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How to start a Vendor business in Canada? Part 1

April 17, 2022

Today we are covering the step by step process on how to start and grow a vendor or food truck business in Canada.

If you’ve never been a vendor, it may be hard to truly understand what it’s like. On one hand, you have the physical and mental strain of standing for hours and talking to potentially thousands of customers who ask the same 3 questions on repeat.

Then, on the other hand, you could be making $500+ PER HOUR or raising money for your favourite charity or helping dogs get adopted to safe homes. Whatever you end up doing, the possibilities are endless and most importantly it will be, without a doubt, always an exciting adventure when you’re a vendor.

Let’s get you started on your way to running a successful part time or full time vendor business.

Disclaimer: We are not masters or business prodigies. Yes, we have started and operated several successful vendor companies as well as interviewed hundreds of vendors but there is no special formula to becoming successful as a vendor. Our goal is to assist anyone with the desire to be a vendor and offer helpful advice from our experience in hopes of avoiding the unnecessary mistakes that we went through. We hope to inspire people and give them the tools to turn their passion into a business.

1.     Sample The Experience

Before we get started with learning how to become a vendor, go experience what it’s like to be one. Take a trip down to a local event happening in your area and immerse yourself in the atmosphere. Chat with the vendors and ask them some questions about their experiences. Meet the event organizer and get an idea of prices and process to be a vendor. Have some chats with other attendees about why they purchased from certain stores and learn from their answers. Whatever you do, just make sure you can see yourself doing it.

a.     Attend events as a customer and observe other booths

b.     Talk to vendors

c.     Talk to the event organizer

2.     Creating

So, you’re interested in starting your own business but how? What do you do? First off, it’s important to understand that starting a business is not easy. You will face a lot of challenges but if you keep persevering, reflecting, and asking good questions you will do great. Your job with step 2 is to now come up with a business idea. Grab a pen and paper and write down an answer, or two, to every point below:

a.     Write down what excites you or what you’re good at.

b.     Research businesses you admire or brands that you support and for what reason.

c.     Think about problems that frustrated you and a solution you’ve used that others may also find useful.

d.     Do you have dishes or recipes that people have told you they love?

e.     Write down projects or initiatives that you’re passionate about and how you could help them.

f.      Look up businesses in different countries or cities which you could bring to your area.

g.     Make a list of all the businesses that you’d like to work at and think of how you’d do it differently.

h.     Ask a friend or family member for ideas. Sometimes people can know you better than you know yourself.

i.      Find something you like but you know you could modify it to be better.

j.      Apply your skills to a different industry.

k.     List products that are used in different multiple industries and change the branding to solve a problem in a different industry. (Ex. Casual socks, hiking socks, running socks, business socks, etc.)  

3.     Research

Before any great endeavour you’ll need a plan and part of that plan is the research phase. Take some time to research the business ideas you’ve discovered from step 2. Make a pro’s and con’s list and figure out your top 5 favourite ideas. If you know of other businesses who are successfully doing the same thing, then you know idea works! It’s best to differentiate from competitors so try changing something about your business so it’s unique to you. That could be flavors, colours, price, quality, area it’s sold, etc.

a.     Research competitors

b.     Research similar businesses ideas but in different countries

c.     Think of your differentiator

d.     Talk to industry professionals

e.     Talk to friends and family about their opinions

4.     Invest and Obtain

Now that you’ve got your plan started, this is where it gets fun! You are going to create your offering but remember, a great product is one you yourself would actually use. Spend some money to make, build, buy, or acquire your products and start trying to perfect your offering.

a.     Obtain samples of the products or services you want to sell.

b.     Make variations of the same product or services with minor changes.

c.     Start thinking about who your target market is and what they would value.

5.     Practice

You won’t sell if you can’t sell. Take some time to work on your sales pitch. You need to be able to describe your offering quickly, effectively, and confidently if you want customers to spend their hard-earned money. Get feedback from people who are honest with you. You could even try calling up a retailer to ask if they would like to buy your product or services so you get used to dealing with hard questions. The goal is to practice your pitch so much that it becomes as easy as saying your own name.

a.     Practice your sales pitch with friends/family

b.     Call a few small retailers and pitch your product

6.     Test

Hopefully now you feel confident in explaining what your offering is and can easily convey its benefits to a potential buyer quickly. Now you need to cast it out into the world and see what catches. Utilize the free platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and local selling platforms like Kijiji. Try to find where your customers gather in Facebook groups or #’s on Instagram. Take some nice photos or hire a photographer to get 10-20 images and post regularly. The goal here is to get as much feedback from consumers as possible.

a.     You’ll want to pitch it to your friends and family

b.     Post your products on buy and sell

c.     Ask family and friends if they want to buy

d.     Create social media pages

e.     Get feedback and change as needed

There is a lot to get through so stay tuned for part 2 of this series on how to become a vendor business in Canada and learn how you can turn your passion into a money making machine.

In Part 2 we will cover legal, small investment, taking risks, re-evaluting, increasing your exposure, and big investment.

See more articles by Vendor Bridge