Combining Your Love Of Cooking With Your Ambition To Be Your Own Boss And What It Takes To Survive In The Food Industry.
If you’re somebody who loves being in the kitchen and experimenting with new, exciting and unique recipes, then it’s likely your friends and family have asked you why you don’t pack in your 9-to-5 job and work as a professional chef. The thing is that anyone who’s worked in a kitchen knows how stressful such an environment can be. No matter how much you might love to cook, the fast-paced style of commercial kitchens at restaurants can turn you off it.
But passionate cooks don’t need to be confined to a kitchen to live out their dream, and in fact, more and more foodies are finding different ways to indulge in their passion. From food trucks to pop up stalls, you can create your favourite foods for eager, salivating customers and enjoy all the freedoms that being in charge of yourself entails.
If you get all tingly whenever trying out new recipes and creating fresh meals and are also sick and tired of sitting in an office all day long, then starting a food truck company could be the answer. Before you begin whisking up a storm, though, here is everything that you need to know.
There are plenty of reasons to start a popup food business. Here are just three.
You Can Be Your Own Boss: The chance to be a business owner is something a lot of people would love to do. You don’t have to answer to the head chef barking orders, and you can work whenever you want.
No Home Office: Pop up food trucks can go almost anywhere, so if one place doesn’t seem lucrative, there are many other places to try out.
Your Rules: You can set the menu, purchase from vendors you want to, and visit events that appeal to you.
But, there are also some disadvantages you might encounter, including:
Extended Hours: Food vendors can work long days, especially at festivals or similar events. This means you’ll need to power through or risk taking a break and missing out on business.
Lots of Competition: The popup vendor industry is booming, so unless you’ve got something no one else offers (more on that later) be prepared for some stiff competition.
Legal Stuff: You can’t just set up shop anywhere you like, there will be ordinance and zoning issues to sort out. As a food truck vendor, you’ll also be at the mercy of Hygiene organisations, so make sure everywhere is spotless.
Before you even begin to think of a name for your popup vendor business, you’ll need to do some research. The best way to do this is to travel to different popup locations around your area and visit events where food trucks will be in abundance.
Here, you can get an idea of what type of food sells but also what menu items seem to be oversaturated. You can also take this opportunity to discuss with existing and successful vendors for them to give you advice on how to get started. You can also contact restaurant owners, food critics, and even just the general public to get an idea of what they believe makes a successful popup business.
If you have any friends in the industry, spending a day with them helping out or just observing can give you a great idea of what to expect. Just make sure you don’t get in the way during the lunch rush.
Get the Funding
Likely, most of you do not have heaps of investment stored away to start your popup food vendor dream, which means you’ll need to find funding from somewhere. Options include Kickstarter and GoFundMe pages to reach your goal, but if you don’t want to rely on friends, family, or random strangers, then you’ll need to discuss investments with the bank.
Doing this will allow you to purchase your truck or kitchen equipment to help you get started. Most people would prefer brand new items. However, your funding may not allow that.
If you can’t afford a brand new truck outright and aren’t the most financially stable, you can look into obtaining bad credit loans with a guarantor to give you the boost. However, as always, it’s essential to be careful about borrowing too much, so be sensible. Hopefully, your business will prove successful enough that you can pay these costs back with little issue and could even be as soon as the end of your first month.
Speaking of getting paid, you should also consider how you want the transactions processed. Many new businesses, especially popup ones like the kind you find at Pop Brixton use Point-of-Sale machines to record each
If you want to go more old school, then taking cash and recording each sale by hand is also an option, and could even add to the rustic look you’re going for. However, with more and more people opting to go cashless, this could hinder potential business, as Cash Only services are not as attractive as card-based ones because of the convenience.
What Makes You Different?
You’ve no doubt noticed that there are hundreds, if not thousands of food trucks everywhere you look. Much like podcasts and craft beer, they are the trendy thing to do, which means you’ve got a lot of competition to deal with.
If you’re a talented chef (which you surely are), it’s not the food that will be the issue, but the menu. You don’t want to design a menu that no one will eat, but at the same time, there’s little point in making a menu too similar to others, especially as a startup as you won’t have the name recognition of others.
One method that has proved popular in the past is finding a niche and sticking to it. This means you make a variation of one dish (with some different sides) that can appeal to as many people as possible.
Where to Find You?
Once you’ve decided on what to make, the next step is working out where people can find you. Creating a website is a great place to start, as it gives everyone a place to stop by and see what you can do. You can syndicate your site with social media platforms, with Instagram being the most lucrative option to help spread the word and get in contact if need be.
Running the business yourself also gives you complete control over how you present yourself online, the design you want your website to use, and how you interact with future customers.
Having a dedicated website is also beneficial for suppliers to get in touch with you. While you can Direct Message on social media, it’s not the most professional way to do business. Providing an email or message box on your site can help your suppliers get in touch with you quickly without the risk of their message being lost among an ocean of notifications asking when you are coming to someone’s city.
On the Move?
You can’t just stay in your hometown forever, though. If you want to be successful, you’ve got to get on the road and show off your skills at festivals around the country. You can’t wait for an invitation, but you can apply to be featured if you can make the dates.
Being a solo entrepreneur, this is entirely in your hands. You’ll need to pay for petrol, any licenses, ticket prices, and space rental. This may not be ideal if you are just getting started. However, with more and more exposure through appearances wherever you can, you’ll be able to ensure you appear at competitions, in popup areas, and even street food locations all over the country.
Finally, you want to ensure that people know where you are on launch day. You don’t want to cook all this undoubtedly delicious food only for nobody to show up. The first port of call for this is social media. You can tag people, post where you will be on certain days, and also interact with other vendors to see if you can give each other a shout out.
Through social media, you can also show pictures of your food to entice people further. At first, you can probably get away with using your camera or smartphone. However, if you really want the pictures to attract business, it might be worth getting in touch with a professional photographer.
Many food vendors rely on word of mouth to attract new customers, too. This in itself is an incentive to create the best and most delicious food you can. Any awards you might win at food festivals will also help boost your reputation and have people crowding around your little area whenever you roll into town.
Big Ambitions and Big Successes
Going out all on your own and living your dream isn’t for everybody, and some like to enjoy the comforts of the life they currently have. However, for those willing to chase the dream, the results could be more beneficial than you might expect. Following this ambition and getting to do something you love will make you wonder why you never did it sooner, but there’s still plenty of time to catch up.