Navigating Obstacles In Your Food-Based Small Business

Running a food business is endlessly rewarding, especially if you are a self-proclaimed “foodie”. Selling your handmade creations allows you to spend your time cooking, delighting over ingredients, and experimenting with recipes; all things you would be doing anyway, but which you can now justifiably call work.  A food business is a perfect blend of doing something you love while finding a way to finance your future. Of course, running your own business always has the potential for obstacles. Most food businesses tend to start small; products whipped up in your kitchen and sold at craft fairs and markets. However, as your reputation grows, the pressure begins to increase. Even if you love what you do, there will be the ups and downs that can make self-employment feel incredibly tricky and even outright isolating. When you have to negotiate those obstacles for yourself, it’s easy to lose sight of why you began your business in the first place.

If you find yourself in this situation, you have to learn to hurdle the obstacles in front of you and remind yourself why you chose this business path. Below are a few of the trickiest obstacles that food-related businesses face and, importantly, the solutions that can allow you to move on from them. Why not read through and see if there’s something that can help you with your business endeavour?


If you sell food products, complaints from customers can hit you hard. You put a lot of effort into crafting recipes and products that you thought were genuinely good; to hear complaints feels like personal criticism, and that stings.

If you find yourself facing a barrage of complaints about the same product, then the recipe needs to be tweaked.

However, if you are struggling to deal with separate complaints, then the problem is almost definitely not your food. The foods we enjoy are incredibly subjective; there’s no recipe you can create that will satisfy everyone. If the complaints are only from a handful of people, and you have otherwise received nothing but positive feedback on the same items, then try not to worry yourself too much.

It may help you to know that, as time passes, it will be easier to cope with the occasional criticism, so try and keep this in mind for the future.


If all goes well in your business, there will be a point where you need to increase the volume of what you are producing. If you have hungry customers to satisfy, then you’re likely going to need to invest in proper kitchen equipment.

It would be false to try and suggest that the process of upgrading your equipment is unaffected. It isn’t; it’s not impossible, but it’s going to take a lot of management and focus. The biggest obstacle to the upgrade you need to grow your business is a financial one. Kitchen equipment is expensive, especially the kind of space you need to produce a higher volume of products.

If your business is already on a solid footing, then it’s worth looking for a loan; have a look at for more information on the options available to you. If you already have a business that is doing well, then you’re a good candidate for an expansion loan.

If you don’t want, or cannot get a loan, then you will have to self-fund your expansion. It is money that is well worth spending; sometimes, you do have to spend money to make money.


Many food businesses start as a hobby; you have a great cookie recipe, for example, and encouraged by friends and family you begin to sell your wares at markets. Then, as you slowly become more and more successful, you start to investigate options for development, such as selling online or even opening your store.

There is a point at which you will tip from “hobbyist making a little extra cash” into “viable business”. When you reach the point of your hobby becoming a business, you will have to adhere to all health and safety legislation if you wish to sell food for public consumption.

There’s no doubt that this is extremely confusing. The bureaucracy can be overwhelming and exhausting, but it’s something you’re going to have to tackle head-on. Set aside an entire day to dive deep into the paperwork, call your local authorities, and obtain all the certification you need to help your business grow. For the most part, this certification will more involve rubber-stamping what you are already doing rather than making swingeing changes to your methods, so keep calm, get it done, and then your business can grow without limit.


As make clear, you can theoretically patent a recipe. However, this is not a route you’re going to want to explore. The process is too complicated and expensive to even consider as a small business, and these patents are incredibly hard to enforce.

However, the inability to patent recipes does mean that you may find your recipes being copied by other food businesses near you. It is incredibly disheartening, especially given there is relatively little you can do about it.

The solution is simple: keep innovating and experimenting with new recipes and products. In the meantime, advertise your version of the product that has been copied as “the original and the best”. At the very least, this will alert your competition that you are aware of what they have done, and might dissuade them from repeating the trick in future!


Running a food business is not without its challenges, but if you truly love food, it is a reward in and of itself. There are always complications in every industry, but at least this is a business that you genuinely love-- even with the occasional hiccup. Read through the above and hopefully, you will be able to clear the most common food business obstacles, leaving the road to your business success free and clear. Collaboration.