Starting a food business is exciting. It is also very complex. Turning your business idea into reality can be a daunting task. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of business resources available to new food entrepreneurs in the Johnson County area, as well as many free resources available online to help you get started.
Iowa City and Johnson County business resources:
The John Papajohn Entrepreneurial Center at the University of Iowa http://www.iowajpec.org/ offers experiential learning, business consulting and business support to local entrepreneurs. See especially the “Beyond the Classroom” section of the website to get an idea of the programs and resources offered.
Kirkwood Community College also offers a wide variety of basic business courses through their Continuing Education division. For current offerings check the website at https://www.kirkwood.edu/ce. In addition, their Culinary KickStart Certificate is a general introduction to the food service industry combining classes in Food Safety, using standard recipes, and food preparation techniques with hands-on training in a culinary kitchen. This training includes ServSafe Food Safety Manager certification. They also offer a full Culinary Arts program with additional programming in Restaurant Management through their Hospitality Arts program. Interested students will also be able to take advantage of the new 2-year Business Administration A.A.S. degree program or the 1-year Entrepreneurship Certificate program offered at the Iowa City campus. For additional information on these two programs contact:
Professor, Management & Computer Applications
Kirkwood CC, Iowa City Campus
Other business support organizations in the Johnson County area include a Small Business Development Center, that is part of the Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa. You can request business counseling or other assistance by contacting:
National Food Entrepreneur Program http://fpc.unl.edu/small_business
The Recipe to Reality Seminar is a one-day seminar that provides a general overview of the many issues involved in developing a food manufacturing business. Market research and selection, pricing and cost analysis, and much more is covered in the seminar.
An excellent online resource for Iowa entrepreneurs is IA Source Link http://www.iasourcelink.com/. Among many other features, this site contains Iowa specific information on business licensing, registration, and taxes. Links on the site will guide you to information on business structure and incorporation and funding resources as well as frequently requested business forms and fees. In addition to other resources such as webinars and classes, they also offer a free Business Concierge service that will answer business questions via email, online chat or over the phone.
The US Small Business Administration also offers a wide variety of online resources, including courses and webinars at https://www.sba.gov/. The SBA webpage Thinking About Starting a Business is a comprehensive resource for new entrepreneurs, including the article 10 Steps to Starting a Business, an overview of the many questions that need to be answered when starting a business. The SBA Learning Center also has information and templates on sales plans, market research, legal requirements, pricing and other valuable business tools.
Many other useful online resources are available to food entrepreneurs such as:
- Resources on comparing business structures and incorporation
- Mentoring through SCORE a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals. Educational programs and free confidential business advice via email or in-person consultation are available.
- A variety of business planning tools are available on the Internet. Resources such as the Business Canvas Model or the One Page Strategic Plan can be very useful in identifying strategic issues related to the start-up of your business.
- Another straightforward business planning model is the One-Page Business Plan and One-Page Financial Plan developed by Farm Credit East for use by beginning farmers and ranchers. These tools can be adapted for any business, and provide a simple but effective way to get going.