How To Succeed

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July 2012

Have you ever cooked something that prompted your friends and family to say, “You could go into business making these?” Perhaps you then thought, “Ugh, going into business sounds like so much red tape.” For sure, when it comes to taking a plan from drawing board to marketplace, there can be a lot of paperwork. And for left-brained people who love to design, create and share, the hassle of navigating bureaucracy can drain the joy out of bringing a product to a wider audience.

That’s where the Grow Local Kitchen at the Nashville Farmers’ Market can help. The Grow Local Kitchen provides an easy-to-follow roadmap and the basic manufacturing and marketing infrastructure to get a small business off the ground.

Located in the heart of the downtown Farmers’ Market, the Grow Local Kitchen (GLK) is a silver — or should we say stainless-steel? — lining of the market’s post-flood million-dollar overhaul. With a gleaming suite of Kitchenaid appliances and a demonstration counter with seating, the space looks like the television-studio set of a contemporary cooking program. On any given day, the versatile GLK could be hosting a children’s cooking class by Bella Nashville pizzeria, a culinary demonstration by chef Laura Wilson, a photoshoot for a small business, or a so-called “pop-up restaurant” such as the Speckled Hen, which serves brunch on Sundays.

For budding entrepreneurs, the GLK is a valuable tool in starting a business with minimal investment and risk. The state-of-the art facility, certified by the Metro Health Department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is available for hourly rental to anyone who needs a venue for professional catering purposes. In other words, next time your friends and family say, “You could go into business making these,” you’re one step closer to doing it.

Meanwhile, GLK can help navigate the rest of the steps toward bringing your idea to market. “The thing that I can do for people that’s even more helpful than providing a kitchen is to help them through this process,” says GLK director and chef Laura Wilson, whose own culinary resume winds through popular restaurants including Wild Iris, Yellow Porch, Ombi and Turnip Truck. Wilson is the point person to get would-be entrepreneurs started at the market. “Hopefully in the end, they decide to rent the kitchen,” she adds.

Once you’ve decided you’re ready to introduce your family-favorite recipe to the masses, the first thing to do is contact Wilson at kitchen@nashvillefarmersmarket.org. She will send you a packet that outlines the steps between concept and execution. In a nutshell, here’s what you’ll need:

Business License.
The paperwork is available at Davidson County Clerk, Suite 101, 700 Second Ave. S., 615-862-6050 or nashvilleclerk.com. Cost: $40 a year.

Certificate of Business Insurance. GLK cannot recommend an insurance agent, but Wilson estimates the cost for insurance, which must list Metro as an additional insured for $1 million, at below $100 a month.

Department of Agriculture Manufacturer Plan Review. The form is available at the Nashville Farmers’ Market and requires a copy of manufacturing ingredient labels and a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan. Wilson can help draft the HAACP plan, and she advises applicants to attend Better Process Control School.

ServSafe Food Handler Certificate.
Applicants can study online (servsafe.com) or attend the daylong class on basic sanitation procedures, which is held at sites across town.

Sales Tax Registration. If you’re going to sell something made in the GLK, you’ll need Tennessee Sales Tax Registration, available at 3rd floor of Andrew Jackson Office Building, 500 Deadrick St. There is no cost, unless you choose to purchase a temporary sales tax registration at the Farmers’ Market for $5. (Entrance to the offices is across from the Louisiana Seafood Co.) 

Now you’re cooking … Once you’re all licensed, certified, registered and approved, you’re ready to start producing and selling. Here’s what you’ll need to start making and distributing your product:

Kitchen Rental. The GLK is available for $20 an hour to producers who plan to sell at the market and $25 to producers who plan to sell off premises.

Sales Space. To sell in the market, you can apply for a 6-foot table. Permits are granted based on the existing vendor mix, in an effort to build a selection of complementary and diverse businesses that are not directly competitive. Table rental prices vary between $15 and $50 per day, depending on season and day of the week.

So, if you’ve got an idea for a food-related business, you can launch a weekly stand, or even a weekly restaurant, for less than $500 a month, not including the cost of goods sold. What are you waiting for?

Comments

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I think that in addition to all that paperwork you also need a good marketing strategy. No one is going to buy your products unless you make them aware of what you have to offer, so can't be shy about it. Most times marketing your business makes the difference!

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