Without this one ingredient you don’t stand a chance of getting your food product onto a local market

Entrepreneurs of all kinds need one ingredient to get their business off the ground. Many, however, are wheel spinners. They put a lot of effort into the first stages of developing their product and making their first sales but don’t follow through.

Examine your life and see what you have accomplished. What projects have you completed? Are there hobbies that you started but lost interest in and abandoned? Is your garage cluttered with items that were tools to help you get started in a hobby or sport but they lie there gathering dust?

It’s so important to be a self-starter. To be motivated and stay motivated. Understand this, everyone has problems with finishing projects and continuing to keep them going.

With any type of project, be it a home-made food product on a local community food market or any other type of small business, you need to establish a routine where you devote a certain percentage of your time each and every day for accomplishing your project.

It can be difficult at times. You don’t seem to have the energy or enthusiasm to carry on. This is where is important to “manufacture” energy to get yourself started. Do whatever it takes to get going. If meditation works for you, meditate. If a walk in the park does it for you, then go walking. If it’s something simple like a good night’s sleep, then get to bed early.

None of us like sweating the small stuff. But with any project there is going to be small stuff. You must be a master of detail. Each task you complete leads you to the next task and so you keep going on and on.

Some might think this is drudgery but life is full of small tasks that you have to do if you want to complete sub projects and the larger project. One product that I am developing has already taken me almost a year and I’m still not finished. It’s been hard waking up every morning and finding the energy to continue. But I have a vision, an inspired vision. When the product is developed and marketed, it will help many people. So whatever happens, I have to remain focused on its completion.

Many years ago I was working for someone, a leader, a person who had been high up in the military in another country before he used his chemical engineering and leadership expertise to run a major business concern. One day when I was doing a project for him, he remarked that if you want to get something done in life you have to have GOYA (which means “Get Off Your (you will know which word to insert here but to be polite, let’s just use the word that follows) Rear”.

This is the ingredient, GOYA, put in simple and blunt terms, that you need to complete and continue with any project. It will serve you well in starting your business and selling a food product on a local stroke local market.

No-cost, low-cost selling for your food product for local food markets

Photo by Hello I’m Nik ?? on Unsplash

Nothing happens until you sell your product. Sales is everything. You can have the best food product available for local community food markets but if you don’t learn how to sell it, all your preparations will come to naught.

Where do you begin with selling?

We’re not talking here about pushy selling, trying to force yourself and your product onto prospective customers. Instead, we are looking at creating a selling environment and experience around your product so potential customers are curious and interested to buy. This means having attractive signage at your food stand, handling queries from prospective buyers and knowing the features advantages and benefits of your product. You can better help your customers make informed buying decisions.

Selling need not be dull and uninteresting. The more fun you can create around your product, the better. You might use an attractive slogan, have a pull-up banner with the advantages and benefits of your product or even have a mascot. Think about how you are going to surround your product with a lively display.

Apart from personal selling, you also need to find the right platform for selling. What I mean by this is to do some homework and find the best local food market for your product. Although the volume of customers may not be as high as an established food market, a new startup food market may be eager for sellers and you can agree to a reasonable cost for appearing on their market.

Are there no-cost ways to sell your product?

Yes, if you have a readily available markets such as family and friends. But if you want to sell to the broader public you require selling space that you in most instances need to buy. Unless, of course, you do a deal with an existing food store seller and ask if you can use some space on their stand to test your product. The owner of the store might agree and this will give you an opportunity to get your product out into the marketplace at no cost. You can extend this idea by negotiating a fee with the store owner should you wish to continue selling your product from their stall.

Buyers have such a range of products to choose from today. They are skeptical about product claims. Make sure that your advertising or sales messages are credible, believable and authentic. Don’t make exaggerated claims. Also don’t copy what other people are doing otherwise you quickly lose your uniqueness.

Selling is about people. If you are friendly, relaxed and pleasant when selling your food product, potential buyers will gravitate to your product. People like people who treat them with respect, look after their interests and whom they can trust.

