Starting a business is simple but sustaining and growing one is not. I’m no expert but here is part of my point of view starting a food business in Singapore after starting a coffeeshop stall.
The one and only question you must ask yourself… What makes you special?
Differentiate yourself and stand out from the competition. No matter selling chicken rice or laksa, what makes you so special?
You should always have an extra edge over competition to be successful.
If you are selling bah kut teh, the soup must be robust, flavourful and has body. Side dishes are also important as supporting characters are what complete the story.
Thinking of using cheap rice to cut cost? Adam road nasi lemak uses basmati rice to stand out from the rest. Every component counts. But even with the most premium ingredient and you still make it taste ordinary, don't waste your time.
If you found the thing that makes you stand out from the competition, next you need the location that makes it work. Selling chicken rice at Maxwell food center (Super famous Tian Tian Chicken rice) or selling bbq seafood (more then 20 stalls selling the same thing) at Newton food center will most probably not work no matter how good you are when there is too much or too strong of a competition. Instead of direct competition, why not sell something new or unique to the area to stand out from the rest?
Know who you want to target (Office crowd/students/families), rental that makes sense for the amount of human traffic, and set a realistic price range for the targeted audience. Office crowd can afford a foie gras salad and steak for lunch, can a student afford the same thing?
There are so many ways to gather capital.- Personal Savings
However always think carefully and always plan for the worst. Are you willing to lose everything and be in debt? What are your plan b? where is the threshold that you need to windup and sell off everything to minimize loss?
The process of registering a business and getting the relevant license is rather easy. Just visiting a couple of website will do.
As for NEA requirements, you have to work closely with your tenant/landlord and provide NEA with relevant documents (blueprints/food hygiene certifications).
Google and yellow page are your best friends. However when you have a few years in the food industry, you know who are the major players and the price range they can offer you.
I used to work in a restaurant where I get the chance to chat with the supplier making friends with them and it proves to be an important connection. They are the first who grant me credit term and better price for the products then listed in the price list.
Running a business? Work in progress, still a learning experience for me.
There is so much more to cover, but only real life experience of setting up a business will tell.