Business idea: Start a healthy snack business with ₦50,000

A couple of years ago, I started taking my health seriously and decided to go on a keto diet to lose some tummy weight. During this journey, I discovered “bullet-proof” coffee – if you’ve never heard of it, bulletproof coffee is normal coffee with butter and coconut oil, and it’s basically supposed to make you slimmer and smarter. How could I resist?

So in my quest to lose fat and gain sense, my search for healthy coconut oil led me to a healthy-eating Instagram store – Nellies. Apparently, the store was founded by a lady who found the healthy eating niche so lucrative that she quit her oil and gas job to start the business in 2015. By April 2017, she had grown her Instagram following from 0 to 50,000 followers with zero adverts. As I write this, she currently has 120,000 followers – all generating free, recurring orders for her business.

The amazing thing about all this? She ran this business without a fancy website. I had to place an order to experience how she did this. As instructed on the Instagram page, I sent a text message to the phone number on the page, asking to order coconut oil. They responded with some prices and an account number for payment. I paid, and within 2 hours, I received my 2 bottles of cold-pressed virgin coconut oil. No website server cost, no domain name no card processing fees, no Facebook ads were used and she had my money in the bank!

While things may have changed since 2019, we live in a day and age where it is easier than ever to test out business ideas with little capital. As more people become health-conscious, the healthy snack industry remains one of the fastest-growing but undervalued industries to start a business.

Healthy Snack Business Trends 90 days

The market is booming, and more people are looking for healthy snacking ideas – dried bananas, dried plantains, dried mangoes, peanuts etc are all great sellers. So there is no better time to launch a healthy snack business on a budget. Therefore, in the rest of this guide, I will highlight how to go about setting up a healthy snacking business (dried mango snacks) which will cover:

  • Business Planning
  • Business Testing
  • Required equipment
  • Estimated cost
  • Marketing strategy
  • Legal considerations

Plan your healthy snack business strategy

As with any business, it is important to carry out a good amount of research on the healthy snack target market, before you even start production.

Pick your customers

Just like with any business, you will need to research your market to understand what they need, and how you can serve them. What kind of people buy healthy snacks regularly? Mothers who want to get back in shape? Young professionals with disposable income? Students? Once you have decided on who will buy your products, you need to find out who they already buy from (aka your competition) and what range of products your competition sells. Identify 3 – 4 audiences and create specific marketing messages for them. This is as easy as just designing 4 posters in Canva with various people/subjects and different texts.

Look at your competition

What do they sell and where do they sell it? Are there any products missing from their range of products that you can fill? You need to consider your indirect competition as well. For example, a store selling ketogenic food items might not be your direct competition because you sell dried mango chips, but how about their customers who just want to be healthy and not “strictly” ketogenic? Find products your ideal customer wants, which your competition isn’t selling, and consider selling these products. You can do this very easily by asking them questions social media just checking public feedback and product reviews.

Pick a platforms to sell on – preferably social media

Where do your competitors sell? The easiest place to sell is on social media, so consider taking pictures of your product on social media, with a heavy focus on the benefits of the product to the customer (not just DM me to buy).

If everything looks ok, it is time to put your money where your mouth is and test your idea.

You will need to think about a few things here:


How will you package your products to make them look better than your competition, and how much will this cost?

Local food laws

Depending on where your customers are located, you will need to think about the local laws governing food sales in your area, and make sure you are not violating these.

Test the idea with as little money as possible.

When launching into a new business, I like to minimise my risk as much as possible. I know some people like to build everything out at the first go, but I think it is more sensible to test ideas using the smallest portion of my capital possible, in order to reduce the risk.

Here’s how you can do this for a healthy snack business:

  • Pay a designer ₦20,000 to create product packaging images. Ask for these images with and without background so that you can use these in Canva to create different offers.
  • Don’t invest in any equipment yet – find a small business or commercial kitchen willing to rent you their dehydrator. This way, you can test the idea without a huge investment.
  • Create your social media pages and build some momentum with educational posts – 10 benefits of mango, 5 ways to use mango chips to lose weight, 10 tasty foods you must eat to lose weight in 2021 etc.
  • Work out your pricing. How much will you need to price each bag at, to be able to make profit? Is this price higher or lower than your competition?
  • If the pricing sounds ok, you can now test some offers. Post offers for bulk boxes of 12 and see if you get enquiries. If you don’t get any enquiries on your first offer, try out another offer.
  • If you get 20 orders, you have the confirmation that you need to go ahead and purchase your equipment. In the meantime, you can fulfill your orders using the rented kitchen. If you don’t receive a promising number of orders, you can change the offer, change your packaging, change your message etc until you find something that works. If nothing works, then you know that all you had to lose was time and not money.

If you get your required number of orders, then you can feel confident enough to move on to the next stage.

Purchase your healthy snack business equipment

The main pieces of kit that you need to start a healthy snack business are :

  • Commercial peeler/slicer. A commercial mango slicer will help you save time and money peeling and slicing your mangoes. If you’re on a tight budget, you could do this by hand.
  • A dehydrator. This is a machine that converts your wet, juicy mangoes into dry mango chips. All you need to do is you load your sliced fruit into it, and it slowly removes all the water, dehydrates the fruit and makes it last longer.
  • Disposable gloves, hair nets and aprons.
  • Packaging.

Find a kitchen partner

Depending on your local food laws, you may be able to use your home kitchen to start your healthy snack business. If you have a commercial kitchens available for rent in your city, take advantage of this, as this will help you batch produce your orders on days when you need to, before the business fully takes off. This option will help you start small and then scale up your kitchen space as time goes on.

Sell, Sell, Sell!

Once you’ve scaled past the testing phase, all you have to do is start testing! One way to grow quickly is to contact small businesses. You can even contact your competitors stores to see if you can offer your product and get moving quickly.

When selling, remember to use good packaging that protects your product and keeps it fresh for days until reaching your customer. Good luck!

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