I Almost Started A Hot Dog Cart Business

There was one pizzeria in my college town that serviced the students as well as the locals. It didn't take long before my friends and I realized how much revenue the place must have been generating. After all, combine drunk college kids and greasy food, and you have a winning combination. At least that's how the math worked out in our heads. I was in my 5th year when I just couldn't shake the idea of starting something similar. I must have been watching some show or movie about food trucks. I started looking around the local classifieds for used food trucks so I could gauge what the market was like.

The idea I had involved selling hod dogs, water bottles and chips. I did some market research to see how much people were spending at the pizza shop and figured out $3 for a hot dog, and water combo was the sweet spot. I had the idea, the market research and revenue/profit goals in mind, so I started executing. First thing was seeing what my friends thought about the idea. Many cheered me on while being skeptical. My roommate and coworker at the time had a brother in the food cart business in a different state. I trusted his judgement so I asked him to come along for the journey, and he agreed. 

There were many used food carts around me but I couldn't afford them. I increased my search to neighboring states and found a hot dog cart that fit the bill. It was a small trailer and could handle hot and cold foods. I didn't want to miss out on the deal so I made the proper arrangement to go get it and drove it all the way home. This is when I started all the legal procedures. I created an LLC, I got a Food Handler Certification and started the process to have the trailer inspected. The inspectors gave me gave me all the rules and regulations, and that's when I learned my biggest constraint. The trailer I had bought, wasn't in compliance due to the materials used to make it. If I wanted to continue the journey, I would have needed to buy the right trailer and I simply didn't have the funds to do it, so needless to say, that was the end of the road for the venture. 

Knowing what I know now, my first steps should have been to visit a food vendor and picked their brain, or gotten a part time job to learn the trade and the regulations. Another would have been to seek funding from an investor and friends when needed. I could have kept on trying, but I didn't think I was deep enough into the project, so I gave up. My execution should have been a lot better and I might have gotten different results had I persevered a little more, but what I learned was of great value. Let me know of a time you didn't execute properly and learned a lot from it.