Author Topic: Starting a very small business? (Food carts)  (Read 3386 times)

T-Rex

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Starting a very small business? (Food carts)
« on: July 09, 2014, 09:12:58 AM »
My career counselor (a business owner / MBA) suggested that I start a small business like hot dog or ice cream carts while I'm in college.

The logic was that since I could invest in a cart and an employee within a few months it would pay for itself, and the more carts I had, the more income I could have each month.

After looking at prices, it seems like I could definitely afford a few food carts. I have previously worked in retail, but don't have experience running my own business.

Does anyone here have experience with anything like that? Any insight?

neo von retorch

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Re: Starting a very small business? (Food carts)
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2014, 09:32:11 AM »
Have you ever heard of the TV show The Profit? I saw it last night because my roommate watches Mad Money, and the show was on after. It was about a woman who started a popcorn business and had carts at carnivals and/or amusement parks. It looked like it could be really profitable if done right (and the location is key!) but the list of costs does add up. Cart, labor, raw supplies (corn, syrups/butter/salt, packaging, cleaning supplies, accounting), insurance, commissions, storage. That's all I remember off the top of my head. Interesting idea!

BFGirl

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Re: Starting a very small business? (Food carts)
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2014, 09:59:02 AM »
Just make sure that you research how the permits work for this.  There used to be a hot dog stand across from my office, but the lady had to give it up because the city was making her life a nightmare.  Location is everything, but they kept changing the way her permit could work and she finally quit to go back to office work.

HairyUpperLip

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Re: Starting a very small business? (Food carts)
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2014, 10:05:51 AM »
I looked into the hot dog cart thing before as a side hustle. I was hoping I could setup just on weekends at flea markets or something along those lines. I'll share why I didn't pursue much further.

First, I looked into hot dog carts. I found plenty of affordable options for the small size I was thinking of. On my local craigslist there was several that popped up that were perfect in size, condition, and price.

Cart is affordable, nice. Let's do this I think....

Even quality hot dogs aren't expensive, buns are cheap, chips are cheap, cokes are cheap... okay, nice I can be fully stocked for pretty cheap and gauge what sells and doesn't.

Cart and food are affordable... I'm game.

Then I started looking into the food business permit... In Georgia, you need to have access to a proper commercial kitchen even if you have a proper food truck/cart. So I didn't want to spend the loot on a physical location and I don't know anyone with one that would let me say I operate out of there.

It really came down to the food permit issues. It just seemed like that would be the biggest expense and headache for me over anything else. I'm sure there is ways around it or other various options. If I knew how to really handle that hurdle I would probably still consider doing it.


Good luck and I think it can make some decent loot from what I found when doing research.

swick

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Re: Starting a very small business? (Food carts)
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2014, 10:58:57 AM »
It really came down to the food permit issues. It just seemed like that would be the biggest expense and headache for me over anything else. I'm sure there is ways around it or other various options. If I knew how to really handle that hurdle I would probably still consider doing it.

Most churches have commercial kitchens. Many will allow you to rent, or rent on paper from them, for a very modest fee or donation.

HairyUpperLip

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Re: Starting a very small business? (Food carts)
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2014, 11:12:02 AM »
It really came down to the food permit issues. It just seemed like that would be the biggest expense and headache for me over anything else. I'm sure there is ways around it or other various options. If I knew how to really handle that hurdle I would probably still consider doing it.

Most churches have commercial kitchens. Many will allow you to rent, or rent on paper from them, for a very modest fee or donation.

Interesting. I'll have to look into that. Thanks.

T-Rex

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Re: Starting a very small business? (Food carts)
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2014, 12:47:23 PM »
Thanks for reminding me to look into permits. I feel like carts must be profitable because I see a lot in California.

Nords

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Re: Starting a very small business? (Food carts)
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2014, 06:26:33 PM »
Thanks for reminding me to look into permits. I feel like carts must be profitable because I see a lot in California.
I realize that you're using a food cart, not a food truck, but rockstar blogger/entrepreneur Pat Flynn just started a new "how to" site called FoodTruckr.com.  (Not a typo; the "e" is deliberately omitted.)  The permit question shows up in this post:
http://foodtruckr.com/2014/05/start-food-truck-19-organize-licenses-permits/

Icecreamarsenal

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Re: Starting a very small business? (Food carts)
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2014, 06:45:54 PM »
It really came down to the food permit issues. It just seemed like that would be the biggest expense and headache for me over anything else. I'm sure there is ways around it or other various options. If I knew how to really handle that hurdle I would probably still consider doing it.

Most churches have commercial kitchens. Many will allow you to rent, or rent on paper from them, for a very modest fee or donation.

Excellent suggestion.  Before the brick and mortar restaurant I'm involved in now, I did research on food trucks.
Although churches may not allow it, commercial kitchens will often allow many people to rent their address and credentials; you can negotiate storage as well, because a hot dog cart is relatively small.  Let us know how it goes!