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Bizz On Wheels

How to Start a Food Cart Business: a Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners & Entrepreneurs

How to start a street food cart business by BizzOnWheels

Wondering how to start a food cart business?

The timing couldn’t be better: it seems that the street food craze is sweeping the world.

From bustling cities to small towns, food on wheels is a growing trend. And it’s not just drawing street food fans, it’s bringing in big bucks too: according to Intuit , the street-food business, including food trucks and mobile food carts, is a $2.7 billion industry that has seen a 12.4% growth in the last 5 years alone!

Traders are encouraged by the growing number of urban street markets, private events and street food festivals, while the entire trend is supported by the global rise of the “foodie” culture, making the public increasingly open to new taste experiences and quality cuisine.

Which begs the question:

What Makes Street Food So Popular?

marketing plan for a food cart business

From the entrepreneur’s perspective , street food comes with important benefits such as low start-up costs and mobility. Kiosks, food carts , trailers, and food trucks have a lower overhead than restaurants and can be moved if one location does not generate enough business.

For customers , street food is convenient and cost-friendly, which makes it attractive for basically everyone: locals and tourists, students and busy professionals, frugal singles and large families.

The most popular street foods?

There are the classics: hot dogs, hamburgers, ice cream and doughnuts.

Then there are those inspired by ethnic cuisines such as tacos, empanadas, sushi and crepes. The possibilities are endless and it’s up to you, the entrepreneur, to find the dishes and recipes that will set you apart from the rest and, most importantly, that will help you build a good reputation and a loyal customer base.

But, before you decide what foods you’re going to sell, you’ll have to consider:

The PROs and CONs of a Food Cart Business

There are many advantages to starting your own food cart business, which is why a lot of people choose to do just that. The PROs include:

  • Low start-up costs
  • Less risky than opening up a restaurant
  • The ability to be your own boss
  • The flexibility to work when and where you want
  • Little restaurant experience required
  • The growing popularity of the street food trend

But, as with all business endeavours, there are also CONs to examine. A food cart business is no walk in the park: there’s a lot of hard work to be done and you’ll only see significant profits after your business picks up.

The biggest CONs are:

  • Being self-employed can be testing for some
  • Long hours, early mornings and night shifts required
  • Fierce competition
  • There are many regulations and laws to comply with
  • Seasonal reliance
  • Finding a suitable location that you’re allowed to trade in
  • Customer service can be challenging if you’re a solo-preneur

From our experience as food carts manufacturers , people are attracted by affordable start-up costs and by flexibility; at the same time, the most common complaints – at least in the initial phase – are long working hours and industry volatility in terms of trends and business opportunities.

However, if you are passionate about good food and you start with solid and well-researched plan, there is every chance you could make a roaring success of your food cart start-up.

How to Start a Mobile Food Cart Business? A Step-by-Step Guide

First step: market research.

Market research involves finding out the “who, what, where, why and when” of your business, and while it’s not the most exciting part of your endeavour, it’s certainly an essential one.

It can be risky and even silly to assume that you already know the answers to these questions and then get caught out later on.

Here’s what you need to address at this stage:


  • Where will you set up your food cart business?
  • When will you open to ensure the best business?
  • How will the weather affect your trade?

Target Market

  • Who are your customers? What is their demographic?
  • Competition
  • Is there any competition? What do they offer?

Locations & Business Opportunities

Finding a couple of great locations will play a major factor in your success and it depends on several key factors:

  • Where you’re allowed to park by law
  • Where the customers are
  • The prime hours for each location

Some great places and opportunities to consider for trading are:

  • Office parks
  • The business district
  • Shopping districts or malls
  • Popular tourist locations
  • Sports venues
  • Parks and beaches
  • Bus and train stations
  • College campuses
  • Festivals and events
  • Conferences and conventions
  • Private events (weddings, birthdays, etc)
  • Corporate events

Most of these locations will require permits and/or owner agreements, so make sure to check with your local authorities & institutions beforehand.

When it comes to festivals, events, conferences and conventions the best thing to do is to get in touch with organizers and lease your space well in advance.

Determining Your Food Cart Business Legal Requirements

You’ve probably noticed that most How-To guides on this subject place sorting out the legal requirements at the bottom of their To-Do list.

And here’s why: the permits and licensing requirements for food cart businesses vary from country to country, state to state, and even city to city, so making a definitive list with everything you need is close to impossible.

Only your local Health Department can provide you with the information that applies in your case.

At this stage, you’ll address issues such as:

  • The street food vending regulations in your city
  • Licenses and permits required
  • The types of food you’ll be selling and how they’re handled, stored, thawed, and cooked
  • Commissary requirements (the requirement to operate from a licensed commercial kitchen)*
  • The size, make and the equipment of your street food vehicle
  • The vehicle’s fresh water and waste water holding capacity
  • Safe food handling course requirement
  • Hygiene policies
  • Pre-approval inspection of the equipment

* Most municipalities don’t allow food vendors to operate a food cart business from a residential kitchen and they require the use of a commissary – a licensed and inspected commercial kitchen.

Vendors have to report to the commissary each day of operation to prepare the food that will be served from the cart and to clean the vehicle’s equipment at the end of the day.

If you are selling prepackaged foods, you are not considered a food handler and may have less stringent requirements than if you are actually preparing foods or even scooping ice cream.

But as long as food is unwrapped, you are typically considered to be a food handler and must meet specific regulations.

While your cart or truck manufacturer will not know the nuances of each city’s requirements, they can usually help you meet specific health standards.

For example, all of our food carts are manufactured using food-grade materials for countertops and other parts/areas where food may be stored and prepared.

In addition, we work closely with each of our clients to adapt the carts’ cooking & water systems so they will meet all the health and safety standards specific to the vendor’s area.

Getting all the trading, health and safety qualifications in order will not only allow you to operate legally (and avoid hefty fines), but it will also help enforce the public’s hard earned perception that that those running a street food business are doing their utmost to meet and surpass sanitary requirements.

Basically, your legal status and reputation are on the line.

In addition to the food service permits and health requirements, you may also need to apply for:

  • Business license
  • State sales tax permit
  • Truck/cart registration

To sort these out, the city hall or the county clerk’s office will usually point you in the right direction.

Keep in mind that before you can hit the road, health inspectors will check your vehicle. Usually, they look for:

  • Proof of ownership, proper identification and license (of the vehicle)
  • Proof of District-issued Food Manager Identification Card
  • Food-purchase record storage and record keeping
  • That your depot, commissary or service support facility meets your vending unit operation needs
  • Copy of license for the service support facility and/or a recent inspection report

Food vehicles are typically inspected at least once a year by a health department inspector, sometimes randomly.

The inspector checks to see how food is stored so that it does not spoil and that it is kept at the proper temperature. All food equipment as well as sinks and water supplies are checked.

Commercial kitchens and garages in which food vehicles are kept are also inspected frequently and can be given high fines if they do not meet health and fire codes.

Some have been shut down because of too many violations. Likewise, trucks and carts have lost their licenses over repeated violations.

Editor’s Note: if you want to learn more about what it takes to launch a business, from a more general perspective, here’s a great resource to get you started: How To Start A Business: A Complete Playbook

Choosing Your Street Food Business Platform/Vehicle

Mobile street food businesses come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and deciding which is the right one for you depends on your:

  • Start-up budget
  • Time commitment
  • Vision and the ability to fulfill it
  • Experience at running a business
  • Target demographic

Your options are: food stands, food carts , concession trailers and food trucks. Each of them has its own unique benefits as well as some disadvantages:

Food Stands

Food stands are essentially booths or stalls that are either temporary or mobile, and are used to sell everything from quick snacks such as bagels, pretzels and ice cream, to more elaborate meals.

Most food stands are usually operated indoors and they are an excellent choice in areas where outdoor selling is limited by cold or unpleasant weather.

Pros: low start-up and running costs, flexibility. Cons:  limited trading areas, limited inventory.

Mobile Food Carts

Street food cart by Bizz On Wheels

Pros: affordable, easy to customize, easy to move between locations (they can be pulled by a bicycle/car or pushed by hand), easy to park, easy to maintain, suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, may require less licensing than a food truck. Cons: not too much space for preparing elaborate dishes.

Concession Trailers

Same as food carts, concession trailers have been around for a long time and are often found at fairs, carnivals and sporting events.

Pros: low overhead costs compared to food trucks, more space for cooking. Cons: more difficult to move between locations, require bigger parking space both on/off-duty, involve higher operating costs.

Food Trucks

street food truck

We believe food carts are the best choice, especially for first-time entrepreneurs. Their size, mobility and low running costs make them ideal for starting a profitable food cart business with the potential to grow and expand at a rapid pace.

Are Food Carts Profitable?

A food cart business can be very lucrative right from the start; however, this depends on many factors such as location, footfall, weather, product type etc.

According to our customers, if you can secure a good location for your business, you can expect between 100 to 400 customers per day (during weekends, festivals and public events), bringing in anywhere from $500 to $3,000 daily.

Choosing Your Concept, Menu & Suppliers

marketing plan for a food cart business

Whether they’re food carts , concession trailers or food trucks, most successful street food businesses out there have themes or concepts that are consistently reflected in all their elements: exterior design, branding, menus and recipes.

Your concept should be a means of distinguishing you from your competition and building your niche market. And, if you get it right, it can even draw media attention to your business.

This brings us to menu planning. Choosing what kind of food you’ll prepare and sell can be a fun task, and if you look at the carts, trailers and trucks operating on the streets, you’ll find that almost anything edible can be served as street food.

But there are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to menu planning, such as:

  • What foods do you know how to cook?
  • What foods do you enjoy cooking?
  • What are the most popular foods in your area?
  • What foods can you prepare relatively fast, repeatedly and without difficulty?
  • What foods could your customers take with them easily?
  • What foods have a good profit margin?
  • What times of day will you be open for business?
  • What are you going to specialize in?
  • How many items will your menu have?
  • Where are you going to get the ingredients from?

After deciding on the type of food you’re going to sell, it’s time to start working on recipes and experiment with various ingredients.

Once you’ve found a few favourites, test them on your friends and family first. Don’t be afraid or dismissive of criticism: it’s better to receive it from them.

The bottom line is, don’t start out with foods you have not thoroughly tested. This means you need to perfect each recipe to be sure it has the following qualities:

  • It tastes consistently good
  • It’s easy to make repeatedly in large quantities.
  • It’s easy to serve
  • It’s easy to store & carry

Next in line is figuring out your sourcing – where will you buy your ingredients from?

Sourcing your food can be an important factor in planning your purchases, schedule and menu items.

Common sources include wholesale food distributors, food manufacturers, local and regional suppliers, green markets and farmers markets.

Determining the right quantities is another matter that you’ll need to deal with, initially by trial and error. If you have the time, spend a couple of hours observing the street food vendors in your area. How many customers do they have per hour? When’s their busiest period? This will help you estimate a potential sales volume, which you can use to draft your shopping list.

Pay special attention to foods and ingredients that lose their freshness quickly; learn which are the items you can safely keep throughout the day and how many of them you can sell before they go bad.

Creating Your Food Cart Business Plan

Despite the low start-up costs involved, jumping in to street food without any kind of plan is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. The space is extremely competitive, and you need to have a very clear idea of the niche you plan to fill before taking the plunge.

Writing a business plan isn’t a complicated job and it doesn’t have to be very long. Keep it concise, to the point and ensure that you cover each of the following topics:

  • Your business’s name
  • Business management: who’s going to be in charge?
  • Your mission statement: in one sentence, summarize the aim of your street food business.
  • Your vehicle: are you going to use a stall, a cart, a trailer or a truck?
  • Start-up costs: what do you need to buy to get started? What fees to you need to pay in advance?
  • The daily operational costs: how much will you spend on ingredients and what are the overhead costs on a weekly or monthly basis?
  • Funding and financial projections; where do you plan to get the money from to start the business and what are your projected profits/losses for the next month, year, 2 years etc? How will you maintain the cash-flow?
  • Your schedule: will you work on the business full-time or alongside your day job?
  • What’s your main competition and how will you differentiate yourself from it?
  • What is your marketing strategy?
  • Do you have the logistics in place to deal with delivery and customer service?

If you plan to focus on events, your food cart business plan should include a clear targeting strategy. Pitch fees will vary widely, and there are a whole host of other variables to take into account including total attendance, other traders present, and the demographic of customer that will attend.

A good idea would be to create a spreadsheet with all the events and street food opportunities in your area. The amount of options available could seem daunting in the beginning, so start by thinking about what kind of event or environment you would expect to see a street food business similar to yours.

The next step would be to attend a few events yourself, taking note of the businesses that appear to be doing well and why.

As a general guide, generic fast-food businesses that focus on sales volume fare well at large music festivals and other events where the food is incidental to the main experience, whilst high-end street food traders perform better at events in which the customer will be searching for a new taste experience.

However, all the preparation in the world can’t account for the unexpected, and you will find some events simply fail to produce the expected revenue.

Your business plan should account for this, and you should always have enough spare cash in reserve to act as a safety net when you run up against the worst case scenario

Your approach to branding and marketing is a vital part of your business plan. A strong brand will help you stand out from the crowd, which is important for attracting customers as well as for securing spots at venues.

Remember: you are often selling a lifestyle with street food, so your brand should have a good slogan and a clear identity which reflects this.

Social media should obviously be central to your marketing plan and a strong Facebook and Instagram presence will help you raise your profile and create an army of online followers who you can spread your message to.

Regularly update your profiles with good quality photos as they generate a lot of interest and always display your social media handles so your customers /potential customers can connect with you

Estimating Costs: How Much Does It Cost to Start and Run a Food Cart Business?

There’s no set formula for determining how much starting a street food business is going to cost you since the niche is very broad and there are too many possibilities.

But even so, if you were to estimate, here’s a general expense breakdown:

Food Cart Business

  • $3,000 – $5000 on a fully equipped food cart
  • $500 – $700 on your ingredients & initial food stock,
  • $400 – $ 600 on permits and registrations,
  • $500 – upwards on marketing,
  • $500 for the first month to park and clean the cart
  • $500 in other miscellaneous costs

For comparison purposes, here are the estimates for a food truck business:

  • $50,000 – $75,000 on a retrofitted food truck
  • $1,000 – $1,500on initial ingredients
  • $2,000 on permits and licenses,
  • $2,000 for the first month of a commercial kitchen rental
  • $500 for the first month of parking and maintaining the truck
  • $1,800 on kitchen supplies
  • $3,000 on marketing and promotion
  • $2,000 on packaging
  • $500 in miscellaneous costs

Huge difference, right? Regardless of your choice, you need to do the math before spending any money so that you do not run out before you get started.

Final Words of Advice

Speaking with our customers about their businesses, we’ve learnt that a background in catering or hospitality isn’t necessary to succeed – indeed, a lot of successful food cart businesses were founded by people with no prior experience of serving food.

Their biggest allies? Great food, flexibility – the ability to pivot according to the market’s trends and demands, marketing – a well-thought strategy for promoting their business across multiple channels, and outstanding customer service.

Do you have any questions concerning our food carts ? Contact us and we’ll do our best to help you out!

Get a Food Cart Quote!

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How to Start a Food Cart Business

start a food cart business

Starting a food cart business can be very profitable. With proper planning, execution and hard work, you can enjoy great success. Below you will learn the keys to launching a successful food cart business.

Importantly, a critical step in starting a food cart business is to complete your business plan. To help you out, you should download Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template here .

