Starting a business is no small feat. Many small businesses fail within the first two years. Some scrape by, and others succeed at finding a niche in the market and thrive. Small vegan businesses face many obstacles, opportunities and challenges that non-vegan businesses do not face. In many ways, the vegan community is tight-knit. We support each other and when given the option of purchasing from a vegan business versus a non-vegan business, we will support the vegan business. This gives vegan businesses a significant advantage, but only among the vegetarian and vegan population.
When trying to attract non-vegan customers, vegan business owners face a unique set of challenges. Unfortunately, many omnivores hear the word “vegan” and furrow their eyebrows while possibly running in the opposite direction. However, many vegan businesses have succeeded in attracting happy and loyal vegan and non-vegan customers, and we need more of those! For as most vegans will agree, we need more vegan businesses – because although there are plenty of vegan options in restaurants or grocery stores, many vegans can’t help but feel a pinch of guilt when purchasing a vegan product made by a non-vegan company.
And so, for those yearning to start their own small vegan business, here are some basic steps to follow:
1. Thoroughly research and plan your business. This research should include a market analysis that includes information on how much need there is in the current market is for your products or services. You will also want to research all relevant financial information associated with starting a business. Financial analysis should include overhead and variable costs, break-even analysis, income projections and loan information.
2. Based on your research, write a clear business plan that includes a description of the business, marketing information, financial information and management information.
3. Obtain as much free business advice as you can get before making the commitment. You may even choose to hire someone to evaluate your plan. Take advantage of any business training seminars or workshops available. This may seem like a lot of work to put in ahead of time – but it will be more than worth it in the long run!
4. Choose a location for your business. If your business is not solely online, you will want to research zoning information for the area you wish to set up your business.
5. Find business investors or secure loans for the business.
6. Decide on the legal structure of your business.
7. Register your business name, get a tax identification number and register for state and federal taxes.
8. Apply for and get any permits or licenses required for your business.
9. Read about employee rights and how to legally hire employees.
For more insight on running a vegan business, specifically a vegan restaurant, from someone who has been in the business for years, read Vegan Mainstream’s interview with Damon Brasch. Damon runs a highly successful vegan restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona called Green New American Vegetarian.