Even if you have had no prior selling experience, do your homework on your product and make sure that you use language that is positive and constructive and then let prospective buyers make up their minds whether they wish to purchase your product or not. In most cases if you have prepared yourself you will be pleasantly surprised with the number of sales you make.

Food safety and your food product for a local Saturday morning, farmers’ or night market

Photo by Chesney Bradshaw

We now turn to food safety and what it means for your food product that you may wish to sell on a local food market. It’s not something that you can mess around with. Selling your products to family and friends is one thing but selling to the public is quite another.

Where do you start?

Begin with your local laws and regulations. How do you find out about them? Do a little research on your own, speak your ward councillor or chat to other traders.

Food safety starts with your food preparation. Make sure your food preparation area is clean and hygienic. Food is sensitive to temperature and you need to take this into account when preparing foods that perish easily. Preserves and cured products are somewhat different in that sugars and salts are good preservatives. Unless you are going to work hygienically, you might as well not be in the food business.

The regulations and laws laid down for food safety even if you are a small food trader exist to protect the interests of consumers. They are in place for a reason. Make sure you comply otherwise you could face a fat fine. Not only that that but you want to avoid purchasers of your food product getting ill or worse.

This is the serious side of making your own home-made food products. If you really can’t find the information or don’t under understand the requirements, then it would be best to get professional advice from someone in the food safety business or even your lawyer. 

Also check the food safety requirements with your local community food market. They will tell you what their requirements are and make sure that you comply. 

When we start out with a small food business, we are all excited and think about how much money we can make. However, we must consider risk. What risks are there in your preparation, storage and display of your products? Food products with a short shelf life require special care and attention. The best rule to follow is to consider anything that could be harmful to your respective buyers.

Accidents do happen. Problems occur. Things can go wrong. This is why it’s a good idea to think about taking out insurance should anything happen. I’m not suggesting that you do this with your first batch or two of products that you have carefully prepared. But I am suggesting that as your business grows and more people are exposed to your products, you need to take precautions against the those who will come after your business. If you have ever dealt with food products, you will know that there are some people out there who are out to get you. It’s a sad reality but you have to deal with it. Some people will claim that your product was the cause of their illness and will seek compensation. Cases can get complex and tricky so you need professional assistance. 

Food safety is really about being responsible, safeguarding your interests and that of your purchasers and ensuring that you comply with food safety regulations and legislation.

Are you struggling with packaging for your food products that you want to sell on a local food or Saturday morning market?

Labelling on this special soap is clear and comprehensive.
The many uses of this home-made soap make it clear for prospective customers.

Packaging is important for your food product if you wish to sell it on local food or Saturday morning markets. It’s the first thing that your prospective customers see. They will be curious, pick up your product and have a look at the label.

Some people want to know what the ingredients are. Others look for where it was made. Yet others want to know how it was made – for instance, with an old traditional family recipe or the process involved if it is, for example, a cured product or even a jam or preserve.

I came across some interesting products with a recent visit to the Overberg in the Southern Cape. One was a delicious Seville marmalade jam, which only had the description “Seville Marmalade”. We were in a remote area where there wasn’t much choice so I bought the marmalade jam and discovered that it was absolutely delicious. I have bought some of the Scottish and British marmalades and this was up there among the very best. But the point here is that people in the area probably know this marmalade and recognise it immediately as a home-made product. This marmalade jam had too little information.

Another product and came across was the traditional “Boereseep” which is a farmers’ soap made by the Afrikaans (Dutch, Flemish French Hugeunot) pioneers in the country. I was extremely lucky to get my hands on this cake of soap because it is not readily available. This special soap is extremely mild on the hands and you can use it for your watercolour painting brushes and remove all the colour pigment stains from your fingers. This product had comprehensive information – what it could be use for, the ingredients, where it was made, who made it and even a cell number on the packaging.

Food and other products for local food and Saturday morning markets need to have packaging that attracts buyers. Prospective customers want some sense that the product is home made and confirmation of that personal touch on the packaging. If you have a story or a back story to tell, why not included in a condensed way? It will help supports the authenticity of your product.

