Secrets to Scaling: Food & Beverage

In November, Endeavor’s office in the Philippines sought to unravel the secret to growing a successful F&B business by gathering local and international owners who shared their stories, lessons learned and future trends in the industry. A few members of Endeavor Bulgaria’s network attended the two-day industry tour and the following article will outline their key takeaways.

The F&B industry is an exciting segment that attracts entrepreneurs due to its global growth, continuous innovation and lack of seasonality. It is one driven by the love of food. At the same time, it is a tough time to be a food or beverage business owner. Entrepreneurs encounter numerous challenges – operations, sourcing of products, retaining employees, sustaining quality, and the need of constant cash to stay afloat.

Here are the key points to consider while growing your business:

1. Adapting to the taste of the local market

Many F&B businesses were started once as a hobby or a passion project. However, one of the first lessons that owners learn is that “the way you like your coffee, doesn’t mean that everyone else does”. In other words, you can create a product that may be perfect for you, but not for the local consumers. If you are targeting the mass market, listen to the customer’s feedback early on and deliver a product suitable for the local taste. This is a common practice and key to success for global brands like McDonalds, where the menu in each country offers standardized products recognized globally, alongside traditional, country specific offerings.

2. Fighting competition by differentiation

In such a highly fragmented industry, finding your differentiator and turning it into an advantage is necessary in order to stay competitive and be able to grow. “Fight them or fly away”- no matter the size of the competition nor the market, brands should find their niche – the one area (product or service) where they are going to focus on and be better than the rest. Besides price or quality differentiators, this could be sourcing ingredients locally, creating an experience while dining, having a signature dish that will drive customers back or identifying an underserved market.

One thing to keep in mind, representing the biggest challenge in terms of operations while scaling is the ability to sustain the quality of the product. For example, as one dish is recreated hundreds of times – it has to keep its taste and appearance always the same. Maintaining the quality of the product is as important as creating a signature dish.

3. The importance of having a strong team 

Often owners are getting so wrapped up in everyday tasks and challenges that they don’t dedicate enough time for strategic and long term planning. Delegating power to employees can be sometimes hard for entrepreneurs, but a good leader knows that creating a strong team responsible for running the day-to-day operations is what helps him focus on the main goal – growing the business. In order to become a national or international brand, you need a strong leader who sets the vision, values and culture of the organization and a strong, capable team to execute this vision. More importantly, by fostering autonomy and accountability, everyone does better work and is happier in the workplace, ensuring effectiveness, increased productivity and quality of the delivered product or service. Last, but not least, a trustworthy team is helping the owner maintain work-life balance.

4. Identify and ride trends

The biggest trend driving change in the food and beverage industry right now is transparency. The last couple of years were dominated by the demand for fresh, high quality and locally sourced products. Consumers want to know where their ingredients are coming from and they are inclined to buy local, organic and chemical-free products now more than ever. This “back to basics” trend is happening in every aspect of the food industry – from burgers to gourmet to drinks – chefs are relying on mixing homegrown products and spices, bringing back the local taste to their meals, with a modern twist, giving traditional cuisines a new image.

Many companies are building upon this trend and creating economies of scale, by closing the production cycle – growing their own or sourcing from small local farmers vegetables, fruits and meat, ensuring the quality of their products and minimizing the dependability on partners.

5. Failures are more important than winnings

Failure teaches you in ways success can’t. It forces you to look back and ask- why didn’t that work and what went wrong? When you fail, you learn and you become better. At Endeavor, we have learned that successful entrepreneurs are the ones who admit when they have made a mistake or need help. Being open-minded, listening to feedback and having willingness to learn are key traits that will make you a better entrepreneur and help you grow your business successfully regardless of the industry.

Having the opportunity to meet such leaders is invaluable to any entrepreneur and such access to a global network is the signature power of Endeavor. Thank you, Endeavor Philippines for the tasty experience! #OneEndeavor