yankee Candle company was started by a high school boy looking to earn a little extra cash. Gibson Guitar Corporation began when Orville Gibson set up a workshop to provide space for his instrument-making hobby. Many more well-known brands were born in the same fashion – doing something enjoyable which turned into big business.
Turning a hobby into a business is a great way to make the transition to working for yourself exclusively. You maintain your full-time job and financial security while testing the waters for the viability of your new business idea. A lot of hobbies can translate into real cash and there is no better feeling than doing what you love for a living.
Got a Knack for the BBQ?
Barbeque sauce is a popular commodity around the world and many backyard barbeque aficionados have made it their hobby to develop and improve upon their signature barbeque sauce. If you have a BBQ sauce you think is out of this world delicious, why not take a chance and start your own side business? Getting ready to bottle and sell your own barbeque sauce may be less complicated than you think. There are some considerations to be made before you begin but it just may be the time to take your award-winning sauce to new heights!
The true first step in the plan to start a barbeque sauce brand is a testing phase. While you and a few good friends may thing your barbeque sauce is the best thing since sliced bread, not everyone may agree. Take your sauce out in the world and find out what others thing. Visit a local bar or farmer’s market to offer free tasting in exchange for honest feedback. Listen closely to what people have to say about your sauce – good and bad. Go back to the drawing board and do several tastings to gauge results and interest.
If the results are mixed after taste-testing session, consider experimenting further with recipes and ingredients. Keep careful notes about the recipes are you putting together including ingredients, measurements, and cooking times. If you think you’ve improved upon the original offering, go back and do more taste-testing with a public audience. It can take months or longer to perfect your idea and test it out until you have an unbreakable confidence in the product you want to sell. People take barbeque sauce very seriously and there is already a lot of competition in the marketplace. Make sure what you are putting out there is the best it can possibly be. The public may not give you a second chance to make a good impression.
Analyze Ingredients Costs
When you feel you’ve arrived at a point where moving forward with your own barbeque sauce brand makes sense based on public opinion, sit down and analyze the cost and accessibility of the ingredients you are using. You want to use the highest quality, freshest ingredients for the best tasting sauce but you need to confirm the cost of these ingredients is viable during the startup process. You should also investigate your ability to get the ingredients in bulk to ensure you can create enough batches of sauce to make the investment worth your while. If you use seasonal ingredients in your recipe, will you be able to get ingredients all year around for a reasonable cost?
Consider Start-Up Costs
Starting your own barbeque business can be lucrative if you concentrate your efforts on establishing your business correctly from the start. There are more costs involved, especially in the beginning, than just the price of ingredients. You need to consider the cost of supplies used to bottle and label your sauce. Research costs to market your sauce to a wider audience. Ideally, you should work through a full business plan where a cost analysis is part of the process and will give you a very clear picture of the costs and work involved in the business start-up and beyond. Calculate the price of the bottle and how many you have to sell each day to turn a profit without the help of a larger distribution deal in the beginning.
Covering the Legal Aspects
There are several legal factors involved in creating food products for sale. Local and state health laws, zoning requirements, and food preparation regulations will affect your business so check in first with the office handling food licensing laws. Find out if preparing the sauce for sale in your home is accessible. In some locations, it is necessary to prepare food only in a commercial-grade kitchen. Ask questions and find out what you need to know to avoid fines and other legal penalties. Schedule a consult with the local small business administration to discuss options for patenting your sauce recipe, trademarking your business name, and business licensing questions. A professional attorney and accountant should also be consulted for additional legal questions and tax law concerns for business start-ups.
Ready to Roll
When you have finalized the financial aspects of the business of barbeque sauce and decide to keep moving forward, you need to consider your brand’s image. This includes several factors which can make or break your sales success.
Look of the Sauce
If your barbeque sauce is a peculiar color or just doesn’t look appetizing from a visual perspective, it may not sell well. People rely on five senses: touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing. If your barbeque sauce doesn’t look like something good to eat, most people won’t bother to try out their sense of taste. Sauce should look good first, smell good second, and taste good always.
Choice of Bottle Matters
There are a lot of bottles of barbeque sauce on shelves across the country. To make your brand stand out, consider the image you create for your sauce. The container which holds your sauce is very important. It has to be functional for use but it also needs to be appealing to the eye. A bottle or jar of sauce with a unique shape can make a huge difference in your brand’s recognition. You’ll need to make the choice between glass or plastic containers based on the measurement of sauce you plan to sell. All lids or caps for the containers must have an air-tight seal to protect the integrity of your sauce and meet the food packaging standards in your area. When choosing the size and shape of the bottle, keep in mind it will need to accommodate the kind of label you plan to use.
Your Brand’s Image
Enlist the help of a professional graphic designer to create a usable logo for your sauce. The logo should be compatible for your labels and other printing as well as for your digital use on a website and in advertising. This is also the time to develop your company motto or tagline so you have a complete brand image. It is important to review this information carefully for mistakes before you begin printing. Once you solidify your brand’s image, you don’t want to keep making changes which could confuse your customers.
Design your label to include the logo, tagline, and other graphics you desire but be sure to leave room for the essentials. When creating labels for your sauce, be sure to follow the guidelines required by law concerning the labeling of nutritional values on the sauce. A UPC code printed on the label may make it easier to make deals with national suppliers and chain stores. Do a little research on the colors and other factors in labeling which influence a buying decision.
Going Up the Ladder of Success
When the basics of your start-up operation have been covered, it’s time to bottle up your sauce and hit the road. The road to success can be rocky but if you want to sell your sauce to the public, your commitment to doing the legwork matters a lot.
If you are interested in pursuing a smaller local following, sign up for local food shows, craft shows, and farmer’s markets to get your products in front of an audience. It may also be worth your while to visit local independent stores and ask if they buy products on a consignment basis. You only get paid for products sold but you may attract a larger audience in the region. Be sure to write a press release and send to local papers explaining your new business and the products available for sale. Hire a professional freelance writer to create a professional-looking article to attract attention of local media outlets and let the public know where to find you.
A Step Further
If you are looking to go national or international with your barbeque sauce, you’ll need to dedicate more time to building your presence. The Internet is a wonderful resource for getting your sauce out there but it is not the only avenue to travel. The World Wide Web does not allow shoppers to taste your sauce so you need to get the product into the mouths of potential customers to create a demand. Once the demand is there, online orders are a stronger possibility. There are national and international level food shows, barbeque-specific shows, and other vendor opportunities where you can showcase your sauce to higher level prospects like buyers for well-known stores, restaurants, and gourmet shops.
Prepare for Growth
As a business owner, you likely have to wear many hats until you turn enough of a profit to hire a staff. Your duties will include the continued marketing of your sauce as well as filling the orders coming in from the online market in addition to making the sauce, the labels, and all of the decisions affecting your business. You’ll need to keep accurate records for both expenses and profits to ensure you are on track for taxes. Your accounting will also be vital should you intend to get a business loan for expansion at some point in the future.
Follow Your Dreams
If you have always envisioned being a pioneer in the barbeque sauce arena, go after your dreams! Finding success will not happen overnight but it certainly can happen. Preparation is an essential part of the process and your success will depend on how prepared you are to establish your brand and promote your sauce. A full scale business plan is a great starting place as it will cover the most important aspects of a new business so you are not going into the venture blindly. A good imagination can also take you places. Keep envisioning your very own bottled sauce on the shelves at the local market and stay on task for achieving your own personal success.