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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

Want to Start a Food Business? Read These Books

Summer is the season of reading lists. And while there are plenty of great ones recommending beach books and light fiction fare, if you’re thinking of starting a food business, you probably want to be a little more productive with your free time.

Enter my summer reading list for the food entrepreneur to-be. These books—ranging from practical how-tos to memoirs—not only give you tools and inspiration for getting your venture off the ground, but they’re fun to read, too!

Crack one of these selections open on the beach this year, and you’ll be that much closer to making your foodie dreams a reality.

Starting a Part-time Food Business: Everything You Need to Know to Turn Your Love for Food Into a Successful Business Without Necessarily Quitting Your Day Job

Jennifer Lewis

Perhaps slaving over your food business for 60 hours a week isn’t something you can (or want to) do right now—is there a way to test out your business while keeping your day job or raising your family?

The answer is yes, and author Jennifer Lewis will prove it to you. In this book, she takes an up-close look at seven successful business owners who took a part-time path to success, like a mom with a full-time job who managed to start a cake company or a laid-off construction worker who started a line of jerky.

The book is a delicious combination of inspirational stories and hands-on help for setting up your business. An appendix chock full of practical docs—from sample business plans to product pricing worksheets and recipe testing sheets—will help you get from thinking about your business to actually building it.

Raising Dough: The Complete Guide to Financing a Socially Responsible Food Business

Elizabeth Ü

Sustainable food companies are an exciting new type of business—which means they're also an uncharted territory with limited resources for guidance. Author Elizabeth Ü was frustrated by the lack of help when launching and funding her own venture, so she created an in-depth guide to the financial aspects of launching a green food business.

Elizabeth walks you through the dizzying array of fundraising options available, from traditional bank loans to crowdfunding. Along with guidelines for each option and suggestions for choosing the best strategies for your business, she highlights case studies of entrepreneurs so you can learn from their successes—and failures.

The best part of the book? It comes with useful online goodies available on the website, like templates for business documents. Whether you're launching an artisan cupcake shop or a big venture like a CSA, this book will help you fund the business without sacrificing its values.

Ben & Jerry's: The Inside Scoop: How Two Real Guys Built a Business with a Social Conscience and a Sense of Humor

Fred Lager

This book, written by Ben & Jerry's former CEO, takes you on an inspirational journey through the company's rocky road to success.

Co-founders Ben and Jerry originally planned to sell bagels, switching over to ice cream only when they realized how expensive bagel-making equipment was. Starting the company with a mere $5 (for an ice-cream making correspondence course), they went from selling their ice cream in a local gas station to becoming one of America's most successful food companies.

I won’t give away the whole story, but if you’re looking to start the next big thing in food, this biography is a must. You’ll get to learn from the experiences of the ultimate foodie mentors, hearing all about the mistakes they made, the challenges they faced, and the secrets behind their rise to success.

My Life from Scratch: A Sweet Journey of Starting Over, One Cake at a Time

Gesine Bullock-Prado

Gesine Bullock-Prado (sister of Sandra Bullock) had a successful career as a Hollywood film executive, a closet full of designer clothing—and a nagging sense of unhappiness.

So, after her mother's death, she threw herself into her true passion: baking. Gesine paid homage to her mother by turning her favorite macaroon recipe into a delicious product. Trading in late nights schmoozing with celebrities for 3 AM batter-mixing sessions, she and her husband open a confectionary shop in Montpelier, Vermont.

The memoir, which gives an in-depth look at the day in the life of a baker, is jam-packed with vivid details that give a strong picture of the work that goes into running a bakeshop. The mouthwatering recipes at the end of each chapter are really just the icing on the cake.

Photo of woman reading in kitchen courtesy of Shutterstock.