Want a simple way to brainstorm a food business idea? Creating a one-page business model canvas is a great way to get your concept onto paper without spending weeks or even months writing a detailed business plan and then deciding if you should move forward.

Seriously… there is a better way!

More often than not, you can invest half an hour filling out a business model canvas template to document what you plan to sell, how you plan to sell it, and even the ideal prospect you’d like to sell to. You’ll get a rough estimate how much capital the business will need to start and initial revenue projections.

Best of all you can use this template to analyze any type of food business: a restaurant, retail food product / beverage, coffee shop, and of course a food truck.

If the business idea passes this initial test, you can move onto writing a business plan that will include more detail analysis about the operations and financial considerations for the business.

In this piece, I’ve included a free business canvas template you can download for free and provided training on how to complete it for a food business using examples from my own popcorn company.

Ready to start building a real plan for your startup? I hope you’re as pumped as I am to get your business going. Read on.


Background: What is the Business Model Canvas?

For the record, I didn’t invent the business model canvas. The Swiss business theorist Alexander Osterwalder is credited with that accomplishment. This model is used frequently by the tech startup community, but not well known in the food business community. I did adapt and simplify the canvas to be more relevant to a restauranteurs or whatever food venture you’ve got planned.

The standard business model canvas has nine core elements. This food business canvas only has seven elements because I think you can group some of them together for food businesses. No need to overcomplicate what can be made simpler.

food business model canvas

Download this template below.

Here are the key benefits to completing a business model canvas in my opinion: 

  • Speed: A business plan can take weeks or months to put together. Ain’t no one got time for that! This gives you a quick back-of-the-napkin idea of our a business will operate.
  • Weed out bad ideas: You could legit brainstorm a half dozen business models in an afternoon if you aren’t sure what direction to take your business. If the business doesn’t make sense scrap the idea and move onto something else.
  • Explain Idea to Others: This one-page document can be used to explain your business ideas to others including family or potential angel investors. The best businesses are usually the ones that can be simply explained and understood.

Example of food business model canvas + template download

Here’s another resource of business model canvas templates. These aren’t specific to food businesses, but it’s a good source of additional information on the topic if you’re looking for another example.

Now that you’ve got your template in hand, it’s time to put ink to paper so to speak. The foundation of your future business officially begins in our next step.

Mission Statement

Going back a few years, I was not big believer in mission statements. They didn’t seem practical. I felt like they written to make the founder of the company sound smart or a meaningless task I had to complete for school. But I’ve completely changed my mind.

After interviewing 100+ successful business owners on the podcast, I realize food entrepreneurs with the biggest successes are those that take their mission statement seriously. When used in the right way, a mission statement actually guides every major decision in a business. In fact, that’s what grinding principles like this are supposed to do.

Here’s my current mission statement as an example:

Our mission is to provide the highest quality, small-batch popcorn with creative flavors. We continually think of ways to create consistent, memorable, and fun customer interactions. Our mission also includes being a good member of the community by donating to and helping fundraising efforts of deserving local organizations or people.

Reader Note: I will no doubt adapt and tweak this in the future although the core mission will stay the same.

This mission statement is okay. I will improve it with time.

But here’s the thing. Understanding how each sentence directly impacts the actions of my business is what’s really important. After all, actions are the most important part. If you don’t plan on using the mission statement to help guide the direction of the business, you might as well not write one at all.

First, my goal is to deliver a great product (in my case bags of popcorn) for customers. Another goal is to offer creative flavors. This means that I won’t be selling bags of kettle corn exclusively.

Instead, we’ll rotate more innovative flavors like pumpkin spice, caramel apple, or Chicago mix popcorns. Coming up with new flavors is part of our mission so it’s absolutely something I have to follow through with. Otherwise we fail to live up to the mission statement I created. And that sucks.

You probably have a different vision for your own product. Maybe you want to cater to make exceptional tofu burgers for the growing vegetarian community. Perhaps serving responsibly raised, non-GMO or 100% organic pork from your BBQ trailer is the foundational. If so, include these critical details in mission statement section.

Related Reading: The 6-Step Marketing Growth Plan for a Home-Based Bakery

In sentence number two, I proclaim my customers deserve a consistent, memorable and fun experience with us that they won’t find anywhere else. Of course, everyone says that. The thing that makes me different is I actually have a specific plan for delivering on these claims.

Some ways I ensure a unique customer experience is through the design of the trailer. You can actually watch the popcorn being made inside the trailer. You can also watch the process of the popcorn being seasoned, bagged, and handed out the window to you. As a customer, you know our popcorn is as fresh as it can be. You watched the sausage get made form start to finish.

It’s a little thing. But it’s memorable and sets us apart.

I see other kettle corn vendors make their popcorn in advance, bag it, and then wait for customers to come along and buy it. Rookie mistake.

From a business standpoint, I totally get it. If you make a bunch of bags of popcorn in advance, you can sell it faster. The problem is I can get a pre-popped bag of popcorn at any grocery store or gas station.