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here

14 Steps To Start a Food Cart Business :

  • Choose the Name for Your Food Cart Business
  • Develop Your Food Cart Business Plan
  • Choose the Legal Structure for Your Food Cart Business
  • Secure Startup Funding for Your Food Cart Business (If Needed)
  • Secure a Location for Your Business
  • Register Your Food Cart Business with the IRS
  • Open a Business Bank Account
  • Get a Business Credit Card
  • Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits
  • Get Business Insurance for Your Food Cart Business
  • Buy or Lease the Right Food Cart Business Equipment
  • Develop Your Food Cart Business Marketing Materials
  • Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your Food Cart Business
  • Open for Business

1. Choose the Name for Your Food Cart Business

The first step to starting a food cart business is to choose your business’ name.  

This is a very important choice since your company name is your brand and will last for the lifetime of your business. Ideally you choose a name that is meaningful and memorable. Here are some tips for choosing a name for your food cart business:

  • Make sure the name is available . Check your desired name against trademark databases and your state’s list of registered business names to see if it’s available. Also check to see if a suitable domain name is available.
  • Keep it simple . The best names are usually ones that are easy to remember, pronounce and spell.
  • Think about marketing . Come up with a name that reflects the desired brand and/or focus of your food cart business.

2. Develop Your Food Cart Business Plan

One of the most important steps in starting a food truck business is to develop your business plan . The process of creating your plan ensures that you fully understand your market and your business strategy. The plan also provides you with a roadmap to follow and if needed, to present to funding sources to raise capital for your business.

Your business plan should include the following sections:

  • Executive Summary – this section should summarize your entire business plan so readers can quickly understand the key details of your food cart business.
  • Company Overview – this section tells the reader about the history of your food cart business and what type of food cart business you operate. For example, are you a traditional food cart, mobile food truck, or a concession stand?
  • Industry Analysis – here you will document key information about the food truck industry. Conduct market research and document how big the industry is and what trends are affecting it.
  • Customer Analysis – in this section, you will document who your ideal or target customers are and their demographics. For example, how old are they? Where do they live? What do they find important when purchasing products like the ones you will offer?
  • Competitive Analysis – here you will document the key direct and indirect competitors you will face and how you will build competitive advantage.
  • Marketing Plan – your marketing plan should address the 4Ps: Product, Price, Promotions and Place.
  • Product : Determine and document what products/services you will offer 
  • Prices : Document the prices of your products/services
  • Place : Where will your business be located and how will that location help you increase sales?
  • Promotions : What promotional methods will you use to attract customers to your food cart business? For example, you might decide to use pay-per-click advertising, public relations, search engine optimization and/or social media marketing.
  • Operations Plan – here you will determine the key processes you will need to run your day-to-day food truck operations. You will also determine your staffing needs. Finally, in this section of your plan, you will create a projected growth timeline showing the milestones you hope to achieve in the coming years.
  • Management Team – this section details the background of your company’s management team.
  • Financial Plan – finally, the financial plan answers questions including the following:
  • What startup costs will you incur?
  • How will your food cart business make money?
  • What are your projected sales and expenses for the next five years?
  • Do you need to raise funding to launch your business?

Finish Your Business Plan Today!

3. choose the legal structure for your food cart business.

Next you need to choose a legal structure for your food cart business and register it and your business name with the Secretary of State in each state where you operate your business.

Below are the five most common legal structures:

1) Sole proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is a business entity in which the food truck owner and the business are the same legal person. The owner of a sole proprietorship is responsible for all debts and obligations of the business. There are no formalities required to establish a sole proprietorship, and it is easy to set up and operate. The main advantage of a sole proprietorship is that it is simple and inexpensive to establish. The main disadvantage is that the owner is liable for all debts and obligations of the business.

2) Partnerships

A partnership is a legal structure that is popular among small businesses. It is an agreement between two or more people who want to start a food cart business together. The partners share in the profits and losses of the business. 

The advantages of a partnership are that it is easy to set up, and the partners share in the profits and losses of the business. The disadvantages of a partnership are that the partners are jointly liable for the debts of the business, and disagreements between partners can be difficult to resolve.

3) Limited Liability Company (LLC)

A limited liability company, or LLC, is a type of business entity that provides limited liability to its owners. This means that the owners of an LLC are not personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the business. The advantages of an LLC for a food cart business include flexibility in management, pass-through taxation (avoids double taxation as explained below), and limited personal liability. The disadvantages of an LLC include lack of availability in some states and self-employment taxes.

4) C Corporation

A C Corporation is a business entity that is separate from its owners. It has its own tax ID and can have shareholders. The main advantage of a C Corporation for a food cart business is that it offers limited liability to its owners. This means that the food truck owners are not personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the business. The disadvantage is that C Corporations are subject to double taxation. This means that the corporation pays taxes on its profits, and the shareholders also pay taxes on their dividends.

5) S Corporation

An S Corporation is a type of corporation that provides its owners with limited liability protection and allows them to pass their business income through to their personal income tax returns, thus avoiding double taxation. There are several limitations on S Corporations including the number of shareholders they can have among others.

Once you register your food cart business, your state will send you your official “Articles of Incorporation.” You will need this among other documentation when establishing your banking account (see below). We recommend that you consult an attorney in determining which legal structure is best suited for your company.

Incorporate Your Business at the Guaranteed Lowest Price

We are proud to have partnered with Business Rocket to help you incorporate your business at the lowest price, guaranteed.

Not only does BusinessRocket have a 4.9 out of 5 rating on TrustPilot (with over 1,000 reviews) because of their amazing quality…but they also guarantee the most affordable incorporation packages and the fastest processing time in the industry.

4. Secure Startup Funding for Your Food Cart Business (If Needed)

In developing your food cart business plan, you might have determined that you need to raise funding to launch your business. 

If so, the main sources of funding for a food cart business to consider are personal savings, family and friends, credit card financing, bank loans, crowdfunding and angel investors. Angel investors are individuals who provide capital to early-stage businesses. Angel investors typically will invest in a food cart business that they believe has high potential for growth.

5. Secure a Location for Your Business

To find a location for your food cart business, start by looking for areas with a lot of foot traffic. You’ll also want to consider whether there are enough people in the area that will be interested in your type of food. Additionally, make sure the location has space for your food cart and is in a safe area. Finally, check with your local government to see if there are any restrictions on food trucks in the area. 

6. Register Your Food Cart Business with the IRS

Next, you need to register your business with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which will result in the IRS issuing you an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

Most banks will require you to have an EIN in order to open up an account. In addition, in order to hire employees, you will need an EIN since that is how the IRS tracks your payroll tax payments.

Note that if you are a sole proprietor without employees, you generally do not need to get an EIN. Rather, you would use your social security number (instead of your EIN) as your taxpayer identification number.

7. Open a Business Bank Account

It is important to establish a bank account in your food cart business’ name. This process is fairly simple and involves the following steps:

  • Identify and contact the bank you want to use
  • Gather and present the required documents (generally include your company’s Articles of Incorporation, driver’s license or passport, and proof of address)
  • Complete the bank’s application form and provide all relevant information
  • Meet with a banker to discuss your business needs and establish a relationship with them

8. Get a Business Credit Card

You should get a business credit card for your food cart business to help you separate personal and business expenses.

You can either apply for a business credit card through your bank or apply for one through a credit card company.

When you’re applying for a business credit card, you’ll need to provide some information about your business. This includes the name of your business, the address of your business, and the type of business you’re running. You’ll also need to provide some information about yourself, including your name, Social Security number, and date of birth.

Once you’ve been approved for a business credit card, you’ll be able to use it to make purchases for your business. You can also use it to build your credit history which could be very important in securing loans and getting credit lines for your business in the future.

9. Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits

There are a few licenses and permits you will need to start a mobile food business. You will need a food handler’s permit, a business license, and a zoning permit. You may also need a health permit depending on your state and local laws. Check with your local authorities to find out what you will need.

10. Get Business Insurance for Your Food Cart Business

The type of insurance you need to operate a food cart business depends on the size of your business and the risks involved.

Some business insurance policies you should consider for your food cart business include:

  • General liability insurance : This covers accidents and injuries that occur on your property. It also covers damages caused by your employees or products.
  • Auto insurance : If a vehicle is used in your business, this type of insurance will cover if a vehicle is damaged or stolen.
  • Workers’ compensation insurance : If you have employees, this type of policy works with your general liability policy to protect against workplace injuries and accidents. It also covers medical expenses and lost wages.
  • Commercial property insurance : This covers damage to your property caused by fire, theft, or vandalism.
  • Business interruption insurance : This covers lost income and expenses if your business is forced to close due to a covered event.
  • Professional liability insurance : This protects your business against claims of professional negligence.

Find an insurance agent, tell them about your business and its needs, and they will recommend policies that fit those needs. 

11. Buy or Lease the Right Food Cart Business Equipment

To start a food cart business, you will need a few pieces of equipment. First, you will need a cart or stand. You will also need cooking equipment, such as a stove or grill, and serving utensils. Finally, you may need a refrigerator or freezer to store food.

12. Develop Your Food Cart Business Marketing Materials

Marketing materials will be required to attract and retain food truck customers to your business.

The key marketing materials you will need are as follows:

  • Logo : Spend some time developing a good logo for your food cart business. Your logo will be printed on company stationery, business cards, marketing materials and so forth. The right logo can increase customer trust and awareness of your brand.
  • Website : Likewise, a professional food cart business website provides potential customers with information about the products you offer, your company’s history, and contact information. Importantly, remember that the look and feel of your website will affect how customers perceive you..
  • Social Media Accounts : establish social media accounts in your company’s name. Accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and/or other social media networks will help customers and others find and interact with your food cart business.

13. Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your Food Cart Business

You will need software to manage your food cart business, including a point of sale (POS) system, financial software, and inventory management software. You may also need software to track your business expenses and create invoices. Choose software that is compatible with your computer system and that will meet your specific needs.

14. Open for Business

You are now ready to open your food cart business. If you followed the steps above, you should be in a great position to build a successful business. Below are answers to frequently asked questions that might further help you.

How to Finish Your Ultimate Business Plan in 1 Day!

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With Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template you can finish your plan in just 8 hours or less!

How to Start a Food Cart Business FAQs

Is it hard to start a food cart business.

No, it is easy to start a food truck business. You just need to know what you're doing and have a good business plan. There are many resources available to help you get started, including books, websites, and even food carts for sale.

How can I start a food cart business with no experience?

The best way for aspiring food truck owners to start a food cart business with no experience is to do some research and get organized. Plan out your food truck concept , create a budget, and learn everything you can about the industry. Networking with other food cart businesses can also be helpful in learning the ropes.

What type of food cart business is most profitable?

There is no definitive answer to this question because profitability depends on many factors including location, target market, and competition. However, in general, a profitable type of food cart business is a mobile hot dog stand. This type of food cart business can offer a variety of hot dogs, sausages, and hamburgers that are affordable and are enjoyed by a wide range of customers. In addition, a mobile hot dog stand is perfect for catering events and providing food for large groups. Finally, hot dogs typically do not cost too much, and can therefore be sold at a healthy margin. 

How much does it cost to start a food cart business?

Food truck startup costs can vary depending on a number of factors, including the type of food and the size of the business. However, in general, you can expect to spend between $2,000 and $10,000 to start a food cart business. This includes the price of the food, cart, and marketing expenses. 

What are the ongoing expenses for a food cart business?

The most significant ongoing expense for a food cart business is the cost of the food itself. Other ongoing expenses may include the cost of repairs or maintenance for the cart or truck, and marketing and advertising expenses. 

How does a food cart business make money?

There are a few different ways a successful food truck business can make money. The simplest way is to sell food items. Another way is to offer catering services, which can be more profitable since the business can charge a higher price for the food.

Is owning a food cart business profitable?

Owning a food cart business can be profitable because it offers a low-cost way to start a business. There is a growing demand for food carts, and you can customize your food cart to meet your customers' needs.

Why do food cart businesses fail?

One of the most common reasons food cart businesses fail is that they don't have a solid food truck business plan. To be successful, you need to have a plan for marketing your cart, attracting customers, and growing your business. You also need to understand the costs associated with running your cart, from the food and supplies you need to the rent or lease for your space. If you're not prepared to handle the financial side of things, your business will fail. In addition, become familiar with the regulations governing food carts in your area, as there may be specific requirements you need to meet. Failing to comply with these regulations can shut your business down.

Other Helpful Business Plan Articles & Templates

Business Plan Template & Guide For Small Businesses


  • Motrike Blog

How to Start a Food Cart Business in 2023 [7 Steps]

Starting a food cart business in 2023 can be a great way to fulfill entrepreneurial dreams while tapping into the skyrocketing demand for street food. As the food industry continues to grow, food carts are becoming popular for entrepreneurs looking to enter the market with a lower startup cost. To get the best from the business, it is essential to have a well-thought-out plan in place to succeed in this industry.

This blog explains the market prospect of a food cart business, the cost of starting a food cart business, the advantages and the challenges associated with the business, and how to start a mobile food business.

food cart trike

Street Food Cart Business: Popularity and Market Prospect

Street food cart businesses have become increasingly popular in recent years, especially in urban areas. One of the biggest advantages of starting a street food cart business is its relatively low startup cost compared to a traditional restaurant. This makes it an attractive option for entrepreneurs who want to start a food business but have a limited amount of capital.

In terms of market prospects, the street food industry is expected to continue to grow in the coming years. According to a report by Grand View Research, the global street food market size was valued at $4.11 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach $6.63 billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 6.8% from 2021 to 2028.

Cost of Starting A Food Cart Business

There is no fixed amount for starting a food cart business. The cost of starting a food cart business can vary widely depending on factors such as location, menu, equipment, and licensing requirements.

The overall cost to get a food cart business functional includes the following:

  • The cost of purchasing mobile food carts
  • The cost of purchasing equipments and kitchen utensils
  • Cost of obtaining permits and licenses
  • Cost of foods and supplies
  • Insurance 

Overall, the total cost of starting a food cart business can range from $10,000 to $50,000 or more, depending on the above factors. It’s important to carefully research the costs and requirements applicable to the local area before starting a food cart business.

trike for food selling

Advantages and Challenges of Starting A Food Cart

Some of the advantages of starting a food cart business are:

  • Lower Startup Costs: One of the main advantages of starting a food cart business is the lower startup costs compared to opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant. The prices of renting a commercial space, furnishing, and decorating are significantly higher than setting up a food cart.
  • Flexibility: Food carts are highly flexible, as they can be moved to different locations based on demand. You can take your food cart to food festivals, fairs, or other events where potential customers are.
  • Better Profit Margins: As the operating costs of food carts are low, the profit margins are much better compared to traditional restaurants.

A food cart vendor may be faced with different challenges, which include:

  • Limited Menu Options: Food carts generally have a limited menu as they have limited space. This can be a challenge for customers who prefer a more extensive menu.
  • Limited Storage Space: Storage space is also limited, so there may be a need to restock supplies frequently. This can be difficult when you are working in a crowded or busy area.
  • Weather: Weather can impact food cart operations, especially during extreme weather conditions. Rain or wind can make setting up and operating the food cart difficult.

How To Start A Food Stand Business? 

Food cart business does not start with basic knowledge of how to open a food stand. It starts with well-thought out steps, as discussed below.

Step 1: Market Research for Food Cart Business

Market research is a crucial step to ensure the success of any business, including a food cart business. A well-conducted market research is needed to answer the question of how to start a food cart business. It helps to identify the best marketing channels to promote the food cart business. And also help to create effective marketing strategies and determine the best location for the business.