You also need to consider health conscious consumers who want to know what the ingredients are especially when it comes to quantities of sugar involved.

Be careful about getting professionally printed labels in full colour. These kind of labels and packaging can be found with products from the giant food manufacturers. These days consumers question such products not really believing the information on labels and packaging. Sometimes they leave out ingredients, other times they use fancy words for nasty stuff that is included in the products ingredients.

A personal choice of mine needs to go for products that have labels that are minimalistic because I find an elegance in such simplicity – especially the occasional British food products I buy where the branding is straightforward and low key. Such understatement speaks volumes.

You want to make sure that your product has believability, credibility and authenticity. Don’t underestimate the intelligence of purchasers – they have a lot of information to hand these days from the media and social media in particular.

Give some thought to your packaging, go for something that expresses your authenticity and test it on a small group of potential customers.

Testing your food product for local food markets, Saturday morning markets and farmer’s markets

Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash

On many local community markets you see the most humble of one-person entrepreneurs who are selling home-made products. It doesn’t take rocket science to test your product before putting it onto a local market. All you need to do is go about testing it in a sensible way.

So how do you go about testing your product?

The first thing, as simple as it sounds, is to test the product on yourself. You may have different tastes to other people but at least if you are satisfied with the taste of your product, it’s a good place to start.

Think about people you know and test your product on them. Invite family and friends over and let them have fun tasting your product. A caution here about family and friends. They may give you the thumbs up but could be merely polite and don’t want to say anything to hurt you. Let your family and friends know that criticism is encouraged as you want to provide prospective customers with the best product possible. Test your product on them but just make sure that you understand that it is not an objective test with outsiders who you do not know.

If at all possible, consider going wider and doing a small test on people you don’t know. Find a place where you won’t get into trouble offering taste testing of your product. You could even speak to a mall owner or management and find out if you could do a taste test at their premises. You may wish to also go to one of your local food markets and find out if you can do a small taste test there.

This testing can give you important indicators about what people think of your product and its flavour and texture, for instance. Depending on the nature of your product, some taste-testers may find it too sweet or too salty, etc. Consider this feedback and, if necessary, make adjustments to your recipe.

Product testing doesn’t stop even after your initial testing. You need to listen to the comments and feedback from prospective buyers and purchasers. Even though you may think that your product is the best on the market, it’s best to keep your emotions out of the picture and make modifications as necessary. Decide what is relevant and important feedback. You may then need to do additional testing but if you want less criticism later when you put your product onto the market, then it’s worthwhile to do this step. After this step, you may want to modify your prototype product.

When you have completed your testing and modified your prototype, your next step will be to research platforms to sell your product. We will continue to focus on foods for local markets in future articles on Idea Accelerator.

Selecting a product to sell on a Saturday morning local market

Photo by Amanda Phung on Unsplash

Morning markets whether Saturday morning markets, local markets or farmers’ markets sell a wide range of delicious foodstuffs these days.

Some of these foods you could call gourmet foods because they are so well done and you may not find them even in the best supermarket delicatessens. These days it’s hard to find a stand-alone delicatessen where you can buy a range of specialised food products on display at local markets. On the morning markets the foods range from delicious cheeses, cured meats, jams,honey, preserves and speciality breads.

If you are going to come up with a food product for these community markets, what is it going to be?

Once you have selected your product, following the process outlined in the previous Idea Accelerator blog post, you think to think about the nature of your product:

Is there a product that can be instantly consumed?

Is it an ingredient for meals back at home?

Is it a fun products that customers will enjoy and give them a different experience to the regular food they eat?

The nature of your product is important because It will help you decide on how you are going to position and promote your product. Cured or smoked meats and fish, for example, can be used for entertainment, cocktails and snacks in the evening and before a main meal or even something that can add the zest to your Saturday or Sunday morning breakfast.

It’s important to look at what your product does for your prospective customer. Think of how many things your product does for your potential customers before you introduce or launch your product:

Does your product provide a new eating experience?

