If you’ve been dreaming of starting up a vegan restaurant, food truck, beauty supply, or baked goods shop in your local neighborhood, 2019 is the year to make your dream a reality. There’s a higher demand for vegan products than ever before, and more resources to help you make your vegan small business a success.

In the United States alone, plant-based food alternatives is a 13 billion dollar industry, according to research from the Plant Based Foods Association. If you’re Canadian, the market is smaller, but vegan demand is growing faster than in America. There’s vegan opportunity everywhere.

Growing Demand for Vegan Options

According to research from Technavio, the plant-protein market will grow by 9 percent from 2019 to 2023, partly due to the increasing number of vegans. This may be an under-estimate, considering the market grew 20 percent in 2018 alone, according to the Plant Based Foods Association.

Indeed, it’s not just vegans themselves who crave vegan options. There are roughly five times as many former vegans as vegans, and though they may occasionally eat animal products, they are still likely to buy vegan products from the local shops they once relied on.

Plus, friends and family members want to cater to the vegans in their life, heading to vegan-friendly restaurants and choosing vegan-friendly foods at home. They are also inspired by their vegan loved ones. Research from Nielsen shows that thirty-nine percent of American are incorporating more plant-based foods into their daily eating.

This demand is leading to innovation. Most vegan products are based on wheat, pea, and soy protein. In 2018 the vegan palette expanded with hemp-based milk, vegan cheese made of potatoes and cashews, and more. In January of 2019, a new vegan sausage made of fungus and potato protein was released, to rave reviews. These innovations will continue, and translate to more options for you when you’re designing your vegan products.

Location Choice & Online Sales

There isn’t a huge vegan market in every city. A bit of market research can tell you if your local city has the demand to support your business. Plus, you can speak to the ShopCity.com city manager for your area, who can tell you how other vegan businesses are faring and how much vegan demand they have seen in the community.

The demand in your local area may surprise you. Paul White, who opened the first vegan restaurant in Blackpool, UK, in 2018 told the Guardian he was surprised at the response his opening garnered.

“What surprised us was people were coming from all over Blackpool. There were hidden vegans in Blackpool who were struggling in silence!” he said.

New vegan start-ups can use online sales to bolster their business while they develop a brand presence in their local town. Or, your vegan business could be purely online, where there are millions of vegans.

Whether in brick and mortar stores or online, you’ll find your local or virtual vegan business community supportive of your venture. There are many vegan communities and networks that support their local vegan businesses. Plus, more general small business support networks like ShopCity.com are excellent options for vegan small businesses as well.

“Not Just Vegan” Small Businesses

Katrina Fox, the host of the Vegan Business Talk podcast, points out on Medium that making ethical products is more costly than their non-vegan counterparts. Vegan business owners often choose to avoid child labor, ensure farmers are paid fairly for their products and choose locally made ingredients. This often results in higher production costs.

With higher product costs, comes more overall risk to the business and challenges in marketing your product. Dedication to offering vegan products isn’t the only thing you’ll need to make your business successful. Strong accounting, marketing, and other business skills are imperative.

In 2019, you have more options than ever to improve your small business skills. Self-directed learning platforms like Hub-Spot Academy, edX, and MIT Open Courseware can help you fill in the gaps you’re missing to make your local vegan small business work.

Plus, if you take advantage of the ShopCity.com platform, you don’t have to learn how to build a website or assess your social media presence. The Platform makes many aspects of running your business much simpler.

Make 2019 Your Year

The growing demand for vegan food, plus increased support for local and small businesses, is creating a lot of opportunity for those who want to open up a vegan small business. This year is the time to start your dream venture before consumer demand is met or big retailers in your area catch on.

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