Who are the potential customers? Are they office workers, students, tourists, or local residents? What are their demographics, such as age, gender, income, and education? Knowing the target market will help understand their preferences and needs and help make an informed decision on how to start a mobile food business.

Step 2: Get Permits for Your Food Cart Business

Getting the necessary permits for a food cart business can be a complex and time-consuming process. Still, ensuring that the food cart vendor operates legally and safely is essential. Therefore, make sure to research all requirements in the proposed area and stay up to date on any changes or updates to regulations.

Permits for the food cart business are applied for with the local authority or the agencies assigned to issue the permit. The requirements may vary by location, so check with your local health department for specific requirements.

Getting a permit will require completing a business license application and paying a fee.

Step 3: Buying A Street Food Cart 

Street food carts come in a variety of sizes and designs. Consider the type of food you plan to sell and how much space you’ll need to prepare and store your ingredients. When choosing cart to buy, as much as it is important to focus on functionality, the aesthetics of the food cart is equally essential. 

Motrike cargo trikes are best suited for food cart businesses. Motrike offers different types of bikes with visually appealing designs that can be customized to fit your need. Some of the products are:

  • Motrike Ice cream bikes
  • Motrike Trade bike
  • Motrike coffee bikes
  • Motrike cargo delivery trike
  • Luxury cargo trike
  • Velo cargo trike 

To ensure stability, all Motrike’s cargo tricycles are built with top-notch components and strong frame materials like high carbon steel and aluminum alloy. The cargo tricycles also offer plenty of storage space, allowing enough space for a food cart business.

In addition, Motrike cargo tricycles are designed to be safe for humans and the goods transported. These cargo tricycles feature a spacious aluminum container that is both waterproof and resistant to UV rays, keeping the transported goods dry and safe from the damaging effects of rain and sunlight while traveling through the city.

All these features makes Motrike bikes an excellent choice as street food carts.

Motrike food trike

Step 4: Choosing Your Concept, Menu & Suppliers

Choosing a concept, menu, and suppliers is critical in starting a food cart business. Make sure to thoroughly research, test the menu, and choose a reliable supplier to set the food cart business up for success.

Based on the initial business research, a clear concept should be decided to create a roadmap for the business. The concept should reflect the target market, the location of the business, and personal preferences. Consider the type of food you want to serve, the atmosphere you want to create, the impression you want to leave on your customers, and other unique features that will set your business apart from competitors. Choose a suitable supplier to deliver the best quality products within a reasonable price range.

Step 5: Creating Your Food Cart Business Plan

Creating a food cart business plan is very crucial to business operations. A proper business plan should be tailored to suit the food cart business in line with the concept and mode of operation.

The food cart business plan should contain the following:

  • A detailed business description that shows the mission statement, concept, and competitive advantage.
  • A well-conducted market analysis that shows data on demographics, customer preferences, and industry trends.
  • A marketing strategy that puts the targeted audience to account and how to reach them effectively.
  • An operations plan covers the business’s day-to-day operations, including your hours of operation, staffing, and equipment.

food selling trike

Step 6: Get Funding For Your Food Stand

Depending on the scale of the business and mode of operation, a street food cart business requires funding to execute the plan. A small scale business can be funded with personal savings, depending on how much the owner has saved. It can also be funded by friends and family members. 

Personal savings might not be enough to fund a large scaled food cart business. When this is the case, consider sourcing for funds through microloans, small business administration loans with low interest, and flexible repayment plans. Fundings can also be sourced through angel investors in exchange for a percentage of ownership.

Step 7: Start Your Food Cart Business

All the processes mentioned earlier are part of the planning stage. starting a food cart business comes at the last stage. Before you start, it is expected that the necessary planning has been put in place. A popular adage says, “he who fails to plan, plans to fail” This statement is particularly relevant in business and entrepreneurship, where careful planning is often the key to success.

Once there is adequate planning, and the necessary licenses have been gotten, It’s time to Start!! Set out to carry out everything you have planned and achieve your goals.

How Motrike Power Up Your Food Cart Business

Motrike specializes in manufacturing high-quality cargo and food carts . They have over 15 years of experience producing suitable food carts for food vendors . Motrike offers you the best by using high-end durable components in the manufacture of different parts of the food cart.

The high-performing electric assistance of the Shimano 6 gears save the rider the stress of pedalling through a long ride. 

Motrike work site

Overall, Motrike power up your food cart business by providing effective and efficient mobility, durability, and safety. By partnering with Motrike, you can take your food cart business to the next level and reach new heights of success.

Starting a food cart business can be an exciting and rewarding venture for those passionate about food and entrepreneurship. While it requires hard work and careful planning, following the steps outlined in this blog can help you get started on the right foot. 

From identifying your target market to sourcing ingredients, choosing a location, and marketing your business, each step is critical to the success of your business. 

You can create a thriving mobile food cart business that delights customers and generates profits by staying focused, motivated, and committed to your goals. So why wait? Start planning your food cart business today, and take the first step towards achieving your dreams by contacting us !

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The Definitive Guide to Creating a Marketing Strategy for Food and Beverage Brands

This is a comprehensive FREE guide for building a Marketing Strategy for food and beverage Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies. I'll take you through a step-by-step framework to walk you through how to build an effective (achieve your goals) and efficient (with the least amount of time & money) Marketing Strategy for your business.

This guide is for you if:

In the next 8 pages, I'll walk you through my framework for putting together an action-oriented Marketing Strategy that creates clarity around WHY you're doing marketing and HOW you're approaching marketing. I created this framework by adapting the Big Food Marketing Strategies that I learned at Clorox, working on Americana food brands like Hidden Valley Ranch, to a fast-moving and resource-constrained start-up when I started my own brand, Tiny Hero. I've put this Marketing Strategy Framework through its paces as a food founder myself and as a consultant to over a dozen emerging food brands and can't wait for you to get the same clarity in your marketing!

Table of Contents

What a Marketing Strategy Is and Is Not

  • Why You Need a Marketing Strategy

What are Business Objectives and Key Results?

  • Most Common Business Objectives and Key Results for Food CPG brands
  • Setting Your Business Objectives and Key Results

Consider Your Target Consumer

  • Consider Your Marketing Funnel
  • Most Common Marketing Objectives and Tactics for Food CPG Brands

Setting Your Marketing Objectives and Tactics

  • Step Three: Establish Key Metrics for each of Your Marketing Tactics 
  • Step Four: Execution, Testing, and Learning 

What is a Marketing Strategy and Why Do I Need to Make One?

In this guide, I'm going to condense 13 years of CPG experience into clear steps to help you build a Marketing Strategy. This section is all about the basics to make sure we're on the same page.

First, let’s talk about what a Marketing Strategy is. This is THE strategy, the strategy that puts down on paper how you are going to let your consumers know about your brand and what makes your products special. For example, your plan will most likely include driving consumer awareness and trial.

And here’s what a Marketing Strategy IS NOT – it’s not a complete work plan for your marketing function, whether that be one person, a whole team of people, or a consultant. This strategy is one piece of the thought leadership that you need from your marketing team (not to mention the people leadership, which is critical in a function that works with so many different types of creatives to build a brand). Your typical brand marketer has business training, likely an MBA, so you should also look to her for thought leadership and input on business strategy (building a thriving business), product development (establishing key claims and ingredients), and pricing strategy (understanding the positioning of your competitive set).

Your Marketing Strategy is used to communicate everything that you're doing that is consumer-facing to your entire team, retailers, and creative partners.

A short aside on a couple of terms that may be new to you:

Consumer Awareness:

When your target consumer knows about your brand. Marketers sometimes refer to unaided and aided awareness. Unaided means that a consumer names your brand when asked “When you think of crackers, what brands come to mind?” and aided means that a consumer picks your brand when asked “Which of the following cracker brands have you heard of?” Unaided is better than aided, because this indicates that consumers have a stronger memory of your brand.

When your consumer buys and tries your product. Once your target consumer is aware of your brand, it typically takes 5-7 experiences with your brand (eg, advertising, great social media content, seeing your product on-shelf) before they'll buy your product. It's just like getting kids to eat vegetables! The end goal of your consumer trying your product is for it to be SO delicious that your new consumer keeps coming back for more and becomes a life-long consumer.

Get my FREE Guide to Avoiding the Top 3 Marketing Mistakes that Food and Beverage CPG Brands Make

Step One: Start with your Business Objectives and Key Results

The first step in building a kickass Marketing Strategy is writing down your business objectives and key results. Your marketing strategy needs to contribute to these business objectives - after all, why else are you marketing your brand?

You may notice that my Marketing Strategy framework closely mirrors the popular OKR framework. Objectives should be short, inspirational and engaging. An Objective should motivate and challenge the team. Key Results are a set of metrics that measure your progress towards the Objective. For each Objective, you should have a set of 2-5 Key Results.

Here are the Most Common Business Objectives and Key Results for Food and Beverage Consumer Packaged Goods Companies:

  • Key Result #1: Increase velocities (units/store/week)
  • Key result #2: Increase distribution (# of stores that you have placement)
  • Key Result #2: Reduce product COGS
  • Key Result #3: Reduce operating costs (eg, distributor or promotional costs)
  • Key Result #1: Authorization at target retailers
  • Key Result #2: Consumer purchase intent and feedback

For example, I will (objective) increase my revenue at Whole Foods Southern California by (key result) increasing velocities in store by 25%. 

Setting your Business Objectives and Key Results

You'll notice that your business objectives should be very specific so that they are actionable. “Grow my food business to $1 million in revenue” isn’t as useful for planning as “Increase sales at brick & mortar natural retailers by 25% by the end of the year.” I like the SMART framework for goal setting, which recommends goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. 

Once you’ve established 5-10 business objectives for the year, let's talk about what your marketing objectives should be to achieve your business objectives.

Step Two: Establish the Marketing Objectives and Tactics that help you Achieve your Business Objectives

Now that you've done the hard work of defining your business objectives, you've built the scaffolding you need to create the most effective and efficient Marketing Strategy for your brand.

You probably know what is going to come next: now it's time to establish your Marketing Objectives and the Tactics to achieve those Objectives! As you're establishing these:

Your target consumer is the ideal person that loves your product so much that they'll buy it over and over and tell all their friends about your amazing food product. You can describe your target consumer by their demographics (age, gender, household income), attitudes (what they believe - organic is the best,  taste is king, gluten-free is a must), and behaviors (favorite retailers, types of foods that they eat).

Consider Where in the Marketing Funnel Your Consumer Is

The marketing funnel is a visual representation of the journey that your target consumer takes to become your consumer. They move further into the funnel as they get to know your brand.

In my marketing funnel, specifically developed food and beverage CPG brands, there are five stages: awareness, consideration, trial, purchase, and brand advocate. As you develop your Marketing Objectives, consider where in the marketing funnel you need to focus to meet your Business Objectives. In each of these stages, you would take different marketing tactics to reach your target consumer. 

Consumer Marketing Funnel Featured Image Logo

Most Common Marketing Objectives and Marketing Tactics for Food and Beverage Manufacturers: 

OK, now that that we've talked about the theory behind how you should think about your Marketing Objectives, let's get to the money list!

  • Tactic #1: Consumer research to establish communication hierarchy
  • Tactic #2: Refresh product packaging 
  • Tactic #3: Develop and execute on engaging social media content strategy
  • Tactic #1: Geo-targeted digital marketing (Google and Facebook Ads)
  • Tactic #2: Geo-targeted influencer campaign
  • Tactic #3: Events (eg, festivals, mom's groups)
  • Tactic #1: Coupons (offered through retailer or coupon app such as Ibotta)
  • Tactic #2: Demos
  • Tactic #3: Money Back Guarantees
  • Marketing Objective #4: Define your target consumer so you can find your first 1000 consumers
  • Tactic #1: Understand your current consumers (demographically, attitudinally, and behaviorally)
  • Tactic #2: Analyze data from Google Analytics, Facebook, and Instagram about who is engaging with your brand
  • Tactic #1: Consumer research to establish product positioning, flavors, or pricing
  • Tactic #2: Develop fantastic product packaging
  • Tactic #3: Update website to incorporate new products

You can't tackle all of your target consumers at every stage in marketing funnel, so where should you focus your energies? Well, that depends on your business and where you have the most opportunity to grow. To have a profitable business, you need enough consumers buying you enough times.

Your brand could have many consumers buying your product once for a special occasion. Then, your Marketing Strategy should focus on the Repeat Purchase stage of the marketing funnel. 

Or, your brand could have a few consumers buying your product every day. Then, your Marketing Strategy should focus on the Brand Advocate and Awareness parts of the marketing funnel.

Using consumer research, figure out what your consumer base looks like and the Marketing Objectives that will help you best achieve your Business Objectives. Then, lay out the tactics that will most effectively and efficiently achieve those Marketing Objectives.

Want examples and tips on consumer research? Listen to my podcast where I discuss my consumer research framework with Alli Ball.

Step Three: Establish Key Metrics for each of your Marketing Tactics

It's critical to set key metrics for each of your marketing tactics. These metrics should be your tactic's budget, timing, and results. These metrics keep you accountable but also give you a tool for planning. They help you: 

  • Compare costs of your different marketing tactics to each other and prioritize tactics appropriately. Which driver of awareness is the most cost effective? Is running a coupon through Sprouts better than using the Ibotta platform? What about in comparison to sending products to influencers?
  • Define success by improving your own metrics over time. Are you gaining more Instagram followers week-over-week? Are your Costs Per Click decreasing month-over-month? Are your in-store velocities increasing year-by-year? 
  • Use industry benchmarks to analyze how you're doing compared to other food and beverage brands

Need help creating an effective and efficient Marketing Strategy? Work with me 1-on-1 to create a thought-through plan that you can't wait to execute on!

Step Four: Execution, Testing, and Learning

Hooray, give yourself a pat on the back - it's a lot of work to put a Marketing Strategy together! It's so worth it to have a clear, focused approach to your marketing efforts. Now, you have to put this glorious plan into action. Here are a few parting thoughts to help set you up for success:

Marketing works. Just look at some of the most iconic brands on the world (McDonald's, Coca Cola). But, marketing that works for your friend's brand may not work for you.

Every brand is different. Your target consumer is different. Your brand equity is different. Your brand positioning is different. Your retailer strategy is different. Your pricing is different. Because your brand and business is different, I can't tell you what the best Business Objective or Marketing Tactic is for your brand. 

You won't get everything right in your first Marketing Strategy. If I were working on your brand, I wouldn't get everything right in your Marketing Strategy, even though I've put together and executed Marketing Strategies for over a dozen brands.   

Marketing is all about testing and learning. Make a plan, have a hypothesis, measure if it's working, and then make it better. 

Imagine this: you're standing at a roulette table. You know the wheel favors some numbers and you want to go to that expensive buffet tonight. How would you figure out which were the winning numbers? You'd place a lot of small bets down and observe a few rounds. Then, you'd go big - put a lot of chips on the number that you think has the best change of winning.

I think marketing is just like roulette. You can build your brand using one well-performing tactic. Impossible built their brand on PR, Dirty Lemon built their brand on digital advertising through social media, KIND built their brand on in-person guerilla sampling, and RightRice built their brand on influencer partnerships. Now, you just need to figure out what works for your brand and continue doing more of these tactics.

marketing is like roulette

 Check out more of our Actionable Blog Posts for Food and Beverage CPGs

Thanks so much for reading my Definitive Guide to Creating a Marketing Strategy for Food and Beverage Brands! If you've read all the way down here, you're thinking about your Marketing Strategy deeply.

