Start a Successful Food Truck Business

Want to launch a food truck? Read these smart planning tips on how to run and finance your mobile food business.

Thinking about jumping into the rapidly growing, one billion dollar food truck industry? Mobile food service includes food trucks, kiosks in malls and airports, mobile catering, and concession carts. Planning is key to successfully starting a food truck business.

Planning is Key to Food Truck Business Success

Create a business plan: As with any new business venture, planning your food truck business is important. Decide how much you will spend to buy your food truck and how you will finance the food truck cost. Look into potential locations, local permit regulations, local customer tastes, how you will market on social media and what the competition is. Research online, and talk with other operators in your area to see what other tips they have for how to start a food truck.

Plan your menu: Although you may already have an idea what kinds of foods you want to serve, keep in mind that you will need to make food easily transportable to and from your off-site commercial kitchen. It is also important to consider how you will serve food, because customers want something they can easily carry around.

Establish your business: What type of business you are determines tax obligations and personal liability. There are four types of businesses: sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and limited liability company. In the food truck business, you will most likely be a sole proprietor or a partner.

Secure financing: Funding your food truck business is one of the most important steps. Startup costs can run over $80,000. A lot of traditional banks reject food truck loans because they are high risk, and the loan amounts are often too low to make the bank a sizeable profit. Alternative lenders, like Opportunity Fund, specialize in these types of micro loans and work together with food truck entrepreneurs to achieve financial success.

Buy a food truck vehicle: Whether you plan on using a catering vehicle, truck or cart, make sure to research and price-match. Food trucks can cost from $5,000 to upwards of $60,000 depending on specialization and size needs. You can sometimes rent or purchase used vehicles for much less.

Secure commercial space: The benefit of running a food truck is the lack of expensive real estate rent, but you still need commercial space to operate. This includes somewhere secure to store your vehicle like a garage and a commercial kitchen. In California, current law requires food truck businesses to prepare the food beforehand in a licensed commercial kitchen, also known as a commissary.

Double check all licenses, permits, insurance, trademarks, etc.: Acquiring all the necessary state and city permits and licenses may be tedious, but it is essential to successfully starting a food truck. Some cities have parking restrictions and additional policies. Health inspectors usually check yearly, but may also check in randomly. They will check the commercial kitchen you prepare the food in, the garage in which you store the food truck during off hours, and the vehicle’s facilities itself.

Run a smart business: Once your food truck is ready to roll, the hard work really starts. Dealing with emergency situations and regulation changes can be stressful. Keep a close eye on your cash flow, inventory levels, new laws, and customer responses. Most importantly, manage for profit and finance from responsible lenders to keep your business out of debt.

We Know Mobile Food

If you have eaten at a local food truck, you have probably seen Opportunity Fund at work because we are the #1 lender to food trucks in California. So far, we have lent over $10.8 million to almost 300 food-related small businesses.

Onigilly is one of the many food truck businesses Opportunity Fund has helped get a loan. Koji’s “samurai sushi” had great potential, and our $10,000 loan helped him purchase a food truck. Since that first loan, Koji has been able to expand into two brick-and-mortar stores and hire 20 people. We are honored to have helped Koji achieve his dreams and start his own food truck business. Read more about Onigilly’s success here.

When you want to take out a loan to buy your food truck, you want a reputable lender who has your interests as the top priority. Because of our dedication to helping food truck business owners get the loans they need, we are confident we can help you get yours. We want to make sure your loan helps your business thrive.

Opportunity Fund has several loan options available for mobile food businesses. From $10,000 to $100,000, we offer loans with easy qualification, low APR rates, and short wait times of 5 days or less. Take a look, and you will see how easy-to-get, fast, and affordable our loans are.

For information about Opportunity Fund’s small business loans, please contact us at 866-299-8173 or loans@opportunityfund.org. For questions about your existing loan or other customer service questions, please contact us at 866-299-8173 or sbhelp@opportunityfund.org.

Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. In FY16, we made $37M in loans to help more than 1,800 small business owners invest in their businesses. Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

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