I started out not very long ago making sausages as a hobby, as I suspect many of you did, and I have found very quickly that it has turned into a hobby business. There seems to be a pent up demand here that opens up new opportunities every time I speak to anyone about real pork sausages.
I have a real job that I work 50 hours a week at plus international travel - and as some of you know I live in Malaysia to do this job.
What I have uncovered with my little sausage making endeavor is that I have paying customers now who have sprung up out of the woodwork, and I cannot keep up with the demand for my sausages in the time I have around my real job.
Current weekly demand for fresh non-halal sausage looks like this:
240 American Breakfast Sausages
350 Satay (special flavor mix with beef and pork)
This is all from 4 customers - the first 4 I introduced to my sausages...
I'm afraid to introduce my sausages to any more potential customers now because there is not enough time in the week for me to fill the orders and to still play at my new hobby - and of course to do my real job.
Sausage making at the current volume and with these commitments has turned into a job... My single mincer/stuffer has turned into a mincer, a mixer and a stuffer almost overnight - consuming one long counter in my fairly large home kitchen.
I'm getting smaller "retail" requests as well, and am considering opening up a small kitchen factory with limited retail hours to support this growing commercial business as well as a small retail business.
I had an agent locate several properties that I can rent which would be appropriate for opening a small kitchen factory with a limited retail counter.
Labor here is very inexpensive - as is overhead in general - and I have someone willing to manage the business who understands how to run a business, but nothing about meat processing. I would more than likely need to hire someone with meat process experience - however I don't think that's a real issue. One of the local butchers expressed an interest when I described what I'm planning. He has a son - an accomplished butcher already - who he would like to have learn more about meat processing and business in general, and has committed to providing me with the meat I need at an even better price if I take on his son.
I would have to grow the current business in order to pay the overhead for the kitchen, pay myself back for the kitchen renovation and equipment (I would loan the business the cash for the equipment setup and renovation), and pay three employees.
I have some supply issues being in Malaysia. Right now I have no local source for hog casings and am still looking for a less expensive supplier for sheep casings for the American Breakfast Sausage.
I really am a little overwhelmed with it all at this time, and am looking for your collective experience and advise as I move forward. I know there is a great deal of experience here, and I would be foolish not to try to learn from those who have gone before me.
I have been in the food services business before (owned and operated a successful restaurant) as well as owned both wholesale and retail businesses - so the business end of this doesn't really frighten me - though a healthy fear of any new business endeavor is always present, and there are some nuances to doing business in Malaysia as a foreigner that I'm still working through.
I can keep this just a hobby business and work out of my kitchen at home - even if I have to bring in help to make sausages every day I can do that. My home kitchen is a little overwhelmed if I try to make 2000 sausages in a day, but spread out over a week I can keep the current volume without too much difficulty. It's not ideal, but it's working.
I have a potential new customer who ate my Bangers at the cafe serving them, and he wants 500 polish sausage and kraut (which I also make as a hobby) to add to his western menu in his restaurant... In addition, the breakfast sausage customer wants to double his order - however I'm having an issue supplying sheep casings so I have to put him off for a while.
Am I crazy to think about making this a real business?
My customers have been extremely impressed with the quality of these fresh sausages and they really do not have alternatives available in the local market. I know I'm still a novice sausage maker, but the product quality has been good, and customer acceptance has been very high, so I'm motivated to continue. I'm charging a premium relative to the Halal sausages in the marketplace, but the market seems willing to bear it, and there really is no comparison between a Halal beef or chicken sausage and something with 35% pork fat.
All comments are welcome!