How to Start a Charcuterie Business in New Mexico
There is very little information out there about how to start a charcuterie business. These nine things will get you started - there are a lot of things to consider.
A business name: You'll need to put thought into your business name. It should be a name that is easy to remember, and most importantly, one that's not already taken in your state (at least). This will be helpful when registering your business and when creating your website.
Commissary/Commercial Kitchen Agreement: You cannot cook out of your own home under Cottage Food laws if you have any "temperature controlled" foods. This includes all meats and cheeses. So if you're doing anything related to these items, you need to find a commercial kitchen to work in. I love Magic Cookery, a commissary in Albuquerque. It's the same agreement food trucks have with a place they can cook and clean their items.
Business License: You'll need to become licensed to do business with the state. It's a pretty quick process, but very important for all the future items you'll need. You'll do this through the New Mexico Taxation & Revenue Department.
CRS form: This is an official form you'll need for the health inspection, and you obtain it by paying gross receipts tax in NM (again, from the NM Taxation and Revenue Dept.).
A website: It is very important to have a website, so that your customers can order easily without having to wait on you for a response. My favorite company for this is Wix. They have such great designs, a user-friendly interface, and great customer service. Plus, they can handle orders and payments; it's a one-stop shop.
Food manager safety certification: You'll need to take a course through NRFSP or another organization to earn this certification in order to be approved by the health inspector and a commercial kitchen (plus, you just want to make your food safe for others to consume!).
A permit from the local health inspector: A non-negotiable is getting a permit from the health inspector. You can try to operate without this, but you probably won't be able to work out of a commercial kitchen, and if you get caught, your whole business will be shut down. It's a very easy process, and they're really friendly people who want to see safe, above-board (pun intended) food businesses succeed.
Liability insurance: Insurance is key to keep you from getting into legal trouble, and to protect you personally. You should be really familiar with your plan, because there are a lot of exclusions (for example, if you're operating illegally [unlicensed or not permitted]) that can keep you from being eligible for the coverage if you're not doing the right thing. My plan is through FLIP, and so far we love the coverage.
An EIN: Taxes aren't fun, but you'll need this to properly file taxes federally and with the state. You'll also need to file gross receipts tax. Make sure you talk to an accountant if you're unsure about how and when to pay taxes.
These are the basics you'll need - feel free to reach out if you have any questions! We're happy to help out, because as a small business, we can't handle all the charcuterie orders out there (especially in Santa Fe). We need other great businesses to recommend! Comment if this was helpful or if you would add something to this list.