Launching a Vegan Business? 5 Ways to Make it Work

Launching a Vegan Business? 5 Ways to Make it Work

Scott D. Renwick

Vegan business is on the rise. This means we will see more and more vegan businesses fail. This article discusses 5 ways to make it work.

I’m vegan for over 12 years now. I went vegan for compassionate reasons. We don’t need to get into that. But I say it because I can completely understand what motivates many vegan entrepreneurs.

This is totally different than what motivates most entrepreneurs. A lot of people pay lip service to wanting to make the world a better place.

Often the people behind a vegan business absolutely believe what they are doing is part of a much greater mission. A mission to ensure a brighter future for the entire world and everyone in it.

This is a powerful basis for your motivation.

It’s a good thing, but it can also be detrimental to the business.

Passion and vision is not enough to make a business work.

Statistically speaking the vast majority of businesses will fail and vegan businesses are no exception to this statistic.

According to Fundera:

“20% of small businesses fail in their first year, 30% of small business fail in their second year, and 50% of small businesses fail after five years in business. Finally, 70% of small business owners fail in their 10th year in business.”

What I’ve Experienced in Vegan Business

I’ve seen a wide range in the vegan business scene, from small startups with no capital, to high tech startups with multi-million dollars in funding.

In my personal experience, I’ve been involved in one online content website – The Vegan Woman and one vegan tour company – Vegan in Ireland.

I’ve also done some writing for a funded vegan start-up serving as an online marketplace for everything vegan – like a vegan version of Amazon.

I’ve also witnessed close up how some vegan businesses fail and succeed.
These include restaurants, food producers, club and voucher schemes, cruises – (Holistic Holiday and Sea), non-profits – (Vegan Friendly), and mass events.

From each of these experiences and observations, I have gained valuable insights on which I base this article.

Vegan Business: 5 Ways to Make it Work

1. Marketing Outranks Your Idea

It is so easy to think of a great idea, that you are sure the world needs and would just love. When we have that moment of brilliance we immediately think all we need to do is create it and the business will take care of itself.

This is often how passionate people become entrepreneurs. Their hearts are bigger than their brains. I can 100% relate to that.

You’re so focused on the big picture, you have a tendency to skip the details. The truth is, you don’t know what you don’t know and this is why you’ll fail.

It’s very rare that the idea is enough to make a business succeed.

I’ve seen vegan businesses fail primarily because they didn’t understand how to market properly.

Often what they think is marketing, is in fact advertising. This is discussed in my article What’s The Difference Between Marketing and Advertising?.

One of the primary things a vegan business should be focused on is defining their ideal customer. Then segmenting them and targeting them in order to build up a mailing list.

The aim going from there should be to build up your relationship with that list. The goal is to understand them more to increasingly serve them better. This will allow you to build lasting relationships for new and repeat business.

A Unique Skill Set

This is a unique skill set and it can be learned by yourself. If you don’t have the budget to outsource this, then by all means channel that energy and passion and focus it on getting these skills.

If you are interested in that type of learning check out this Free Video Training Series. This will introduce you to the world of digital marketing.

The skills you learn will be transferable to any business you run now or are thinking of running in the future.

2. Utilising the Community

A vegan business is often at an advantage when it comes to getting things off the ground. Vegan communities online are plentiful.

For instance, on Facebook, vegan groups are often highly active places. With passionate people who want to see your vegan business succeed.

Taking advantage of this is a great starting point.

Just be careful not to come off too salesly. Thats not what groups are for and your efforts will be so transparent and come off as SPAMMY.

Your objective is to achieve genuine connections and bring value to the community.

Once you keep that in mind, you’ll be able to use these groups to your advantage. But if you just rock up and start presenting your product or service, people will frown upon it. Your efforts will have the opposite effect.

3. Leverage Other Businesses

If your vegan business is motivated by compassion, there are many vegan business owners that will relate to that.

Their business may be very different than yours but that’s what you want. If they are similar then you are competition, but if they are different, your businesses can complement one another.

Look for the opportunities and collaborate with other vegan business owners that see the world the way you do.

You will get further together than you will alone.

4. Forget That Your Business is Vegan

Having a vegan business may give you a mindset that people SHOULD want to support you because your business aims to make the world a better place.

This is nonsense and detrimental to your business. You need to forget that your business is vegan. Look at it critically from the point of view of pure business.

This will lead you to ask some critical questions, such as:
  • Is there a genuine need for my product or service?
  • How big is the market?
  • Are my profit margins big enough to sustain a business long term?
  • How does my product or service rank with the non-vegan equivalent?
  • Is my business attractive to a potential investor? If not why not?
  • How much can this business grow? Is it scaleable?

There are many more questions like this. None of these questions can be answered positively based on the fact you have a vegan concept.

5. To “V” or not to “V”, that is the question

In this case, “V” stands for the word vegan. Anyone selling a vegan product or service must consider whether they want to brand themselves vegan or not.

The term vegan can be an isolating word.

How often have you witnessed people refusing to taste something on the basis it was introduced as being vegan?

How often do you think people will ignore a tasty cake in the window in Starbucks because the cake is labeled as being the vegan one.

By all means, list the ingredients, but you don’t have to list that it’s vegan.

We all know people consume vegan products all the time. Fruit and veg is an excellent example of this. Nobody eats a vegan banana, they just eat a banana. The same goes for many varieties of biscuits and breads that people buy all the time.

At a hunch, I would suspect that without any doubt the most popular vegan items in a major chain grocery store never say they are vegan.

Think very carefully about your branding and if using the V-word will hinder or benefit you.

Go beyond thinking about it and test it out.

Using the “V” word may make you popular with vegans but ultimately it’s not the vegans that are going to make your product or service successful. It’s the larger-scale public demographics that are going to do that.

Just look at vegan versions of chicken and beef. The vast majority of people who buy these products are not vegan. The vegan community probably makes up a tiny portion of their customer base.

You’ve got massive start-ups now like Moving Mountain, Impossible foods and Beyond meat who are making their fortune by by-passing the vegans.

They are targeting the flexitarians (people who like the idea of reducing their meat consumption).

Be passionate, have a big vision that excites you, and gets you out of bed in the morning. Go for it and follow your dreams.

But remember your business has to make money and money doesn’t care about your feelings or your vision.

Your business must work regardless of it being vegan. It’s a harsh reality. Many vegan business owners will fail because while they have the passion, they don’t have the strategy to get them there.

I hope by reading this article, you have gained some insight and will think more critically about your next move.

I am your biggest supporter and truly from the bottom of my heart want your vegan business to succeed.

Here is to your critical thinking and your success.

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