Starting a food truck business can be an exciting and exhilarating time, but any new business requires hard work and dedication. If you’ve never launched a start-up an enterprise or you’re new to the food industry, it’s a good idea to do extensive research before you begin. With the right advice, tips, and assistance, you could be on your way to launching your very own successful startup.
1. Create a business plan
When you’ve come up with a great business idea, it can be tempting to jump straight in and start making decisions right away. Whilst your passion and motivation will certainly come in handy, it’s vital to take a step back and consider all of the essentials.
Writing a business plan is an excellent way to assess and strengthen your ideas. When creating a business plan, you’ll also encounter potential obstacles and issues you may not have considered, so it’s a useful way to ensure you’ve got everything covered before you launch your business or start spending.
With a business plan in place, you can set achievable goals along the way. Whilst you may not be able to launch a food truck business over a weekend, setting regular objectives will help you to reach your final goal more easily and without any unexpected issues driving you off course.
In addition to this, you’ll need to have a solid business plan in place if you want to obtain financing or attract investors. Whether you’re hoping to get a commercial business loan from a bank, corporate investors or an injection of cash from family and friends, they will all want to see a structured and viable business plan before they’ll agree to be involved in your new venture.
2. Identify your objectives
As well as writing a formal business plan, you could benefit from creating a personal plan too. Starting a food truck business sounds like a fun way to make some cash, but have you considered all the eventualities. If you’re starting a food truck business as a second job, for example, will you really be able to dedicate every weekend to working? If big events take place on weekdays, will you be able to take time off from your regular job so that you can get out in your food truck?
Being an entrepreneur can be one of the most exciting roles there is, but it isn’t right for everyone. Launching a successful business often requires round-the-clock work and it can limit the amount of time you’re able to spend with your friends and family.
Ask yourself some key questions, such as:
- How many hours can I spend on this?
- How much time can I spend away from home?
- What do I need to earn every month?
- Can I deal with the hassle of owning and running a business?
- Where do I see myself in five years?
By aligning your own personal goals with your business objectives, you’ll soon be able to see whether starting a food truck business is the right course of action for you. Ultimately, you may decide that it isn’t the right time in your life to start a new venture, but realizing that now could save you a lot of money and heartbreak.
Furthermore, if you examine your personal goals and decide they do align with starting your own business, you’ll be able to approach the project with more zest and motivation than before.
3. Get the right certification
Different businesses require varying certifications, so find out what you’ll need before you get started. When you’re working with food there are numerous health and safety regulations you need to adhere to, so it’s vital you take the relevant courses and/or obtain the appropriate certifications so that you can trade legally. Remember – these can vary from state to state so if you’re going to travel to different events or locations with your food truck, make sure you’ve got the right certifications.
As well as meeting your state’s regulatory requirements, you’ll also need to check out how to get a pitch in a good location. Although you may have a food truck, this doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to simply pitch up wherever you like and start selling food. You may require a particular permit if you’re going to be stopping on a public highway, like the side of the road, and if you’re heading to private land or a private event, you’ll need permission from the owner before you can start to sell.
In busy areas there can be long waiting lists for permits, so get your name down as quickly as you can. However, don’t expect a permit to become available within weeks. In some areas, it could take months or even years to get the right permit, and, in somewhere as busy as New York City, you could wait decades to get a food truck permit.
4. Take out insurance
All enterprises require insurance of some kind, and it’s well worth getting comprehensive insurance in place. A public liability insurance policy will cover you if members of the public are hurt or injured whilst visiting your business, whilst a general liability insurance policy may also offer some level of public liability cover. Although you may not be inviting members of the public into your truck, if they were injured by wayward signage or a faulty chair, for example, you could still be held liable, so it’s important to get the right insurance in place.
In addition to this, your food truck will need to be roadworthy and covered by auto insurance before you can take it on the road. There are many insurance companies which offer commercial policies to vehicle owners, so you should find it easy to get the cover you need.
When you’re starting a business, it’s tempting to cut costs wherever you can, but it’s always worth getting a decent insurance policy. If any incidents occur, you could be personally liable if you’re a sole trader and a claim against a small company could be enough to bankrupt it. With the appropriate insurance in place, however, you can protect yourself, your business and any employers you hire.
5. Get legal advice
There are plenty of statutory and regulatory requirements businesses need to adhere to, so getting specialist advice could be a cost-effective move. If someone is investing in your business, for example, you may want to have the agreement drawn up by a lawyer so that there are no misunderstandings regarding ownership of the company. Even if it’s a family member or friend who is going to invest, having a formal agreement in place can minimize disagreements in the future.
As well as getting legal advice during the process of starting your business, you may need to call upon attorneys when your company is up and running too. Any enterprise which operates from the road is at risk of traffic incidents and accidents, so there may be times when you need a semi-truck accident lawyer.
If you’ve sustained an injury or your food truck has been damaged because of an accident that wasn’t your fault, a semi-truck accident lawyer could help you to obtain compensation. When your business depends on the roadworthiness of your truck and your fitness to work, it can be a good idea to claim compensation if someone else causes you to be hurt in some way.
6. Check out the competition
Before you launch your own business, you’ll need to find out exactly what the market is like. If you don’t want to travel too far but there are already an influx of food trucks in your area, will you be able to compete? Specializing in a particular type of food or offering a signature dish may be a way to differentiate yourself from other businesses, but you’ll need to know what the competition is doing first.
Go on numerous reconnaissance trips and try out the food at other trucks, so you can compare what you’re offering with what’s already on the market. This will give you a good idea of what’s already available in your area, and you’ll be able to determine what you can do differently and how you can stand out from the crowd.
7. Do some work experience
If you’ve never worked in a food truck before, it’s time to get some real-life work experience. Spending time in the field will give you an insight into what’s involved when you’re running your own food truck business, so it’s well worth working with others in the industry. Business owners tend to be a fairly friendly bunch, even if you’re going to be in competition with them in the future. They know exactly how hard it is to launch your own business, and are well-placed to give you local information and tips.
Of course, don’t expect your competitors to give too much away, and always verify everything you’re told before you act on it. In addition to seeking advice from existing food truck owners, you can also get great business advice from local organizations, such as your Chamber of Commerce. With dedicated initiatives to help entrepreneurs and business owners, there are a variety of local and online resources for you to use.