Dishing It Out

A Winning Recipe

For homebased food entrepreneurs, Hardesty recommends using co-packers, who can manufacture and package products for you on a large scale. "My relationship with my co-packer is the most time-consuming and expensive business relationship I have," says Brown. "But it's also the most important, because without a product, you don't have a business."

Co-packers are usually listed in the Yellow Pages under "Canners," "Food Processors" or "Food Facilities." Many co-packers have minimum production requirements and maximum production capabilities; find one whose production abilities will meet your company's needs cost-effectively.

Also be sure to protect your recipe. "Reputable companies will sign a nondisclosure agreement with you," says Hardesty. "Before you show them anything, get the nondisclosure agreement upfront and only then give them your recipe."

If you can't find a nearby co-packer to manufacture your product, don't assume you have to throw in the kitchen towel. Restaurants, school cafeterias, churches and other licensed facilities often rent out their kitchens during off-peak hours.

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This article was originally published in the April 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Dishing It Out.

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