Will your product be enjoyed by adults and children?

Does your product brighten peoples’ lives?

Looking at the nature your product might sound like work but when you do so you will have a better understanding of how your product will be perceived by prospective buyers.

It will also help you position your product which is very important in today’s market where there are many similar competing products. Think about how many jams and preserves are available on community markets. What makes one stand out from another? Is the one made from an old family recipe or is it done in the old, traditional style where, for example, fruit is chopped up in chunks and made with the original ingredients such as molasses?

We will look at other important elements of taking your food products to local market in subsequent posts.

How to come up with ideas for selling foodstuffs on community markets

Will your smoked snoek sell on Saturday markets?

A reader of Idea Accelerator asked the question, “How do I come up with ideas for selling foodstuffs on community markets?”

It sounds like a cliche, and you hear it everywhere these days, but you need to have a deep interest in what you are selling if you are to stand a chance of making it successful. 

The first thing to be done is to think about what it is you want to sell. Some people have a natural gravitation towards certain products. For example, you may have had a mother or grandmother who made wonderful food and your are still inspired by their delicious food that you ate as a child. This will give you motivation and inspiration to take one of those recipes, or more than one, and try it out on a Saturday morning market.

The passion must be in your blood so to speak otherwise you’re not going to follow through and when you hit rocks in the road you are not going to be able to move them aside.

That’s half of the equation. The other half is that you have to be realistic and think about what people want today. Tastes may have changed. Will your prospective buyers open their wallets for whatever you decide to sell? Is it a product that people will buy on a regular basis? Does it fill a need in the market that others are not fulfilling?

Decide on one or two options, make the product and then try it out on family and friends. If they like it, it might be an indicator that it could be desired by other people.

Another step you can take is to go visit as many morning markets as you can. These days there are charity markets, Saturday morning markets, farmers’ markets and organic markets. Find out which one of these appeals to you. Look around, speak to people and afterwards try to assess the potential of the market you are interested in with an eye to the future.

Coming up with an idea for a food product, especially home-made, doesn’t necessarily require you to come up with brain storming and idea generation. However, of course, it will take one solid, powerful and compelling idea to get you motivated and to attract buyers to your product.

In the next few posts we will look at other areas of entering food markets, some of the information will be valuable for new entrants who may not have thought through everything that is required to be successful.

Do you have what it takes to start your own kitchen-table business or entrepreneurial start-up?

Original watercolour by Chesney Bradshaw.

An entrepreneur talking to us the other day said that he became a chartered accountant and instead of taking the organisational route he decided to go straight into his own business. Imagine that! While the rest of the world is zigging, this chartered accountant zagged. He said that he burnt his bridges and decided to put his everything into the business.

This story reminds me of what it takes to become a kitchen-table start up or small business entrepreneur. Whatever the expurts, business best-sellers and social media say, it takes sheer guts.

Why do I say this? The main reason is because you need to live with uncertainty.

You need handle uncertainty.

I don’t think you’ll ever become comfortable with the uncertainty but you need to learn how to manage it in your life and use it as a lever to propel you forward, to motivate you, to energise you.

But let’s not point a finger at those who don’t burn their bridges and go out and do what they want to do in business. Other people have different risk tolerance and will use a different approach to start something of their own.

Often the case is that people start something on the side, some moonlight activity, something behind-the-scenes, work on it and then when it proves successful, they leave their secure (is that a relevant word these days with retrenchments, restructuring and downsizing?) employment.

This softly, softly approach gives the would-be entrepreneur the opportunity to test their product or service in the market before they hock everything to pursue their business passion.

But you’ve got to give it to those women and men who have a clear idea of what they want to do, see the market gap (that often has a limited lifespan for entry) and their crystal-clear vision of what they want to achieve.

These are the people to be admired. And remember too, that it can happen at any age. Think of Ray Kroc, struggling 53-year-old travelling salesman, who had worked as a jazz pianist and a music teacher, peddling paper cups and milkshake mixers when he stumbled across the McDonald brothers single outlet. He was in bad health but gave up his sales job to franchise McDonald’s. It’s never too late to seize the opportunity.