Let's build your Marketing Strategy together:

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Read more actionable blogs for food brands:

5 Lessons on How to Drive Grocery Velocities for your CPG Brand (Big or Small) with Shopper Marketing

How to Successfully Execute a Food Cart Business Plan: A Comprehensive Guide

Starting a food cart business might seem like a relatively easy venture. However, just like any other endeavor, a successful food cart business calls for a robust and thoroughly considered business plan. A properly formulated food cart business plan not only serves as a blueprint for your startup journey but also enhances your chances of attaining the desired success.

A food cart enterprise offers a wide array of benefits such as low overhead costs, flexibility in operation, and the capacity to directly interact with your customers, making your brand more relatable. Nevertheless, you’re likely to encounter challenges if you don’t have a well-outlined road map, otherwise known as a food cart business plan. This comprehensive guide will walk you through how to successfully execute a food cart business plan.

**Understanding Your Business**

The first step in crafting an effective food cart business plan is to understand your business thoroughly. Understanding your business entails recognizing your value propositions, unique selling points, target audience, and prospective competition. It also involves knowing what type of food cart business you want to run. Do you aim to operate a hot dog cart, a barbecue cart, or a coffee cart? Understanding your business could give you insights on how to align your strategies and operations to meet the needs and preferences of your target consumers.

**Market Research and Analysis**

After understanding your business, your next move should be conducting market research. This process helps you to get invaluable information about your target audience and competitors. The information you gather through market research can help you in decision-making and strategizing as you create your food cart business plan.

**Financial Planning**

An essential segment of your food cart business plan is financial planning. Under this section, you need to detail out your startup costs including the cost of purchasing a food cart, licensing and permit fees, food costs, brand design, marketing, and insurance. You also need to forecast your potential earnings and make a projection of your break-even point. Financial planning is critical in helping you quantify the amount of capital required to successfully establish and run your food cart business.

**Marketing Strategy**

Your food cart business has to reach as many people as possible for it to thrive. A solid marketing strategy should be a key part of your food cart business plan. Here, you should detail how you intend to draw customers to your food cart, and this could be through running social media campaigns, offering promotional prices, or partnerships with local businesses.

**Operational Structure**

A good food cart business plan should also include your operational structure. This section captures information on your proposed business location, the number of employees, their roles, and the number of operation hours. Providing clear details on your business operations enables your team to understand their roles and ensures smooth running of the day-to-day tasks.

**Legal Requirements**

Understanding and complying with the legal requirements of running a food cart business is crucial. Your business plan should outline the necessary permits and licenses you need to operate according to local health and safety regulations.

Once your food cart business plan is complete and well-structured, the next step is execution. This calls for dedication and commitment to painstakingly follow through with every detail in your plan. It is also important to be flexible and open to adjustments where necessary.

In conclusion, it’s worth noting that operating a food cart business does not restrict you to the traditional brick-and-mortar setup. Internet technology now allows entrepreneurs to expand their businesses online, and your food cart business is no exception. You can set up an e-commerce platform where customers can view your menu, place orders, and even make payments.

Utilizing e-commerce in your food cart business introduces convenience for your customers, widens your reach, and potentially increases your revenue streams. Therefore, as you focus on how to successfully execute a food cart business plan, ensure to incorporate an e-commerce platform in your strategizing.

The food cart business may seem easy to venture into, but without a comprehensive business plan, you may find yourself facing undesired challenges. Therefore, consider the steps highlighted above to ensure you create a foolproof food cart business plan that can guide you towards a prosperous business journey.


Food Cart Business Plan [Sample Template]

By: Author Tony Martins Ajaero

Home » Business Plans » Food Sector » Food Truck & Cart

Are you about starting a food cart business ? If YES, here is a complete sample food cart business plan template & feasibility report you can use for FREE .

Starting a food cart might be one of the nicest moves to make. This is hinged on the fact that there are a whole lot of people who are into the consumption of food. In fact it is very essential to human health. Look around you and you will find that there are an avalanche of restaurants that are saddled with catering to the food needs of people.

However, the food cart business is also gaining ore grounds as more and more people are making money from this trade. One thing is however sure, and that is that if you are able to draft a great business plan, you can be sure to work and run with it whilst building your business. Here below is a sample plan to work with;

A Sample Food Cart Business Plan Template

1. industry overview.

The Food Trucks industry has skilled people and van be said to have witnesses a remarkable rise over the past five years, as consumers have increasingly favored unique, gourmet cuisine at budget-conscious prices.

Despite the efforts which the entrepreneurs in this field put into the trade, there is still a high competition and an unfavorable regulatory conditions in some cities in the united states of America that have limited the growth of industry vendors.

Nonetheless, the industry has overtaken the broader food-service sector over the period in terms of revenue growth. Research has shown that soon in 2023, favorable consumer trends will continue to support moderate revenue growth. However, the industry will need to work with community governments to resolve the numerous legal challenges to food cart operations.

The Food Carts industry is in the increasing phase of its life cycle. Nonetheless, growth has increased slightly over the past few years and revenue is still growing at a much faster rate than the larger food-service sector. In the past food carts have progressed better than their food-service counterparts, primarily due to the budget-friendly features of their products and the expanding style of consumers seeking new food concepts.

Besides, the industry continues to progress and new creations are still entering the industry with new concepts. Figures have it that by 2022, industry value added (IVA), which has its measure an industry’s contribution to GDP, is predictable and is likely to grow at an average annual rate of 6.4%.

2. Executive Summary

Buena Foods ® is a leading and standard food cart Company that will be based in Boston – Massachusetts, USA that covers a wide range of clients both individual and corporate clients.

We have been able to lease a standard corner piece facility that is centrally located in the heart of Boston and few minutes drive to Harvard University Community. We have put plans in place to also sell our franchise and offer consultancy services in line with our area of business.

Buena Foods® is established by the Massachusetts awarding winning food nutritionist and caterer – Andrew Hago – Hugo who has B.Sc. in Food Science Technology and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from Harvard Business School.

He also has a robust experience in the food business having worked both in the public sector and the private sector prior to starting his own business.

We are in the food cart Industry to favorably compete with other leading and brands in the industry. Our corporate business goal is to be among the top 10 food cart chain brand in the United States of America.

As a company, we are willing to go the extra mile to invest in some of the finest professionals we can find and also we have set plans in place to acquire the best of equipment when it comes to setting up a standard and first class food cart business.

When it comes to hygiene and proper packaging, we have put plans, process and structures in place that will ensure that we are always at the top of game when it comes to that. We have been able to secure permits from all relevant departments in Massachusetts.

Beyond every reasonable doubt, the demand for goo food isn’t going to plummet any time soon, which is why we have put plans in place to continue to explore all available market around the cities where we are going to be located and ensure that we create a wide range of distribution channels via franchising. With that, we know that we will be able to maximize profits in our business.

Our strongest selling point at Buena Foods ® is the unique taste of the different types of delicacies that we will make and sell. There is hardly any customer that will taste any of our meals who would not want to come back and make more purchase or order more– we take great delight in welcoming repeat customers over and over again.

Buena Foods ® will at all times demonstrate her commitment to sustainability, both individually and as a firm, by actively participating in our communities and integrating sustainable business practices wherever possible. We will ensure that we hold ourselves accountable to the highest standards by meeting our customers need precisely and completely whenever they patronize our products.

We will cultivate a working environment that provides a human, sustainable approach to earning a living, and living in our world, for our partners, employees and for our customers.

Our plan is to position Buena Foods ® to become the leading brand in mobile food industry in the whole of Massachusetts, and also to be amongst the top 10 food cart brand in the United States of America within the first 10 years of starting our business.

This might look too tall a dream but we are optimistic that this will surely come to pass because we have done our research and feasibility studies and we are enthusiastic and confident that Boston – Massachusetts is the right place to launch this type of business before spreading to other cities all across The United States of America.

3. Our Products and Services

At Buena Foods ® we make a wide range of pizzas in terms of sizes and flavors et al; we prepare and serve our meals and other related items. We will also adopt full-service restaurants and quick-service style. As part our strategy to create multiple sources of income in line with our core business concept, we will run a consultancy service and trainings.

Our intention of starting Buena Foods ® is to make profits from the industry and we will do all that is permitted by the law in the US to achieve our aim and ambition. Here are some of our products and services;

  • sell lunch (assorted meals)
  • sell snacks
  • sell assorted drinks (Soft Drinks, Wines, smoothie, and punch, Fruit Juice, amongst others)
  • Sell franchise
  • Training and consultancy services on mobile truck food business

4. Our Mission and Vision Statement

  • To become the leading brand in mobile food cart business in Boston and the whole of United States of America.
  • We are in the mobile food truck industry with the aim of constructing a brand that can readily meet the needs of our valued clients in places where they can hardly access standard cafeterias.
  • And also to offer entrepreneurs the opportunity and training needed to successfully lunch their own mobile food truck business in other cities in the US.

Our Business Structure

Most people who go into the mobile foods business usually choose the business over the conventional restaurant business; this is because it is perhaps less expensive to manage especially when it comes to taking care of overhead and operational cost.

On the average, mobile food companies usually have 4 or 5 employees under their payroll. Because of the type of mobile food business brand that we intend building, we have been able to make provision for the following employees;

  • Chief Operating Officer (Owner)
  • Chef / Caterer
  • Assistant Caterer

Office Administrator

5. Job Roles and Responsibilities

Chief Operating Officer (owner)

  • Responsible for providing direction for the business
  • Creates, communicates, and implements the organization’s vision, mission, and overall direction – i.e. leading the development and implementation of the overall organization’s strategy.
  • Responsible for the day to day running of the business
  • Responsible for fixing prices
  • Responsible for recruitment
  • Responsible for payment of salaries
  • Responsible for signing checks and documents on behalf of the company
  • Evaluates the success of the organization

Chef / Caterer /Cooks

  • Responsible for preparing delicacies
  • Makes lists and budget for kitchen supplies
  • Oversees the entire kitchen staff
  • Responsible for training new cooks
  • Makes sure that the meals being whipped up tastes really good
  • Kitchen Assistant / Utility Staff

Assistant the chef/ cook in the kitchen

  • Ensures that all the needed cooking ingredients are in supply
  • Runs errand for the chef / cook and every member of the workforce
  • Ensures that the kitchen area of the truck is clean and hygienic at all times
  • Responsible for washing cooking pots, utensil and dishes when necessary
  • Assists in packaging food and snacks
  • Responsible for moving packed foods from the kitchen to the cubicle / point of sale
  • Ensures that various types of drinks are present in the fridge per time (get them replaced as soon as they are sold)
  • Any other duty as assigned by the line manager
  • Interfaces with our highly esteem customers
  • Collects orders and issues foods as demanded by customers after payment
  • Keeps proper records of daily sales and then reconcile with the cashier
  • Responsible for manning the fridge and every stuffs that are up for sale
  • Any other duty as assigned by the Chief Operating Officer
  • Receives payments on behalf of the company (POS, cash, mobile money et al)
  • Issues receipt to customers
  • Prepares financial report at the end of every working week
  • Handles all financial transaction on behalf of the company
  • Responsible for driving the cart to sales venues and back to base
  • Ensures that the cart is in top shape at all times
  • Ensures that maintenance schedules for the cart are strictly followed
  • Responsible for renewing the vehicle license, insurance and any other documentation for the vehicle as at when due
  • Any other duty as assigned by the food cart manager
  • Responsible for managing the daily activities of the back end office
  • Prepares payroll for the organization
  • Prepare monthly financial report for the organization
  • Interfaces with vendors and third party suppliers ( drink suppliers, raw food suppliers and maintenance team et al)
  • Responds to enquiries on behalf of the company
  • Handles phone calls for the company
  • Manage the company’s e-mail and website
  • Interfaces with our bankers (lodgment of cash, checks and bank drafts et al)
  • Responsible for payment of tax, levies and utility bills

6. SWOT Analysis

As a team together with our paid business consultants, we have been able to look both inward and outward, as well as critically assess ourselves and business ideas to know if we are truly ready to launch our mobile food truck business in Boston.

No doubt, we have a lot of factors working in our favor but at the same time we have some factors that we must contend with if we intend becoming the number one brand when it comes to mobile food cart business in Boston and the whole of North America. Below is a summary of the SWOT analysis that was conducted on behalf of Buena Foods® Mobile Food Company;

Aside from the trainings that have been acquired, as well as the hands on experience attained over the years prior to starting Buena Foods ® Company, our strength lies in our financial capacity and determination to succeed in the business at all cost. We have been able to acquire a brand new mobile food preparation vehicle (MFPV).

It has the capacity to meet the needs of well over 500 customers per day. Our strength also lies in the fact that we have relationship with brand experts who are working almost for free for us. With that, will be able to build our brand to a level where we can start selling franchises and offer trainings and consultancy services on mobile food Cart business.

The fact that we are planning to roll out our mobile cart business alongside other similar business offerings like training, consultancy services and sale of franchise could distract us from concentrating and channeling our energy in one direction. We are quite aware of that and we are working towards blocking any area that will sap our energy and make us under performed in our core business area – sale of foods and drinks from a mobile cart.

  • Opportunities:

The opportunities that we stand to leverage on are much. The fact that we are not tied down to a location is indeed a good opportunity for us to grow our business to the level we want to grow it to. For example; we can afford to trade foods, snacks and drinks in more than two locations within a day. It is all about knowing when to arrive and leave for another location.

There is hardly any business venture that doesn’t face its own threat. Regarding mobile food cart business, one of the threat that we may likely face is; vehicular traffic in key cities.

Traffic can delay one and as a result of that one may get to the location where one intend selling the foods and drinks late- this could be when the lunch break is over (basically for organized events). Yet another threat is; the government policies, which could also pose a great threat to the mobile food cart industry.


  • Market Trends

In this dispensation more than ever before, people no longer have sufficient time to do all they would want to do within the available 24 hours. Hence, the rise of fast food restaurants all over the cities. As such, mobile food cart business is another business that is designed to fit into a dispensation like ours. Part of the marketing and sales strategies that we shall adopt include but not limited to the following;

Submit proposals to event management companies to become their official mobile food vendor. Submit proposals to management of public facility (sport centers, beach and schools, et al) to become their official mobile food vendor. Send proposals to schools and corporate organizations to become their official mobile food vendor. Sponsor relevant events, such as cooking competitions, and cultural events, et al.

8. Our Target Market

When it comes to mobile food cart business, there are no restrictions to the market you can explore, as long as you are operating within the law of the state where you are conducting your business. We do not intend to place any limit to the scope of our target market and these are the places / locations where we intend operating our mobile food cart business with the aim of maximizing sales;

  • Construction sites
  • Tourism locations
  • University Campuses
  • Carnival ground
  • Stadiums and sport centers
  • Community Outdoor Events
  • Blue Collar work locations
  • Farmers Markets
  • Industrial Parks
  • Movie Recording Location
  • Farmers Market
  • Military Bases
  • Office Complexes
  • Mechanic Villages
  • Open air shows and programs

When it comes to foods, there is indeed a wide range of available customers. In essence, our target market can’t be restricted to just a group of people, but all those who eating out and of course those who would want to try it out. In view of that, we have conducted our market research and we have ideas of what our target market would be expecting from us. These are the groups of people we intend marketing our pizzas to;

  • Corporate Executives
  • Government Officials
  • Business People
  • Celebrities
  • Military Men and Women
  • Sports Men and Women
  • Everyone who resides in our target locations.

