Part 1: How to Start A Food Truck Business

There are many different varieties of food trucks and mobile food businesses. Each comes with its own unique taste, flair, and menu. For those who are interested in starting their own food truck business, the first step is to decide if this is a goal you want to pursue. If it is, this series of articles should help you to achieve the goal of starting a food truck business.

Writing a Business Plan

The first step in starting a food truck business is to understand that there is a significant amount of time, thought, effort and money that goes into achieving this goal. It’s not as simple as just buying a truck, gathering food, and starting a business. Owning a food truck business starts by laying out a business plan that works best for your market.

Tips on Writing an Individualized Business Plan

A business plan for a food truck will help organize all thoughts and ideas in a way that sounds appealing to potential investors. It will help outline a schedule for the course of action and help to ensure that one stays on track to reach the end goal of a food truck business.

Writing a business plan will also focus on making a profit. The plan should include the following details on the financial aspects of running a food truck business.

A few things to think about first:

  • Type of food you want to serve
  • Prices
  • Competition
  • Advertising
  • Finances
  • Investors

Formulating Important Lists

It’s time to start writing lists. There’s no limit to dreams and ambitions on these lists, but remember to focus on narrowing them down to achieve these goals.

Write out a summary of the food truck business. This will help lay out the foundation of the exact specifications and details of your goals. This is imperative for when approaching a bank, potential investors, advertisers and promoters to explain what your food truck business entails.  

Key questions to consider:

  • What are you going to sell?
  • How much will you charge for each individual menu item?
  • How will you advertise/promote?

By creating this summary of the business layout first and foremost, it will help to explain in detail how the food truck business will sound appealing and clarify the overall business goals.

Other Aspects to Consider in the Summary

Length of Summary

  • The summary should sound appealing without being too long winded. The more attractive the food truck business sounds increases the speed with which the business potentially starts.

Company Description

  • According to the United States Small Business Association, the business plan should also include a company description. The purpose of the outline is to show what the food truck business will stand for, it’s mission statement.

Samples of ideas to include:

  • How will this food truck business benefit the community?
  • Do you plan to give back to the customers who become regulars?
    • For example, a frequent buyer incentive program. This could be a punch card, where they visit ten times, and earn a free food item.
    • Focus on the quality and value of the overall product.
    • Remember, this is another area where it is important to be charismatic because you are selling your business idea to potential investors and consumers.

Target Consumer  

  • Identify who is your target customer base. What menu items will appeal most to them? Survey the target population/consumer in the location. What do they prefer to eat? What do they avoid?
  • What are the reports in the market at the time? How will this affect your food truck business? Will you have potential to make a good profit? List these possibilities in the business plan.
  • Adding this information will help narrow down and eliminate some obstacles or inadequate concepts.

Dealing with the Competition

  • Describe how your food truck business will stand out with the local competition. Remember to focus on the selected location, funding the truck as well as how much experience you have or know about the industry.
  • Study and learn what is already available in the chosen location. It will help your food truck business stand out amongst the competitors.  

Ultimate Goal

  • It is imperative to write down the overall goal. For example, if you plan to stick with one truck, and be your own boss, then do not forget to mention it in the summary.
  • If your goals are bigger, as in starting out as a food truck, and ending up as the boss/owner of your own restaurant, then remember to indicate that in the summary as well.  

Your Business Plan and The Small Business Administration (www.sba.gov)

The SBA suggests that the next step is to follow up this information with a section about how the business will be organized and managed.

This includes:

  • The day-to-day details of operations of your food truck business.
  • Who will be working behind-the-scenes? Who will be taking care of management, finances, office duties, scheduling, marketing, etc.?
  • List any partners or employees. How will they operate in the business?
  • What are their qualifications? Why are the suited to the specific job task?
  • Every function in the business must be covered so that nothing goes overlooked or unnoticed. It reduces the potential for future problems.

Product Details

Your business plan must include a section that describes, in detail of all of your products. (At this point, if the menu has been written, this is the place to include it.)

Marketing Ideas

This is essential. The marketing ideas for the food truck business need to be included in the report.

  • Will you plaster posters and flyers around the location of your food truck business?
  • Will you hand out business cards?
  • Will you put out a press release on television, radio, newspapers and internet?
  • Will you advertise in local magazines?

Write out all details to let your potential investors/bank/partners know the intentions of the food truck business.

Plans for Growth

Do you plan on growing your business? If the answer is yes, then make sure to mention any and all goals for expanding the business. Will this affect your target customer base? Think about all potential business goals in the marketing section. It’s a smart move to pursue all avenues to keep your customers coming back as the business grows.

Financial Assistance

If asking for financial assistance for your food truck business, then a complete list of financial projections is needed for the first year of business.

Include annual estimates for the first year and well as for the following four years.  To clarify, it is fine to not know the exact numbers to fill in for these areas because of the unfamiliar knowledge with running a food truck business. It is safe to assume that you will learn over time so an exact number is not needed for this section.

Conclusion of Food Truck Business Plan

In the conclusion of your food truck business plan, place an Appendix.

Include the following:

  • Resumes
  • Concepts
  • Research/Reports
  • Statistics
  • Licenses/Permits necessary to the location of your food truck business
  • Anything else that you deem necessary to the success of your business.

For more information on writing a business plan, contact EntreDot.org for individual guidance or you can get started with the SBA Create Busines Plan page.

NEXT UP….Part 2: How to Handle the Finances of Your Food Truck Business!