Unlike most other business opportunities, street trading offers the ordinary individual a realistic chance to start their own business for a reasonable investment, very few restrictions, low overheads and little, if any specialist knowledge, skills or experience.
One advantage of street food is that in most cases you will be in the enviable position of being able to ‘move on’ should a particular pitch prove to be unsuccessful. People always need to eat and drink, and today’s busy lifestyle often means that many are either unwilling or unable to cater for themselves, turning rather to fast food or ready-prepared meals.
But Be Aware!
Any type of catering is very hard work and can be extremely physically demanding. There are also stringent legal requirements that must be conformed with, in order to avoid significant fines.
On the face of it, the plus points do seem to far outweigh the minuses, but whether or not you can succeed in this industry sector is largely down to your own character as well as your business acumen. We have constructed a checklist to help you think seriously about all the aspects of this new venture and even envisage yourself in the roll (pardon the pun!) before you take the plunge and cook up a storm!
Before we begin….
Street foodies contact us every day undecided as to what type of food would be best suited to them and their abilities, the reality is that most of them need to ask themselves a lot more questions before they get to the point of what food to sell.
Here’s a 10 point checklist which you need to work through just to get you thinking in the right direction.
1. Do you get on well with people?
Both you and your staff will be dealing with the public at all hours of the day and night; you may be tired and harassed and sometimes customers’ demands can be thoroughly irritating. If your immediate reaction is to clobber anyone who annoys you, then we suggest you give up all thoughts of catering now! In our experience, however, most customers are easy to get along with, provided they get good value and service.
2. How do you feel about the fact that you and your family will be working whilst other people are enjoying themselves?
Most street food is a 6-7 day a week business, and your day off may well be a Monday.
The hours will be long, unsociable and the holidays may not happen for a long while. Some people thrive on being in the heart of busy social activities—the question is—do you?
3. Are you determined and prepared to work hard?
Be prepared for difficulties; they will come but if you intend to give up at the first hurdle this job isn’t for you. The work is physically hard, the hours often gruelling, and you will be on your feet most of the time.
4. Is being self-employed right for you?
You will be working on your own, and success will depend mainly on you. There is no boss to turn to or to blame if things go wrong. You will need to be self-motivated and positive in your approach to each job.
5.Can you get up in the morning with a smile?
Are you self-disciplined enough to get up at 5.00 am, on a freezing winter morning if the need arises or arrive with a smile even if you feel down in the dumps
6. Have you got what it takes to be a shrewd operator?
This is a very dog eat ‘hotdog’ kind of industry and you will often need your wits about you to stay one step ahead of the competition.
7. Do you have staying power?
People generally start out in this industry with loads of enthusiasm, but this can wear thin after a while and standards begin to drop. Unless you have the strength to maintain your professionalism, your reputation weakens and your profits will take a nosedive.
8. Do you have the drive, determination and confidence to make your own business a success?
Can you cope with the bad times as well as the good. Mobile and outside catering can be a real money-spinner, if you can keep the repeat business coming whilst keeping your eyes and ears open for new opportunities should circumstances change.
9. Are you by nature a clean and tidy person?
Cleanliness is definitely next to godliness in a catering environment. There will be plenty of cleaning and washing up so if that’s a chore to you, then maybe you should think again.
10. Will the family life be able to fit in?
If you are the sort of person who always wants the family to be together, this may not be the ideal industry for you. At some shows there will be an opportunity to take the family along. However the stress and demands on your time running your own business, are not always harmonious with a family life, particularly a young one.