Our Competitive Advantage

Loads of factors count towards our advantage as a mobile food cart business operator. The fact that we have the ability to determine where we want to sell our foods and drinks per time gives us the leverage to make as much sales as we can make in a day.

It has been observed that any organization that offers training and consultancy services is always amongst the leaders in their industry and we at Buena Foods Company are set to tow along this part because we want to become experts and amongst the leading mobile food truck company in the whole of the US.

We have put plans in place to facilitate continuous improvement on what we do, because we know that is one of the factors that will be give us competitive advantage in the market place. Another competitive advantage that we have as a company is the size and condition of or food truck.

We have been able to purchase a brand new retrofitted food cart with the entire required gadget. It is big enough to accommodate all that we would need for the business, we are going to spend less on maintenance and we can easily obtain approval from the appropriate authorities.


  • Sources of Income

Businesses that do pretty well are businesses that have more than one source where they generate revenue. It is risky to run a business where you can only generate income from just one source. The truth is that if anything goes wrong with the source of income, the business might likely collapse.

This is why we worked hard to provide you with a sample food truck marketing plan template to help you through the process. The big picture we have for Buena Foods ® Mobile Food Company is to generate income from the following sources;

  • Sales of launch (meals)
  • Sales of Snacks
  • Offering training services
  • Offering consultancy services in line with our business goal
  • Sales of drinks
  • Sales of our franchise

10. Sales Forecast

It is important to state that our sales forecast is based on the data gathered during our feasibility studies and also assumptions. This is for sales projections based on what we saw.

  • 1000 lunches per day (on average), 12 months per year
  • $20 per person on the average
  • 1500 snacks per day, 12 months per year
  • $5 per person on the average
  • Sales of Drinks and Water et al:

On the average over 80% of people who purchase lunch (meal) and snacks would normally consume drinks as well.

  • $1.5 for a bottle of coke

This equates to 2000 drinks in a day when you multiply 2000 by 1.5 we will make an estimate of $3000 daily from the sale of drinks alone

  • Marketing Strategy and Sales Strategy

Before choosing a location to launch Buena Foods® and also the types and the types of foods we prepare, we conducted a thorough market survey and feasibility studies in order for us to be able to be able to penetrate the available market in the cities where we intend positioning our business.

We have detailed information and data that we were able to utilize to structure our business to attract the numbers of customers we want to attract per time and also for our products to favorable compete with other leading food cart brands in Boston – Massachusetts and the whole of the United States of America.

We hired experts who have good understanding of the industry to help us develop marketing strategies that will help us achieve our business goal of winning a larger percentage of the available market Boston – Massachusetts and throughout the United States of America where we intend selling our franchise.

In other to continue to be in business and grow, we must continue to sell our products to the available market which is why we will go all out to empower or sales and marketing team to deliver our corporate sales goals. In summary, Buena Foods ® will adopt the following sales and marketing approach to sell our pizzas and soft drinks;

  • Introduce our food brand by sending introductory letters to residence, merchants and other stakeholders both in Boston – Massachusetts and in other cities in the United States of America
  • Open our food cart business with a party and free meals so as to capture the attention of residence who are our first targets
  • Engage in road show in targeted communities from time to time to sell our products
  • Advertise our products in community based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
  • List our business and products on yellow pages ads (local directories)
  • Leverage on the internet to promote our mobile food brands
  • Engage in direct marketing and sales
  • Encourage the use of Word of mouth marketing (referrals)

11. Publicity and Advertising Strategy

Despite the fact that our food cart company is a standard one with a wide range of flavors and products that can favorably compete with other leading brands in the United States, we will still go ahead to intensify publicity for all our products and brand. We are going to explore all available means to promote our services ®

Buena Foods ® has a long term plan of opening outlets in various locations all around the United States of America and also to sell our franchise which is why we will purposefully build our brand to be well accepted in Boston – Massachusetts before venturing out to other cities in the United States of America.

As a matter of fact, our publicity and advertising strategy is not solely for selling our products but to also effectively communicate our brand. Here are the platforms we intend leveraging on to promote and advertise Buena Foods

  • Place adverts on both print (community based newspapers and magazines) and electronic media platforms
  • Sponsor relevant community programs
  • Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; Instagram, Facebook , twitter, et al to promote our brand
  • Install our Bill Boards on strategic locations all around major cities in the United States of America
  • Engage in road show from time to time in targeted communities
  • Distribute our fliers and handbills in target areas
  • Position our Flexi Banners at strategic positions in the location where we intend getting customers to start patronizing our products.
  • Ensure that all our staff members wear our customized clothes, and all our official cars and distribution vans are customized and well branded.

12. Our Pricing Strategy

Generally food cart business sells meals, and snacks at a cheaper rate when compared to the conventional fixed – restaurant. We don’t have any plans to sell our foods, snacks and drinks beyond the prices that is obtainable in the industry.

That does not mean that we will fall below standard when it comes to the quality of our food. As a matter of fact, one of our strongest selling points will be the taste and perhaps the quantity of our foods when compared to our competitors.

From our market survey and feasibility studies, we are sure going to make reasonable profits even when we sell a little below the average price for package foods and snacks in the food cart industry, especially if the location we intend selling our foods and drinks is not far away from our base.

  • Payment Options

At Biena Foods ®, our payment policy is all inclusive because we are quite aware that different people prefer different payment options as it suits them. Here are the payment options that will be available in every of our outlets;

  • Payment by cash
  • Payment via Point of Sale (POS) Machine
  • Payment via online bank transfer (online payment portal)
  • Payment via Mobile money

In view of the above, we have chosen banking platforms that will help us achieve our payment plans without any itches.

13. Startup Expenditure (Budget)

When it comes to starting a standard food cart business, one is expected to spend the bulk of the start – up capital on equipping for the business. Aside from that, you are not expected to spend much except for purchasing distribution vans, paying of your employees and utility bills.

This is the key areas where we will spend our start – up capital;

  • The Total Fee for Registering the Business in Boston – Massachusetts – $750.
  • Legal expenses for obtaining licenses and permits as well as the accounting services (software, P.O.S machines and other software) – $1,300.
  • Marketing promotion expenses for the grand opening of Buena Food Cart Business Company®; in the amount of $3,500 and as well as flyer printing (2,000 flyers at $0.04 per copy) for the total amount of – $3,580.
  • Cost for hiring Business Consultant – $2,500.
  • Insurance (general liability, workers’ compensation and property casualty) coverage at a total premium – $2,400.
  • Cost for payment of rent for 12 month at $1.76 per square feet in the total amount of $105,600.
  • Cost for construction of a standard bakery – $100,000.
  • Other start-up expenses including stationery ($500) and phone and utility deposits ($2,500).
  • Operational cost for the first 3 months (salaries of employees, payments of bills et al) – $100,000
  • The cost for Start-up inventory (raw materials and packaging materials et al) – $80,000
  • Storage hardware (bins, rack, shelves, food case) – $3,720
  • The cost for counter area equipment (counter top, sink, ice machine, etc.) – $9,500
  • Cost for yogurt making equipment – $20,000
  • Cost for store equipment (cash register, security, ventilation, signage) – $13,750
  • Cost of purchase of distribution vans – $50,000
  • The cost for the purchase of furniture and gadgets (Computers, Printers, Telephone, TVs, Sound System, tables and chairs et al) – $4,000.
  • The cost of Launching a Website – $600
  • The cost for our opening party – $10,000
  • Miscellaneous – $10,000

We would need an estimate of $500,000 to successfully set up our Food Cart delivery company in Boston – Massachusetts. Please note that this amount includes the salaries of the entire staff member for the first month of operation.

Generating Funding / Startup Capital for Buena Food Cart Business®

Buena Food Cart® is a family business that is owned and financed by Mr. Andrew Hago – and Family. They do not intend to welcome any external business partner which is why he has decided to restrict the sourcing of the start – up capital to 3 major sources.

These are the areas we intend generating our start – up capital;

  • Generate part of the start – up capital from personal savings and sell of stocks
  • Source for soft loans from family members and friends
  • Apply for loan from my Bank

N.B: We have been able to generate about $100,000 (Personal savings $80,000 and soft loan from family members $20,000) and we are at the final stages of obtaining a loan facility of $400,000 from our bank. All the papers and document have been signed and submitted, the loan has been approved and any moment from now our account will be credited with the amount.

14. Sustainability and Expansion Strategy

The future of a business lies in the numbers of loyal customers that they have the capacity and competence of the employees, their investment strategy and the business structure. If any of these factors is missing from a business (company), then it won’t be too long before the business close shop.

Buena Foods ® will ensure that all the factors listed above are reinforced on a regular basis, we will continue to improvise with our products, come up with pleasant and acceptable flavors and also we will engage in continuous capacity building of our workforce. As a matter of fact, profit-sharing arrangement will be made available to all our management staff and it will be based on their performance for a period of five years or more.

We will make sure that the right foundation, structures and processes are put in place to ensure that staff welfare are well taken of. Our company’s corporate culture is designed to drive our business to greater heights and training and re – training of our workforce is at the top burner. We have the plans of

Check List / Milestone

  • Business Name Availability Check:>Completed
  • Business Registration: Completed
  • Opening of Corporate Bank Accounts: Completed
  • Securing Point of Sales (POS) Machines: Completed
  • Opening Mobile Money Accounts: Completed
  • Opening Online Payment Platforms: Completed
  • Application and Obtaining Tax Payer’s ID: In Progress
  • Application for business license and permit: Completed
  • Purchase of Insurance for the Business: Completed
  • Leasing of facility and construction of standard Bakery: In Progress
  • Conducting Feasibility Studies: Completed
  • Generating capital from family members: Completed
  • Applications for Loan from the bank: In Progress
  • Writing of Business Plan: Completed
  • Drafting of Employee’s Handbook: Completed
  • Drafting of Contract Documents and other relevant Legal Documents: In Progress
  • Design of The Company’s Logo: Completed
  • Graphic Designs and Printing of Packaging Marketing / Promotional Materials: In Progress
  • Recruitment of employees: In Progress
  • Purchase of the Needed furniture, racks, shelves, computers, electronic appliances, office appliances and CCTV: In progress
  • Creating Official Website for the Company: In Progress
  • Creating Awareness for the business both online and around the community: In Progress
  • Health and Safety and Fire Safety Arrangement (License): Secured
  • Opening party / launching party planning: In Progress
  • Establishing business relationship with vendors – wholesale suppliers / merchants: In Progress
  • Purchase of delivery vans: Completed

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Food Truck Business Plan Template

Written by Dave Lavinsky

Food Truck Business Plan

You’ve come to the right place to create your food truck business plan.

We have helped over 100,000 entrepreneurs and business owners create business plans and many have used them to start or grow their food trucks.

Food Truck Business Plan Example & Template

Below is a template to help you create each section of your food truck business plan.

Executive Summary

Business overview.

Zesty Zane’s Food Truck is a new food truck located in Portland owned by local critically acclaimed chef, Zane Benedict. The menu will consist of popular food options that consist of burgers, sandwiches, gyros, and tacos uniquely made with the creativity and uniqueness that Chef Zane can offer. Chef Zane’s eclectic style and consistency make him a favorite among Portland foodies and his food truck will garner a loyal following amongst young professionals and college students.

Zesty Zane’s Food Truck will be located in the immensely popular food truck pod known as Cartopia. Chef Zane will receive lots of exposure by being a part of this community as there are plenty of neighboring food trucks, bars, nightlife, and entertainment options nearby. With the popular location of Cartopia and an impressive Instagram social media following, Zesty Zane’s Food Truck is destined to become a local go-to dining destination for anyone craving delicious, interesting fare at an affordable price.

Products Served

The following are the products to be offered by Zesty Zane’s Food Truck:

  • Sandwiches & paninis
  • Assorted non-alcoholic beverages

Customer Focus

Zesty Zane’s Food Truck will target customers in Portland who live, work, or socialize near Cartopia. This area is frequented by numerous young professionals, college students, and the late-night crowd who regularly eat at food trucks. Anyone seeking trendy dining options are the target customers of Zesty Zane’s Food Truck.

Management Team

Chef Zane has worked in the culinary industry for over ten years and is accustomed to the long, demanding hours of operating a kitchen. He attended culinary school in San Francisco and returned home to Portland to be a part of the world-renowned food scene that Portland has built for itself. After working under three award-winning chefs, Chef Zane is ready to venture out on his own and start his own business as a food truck.

Chef Zane Benedict will be the food truck owner and operator of his food truck. He will operate the food truck Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00 am until 1:00 am. Chef Zane will also employ two part-time cooks to assist him during peak hours of operation.

Success Factors

The following success factors will set Zesty Zane’s Food Truck apart from the competition:

  • Exceptional cuisine made fresh with locally sourced ingredients.
  • An eclectic menu that is unlike any other in the Portland food scene.
  • Convenient location: Zesty Zane’s Food Truck will be located in a highly-trafficked food truck pod that is frequented by college students, young professionals, and night-life regulars.
  • Delicious food at a good price. Zesty Zane’s food items will be cheaper than other food truck dishes without sacrificing quality.

Financial Highlights

Zesty Zane’s Food Truck is seeking $40,000 in debt financing to open its food truck. The funding will be dedicated for the purchase of the food truck, cooking supplies and equipment, working capital, three months worth of payroll expenses and opening inventory. The breakout of the funding is below:

  • Purchase of food truck – $20,000
  • Food truck kitchen supplies and equipment – $10,000
  • Opening inventory – $2,000
  • Working capital (to include 3 months of overhead expenses) – $3,000
  • Marketing (website design and management) – $5,000

The following graph outlines the pro forma financial projections for Zesty Zane’s Food Truck:

food truck financials

Company Overview

Who is zesty zane’s food truck.

Zesty Zane’s Food Truck is a startup food truck business located in Portland, Oregon. The menu offerings are eclectic, made-to-order, bistro-type dishes served fresh and fast in the entertainment district of Portland. The ingredients are locally-sourced from independent food growers and artisans in and around the Portland region. The dishes are incorporated with an ingenious twist to commonly known popular food menu items. The menu options are simple dishes commonly seen at food trucks, but Chef Zane adds his own spin to the typical fare – sandwiches, gyros, burgers, and tacos all made his way unlike any other food establishment.

Zesty Zane’s Food Truck is owned and operated by Zane Benedict, a local Chef classically trained in culinary school and under the most prestigious chefs in Portland. Chef Zane is known for his creativity, consistency, and quickness in the kitchen and his dishes receive multiple positive reviews in the restaurants Zane has been employed. Chef Zane specializes in fine French, Italian, and Mediterranean cuisine with a creative twist not typically found in other restaurant establishments.

Zesty Zane’s Food Truck History

After graduating from culinary school in 2008, Chef Zane Benedict worked as a sous chef in three different restaurants in Portland. All of the chefs Zane worked under were award-winning, locally-acclaimed chefs that frequently trained their apprentices to prepare dishes up to their expectation and standards.

Chef Zane learned a great deal from these chefs and garnered a reputation himself for his creativity and consistency. Now that Zane feels he has learned as much as he can from the senior chefs, he would like to venture out on his own and start his own business. Due to the large amount of capital required to open a full-scale restaurant, Chef Zane decided a food truck business was the most cost-effective option for his operation.