Complexity good for idea generation?

Complexity and growth in nature. Photo by Aldino Hartan Putra on Unsplash

Some interesting research has recently been done by scientists that shows optimum levels of brain activity can be achieved through complexity.

The scientists trained rats to drive small vehicles (not a rat race) with specific rewards for the rats when they achieved their driving goals. In these simple mini vehicles the rats performed well with handling complexity.

In fact, the rats’ stress levels decreased.

I’m wary of animal experiments but I’m not sure how these results could otherwise have been attained.

We have known for a long time that use of the brain increases brain capacity. Just think of small things like playing chess or working on difficult puzzles. It seems that similar activities are necessary for optimum functioning of the brain. In other words, if you sit there and do nothing, you actually lose brain capacity.

What has this got to do with idea generation and new ideas whether for life or business?

When you have complex problems to solve in an ever-increasingly complex environment, working on them actually will help to stimulate the brain. This is why when you use your brain for idea generation activities, you find over time that ideas suddenly pop into your mind seemingly out of nowhere. But behind it is brain activity that you have helped to stimulate.

Society, businesses and the environment face many challenges. We can all bring up examples but let’s just focus on some of the major new issues such as climate destruction, environmental decimation and the so-called fourth industrial revolution (if you don’t like this clumsy term then simply use something like digital automation or the Internet of Things). Business people are challenged with rising costs, increased legislation and high overheads – everyone these days from institutions to banks to grab their piece of a business.

These problems require solutions. Sometimes it seems that we have insolvable problems. But every day you see new ideas, new technologies springing up to take on challenges whether it’s in energy, water or resource use.

If you want to increase your capacity to handle complex problems and increase your idea generation capabilities, then consider “Breakthrough Ideas”, a resource, a toolbox if you will, of methods, techniques and approaches that can work for you in your life and business. The methods are easy to follow and they help you to deal with an ever-increasing complex world.

Prosperity is like an ephemeral lady – unless you treat her very well, she will leave, and for good

Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

Prosperity is like an ephemeral lady who stays when people love and respect her – but unless you treat her very well and treasure her, she will leave, and for good .

Prosperity comes not out of the blue but when a nation or an individual or group works very hard, honestly and and when individual freedom and liberty is in place.

When these things are taken away, prosperity, like an ill-treated lady disappears.

It may take decades to bring her back or she may never return.

Some people took prosperity for granted and in fact made conditions so bad that she slipped out of the front door. No one knows when and if she will return.

Now, we all are in the same boat with worse to come, and unless hard work, forward planning, honesty and a reverence for individual freedom and liberty occurs, conditions won’t be conducive to encourage, coax or woo prosperity.

It’s very much like the goose that lays golden eggs. You know the story where a greedy person ripped open the goose to get more eggs but found nothing inside.

Once all the golden eggs are laid and the magic has gone, there are no more eggs.

There will, of course, be those individuals and groups who will experience some measure of prosperity – there always are.

But what we talking about here is overall national prosperity.

All the plans in the world and high-level grandstanding, count for very little unless values are in place.

We don’t want to sound preachy but unless there are values and one of them being cardinal, work ethic, there is no hope for a general state of prosperity.

Reading so far, you might think or feel that this sounds bleak. Well it is. It’s not a case of being negative, despondent, giving up hope or despair.

If you don’t take this message to heart, then it’s best to part company and go on with wishful thinking.

What’s to be done?

Well, everyone has an answer or several answers.

What is your answer?

It starts with getting your own ship in shape, trimming the non-essentials, cutting out the extravagant (if there is in these times) and coming up with new ideas, new methods, new uses for technology, new ways to do things better than they have ever been done before.

We aren’t born with a manual that teaches us how to succeed but if you want a guide for life and business improvement, find yourself a copy of ” Breakthrough Ideas”.

It’s helped others and it can help you too.