Maddy Caro
New Zealand
Oct 17, 2018

Starting a Food Business - Checklist

Starting a Food Business - Checklist

From Conception to Inception and Opening the Doors of a Food Business


If you fail to plan,you are planning to fail.” - Benjamin Franklin

Starting a business in the food industry is initiated out of an existing skill set by someone that has worked in the food industry or run a food business previously or it is literally a great creative initiative. 

Portrait of a pretty barista with hands on hips at the coffee shop

Setting up a new food business can bring a myriad of unexpected pressures. The fundamental skills required to have a successful food business are determination, resilience and stamina. Understanding your own skill set is most important as your strengths could be management focused versus the cooking side of the business. Dependent on the size of your business you may be able to rely on the person with cooking expertise to manage food, while you focus on administration and front of house. Whilst the size of your business is important upfront when determining skill sets, writing a high-quality business plan that includes business objectives and KPI’s is essential.

People love food and there are multiple pressures to meet the demands of consumers today who expect nothing less than high quality when competition is strong. One of the first places to start is planning the type of food style and menus you will be serving. Food planning, the quality of food and food safety will produce quality products in return. Is your food venue influenced by other cooking traditions or is it contemporary local food or are you starting a coffee cart that serves food? The next part to the business plan is to do your market research on the location of your venue – how far a radius around your business will people travel to try it. Define your competitors and how many of them there are because you’re either going to take market share from the existing businesses in your area of choice or the uniqueness of the fare you produce will draw in new customers and consumers from outside of the area.

A few things to consider in venue decisions are light appeal and whether there is an outside space that can be utilised plus how big the kitchen is versus the customer space and most importantly parking? What vision do you have for the ambiance of the space or is there a particular theme you want to portray? The ambiance of a space is important when enticing your target market and customers to your business. Is the atmosphere and menu casual or is it expensive and sophisticated? The prices on the menu will also enable you to determine the regularity of your customers and how often they frequent your venue. Higher prices may restrict your target audience versus more affordable pricing that encourages people to return more frequently. The ultimate goal is to inspire repeat business.

A critical part in the planning process and business plan is to include labour costs, food costs along with registering your business with the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) and or your local Council in order to meet the 2014 Food Act regulations and requirements. Grading’s for food businesses differ dependent on what you’re selling. Food safety is paramount to the consumer and therefore the success of your business depends on your food Grade. Food Grade’s work on a sliding scale dependent on how high the risk of your food business is versus a lower risk business. The food safety rules are more stringent when your food business is higher risk and less checks are required than if your business is a lower risk food business. Either way, focusing on minimising the significant risks is essential. Part of the MPI and Council requirements is to fill in a Food Control Plan (FCP), this can be done on paper or there is a digital alternative option for ease of use.

MPI’s 'Where Do I Fit' tool is a quick way to determine the rules your food business will need to follow. Once complete, you’ll be provided with next steps to follow:

Step 1: Create Your Plan

Create a Simply Safe & Suitable template FCP (Food Control Plan) Simple Safe & Suitable Template or you can use the Safe Food Pro Wizard if you want to manage your Food Control Plan with an easy to use mobile app. 

Step 2: Register

Most business need to register with their local council

Step 3: Get checked

A verifier (inspector) must check you’re making safe food

Step 4: Ongoing use of your plan

Keeping your food control plan current and make sure the data is being collected. 

Chef using his digital tablet in the kitchen-1

The things that are important to the MPI/Council registered Verifier, to comply with the law are:

1. Get the right staff training – know how to keep food safe.

2. Clean and sanitise – to stop germs spreading.

3. Cook and store food at the right temperature.

4. Keep cooked, raw and allergen food separate (only if offering non-allergenic alternatives).

5. Clean and sanitise – to stop bugs spreading.

6. Wash your hands properly.

A key component to the success of your business is to reduce the risk of spreading any form of food-borne diseases by implementing high standard food safety practices from the outset.

Starting a new food business is an exciting and challenging time therefore implementing a business plan that includes clear concise KPI’s along with a regulatory compliance check-list will aid in the success of your business from the outset.

Food Safety is a critical issue you must pay attention to.

About the author

Maddy Caro

Sales Executive / Team Lead

Arts degree, an acting diploma. A rising star of our sales team, Maddy, proves every day that it's not about ego, testosterone or bluster, it is all about empathy, passion and attention to detail. Maddy's keen intellect, inquisitive style, and engaging communications gives our clients a strong internal advocate. Maddy takes the term digital natives to another level, making the software work for her customers.

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