Since incorporation, Zesty Zane’s Food Truck has achieved the following milestones:

  • Developed the food truck’s branding image, social media, and website.
  • Has a soft hold on a used food truck that recently went out of business.
  • Developed and finalized the menu of the dishes Chef Zane will serve.
  • Obtained a food permit license to be able to prepare and sell food and drinks in Portland County.
  • Obtained a sales and use tax permit for use in Portland County.

Zesty Zane’s Food Truck Products

The following are the types of menu items Zesty Zane’s Food Truck will produce:

Food Truck Industry Analysis

Food truck vendors will continue to perform well over the next five years, benefiting from consumers with deeper pockets who are able to spend on pricier gourmet food options. Revenues are expected to increase to $1.4 billion during this time period.

Food Truck industry operators are expected to continue to experience growth, as generally positive economic conditions and momentum from the gourmet food movement propel growth.

Consumers nowadays demand higher-quality food, a wider variety of styles and tastes, better presentation and, most importantly, more healthy menu options. Therefore, operators that include healthy options on their menus will be best situated for success over the next five years. Vendors that continue to offer unique food options will also be in a strong position by carving out a niche and developing a loyal customer base.

The food truck industry will also benefit from an increase in the urban population, which is expected to comprise the majority of the US population in five years. The food truck industry benefits from agglomeration because it relies on high foot traffic. Additionally, urban dwellers are also more likely to purchase meals rather than cooking at home due to their above-average incomes and limited spare time.

Customer Analysis

Demographic profile of target market.

Zesty Zane’s Food Truck will target the population of Portland that frequently dines in the entertainment district. There is a large food truck area of Portland known as Cartopia, where Chef Zane will set up his business. This area is home to numerous dining establishments, nightlife, bars, clubs, and food trucks. The target market of this area are usually young professionals and college students who have disposable income.

The precise demographics for Portland, Oregon are:

Customer Segmentation

Zesty Zane’s Food Truck will primarily target the following customer profile:

  • Local residents of Portland who partake in late-night activities such as socializing with friends or bar-hopping
  • Business professionals that work and reside in the Portland Cartopia area – law offices, hospitals, clinics, insurance agencies, retail, and schools
  • College students who are in search of fast, cheap, and trendy eats

Competitive Analysis

Direct and indirect competitors.

Zesty Zane’s Food Truck will be competing with other food trucks in the Portland community. A profile of each competitor is below.

Potato Champion

Potato Champion is a local favorite of Portland foodies that is also located in Cartopia. Started in 2008, Potato Champion quickly established itself as a fan favorite for late night food. Potato Champion serves a limited menu of hand cut, twice fried Belgian style fries, a variety of dipping sauces, and their own version of the Canadian classic Poutine, as well as other fry related dishes. They pride themselves in using the highest quality ingredients and focus on an inventive menu that combines tastes from all over the world with one of the most popular foods found on the globe, the french fry.

Potato Champion is open for lunch, dinner, and late-night. They are available for catering and delivery through Postmates. Followers of Potato Champion are also able to purchase swag from their store that includes music, bags, pins, and hoodies.

Started by John Eads in 2009, Pyro Pizza was built out of a 8’x16’ food cart that he custom-built with a cast iron wood fire oven. Aside from wood fired pizza, John also makes his own sodas using all real ingredients and natural cane sugar. John’s belief is that good ingredients make good food. His crew makes many components in-house and sources regional flour, pepperoni, sausage, blue cheese, soda ingredients, and seasonal produce all from Portland businesses and farms. In 2015, Pyro’s expanded to a new sandwich cart, Pyro’s Wicked Wiches – a scratch-made sandwich, soup, chips and cookie food cart.

Pyro’s serves an assortment of wood fire pizzas made from scratch. Their choices are margherita, marinara, arugula and mushroom, pepperoni, quattro formaggi, fennel sausage, veggie bianca, breadsticks, salads, and sodas.

Chicken and Guns

Chicken and Guns is another local favorite among Portland foodies. Also found in Cartopia, Chicken and Guns serves up Latin American chicken, wings, tacos, salad, soup, and their “guns” are crispy seasoned potatoes. The chicken is served by the quarter, half, or whole bird. Another item they are acclaimed for is their peruvian aji sauce, habanero carrot sauce and chimichurri sauce. They have been named the best fried chicken in Portland by the PDX Eater.

Chicken and Guns is open everyday from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm for takeout and delivery options. With a large Instagram and social media following, there is always destined to be a line at the Chicken and Guns food truck.

Competitive Advantage

Zesty Zane’s Food Truck offers several advantages over its competition. Those advantages are:

Food Truck Marketing Plan

Zesty Zane’s Food Truck will offer a unique value proposition to its clientele:

  • Delicious food made fresh with locally sourced ingredients using exquisite techniques.
  • Located in the ultra-hip food truck area known as Cartopia.
  • Great food at a great price. The menu offerings of Zesty Zane’s Food Truck will be accessible to customers of all walks of life.

Promotions Strategy

The promotions strategy for Zesty Zane’s Food Truck are as follows:

Social Media

Zesty Zane’s Food Truck’s main source of marketing will be through social media, primarily their Instagram page. Chef Zane has become adept at taking appealing photographs of his dishes. He will post pictures of his menu and add details on the location and hours of operation. His food truck account already has over 3,000 followers and he posts daily “Coming Soon” teaser photos.

Zesty Zane’s Food Truck will be parked in the immensely popular food truck hub known as Cartopia of Portland. There are dozens of food trucks located in this pod and there is always a crowd of people. Cartopia hosts bands, art shows, shopping events, and other social gatherings to enhance the entertainment vibe of the pod. By being part of Cartopia, Zesty Zane’s Food Truck will receive lots of exposure and traffic.

SEO Website Marketing

Zesty Zane’s Food Truck plans to invest funds into maintaining a strong SEO presence on search engines like Google and Bing. When a person types in “local food truck” or “top food trucks in Portland”, Zesty Zane’s Food Truck will appear in the top three choices. Zesty Zane’s will also invest in their website also to ensure that it is user friendly, always up to date, and displays professional photographs of its menu items and location.

Third Party Delivery Sites

Zesty Zane’s Food Truck will maintain a presence on sites like GrubHub, Uber Eats, Doordash, and Postmates so that people looking for local food with the option of delivery will see Zesty Zane’s listed.

The pricing of Zesty Zane’s Food Truck will be moderate and on par with other food trucks so customers feel they receive value when purchasing their menu items.

Operations Plan

The operations plan for Zesty Zane’s Food Truck is relatively simple as its overhead and cost is small. The functional roles for its employees are as follows:

Operation Functions:

  • Chef Zane will run the food truck operation. He will be in charge of inventory, menu creation, food truck marketing, customer service, and bookkeeping. Chef Zane will work every day that he chooses to open the food truck. Chef Zane plans on operating the food truck Tuesday through Sunday 11:00 am to 1:00 am.
  • Two part-time cooks that will alternate helping Chef Zane during the hours of operation. As business picks up, there will be two cooks at the same time assisting Chef Zane during peak hours.


Zesty Zane’s Food Truck aims to open in the next 3 months. The following are the milestones needed in order to obtain this goal.

4/15/202X – Purchase food truck

5/1/202X – Finalize menu

5/15/202X – Social media and advertising campaign begins

6/1/202X – Finish cleaning up the food truck and prepare it for operation

6/10/202X – Purchase food and drink inventory, stock truck, and park it at Cartopia

6/11/202X – Grand Opening of Zesty Zane’s Food Truck

Zesty Zane’s Food Truck will be owned and operated by Chef Zane Benedict.

Chef Zane Benedict, Food Truck Owner

Chef Zane Benedict is a Portland native who attended culinary school in San Francisco and returned to Portland to become a part of the world-renowned food scene Portland is uniquely known for. Zane was trained under three different chefs at fine dining establishments in downtown Portland and was awarded Best Sous Chef of Portland in 2017. Chef Zane has won two local culinary competitions, placed runner-up in a statewide competition, and participated in a cooking competition show on the Food Network.

Chef Zane has received numerous awards for his creativity and consistency of his food while being able to prepare dishes in a short amount of time. His ability to prepare food under pressure allows him the unique skill of serving numerous customers without having them undergo long wait times. This will keep customers happy and coming back for more.

Financial Plan

Key revenue & costs.

The revenue drivers for Zesty Zane’s Food Truck will come from the menu items being offered daily.

The cost drivers will be the ingredients and products needed to make the menu items (oil, bread, meat, chicken, produce, drinks) as well as the cooking materials (pots, pans, bowls, plates, utensils, etc.). Other cost drivers will be the overhead expenses of payroll for the part-time employees and propane for the food truck.

Funding Requirements and Use of Funds

  • Food Truck Marketing (website design and management) – $5,000

Key Assumptions

The following table outlines the key assumptions required in order to achieve the revenue and cost numbers in the financials and in order to pay off the business loan.

Initial Number of Customers Per Day: 50

Average Menu Item Cost: $9.00

Average Order per Customer: $15.00

Annual Cost for Maintenance of Truck: $10,000

Financial Projections

Income statement, balance sheet, cash flow statement, food truck business plan faqs, what is a food truck business plan.

A food truck business plan is a plan to start and/or grow your food truck business. Among other things, it outlines your business concept, identifies your target customers, presents your marketing plan and details your financial projections.

You can  easily complete your food truck business plan using our Food Truck Business Plan Template here .

What Are the Main Types of Food Truck Companies?

There are a variety of types of food trucks, each specializing in a specific type of cuisine or food item. There are food trucks that sell burgers, cookies, ice cream, tacos, pizza, sandwiches, salads and more.  

What Are the Main Sources of Revenues and Expenses for a Food Truck Business?

The primary source of revenue for food truck businesses is its food and beverage sales. 

The key expenses for a food truck business are food costs, salaries, and transportation expenses. 

How Do You Get Funding for Your Food Truck Business?

Food truck businesses are typically funded through small business loans, personal savings, crowdfunding and credit card financing.  A well-crafted food truck business plan is essential to securing funding.

What are the Steps To Start a Food Truck Business?

Starting a food truck business can be an exciting endeavor. Having a clear roadmap of the steps to start a business will help you stay focused on your goals and get started faster.

1. Develop A Food Truck Business Plan - The first step in starting a business is to create a detailed business plan for your food truck that outlines all aspects of the venture. This should include potential market size and target customers, the services or products you will offer, pricing strategies and a detailed financial forecast.  

2. Choose Your Legal Structure - It's important to select an appropriate legal entity for your food truck business. This could be a limited liability company (LLC), corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship. Each type has its own benefits and drawbacks so it’s important to do research and choose wisely so that your food truck business is in compliance with local laws.

3. Register Your Food Truck Business - Once you have chosen a legal structure, the next step is to register your food truck business with the government or state where you’re operating from. This includes obtaining licenses and permits as required by federal, state, and local laws. 

4. Identify Financing Options - It’s likely that you’ll need some capital to start your food truck business, so take some time to identify what financing options are available such as bank loans, investor funding, grants, or crowdfunding platforms. 

5. Choose a Location - Whether you plan on operating out of a physical location or not, you should always have an idea of where you’ll be based should it become necessary in the future as well as what kind of space would be suitable for your operations. 

6. Hire Employees - There are several ways to find qualified employees including job boards like LinkedIn or Indeed as well as hiring agencies if needed – depending on what type of employees you need it might also be more effective to reach out directly through networking events. 

7. Acquire Necessary Food Truck Equipment & Supplies - In order to start your food truck business, you'll need to purchase all of the necessary equipment and supplies to run a successful operation. 

8. Market & Promote Your Business - Once you have all the necessary pieces in place, it’s time to start promoting and marketing your food truck business. Food truck marketing includes creating a website, utilizing social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter, and having an effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. You should also consider traditional marketing techniques such as radio or print advertising. 

Learn more about how to start a successful food truck business:

  • How to Start a Food Truck Business

Where Can I Get a Food Truck Business Plan PDF?

You can download our free food truck business plan template PDF here . This is a sample food truck business plan template you can use in PDF format.

Other Business Plan Templates

Catering Business Plan Template Bakery Business Plan Template Coffee Shop Business Plan Template Event Venue Business Plan Template

How to start a profitable food cart business

marketing plan for a food cart business

January 7, 2022

Agata Kaczmarek

Street food is all the rage right now, appealing to the consumer and the business owner. Today’s world sees consumers in a hurry from one place to another, who hope to grab a quick, yet delicious bite to eat. Food carts with their lower cost and delightful meals fill the gap perfectly.

To an entrepreneur, the idea of a food cart means having autonomy of owning a business without the overhead costs. In this business, there is no need for the expenses associated with owning a brick-and-mortar restaurant, with four walls that keep the company rooted to one spot. In addition, the simplicity of a food cart and the meals it offers fills the gap to potential consumers that a restaurant cannot.

Whatever the reason for wanting to start a food cart business, whether it’s the ultimate dream of an aspiring chef or an entrepreneur getting the chance at being their boss, there is the question of profitability.

Not only is profitability possible, but it can exceed expectations if you can find a prime location, build up a good customer base, and keep costs as low as possible. Food cart owners can expect to generate between $500 to $3,000 in sales each day.

Food Cart Start-Up Costs and Other Considerations

Launching a successful business is an involved process that requires research and forward-thinking. Simply purchasing the food cart is not enough to ensure the business thrives and turns a profit. A couple of questions will help start the process of crossing the t’s and dotting the I’s.

Is a food cart the right business for me?

The decision to get into the foodservice industry is made, but the next question is usually what kind of business—food truck, food cart, or restaurant. Of course, there are pros and cons to all of these types of businesses, but it comes down to personal preference and answering some questions:

  • What kind of food will the business serve?
  • What type of clientele is the business looking to serve?
  • What food has a good profit margin?
  • What food is the most popular in the area?
  • What type of food business will attract the most clients?

Food carts come with some advantages, such as serving fresh food fast to their clients in an area where a restaurant or truck isn’t feasible. However, despite the quick turnaround of food at a food cart, they are hardly fast food, which makes them so desirable to people who find themselves in need of a quick meal.

How much does it cost to start a profitable food cart business?

Businesses come with a wide variety of start-up expenses, some of which continue once the business is operational. Though the capital needed to start up a profitable food cart business is much lower than others, there is a list of potential expenses.

  • An equipped food cart will run anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000, depending on the size and the type of food it will serve.
  • The ingredients and first food stock necessary to start the business will run anywhere between $500 and $1000 depending on the food type.
  • Cities require permits to operate a business that may run upwards of $600.
  • Marketing a business is a must to start, and though the expense is based on personal preference, it’s important to set aside at least $500 to start.
  • Parking and cleaning the cart will run around $500 for the first month.
  • Always expect miscellaneous expenses for a first-time business of around $500.

The total for starting a food cart business will run anywhere between $5,100 and $8,100. Costs to start a profitable food cart business are significantly smaller than they are for any other foodservice business such as a restaurant or food truck. Still, they must be considered in the decision.

Operating Expenses Associated with a Profitable Food Cart Business

Start-up costs are only the beginning, with other operational costs coming in along the way. Whether the food cart gets a client or not, fixed operational expenses will always come up and need to be understood to make the business a profitable one.

  • Food cart insurance for liability reasons
  • Permits (depending on the area the food cart operates in) such as business permits and foodservice permits
  • Advertising

Fixed operational expenses cannot be avoided as an integral part of running a business. A food cart business may not have as many operational costs as a permanent business such as a restaurant, but the estimated costs can run anywhere between $1000 and $2000 a month.

