Starting a food business is easier than it has ever been for entrepreneurs.
If you are holding onto a great concept or idea that needs to be developed in a commercial kitchen space, a shared use kitchen could be right for you. A shared use kitchen, sometimes referred to a food business incubator, offers space for your business to make small investments in growth as you navigate the start-up phase.
There is a bit of a learning curve to businesses that are just starting off. Thankfully most kitchens have a staff that is there to help you in licensing, certifications and in business planning. You will have access to commercial grade equipment, licensed facilities and likely an ecosystem of fellowship food entrepreneurs to lean on.
| Notice: A shared use kitchen isn't for everybody
You should expect that there will be time needed to learn the proper use of the equipment, possibly provide your own tools, and frequently share space with businesses other than your own. These small inconveniences are greatly outweighed by the benefits of having space to rent that is low cost and fully renovated rather than pursue developing your own brick and mortar space as you start up.
Top Five Signs A Shared Use Kitchen Might Be The Right Fit
1. You Are Working On A Product That Doesn't Take A Lot Of Extra Licensing
In a shared kitchen environment you are likely going to be working closely along side other businesses and will likely have different licensing requirements. If you are working on a product that requires a HACCP plan, a control authority or any extra layers of licensing such as USDA, a shared kitchen might be a tough environment to work in. However, if you are making the leap from working under the Cottage Food Law and your product /business just needs space to expand beyond the capacity and capabilities of your home kitchen, then it's a perfect fit.
2. You Are Willing To Share Equipment And Space
Unlike having your own kitchen space, working along side other businesses means you need to share access to and use of smallwares, ovens, mixers, refrigeration, etc. These kitchens are designed to meet this challenge, but you must keep an open mind as a new business owner and be flexible while working in a shared use kitchen.
3. You Are Ready To Clean
One of the most important things to consider is your willingness to clean up the space before and after use. This may mean booking extra time to ensure that you can account for production time needed as well as putting the kitchen back into the proper state you found it (if not cleaner) so that it is ready for use after your booking time. You have to keep an open mind as well, realizing that other idea of "clean" may not meet your standards. Be prepared to do a little extra clean up and sanitizing ahead of a production run.
4. You Are Ready To Learn From Others and Take Constructive Feedback
You will likely be sharing space with businesses that are in various stages of growth. This is your perfect opportunity to learn from businesses that are facing the same challenges you are and have been through some of the experiences you and your fledgling business have.
5. You Need Space With Flexible Availability and Booking Times
Like many new entrepreneurs, you are likely starting this venture as a "side hustle" and will need to get into the space at odd hours. Thankfully, most shared use kitchen spaces are available 24/7 through varied methods of access from shared keys, to electronic locks.
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