Business to be Had When More Workers Brown-Bag It

Dana Mattioli of The Wall Street Journal recently reported that workers are trading sit-down lunches for brown-bags to save cash. Even online bag eBags.com retailer has seen a significant increase in sales of lunch bags and coolers since a year ago.

This led me to think: there must be a job opportunity here. Everyone knows that sweets are affordable luxuries. The New York Times just reported premium chocolate sales grew 17.8 percent for the year ended June 14, compared with 1.4 percent for non-premium chocolate.

You could open your own dessert delivery business without investing tons of money. The most important thing you’ll need is to do is lease a commercial kitchen because zoning laws won’t allow you to operate out of your home. (Schools and churches are often willing to make such arrangements.)

Start by compiling a list of six desserts that are easy to make and to eat with one hand. Six is the magic number. Researchers have discovered that when a potential buyer goes on line to order a product, a jar of preserves for example, it is more likely the order will be completed if there are just six selections from which to choose.

If there are 10, it’s more than likely the buyer will say “to hell with it, I don’t have time to think about this now.” If there are fewer options, the buyer will think this is a fly by night ditzy little operation. If I give them my money, I bet I’ll never get the stuff.” So six makes the perfect list. Imposing a limit also enables you to easily track of best-sellers and keep the purchasing of supplies and labor costs under tight control.

Think about the presentation. If the packaging of the desserts is beautiful and the name of your company is easy to remember, you’ll have customers lining up for more. Test market your product with a group of willing volunteers and listen attentively to their suggestions.

When all your ducks are in a row, make an appointment with the office manager and bring plenty of samples to the meeting.

Of course, you already grasped the idea such a service would be welcome at a retirement home, in a kiosk at an airline terminal or as carry on luggage for needy travelers.

What do you think is the hardest thing about starting a small food business? What advice would you give to someone starting out?