Other variable expenses are also a part of running a food cart, though these are a little harder to estimate. They are also unavoidable, but necessary for a business to thrive. Some of these variable expenses are listed below.

  • Supplies such as replenishing food items, condiments, and other cooking essentials.
  • Depending on the food cart, the cost of running a generator (for instance, in the case of cooking hot dogs or other hot food items)
  • Tires, for a movable cart
  • Transportation costs
  • Maintenance

These variable expenses require a little more work to project. This food truck spreadsheet has all the potential costs associated with such a business and will work with you to make the best estimates. Variable operational costs will change from month to month depending on how well the business is going and any unforeseen circumstances such as repairs and maintenance costs, but your primary variable costs are going to be directly tied to your food. According to Restaurantengine , typical COGS for a food truck or food cart range between 25-35% of sales so you’ll want to shoot to stay within that range in order to break even.

A food cart, as a movable business rather than a permanent restaurant, has to get transported to and from the desired business location, running up the costs of variable expenses. Provided business is going well, and the right food niche has been found, these costs will become inherent in doing business without posing undue stress.

Food Cart Potential profit

The spreadsheet mentioned above helps calculate a potential profit, which has a typical range of 6-9% . So, for a quick estimate from our earlier daily sales range of $500 to $3,000 that puts annual profit at a wide range of $11,000 to $98,000 which would be on the very high end and unlikely because you can’t have high traffic every day.  Though most food cart owners take on the job for the passion of selling food rather than the money, it is an important factor in staying afloat.

Potential profit will always depend on the area and how well the food niche was chosen. Before investing in the business, it’s important to answer as many questions as possible concerning the location, the necessary steps for opening the business, and the type of food that would sell best.

The beauty of a food cart business is the ability to change things around as needed. With small adjustments, it’s possible to work toward the best food niche within the location or change the location altogether.

Food Cart Financial Summary

There is money to be made from running a food cart business especially with the help of our food truck projection spreadsheet . Estimating anywhere between $5,100 and $8,100 in upfront costs, it’s entirely possible to work toward the goal that others have set such as almost half a million in a year. Though it’ll take time to get there, the projections spreadsheet will help map the plan toward those numbers. Here is a screenshot from our spreadsheet template:

Food cart spreadsheet template

Should any further questions come up concerning the use of the spreadsheet, this demo video will help walk through the entire process in order to get up to 5 years’ worth of estimates along with income statements, balance sheet, and cash flow forecast. 

BannerPhoto by Seferikalbiye from Pexels Top right Photo by Meruyert Gonullu from Pexels

About the Author

A professional writer for the past couple of years, Agata holds a passion for writing from early childhood. Specializing in writing informative articles and blogs on various topics, Agata's focus is on personal finance.

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How to Start a Food Cart

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How to Start a Concession Trailer Business

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  • Starting a Food Vendor Mobile Business at Fairs, Carnivals and Festivals
  • What Do I Need to Start an Ice Cream Truck Business?

If you have a passion for food and love being around people, a street food cart business might be right for you. You can succeed even if you're starting a food truck with no experience working in one. Learning how to open a food truck starts with exploring food cart business ideas and then making a solid business plan. From there, you can purchase what you need and start operating your popular new food truck, serving customers delicious food.

Make a Food Cart Business Plan

As much as it would be more fun to start naming your business, designing a logo and crafting your menu, you have to worry about practical matters first. Begin by researching the regulations and statutes governing mobile food businesses in your state, county and city, paying particular attention to the Board of Health's rules. Knowing these rules can help you understand what you can and cannot do and how the laws may restrict your movements and the cart or truck itself. These rules vary widely from place to place, so if you seek advice from other mobile restaurateurs, make sure they registered their business in your municipality.

Now that you understand what's allowed, you can get into more details, but the writers at Webstaurant Store explain that you need financing first. Start-up money is one of the biggest impediments for many aspiring food truck owners. While a mobile enterprise is undoubtedly less expensive than a brick-and-mortar restaurant, learning how to start a food truck with no money is even more challenging.

How to Open a Food Cart

To move forward with your business, you need to write your menu because the kind of food you sell might dictate the type of license you need. According to Square , analyzing your target market and local community's food preferences can help you decide what type of food will sell well. If you prepare prepackaged food in a commercial kitchen and sell it, that's likely different than if you cook the food onsite. The equipment you want to use could also change the type of truck and the licensing you need.

As you design your menu and consider your brand, you should always consider how you will outfit your truck. The cart or truck is likely the priciest piece of equipment you will purchase, so you want to ensure it will not only fit your needs now but also grow with your business in the future.

Once you know the details, you can write up a business proposal and put together a presentation for potential investors or banks.

Food Cart Business Ideas and More

There are many other critical factors when starting a food cart. For one thing, you need business skills. You'll need to incorporate your business and learn how to pay the applicable taxes. If you plan to hire employees, you'll also need to learn how to pay them and learn when they need to take breaks.

When trying to succeed as a small business, it's helpful to be active in your local community. Join your area's chamber of commerce and any other relevant organizations. You may even consider aligning your food cart with a charity or cause, such as an animal shelter or elementary school.

It can also help to get active on social media and try to amass a following with smart marketing techniques. Go where people gather, such as farmer's markets or festivals. If you're concerned about building a reputation and finding customers, you can look for a food cart business for sale. If it's a local business, they probably have a following already.

  • Webstaurant Store: How to Start a Food Truck
  • Square: How to Start a Food Truck Business

Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She has been writing on business-related topics for nearly 10 years. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing, and she works with a number of small businesses to develop B2B content for their websites, social media accounts, and marketing materials. In addition to this content, she has written business-related articles for sites like Sweet Frivolity, Alliance Worldwide Investigative Group, Bloom Co and Spent.

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How to Start a Food Cart Business: Detailed Steps

There is no better time than the present to start a food cart business. Street food is no longer an option people only grab when they are in a hurry or have limited options. Food carts, food bicycles, and food trucks have become popular, sought-out options for hungry customers around the globe. In the United States,  mobile food businesses represented a 1.4 billion market in 2022 and are projected to continue growing. With all the potential surrounding mobile food markets, it’s easy to see why learning how to start a food cart business has become desirable for entrepreneurs and beginners.

Street food bike

Let’s explore some of the things to consider when starting a food cart with wheels: 

Popular Food Cart Items

Mobile food cart offerings have come a long way over the years. Historically, a street food cart kitchen was associated with menu items like burgers, hot dogs, popcorn, doughnuts, or ice cream. While classic menu items are still popular and offer high-profit margins , there is also a significant market for other types of food like sushi, tacos, empanadas, nachos, french fries, crepes, coffee/tea, and shaved ice, among others. The popularity of food cart offerings largely depends on location, availability of ingredients, and customer type.

Food Cart Business Benefits and Requirements

Starting a food cart business has many benefits, like becoming your own boss with low startup costs, minimum experience, less risk, and location flexibility. Mobile food businesses also have the potential to bring in huge profits and business growth. Although there is unlimited potential for success, a lot of hard work and research are involved in reaching these goals. For motivated people, starting a food cart with wheels can be a true entrepreneur’s dream.

Legal Requirements for Starting Food Cart Business

Local legal requirements are one of the most important areas to research when starting a mobile food business. The principal regulations to research are health, vehicle requirements, and zoning laws. Permits and license requirements will vary depending on the type of street food cart purchased. Every city, state, or county will also have unique rules and laws that mobile food carts must follow to avoid expensive fines or closure.

Food Bike or Street Food Cart?

Both food bikes and carts are desirable options when learning how to sell street food. Deciding between purchasing a bike or a  street food cart will depend on multiple factors such as space requirements, budget, and menu options. A food bike is the most mobile, eco-friendly option, while a food cart offers more storage, equipment, and selling space.

coffee bike for sale

Street Food Stand Budget

Building a budget for a food cart business is another crucial step toward success. Business budgets are updated regularly and include both one-time and recurring costs. A budget plan will include everything from the initial street food stand purchase to recurring food supplies, equipment, insurance costs, permits, payroll, etc.

Building A Food Cart Business Plan

A comprehensive business plan is one of the most vital steps in starting food cart ideas. A business plan is a roadmap to follow from the beginning and throughout. It should include information about a company, including, but not limited to, industry, customer, and competitive analysis, marketing and operations plans, legal structure type, and financial details on startup costs, projected expenses, and returns.

How To Start a Food Cart Business Marketing Plan/Strategy

Marketing is any business’s promotional voice, which means a strong marketing plan can make or break the profit margins. A food cart business marketing plan should be a part of the business plan and will include how to spread the word about the cart and the products offered through channels like word-of-mouth, social media, print, influencer marketing, and paid ads. 

Finding The Best Food Cart Equipment

The operation’s heart is the equipment that runs a street food stand. No matter the budget, a mobile food vendor should invest in the highest quality cart they can work into the budget. The initial investment in top-quality equipment will save costs over time in repairs or upgrades. It also protects the business from potential income loss from accidents, faulty gear, or functionality not up to code. There are also important factors to consider, like power availability for locations and the size of cold food storage. Newer street food cart models may offer better amenities like solar panels for power and larger storage areas. 

How to Sell Street Food 

After completing all the planning and paperwork, it’s time to find the perfect selling locations. Ideal locations will be available for vendor permits, cost-effective, and offer high traffic of potential customers. There are many ways to find the best spots, by exploring the local scene, researching online, or joining food vendor advocacy groups and social media forums.

New mobile food cart businesses need to get exposure to their brand and products as fast and cost-effective as possible. Joining the vendor list at local events like farmer’s markets, fairs, and festivals is an excellent way to get early exposure and sales. Participating in local events is a great way to get featured on more established social media pages and promotion sites. These events also allow food cart owners to meet and network with fellow street food cart vendors in the area who know their way around the local scene, which is invaluable.

How to sell street food

Ferla Bikes Love: User Reviews that Win Hearts

“I was quite impressed with the customer service. I called in just to ask a few questions and Steven handled my call with expertise and in a friendly manner (no rush), this is a company I can trust. The support really gave me relief! The only thing I can suggest is to have extra bike accessories ready to ship. I’ll be glad to continue to with my purchases of my very own Ferla X soon. Can’t wait to launch my business.”

— Prince Awhaitey    ★★★★★

“I am a small business owner and currently own the Ferla Glacier X. We’ve had our bike for over 2 years now and just recently needed a replacement part. Steven at Ferla was efficient in helping get the part to me in time for my next event. Someone from the Ferla team went out of their way to hand deliver it to UPS and ship it over night. I appreciate the great communication and timeliness of this matter. Without their help I would’ve lost out on all of that weekends revenue.”

— Taylor Tinsley    ★★★★★

A few reviews from instagram:

          View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by BRAVO TOAST (@bravo.toast)
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Benefits of Ferla Food Carts and Bikes

As discussed above, finding top-quality equipment is one of the best investments a new street food stand can make. Ferla carts are not only the most innovative, technologically advanced, sustainable options for sale on the market but are also affordable and offer a variety of benefits, including: 

  • Temperature Controlled Battery-Operated Freezers
  • Draft Or Ice Cream Dispensers
  • Light And Flexible Solar Panel Systems 
  • Pedal Assist
  • Extendable Counter Spaces
  • Customizable Grills
  • Customizable Coffee Brew Set Ups
  • All Terrain Tires
  • Extensive Storage Space Options

At Ferla, we understand what mobile food businesses need and support them with our customizable food carts and bikes. No matter what street food stand is vending, Ferla will work with a company to create a unique cart that will fulfill every need for many years.  

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Food Truck Marketing: 5 Easy Ideas to Try

May 19, 2022

Food trucks face unique marketing challenges — but also have unique opportunities. Here’s how every food truck can get the word out.

Food trucks were an unstoppable force. They seemed to be at every office parking lot, every city park, every brewery and every event venue. In 2019, the food truck market was valued at north of  $1.2 billion . Food trucks amassed a fascinated following, with some restaurants building a loyal group of diners who would track the truck’s attendance at certain events and mark its next arrival date in their neighborhood on their calendar. 

And then the pandemic hit. 

In 2020, the food truck market dropped by an estimated $100 million from the previous year as offices were emptied and events were canceled. Thankfully, the business rebounded in 2021, and the market size is  projected to reach  (if not exceed) pre-pandemic levels in 2022.

While this resurgence on its own is great for food truck businesses, there’s still plenty of work to be done by these on-the-go eateries. There are more than  35,000 food trucks  in the nation, and they’re often in groups of two or more in close proximity when operating at specific events. 

That’s why  food truck marketing  has arguably never been more important. Food trucks have a unique opportunity to capitalize on this re-emerging interest to build an engaged following. Here are five concrete food truck marketing ideas to implement in a  restaurant’s marketing plan .

How to Market a Food Truck

1. drive traffic to a beautiful, optimized website.

A website is a restaurant's digital front door, so it's crucial for food trucks to build and  maintain an optimized web presence . The ultimate first impression for guests who haven’t visited the truck, a website should use a combination of photography and brand design to sell them on the food, along with information and commerce tools to make ordering easy. 

Once a food truck has this, it can use the website as a link destination across marketing channels — and trust that the website will help turn those clicks into customers. However, an optimized website should also have  SEO tools  that aid with organic discoverability. That way, it's not just the restaurant driving traffic to the website; it's people coming directly from local Google searches. Example:  The Bacon Truck

marketing plan for a food cart business

The Bacon Truck’s website works on every level. As soon as the page loads, visitors are greeted with a carousel of images of the food truck’s design and the food it serves, enticing them to learn more or order. The design is meticulously on-brand — and fittingly pink to match with its porky mascot.

More than that, The Bacon Truck's website promotes all of its trucks and locations, including brick-and-mortar stores. Its most important calls-to-action are clear so that visitors can see where the truck is located, sign up for the email list and order directly through the website. Other links point to whatever someone on the website might need: menus, social media pages, careers and even catering info. Best Practice: Promote and Accept Private Event Inquiries

If you're running a food truck, you're likely counting on large catering orders and private events to drive revenue. While some guests may be willing to send an email or call a phone number, many guests prefer — or require — the ability to submit inquiries online. To meet that demand, your website should have a landing page that details how these arrangements work and captures private inquiries with  restaurant event software . This is another thing  The Bacon Truck's website does well .


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2. Re-Engage Diners With Email Marketing

If your website has direct online ordering or direct online catering, you'll start to capture more than sales. You'll also capture email addresses, which are one of the most valuable commodities in restaurant marketing. The ability to own this data, rather than allowing third-party marketplaces to own it, is a major benefit to direct ordering. Food trucks can use email marketing to re-engage past diners and increase the lifetime value of each customer. Example:  Boxcar Burgers

marketing plan for a food cart business

Boxcar Burgers, a food truck in Maryland, sends emails to thousands of customers after they order. With  BentoBox Automated Marketing Campaigns , it automatically sends a "welcome email" to new diners and a 10% promo code to lapsed diners who haven't ordered for 30 days. 

The "it's been 30 days" email in particular is a revenue-driver. The email template captures attention with authentic photography, then uses bold text to make the 10% off discount hard to miss. Everyone who receives this email has gone 30 days without ordering — but despite that,  nearly half  of diners who receive this email open it. Another BentoBox customer,  Dough Artisan Pizza , drives $96 in revenue every time a customer clicks on its $5 off email. That's how powerful email marketing can be.

