Bahrain has definitely been advancing in entrepreneurship rapidly over the last few years, especially with the new start up culture and the ever increasing popularity of Social Media, providing a new selling and marketing channel to the population.
There are now new Commercial Registrations available for home businesses as well, which was not available before. This is a great advancement, as certain activities, professions and freelancers can now legally register their businesses and operate legally with a official business bank account.
You can see a full list of available Virtual Office Commercial Registrations on the official Sijili website.
What about selling food from home?
This is more of a interesting topic to discuss.
Officially, there is no legal commercial registration for selling food at home, and it is understandable in a way, because there is no health inspections at your private home by the Ministry as of yet.
I am all for the hustle, so therefore always support any individual trying to make some extra dosh on the side, or full time at home.
Home based food businesses are growing like wild fire in the country, and becoming ever more popular. This always existed in a way, where neighbours would directly sell to each other their frozen somosa during Ramadan and similar activities.
However, with the growth of social media, particularly instagram, you can now find hundreds of home based businesses, selling everything from sweets to sushi. Home cooked food is becoming a real trend, and instagram being their new shop fronts, with whats app as their communication channels.
Why are home based food businesses thriving?
Having owned restaurants before, and currently working with hundreds of restaurants, here are some finding I would like to share:
- A home based business obviously has no rent.
- A home based business does not need a commercial kitchen.
- A home based business does not really need staff, which in turn means no accommodation feeds, visa fees, lmra fees.
- New third party delivery services mean that home based businesses can now provide efficient delivery of their products, without delivering it themselves.
- A home based business obviously has no renovation costs, interior design costs or pretty much any costs other then ingrediants.
- As outdoor advertising is a dying medium, it would cost a home based business the exact same amount to promote their business online, using social and digital channels, in comparison to official restaurants.
In a take-away and delivery world it would be more profitable to be a home business right?
The truth is, if you have a good product and good marketing, a home based food business could be 100% more profitable then opening a restaurant.
The only reason you would need a restaurant, is for the dine-in experience of going out.
You could theoretically cook up a full gourmet menu right from the comfort of your own kitchen, and work with zero risk, since you don’t have any fixed costs. No sales, no loss, more sales, more profit.
It is worth noting though, that the reason a home based food business is currently illegal, is because of the lack of food, health and safety inspections or liability. For example, what if you food poison someone due to poor kitchen conditions?
So what is the conclusion here?
I truly believe in the spirit of the hustle and entrepreneurship, so am I saying the ministry should fine or shut down these home based food businesses? Not at all ..
But I do believe a balance is required, so either inspections and legislations need to be introduced for home food businesses, or legislation needs to become more relaxed for restaurants. Since this is about food, surely we can’t have our cake and eat it right?
What’s interesting to observe though, is that the rise of home based food businesses, does seem to be causing a dent into the profitably and sales of actual brick and mortar restaurants. Since home businesses have become much more advanced, no longer selling cup cakes, but providing full meals and subscriptions too.
But in the spirit of the free market, I love that this war, is ultimately becoming a marketing war, in order to compete for market share.
So should you spend 30,000 BHD on opening a new restaurant? Or just turn on your oven at home while everyone seems to be turning a blind eye currently?