This article has two sections. The first is on how to plan and start your business in general. The second is on how to start a food truck business.
Here is a step by step tutorial on how to start a business.
Here is a tutorial on how you can write a good business plan.
Here are a few more resources on how to start your business. Here is a link to learn more about my book on how to start a business which is based on research of experiences of 300,000 entrepreneurs. Here is the link to my video-based course on how to start a business with over 5 hours of tutorials. The link to the course contains a coupon code for a very big discount. If you like this course, here is a page that has 60 Udemy course discounts and coupons.
Interview On How To Start A Food Truck Business
How Do You Choose A Good Location For A Food Truck?
Location is obviously key. My business model though, has a twist. Sweet Lulu’s is named after my rescue hound dog Lulu that I adopted after loosing two 15-year old furry kids a week apart. Because 75% of pets that enter a South Carolina shelter are euthanized, I think it’s very important to give back. My business donates 2% of profits to animal shelters with an ultimate goal of starting an organic ice cream for dogs. And all the proceeds of the ice cream business will be donated to shelters. Because of this, targeting dog friendly areas is key for my business.
A goal for a food truck is to snag a spot as folks are going to or leaving our dog friendly beaches.
Also, Charleston is the #1 wedding destination in the country. And because it’s warm a good portion of this year, outdoor weddings are common all year long. While I plan on finding a spot to park maybe 1 or 2 days a week, ultimately I’d like to focus on the catering side as folks would be very welcoming to having a cool vintage pick up truck either in wedding photos or birthdays.
Catering can also make quite a bit of money. As you grow awareness of your food truck and make people love your food, make them aware that you are also available to do catering.
How Much Money Do You Need To Start A Food Truck?
My Indiegogo campaign goal is $20,000. From this I need to deduct their fees and costs to fulfill Perks which will then hopefully leave me with enough for the truck and trailer.
What Are The Licenses & Permits Needed?
In South Carolina the food license is free. You need an additional license for each city you go into. Each city has different requirements. Some cities have flat fees while some take a portion of sales. So all those local licenses could add up very quickly. That would be a pain and very costly as the area isn’t like a New York where you need one license. The Charleston DMA is made up of a lot of tiny towns. This is again, why I’d like that focus more so on catering. Food trucks also have a stigma associated with them that they take business away from brick and mortar restaurants. And not local city governments like that.
If you are raising money and looking for investors, the first thing you need to do is to learn to pitch your business. Here is a business pitch template that you can use.
What Are Some Of The Biggest Costs?
Buying an old pick up truck, the renovation that goes into it, and the trailer are some of the biggest costs to start this business. Also, if any equipment breaks, fixing it can also be quite costly.
How Do You Get Clients?
Oddly, Instagram has helped tremendously. I started posting pretty pictures of historic Charleston locations to entice folks to follow me. I posted photos of beautiful architecture, shrimp boats, stunning sunsets, and then periodically added pictures of Lulu or dessert. I’ve had numerous people already ask when I’m opening and that they’ll be coming in. Last fall, I only had 500 Instagram followers, I now have over 3,000.
I’ve also been tapping into local organizations and emailing their members (for donations to Indiegogo). It’s a free (often overlooked) resource. And I’ve emailed organizations directly. Within minutes of my first email I literally received a $1,500 donation from Charleston Dog House. I also received another $50 donation the next day from Sea Art Photography that resulted in 2 more donations totaling $100 because of them sharing to their social media community. Better still, Sea Arts Photography social sharing then resulted in me being invited to sponsor and give away samples of my food at a huge CVB wedding party and cocktail reception.
How Many Hours Do You Work Per Week?
The question should really be how few hours of sleep do you get. Between my full-time job and now starting another small business, I’m easily putting in 12 to 15 hour days. The hours fly though, because I really do love what I’m doing. I feel like I’m more in control of my own destiny vs. sitting at a desk waiting for someone to notice my accomplishments.
How To Manage Inventory And Stock?
Use Excel spreadsheets or a POS (point of sale) system if you can get that.
What Are The Product Margins? What Is The Most Profitable Thing You Do?
Catering is the most profitable thing I can do. There I’ll have the opportunity to custom tailor mason jar lids, decorate our eco-friendly wooden spoons vs. just a plain spoons, and do other similar things. You save on fancy containers and get a big one-time payout. Additionally, if you do a good job catering, the same client might have you back next time they have a partly.
Is This A Good Business To Get Into?
For me, yes, it is an absolutely great business to get into! I love working for myself. But better still, Charleston is the perfect local for a small business. It is very much about buying local and supporting locally owned businesses vs. big box retail.
Anyone who has a passion for food, is a self starter, thick skinned, and that has a passion for small business could get into this business.
Any Other Tips?
There are many sources for funding that folks don’t know about or are afraid to ask. Taking out a huge loan can be incredibly daunting for a small business and I think a lot of people don’t live their dream because of the fear of money. Online crowdfunding is a great solution for helping those who don’t want to be saddled with debt before they open their doors. Here is more information about fundraising.
Who Is The Ideal Client?
Someone who loves to eat and stops to savor food. Someone who isn’t afraid to stick their fingers in a mason jar to lick out the last morsels of yumminess. Those are the folks who make me happy.
How To Become A Great Entrepreneur
Here is a tutorial I made on how to become a very good entrepreneur.