Wondering how to start a Korean food business? We take you step-by-step from start to success.
The Market for Korean Food Products
Korean food and restaurant dining is gaining in popularity in the U.S. Although Korean cuisine isn't as ubiquitous as other authentic Asian food options (e.g. Thai or Indian), many Americans can't seem to get enough kimchi, Korean barbecue and other dishes.
Most Korean food businesses are wholesalers that import Korean food items for two primary markets: Food retailers and restaurants. Other markets may also exist for wholesale Korean food items, but since these two markets comprise the majority of industry revenues, it's important to focus your time and resources on urban markets characterized by populations of Korean dining patrons and retail food consumers.
For most Americans, Korean food is a cultural dining experience. So as a wholesaler, it's important to remember that you're selling experiences as much as you're selling food products, despite the fact that you won't directly interact with consumers.
Setting Up a Korean Food Business
The best wholesale startups are complex and sophisticated operations, and Korean food startups are no exception. During the startup phase, it will be critical to establish solid processes and procedures that are capable of ensuring seamless ordering and delivery of your products.
Here are a few other issues that need to be addressed when you're setting up your Korean food business:
- Product Mix. You'll want to make sure your business offers the right mix of products for your target market. Rather than making educated guesses, conduct market research and speak directly to prospective customers in order to determine the products and brands that will be most important to your customer base.
- Importing. Successful Korean food wholesalers are adept importers. Part of your value proposition will be the authenticity of your products and there is nothing more authentic than food products produced overseas. The importing element can substantially complicate your business model, so allow at least 6 months to establish secure supply relationships and nail down importing procedures.
- Shipping & Distribution. The backend of your business will be shipping and distribution. Right away, you'll need a warehouse to store your products and solid inventory management solutions. If you aren't experienced in shipping and logistics, consider soliciting help from an expert to establish your distribution system -- the worst case scenario is for poor shipping and distribution performance to cause customers to question their relationship with your business.
Successful Business Plans for Korean Food Businesses
How good is your Korean food company's business plan? If you aren't completely confident in the quality of your business plan, it could be because you haven't invested enough time and effort in its creation.
A shoddy business plan is a major misstep for a startup Korean food business. Why? Because there are a multitude of reasons why your company can't succeed without a sound business plan.
From a business ownership perspective, that makes business planning your first priority - and not a task that can be assigned to the back burner.
Prior to opening a Korean food business within your community, it's a good idea to determine how many competitors you have. We've provided the link below to help you generate a list of competitors in your area. After following the link, enter your city, state and zip code to get a list of Korean food businesses in your area.
Before you open up shop, make sure you know what you will offer to your customers that provides a significant advantage over your competition's offering.
Learning More About the Industry
If you are seriously contemplating launching a Korean food business, be sure to speak with somebody who is already in the business. It's very unlikely that the local competition will talk to you. Why would they want to educate a future competitor?
Thankfully, an owner of a a Korean food business on the other side of the country will be much more likely to talk with you, as long as they don't view you as a competitive threat. In fact, they are often very willing to share startup advice with you. Our estimate is that you may have to contact many business owners to find one who is willing to share his wisdom with you.
Want the scoop on finding an owner of a Korean food business outside of your area who is willing to talk?
It's easy. Here's a link you can use to find a mentor outside of your area.
Advantages of Using a Business Broker
Sooner or later, every entrepreneur confronts the choice to start a business or buy an established company. In most cases, there are compelling financial and practical reasons buying an existing Korean food business.
A qualified business brokers can provide a range of services designed to ease your transition into business ownership.
The best business brokers will ensure that you get the right business for the right price, and will help you avoid common Korean food business acquisition mistakes.
Your odds of thriving in your new business are much better if you become a franchisee and leverage their successful brand and track record.
Before opening a Korean food business, you ought to determine whether franchising might alleviate your startup process.
The link below gives you access to our franchise directory so you can see if there's a franchise opportunity for you. You might even find something that points you in a completely different direction.
These additional resources regarding starting a business may be of interest to you.
If you already are in business and came here to learn about growing an existing Korean food business, try these useful resources:
If you came here to learn about selling to Korean food businesses, you're in the wrong place. Try these resources instead:
If you are interested in starting a different kind of business, please browse our directory of guides below.