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The food truck industry pulls in more than $2.5 billion annually, up from $650 million in 2012. Enterprising restaurateurs around the globe have turned to food trucks as their main source of income, and it’s easy to see why.
Startup costs are often less than $100,000, compared to the more than $400,000 it takes to open a brick and mortar restaurant. If you’re ready to put some sweet food on wheels, here’s what you have to do to get started.
Get your business license, put together a business plan, and obtain a truck permit. You need to dot all of your i’s and cross all of your t’s. You’ll also need a food handler’s permit, a place to park the truck, and some delicious food. Every location has different requirements for businesses, so make sure you get square with the state before you shell out for the truck. Speaking of the state:
Most cities limit the number of food truck permits they’ll issue. If your city is maxed out on permits, you may have to do a little political activism before you start your business. Work with your city council to expand the number of food permits available if they’ve run out by the time you get there. Again, there’s nothing worse than a truck that you can’t park.
There are a lot of food trucks out there selling tacos, Asian cuisine, and BBQ. That doesn’t mean you can't open a taco truck, but it does mean you better find a way to differentiate your tacos from the ones on 43rd and Broadway. Think about interesting food fusions, portion sizes, and mouthwatering little extras.
Tons of people go to McDonald’s just because they like the fries. Sometimes having the right side dish can make a huge difference.
When the chips (or fries) are down, location matters more than anything. The employees in the Wells Fargo building at 33rd and Main aren’t going to drive across town for a great taco. They’re going out the front door and eating what’s available and easy.
Proximity and speed are crucial. People want good food, but they want it close, and they want it fast. Consider partnering with businesses. Many have access to prime parking lots and spaces that will allow you to access your customers with ease and consistency.
Now that your recipes are on point and your business is all aboveboard, it’s time to finance that shiny truck you’ve had your eye on. It can be hard to obtain traditional loans if your business plan isn’t a work of art and your credit isn’t immaculate, but you still have options.
A marketplace lender, like Lendio, gives you access to over 75 lenders. All you have to do is fill out our 15-minute application and then wait for the offers to pour in–applicants usually start seeing offers within 24 hours.
Our goal is to help small business owners have all the tools and knowledge possible about loans. We’ve connected to hundreds of banks to keep you up to date with the best loan offers and options for your business!