Men's Articles

Food For Thought

Running a food business is no piece of cake. It requires commercial acumen, technical skills and creative flair. Before starting off, all food and beverage (F&B) entrepreneurs must first get their fundamentals right so that they minimise the risk of failure and survive the initial highly stressful opening period to succeed in the long run.

Many successful food businesses go through a lot of creative experimentation and steep learning curves before finally "hitting the jackpot". Rather than taking a risk to earn a quick buck by riding or copying the latest market fads, aim to create signature dishes to differentiate your restaurant from the rest. However, you must then be wary of copycats who will rush in with imitation versions, often at cheaper prices, if the dish proves to be a hit. You should run a food business like a long-term contract, with proper product positioning and strategies. 

Commercial Aspects

You should acquire basic commercial cooking skills, which is different from domestic or home-cooking skills. This is to protect the recipes of your signature dishes and stay one step ahead of your competition by investing in research and development to improve food quality and to streamline production costs.

This is crucial when you are running a small business - it minimises the risk of your cooks leaving you in the lurch and setting up a similar concept food business and capitalising on your earlier hard work. Home cooking and commercialised cooking require very different techniques and skills. You may have a "proven family recipe", but will you able to implement it on a mass production scale and still me the commercial requirements of the market?

Budget Requirements

Before getting started, you should have sufficient funds at hand. But how much should you put aside as a safety buffer? As a precautionary rule of thumb, if you are a "first-timer", do not plough more than 50 per cent of your capital into the pre-opening set-up. Keep some reserves for emergencies. For instance, in the event your first food business venture fails, you will have the necessary resources to "fight another day".

Financial Angle

Learn how to calculate the break-even point (BEP) to cover your operating costs before picking up insider tips on kitchen control or food costs. There are many hidden costs that go into the BEP calculation which many inexperienced owners are not aware of, and these may choke the business cash flow.

Understanding the BEP before setting up the business is very crucial as it helps you evaluate whether the intended location and business model are viable before you sign on the dotted line of the rental lease. To boost your food business, you must also be innovative in implementing valued-added productivity tools. Labor and rental costs have already caught up with food costs and are now major costs components to be wary of.

In order to control escalating operating costs, you must innovate with simpler fuss-free cooking techniques, which require only basic cooking skills and take up shorter preparation and production time - all this without compromising the quality of the food served. Learn as much as you can before ploughing your hardearned money into your business. It will then be easier to realise your dreams.


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