Over the past couple of years, we've seen a dramatic rise in the number of people who come to the Penn State Extension's Food for Profit workshop. During this one-day, jam-packed session (pun fully intended), we instructors endeavor to provide the basics in what a person would need to learn, and know, to start a food business. We provide opportunity for the participants to learn about sanitation, regulation, and inspections from the inspectors - be it municipal health officials or sanitarians from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Food Safety. The ability to meet these individuals - who fast become the "entrepreneur's first and best friend" - advising them what to do, and not do, to get their business started is often worth the class fee alone. We also provide the opportunity to discuss food safety practices, niche marketing, social media, effective packaging and labeling, and money matters - financing and pricing - throughout the day.
|A Food for Profit participant presents a unique marketing idea|
for her activity group's assigned product: a barbecue sauce.
- U.S. Census Bureau estimates of twenty-one million "non-employer" businesses - operations without any paid employees...the majority of businesses in the United States.
- The research firm IDC statistics - 30% of American workers now work on their own and that by 2015, this number will reach 1.3 billion.
- Some analysts' projections that U.S. independent entrepreneurs may grow by sixty-five million and could become a majority of the American workforce by 2020.
- Pink's own "What Do You Do at Work?" survey, which asked "Do you work for yourself or run your own business, even on the side?" Thirty-eight percent of respondents answered "yes."
|A little pickle can be the start to "big business"|
Local food enterprises are big business - even when the operations are small. The consumer demand and entrepreneurs' vision result in not only a variety of products on our tables, but a more energized local economy. It is exciting to me personally to see the would-be food business owners come to Food for Profit. I know their enterprises will not all experience the type of success that Brooklyn Brine had, but I know that many of them will work just as hard as Jones did, to see vision become a reality. Penn State Extension provides our support by doing the "scavenger hunt" - collecting the information from various sources about how to launch a legal, marketable, profitable product and packaging it in a one day event - but the energy and enthusiasm has to come from within the entrepreneur, him- or her-self. This is the essence of the American Dream; building a way to support one's household while having a great deal of fun. And, hopefully, the food entrepreneurs will spread the fun on to their employees, customers, and communities.