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Setting up a food business is a lot more doable than you think

‘Money For Jam’ should be a bible for anyone culinary-inclined who wants to strike out on their own
Feb 26th 2015, 7:30 PM 16,142 7


A SELF HELP book in the truest sense of the word, Money For Jam is designed above all as a guide, a ‘how to’ step-by-step to setting up your own food business.

The book knows its market: few countries can boast a tradition of home cooking to the extent Ireland can.  ’Irish Mammy’ syndrome has ensured that a hefty wedge of the population has a mother who does ‘the best’ apple tart / cheesecake / pavlova / profiteroles (delete as appropriate) imaginable.

Author and Leitrim resident Oonagh Monahan has built up serious experience in the Irish food industry over the last 20 years and it shows on almost every page (since 2008 she has run Alpha Omega Consultants who specialise in the SME food industry).

The list of contacts and regulatory authorities is absolutely exhaustive (with a handy reference section to boot), and every facet of turning your fruit scones or flapjacks into a foodie empire is explained step by step.

Monahan Oonagh Monahan Source:


It’s the simplicity of approach that makes the book stand out from normal business self-helpers.  The author knows that there are a lot of great cooks out there in Ireland, and for the majority the thought of setting up a business is enough to bring them out in cold sweats.  ’It can be done’ is the mantra.

The first half of the book is dedicated to evaluating what you make and bringing it up to production standard, along with what you’ll need (for instance, getting your kitchen up to the standard required) and the various pitfalls awaiting the uninitiated (best before dates, hygiene, legislation, that kind of thing).

The second half deals primarily with marketing, money management and training standards, before dealing with specific sides of the food industry like bread-making and meat production, with case studies from various small businesses around Ireland, all of which are very informative.


It’s a very homely, likeable source of information. If there is to be one criticism, it’s that despite stressing the importance of being business-savvy,  the book ignores the digital and social media side of things, a huge marketing resource if ever there was one, and one that can only get bigger.

Who should read this book?

For people looking to start a food business Money For Jam should be their first port of call. It’s bright, breezy and very to the point. Quite honestly it reads like a kind of informal textbook.  Which is exactly what those looking to launch such a business need, assuming they’re unfamiliar with what’s involved.  But for the lay reader?  There’s not too much here.

What will it tell me?

  • How to get started when it comes to launching a food business, how to know if your idea is viable and how to make it better.
  • Who matters from a regulatory and logistical point of view and how to get them onside.
  • The essence of marketing a small business, something most small food producers neglect, and how to budget and handle your business’ money.
  • How to proceed on specific sides of the food industry such as meat production, dairy, jam (obviously) and, erm, duck eggs.

In a nutshell

If you or someone you know is a genius with food and fancies making some money from it, Money For Jam is a must.  It tells you all you need to know and what order things need to be done in.  And crucially, it makes it clear that everything is achievable.

If you liked it, you’ll love:

All About Home Economics

Packed – The Food Entrepreneur’s Guide: How to Get Noticed and How to be Loved

This month, as part of’s ongoing small and medium enterprise (SME) focus, we look at product provenance – how buying local matters and the importance of traceability. 

To view previous articles in our SME series click HERE.

Read: What you can learn from one of the world’s greatest football managers? Quite a lot, really

Read: SME book club: How one bull-headed businessman built the ‘everything store’

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Cianan Brennan


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