In the world of software development, the principle of “fail fast” has been around as long as I can remember (and I’ve been writing software for almost 25 years).

The basic idea behind “fail fast” is that in any software you’re building (or in any restaurant you’re running), you want to find and identify errors or unfeasible paths as quickly as possible, allowing you to pivot, to make changes quickly, before the problem or error becomes larger, sometimes too large to handle, or sometimes causing irreparable damage.

This concept holds a lot of valuable insight for people running food businesses. Over the past decade I’ve seen so many businesses try to tackle the wrong problems, or ignore problems entirely in the hopes that “things will just work out if I can make it another 6 months.” But when money is on the line and stakes are high, learning to adapt, catching problems early and facing them head on is a far better approach.

Running a restaurant, bakery, or any food-related business is in many similar to navigating a complex software system. Each ‘component’, from food costs to staffing, quality control, and inventory management need to work together almost seamlessly in order to be truly successful. Now let’s be realistic, you know as well as I do that not everything is seamless — but when things aren’t seamless, it’s far better to know about it early. Failures happen. When they do, it’s better that they happen early, they they are acknowledged, and that some “error handling” procedure is taken to deal with them appropriately.

Quickly Identify and Resolve Issues

The essence of “fail fast” is not about courting failure but rather about creating systems and implementing practices that can quickly help you identify inefficiencies or problems. In a food business, this could mean recognizing a dish that consistently underperforms, a supplier issue that affects ingredient quality, or a pricing strategy that’s not viable. The sooner these issues are detected, the less impact they have on customer satisfaction and the bottom line.

Keeping your receipts and invoices in a shoe box for half a year while not getting your books done is not a good “fail fast” approach… but it’s a great way fail spectacularly.

Leverage technology as a tool

Software (like any good tool) should play a pivotal role in the “fail fast” approach. Just as developers use debugging tools to find errors, food businesses can utilize technology like Recipe Cost Calculator and inventory management systems to pinpoint areas of concern. These tools not only identify problems but also offer data-driven insights for informed decision-making, allowing businesses to adjust recipes, pricing, or supplier choices with precision and confidence.

Failures happen. Face them. Fix them. Early

Adopting a “fail fast” mentality encourages a culture of continuous improvement and innovation. It shifts the perspective on failure, viewing it as an opportunity for growth rather than a setback - but only if you can catch it early, before a small f failure becomes a BIG F Failure. This change in approach and mentality could be the one that transforms your business. You want to be the one running your business, you don’t want your business to be running all over you.


The “fail fast” principle as I’ve experienced it originating in software development, offers a ton of valuable insight for people running food businesses. It promotes discipline, catching problems early, not ignoring problems by sticking your head in the sand, and using technology as a tool to do things better.

With this approach, food businesses can handle their complicated stuff more smoothly, making what could be mess-ups into chances to do well.

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Daniel Wintschel

Daniel is the founder and senior developer of Recipe Cost Calculator. He also co-founded and built Kitchening & Co. (a wholesale bakery) with his wife Carly Wintschel. He sold Kitchening & Co. in 2021. With over 20 years of software development experience and over 10 years in small scale food processing and manufacturing, he knows a ton about helping you with your food business, and writing software relevant to food businesses.

More than 20,000 food businesses in over 50 countries have used Recipe Cost Calculator to help them build profitable food businesses.

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