Best Practice: Use Automated Email Software

Creating an email strategy, manually segmenting email lists and sending timely emails takes time that food truck operators don't have. Automated email software allows them to set up the strategy once, then have their website do all the work that follows. The website will log the date of the customer's first order, then send promotions and discounts based on how long it's been since that date. As the  restaurant industry staffing shortage  continues, efficient solutions like this become even more essential.

3. Promote Upcoming Appearances on Social Media

Diners follow restaurants to see not only food pics, but also to see if the restaurant has any upcoming deals or events. That second point is arguably most important for food trucks, which operate — by nature — at a different open market, concert or brewery every time they open up shop. Promoting upcoming service at these venues helps generate buzz and get more people interested in not just the truck’s food, but where they’ll be able to eat it. 

Example:  Disco Cheetah

marketing plan for a food cart business

Disco Cheetah’s  Instagram profile  is filled with essential content like videos, food pics and shots of happy customers. However, what’s really eye-catching is the branded template it uses to announce upcoming venues, as seen in the example above. There’s a clear call-to-action telling followers to mark their calendars. The description also calls out what people can expect from the event, plus when and where it's happening. Designing templates like this, then adjusting them for every new event, is a simple and easy way to spread the word on followers’ social media feeds.  Best Practice: Follow the 80/20 Rule

If a food truck’s entire social media profile is announcements of upcoming venues, it will struggle to grow a large, engaged following. After all, if someone wants to see an events calendar, they can simply check the food truck’s website. To keep follower numbers high, but also not miss out on exposure, follow the  80/20 rule  of social media posting. This means that 80% of content should be entertaining (eye-catching food visuals, videos of happy customers, etc.), while 20% should promote upcoming venues and other aspects of the truck.


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4. Create Short, Vertical Social Media Videos

On social media, videos work even better than static images. This has been true for several years now, but the trend is actually growing in size and scope. Short, vertical videos in particular have become the predominant way many internet users consume content. The  historically fast rise of TikTok , which was built on these videos, is a testament to this idea.

While videos can be published as regular posts on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, they can also be made as Stories on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. With a 24-hour lifespan, Stories are perfect for publishing videos "day of" videos from the food truck's venue, including the lines of guests and a look at what’s cooking to stir up more hype. Example:  Soulfly Chicken

marketing plan for a food cart business

Soulfly Chicken uploads frequent Instagram Reels, which are essentially Instagram's version of short, vertical, TikTok-style videos. These posts appear in the News Feed but also get housed in the "Reels" tab on Soulfly's page. 

Soulfly's Instagram videos accomplish a lot in a short span of time. For example,  this video  covers one of its daily events with quick shots of its truck design, comfort food fix-ins and customers grabbing food to go. It promotes every aspect of the event in a single  Instagram Reel , along with details of where and when the event is occurring. This shows fans and followers so much more than a static image of chicken wings. Best Practice: Emphasize the First Three Seconds

Video drop-off rates  are real. If you don't command a user's attention quickly, they can — and will — scroll to the next piece of content. Because of this, the first three seconds of your video should contain your most "thumb-stopping" footage. Don't save your big dish reveal for the end of a 15-second video; preview it at the beginning, and then show how it all comes together.

Read more: How to Use TikTok for Restaurant Marketing

5. Use Sticky, Memorable Brand Elements

Food trucks face the threat of being fleeting, as they often have no set location and can struggle with long-term recognition. That’s why it’s crucial to nail down and emphasize the food truck’s brand at every interaction with diners. This includes making a unique  food truck logo  (and putting it on  restaurant packaging ), as well as selling restaurant merchandise for a lasting impression. You don't want to be "that awesome food truck we ate from at the brewery last weekend." If the food was memorable, your brand should be remembered. Example:  Moyzilla

marketing plan for a food cart business

Moyzilla is known in the Boston area for its logo, which features a dumpling-hungry giant lizard. The image is iconic because it’s prominently featured on Moyzilla's truck, but also because it’s used heavily in other promotional material. In the Instagram post above, for example, the mascot is holding bubble tea, highlighting its availability for the summer season. Disco Cheetah doesn't use its mascot in quite the same way, but it still creates and highlights sticky brand elements. The first thing guests see  on its website  is the groovy, multicolored spiral design from its food truck. This helps build brand cohesion and makes guests more likely to notice the truck in the wild. Best Practice: Promote and Sell Merch Online  Even if diners don’t spring for a t-shirt or bottle of signature sauce the day they visit, they may in the future. Holidays, birthdays and other big occasions also encourage people to brainstorm ideas for gifts and buy them online. If you're investing in your brand and  selling restaurant merchandise , promoting it online is a no-brainer. The global rise of e-commerce has made people extremely comfortable buying goods on the internet; as long as you make the checkout experience easy for them, there's value in driving people to those pages.

Get Started with Food Truck Marketing

Food trucks face unique challenges and opportunities that their brick-and-mortar counterparts don’t, which means they face a unique marketing landscape.

Mastering social media, communicating the truck’s venue calendar and expanding into catering are just a few ways to keep a food truck on a road to success — and it all ties back to a food truck’s website. 

A website links out to social media pages, specifies where the truck can be found and makes ordering food, catering and merchandise simple. If you haven’t already, learn more about how the  BentoBox Marketing & Commerce Platform  can help a food truck thrive.


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marketing plan for a food cart business

MSU Extension Product Center

How to start a food truck business.

Food truck owner speaking with two customers sitting at picnic table in front of food truck.

Course Overview

This course was designed for entrepreneurs considering starting a food truck or mobile food business in Michigan. Each module walks through the process of developing a business plan based on SCORE’s business plan template, developing a menu, selecting a food truck, trailer, or cart, writing a marketing plan and identifying your target customers and competitors as well as Michigan’s Mobile Unit and STFU licensing processes.

This is a free, self-paced course developed by  Michigan State University (MSU) Extension and the MSU Product Center  in partnership with the Grand Rapids Food Truck Association, GROW, Prep Space and the Kent County Health Department. To earn a certificate of completion, participants must earn a 100% score on all nine quizzes (each quiz can be taken up to three times).

This course will take approximately four to ten hours to complete. The end result will be a completed business plan and the knowledge to initiate the licensing process for a mobile food business in Michigan. If you wish to have an  MSU Product Center Innovation Counselor and/or Grand Rapids Food Truck Association member review your business plan, that is an option. More information can be found in the course materials.

Course Format

Self-paced Course

Register (follow the three steps below)

STEP #1:  Create your Michigan State University Guest Account by selecting the  Create Your MSU Guest Account button  below. (For detailed instructions visit the following web page:  Instructions: Creating Your Guest Account .) Once you have created your guest account, close your browser and return back to this page.

Create Your MSU Guest Account

STEP #2:  Click on the button below to login to the registration system with your Guest Account (your email) and Password. Upon registration you will receive an email with instruction on how to login to the course.

Register For The How to Start a Food Truck Business Course

STEP #3:  Once you are registered you may login to the course.

Login To The Course

More Information

For more information, please contact Kendra Wills at [email protected] .

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If you have any technical problems, please contact the Michigan State University IT Service Desk from 7am-12am Monday through Friday and 10am-12am on Saturday/Sunday, any day that the University is open.

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I received a “not authenticated” response when trying to login – what do I do?

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Hot Dog Cart

Back to All Business Ideas

How to Start a Hot Dog Cart

Written by: Carolyn Young

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Edited by: David Lepeska

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

Published on April 7, 2022 Updated on May 12, 2024

How to Start a Hot Dog Cart

Investment range

$8,000 - $21,000

Revenue potential

$55,000 - $182,000 p.a.

Time to build

1 – 3 months

Profit potential

$38,000 - $127,000 p.a.

Industry trend

Who hasn’t stopped at a street-side hot dog cart and enjoyed their purchase more than they expected? Those dogs are always tasty, whether in New York City or the middle of nowhere. With not much of an investment, you could start your own hot dog cart business and have fun meeting lots of new people while making good money. Best of all, demand is always strong because Americans love their hot dogs — they eat 20 billion of them each year! 

But before you get your grill on, you need to fire up your business knowledge. Luckily, this step-by-step guide has all the business advice and information you need to put you on your way to becoming a successful hot dog cart owner. 

Looking to register your business? A limited liability company (LLC) is the best legal structure for new businesses because it is fast and simple.

Form your business immediately using ZenBusiness LLC formation service or hire one of the Best LLC Services .

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons.

Starting a hot dog cart has pros and cons to consider before deciding if it’s right for you.

  • High Demand – Food trucks and carts, like a hot dog stand, are always popular
  • Flexibility – Set up shop wherever you want
  • Fun! – Meet people from all walks of life
  • Weather – Working outdoors can be tough
  • Licensing – You’ll need licenses and permits

Hot dog cart industry trends

Industry size and growth.

hot dog cart industry size and growth

There are no specific hot dog cart statistics, but they fall under the food truck industry.

  • Industry size and past growth – The US food truck industry was worth $1.2 billion in 2021 after 6.6% annual growth the previous five years.(( https://www.ibisworld.com/united-states/market-research-reports/food-trucks-industry/ ))
  • Growth forecast –   The US food truck industry is expected to modestly expand over the next five years. 
  • Number of businesses – In 2021, 32,456 food truck businesses were operating in the US. 
  • Number of people employed – In 2021, the food truck industry employed 38,064 people.

Trends and challenges

hot dog cart Trends and Challenges

Trends in the hot dog cart industry include:

  • Gourmet hot dogs are increasingly popular, with creative toppings like garlic aioli, guacamole, bleu cheese, mango salsa, and pesto.
  • Hot dogs with Japanese, Vietnamese, and Korean flavors and toppings are becoming more common. 

Challenges in the hot dog cart industry include:

  • The boom in food trucks means more competition for hot dog carts.
  • Rising prices for hot dogs and other food items is cutting into the profits of hot dog cart owners. 

How much does it cost to start a hot dog cart business?

Startup costs for a hot dog cart range from $8,000 to $21,000. The largest expenses are for the cart and the trailer. 

You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your hot dog cart business, including: 

  • Hot dog cart
  • Trailer to transport your cart

How much can you earn from a hot dog cart business?

hot dog cart earnings forecast

Prices range from $2 to $3 for a standard hot dog to maybe $10 for a gourmet dog. You can also sell beverages and side items like chips. These calculations will assume that your average sale per person will be $5. Your profit margin after food costs should be about 70%. 

In your first year or two, you could have 30 customers a day, bringing in nearly $55,000 in annual revenue. This would mean $38,000 in profit, assuming that 70% margin. As your business gains traction, you could have 100 customers a day. With annual revenue of $182,000, you’d make a tidy profit of $127,000.

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entry for a hot dog cart. Your biggest challenges will be:

  • The startup costs of a cart and trailer
  • Competing with popular food trucks and food vendors

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Step 2: hone your idea.

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a hot dog cart, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market. 

Market research will give you the upper hand, even if you’re already positive that you have a perfect product or service. Conducting market research is important, because it can help you understand your customers better, who your competitors are, and your business landscape.

Why? Identify an opportunity

Research hot dog carts in your area to examine their products, price points, and what sells best. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a gourmet hot dog cart or a cart that offers vegan and vegetarian dogs. 

marketing plan for a food cart business

You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry, such as adding sausages or jumbo hot dogs.

This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away. 

What? Determine your products and menu

You’ll need to make a menu for your food truck. If you start a gourmet hot dog cart, you’ll need to come up with some unique recipes. You can also offer side dishes and beverages.

How much should you charge for hot dogs?

You should check prices in your area to make sure you’re competitive, but a basic hot dog sells for an average of $2.50 while a gourmet hot dog sells for $8 to $10. You should aim for a profit margin of about 70%.

Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

Your target market will be broad, so you should spread out your marketing to include TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Where? Choose your hot dog cart location

The location of your hot dog cart can make or break your business. Look for a spot in a high-traffic area with good foot traffic, such as a busy sidewalk, popular event venue, or commercial district. Consider accessibility and convenience, ensuring that the location is easily reachable by foot or public transportation.

Additionally, assess the competition in the area and aim to differentiate your hot dog cart by offering unique toppings, sauces, or seasonal specials. By strategically choosing the right location, you can establish a profitable and popular hot dog cart that offers delicious and memorable food options and stands out in the competitive street food industry.

hot dog cart idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Hot Dog Business Name

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better 
  • Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “hot dog cart” or “gourmet hot dogs”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “The Rolling Wiener” over “Gourmet Dog Cart”
  • A location-based name can help establish a strong connection with your local community and help with the SEO but might hinder future expansion

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. 

Find a Domain

Powered by GoDaddy.com

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.

Step 4: Create a Hot Dog Cart Business Plan

Here are the key components of a business plan:

what to include in a business plan

  • Executive Summary: A concise summary highlighting the key points of the hot dog cart business plan, including its mission, goals, and potential for success.
  • Business Overview: An overview of the hot dog cart business, outlining its purpose, target market, and unique selling points.
  • Product and Services: Clearly defined details about the hot dog cart’s menu, pricing, and any additional services offered, emphasizing what sets it apart.
  • Market Analysis: A comprehensive analysis of the target market, including demographics, trends, and potential customer needs, to justify the business’s viability.
  • Competitive Analysis: An examination of competitors in the local area, evaluating strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities to position the hot dog cart effectively.
  • Sales and Marketing: Strategies to promote and sell the hot dog cart’s products, encompassing advertising, promotions, and customer engagement.
  • Management Team: An introduction to the individuals responsible for running the hot dog cart business, highlighting their skills and roles.
  • Operations Plan: Detailed information on the day-to-day operations of the hot dog cart, covering location, equipment, supply chain, and staffing requirements.
  • Financial Plan: A comprehensive overview of the hot dog cart’s financial projections, including startup costs, revenue forecasts, and break-even analysis.
  • Appendix: Additional supporting documents or information that reinforces key points in the business plan, such as permits, licenses, or market research data.

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business! 

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you’re planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to hot dog carts. 

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state. 

Choose your business structure

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your hot dog cart will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely. 

Here are the main options:

types of business structures

  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC , which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization , and answer any questions you might have.

Form Your LLC

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marketing plan for a food cart business

Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number , or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN. 

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

marketing plan for a food cart business

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist , and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you’re completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

types of business financing

  • Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan .
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best option, other than friends and family, for funding a hot dog cart business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept. 

Step 8: Apply for Hot Dog Cart Business Licenses and Permits

Starting a hot dog cart business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

Your local governments will probably require a food service license and a food handler’s permit. Check with your local governments for requirements.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ( OSHA ), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits. 

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package . They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account .

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your hot dog cart business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account. 

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of the above insurance types.

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business. 

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks. 

You may want to use industry-specific software, such as Talech , tripleseat , or SpotOn , to manage your locations, inventory, and payments. 

  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks , Freshbooks , and Xero . 
  • If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial. 

Develop your website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism.

You can create your own website using website builders . This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization ( SEO ) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google. 

Here are some powerful marketing strategies for your hot dog cart business:

  • Professional Branding — Design a visually appealing cart with a catchy name and memorable logo to convey fun, flavor, and accessibility.
  • Local SEO and Online Presence — Register your business on Google My Business and Yelp to enhance local search visibility and help customers find your location easily on Google Maps.
  • Social Media Engagement — Actively use Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to post updates about your location, share enticing images of your hot dogs, and promote daily specials. Engage with customers by responding to their feedback and featuring user-generated content.
  • Content Marketing — Start a food blog or create social media content discussing the art of hot dog preparation, the story behind your business, and your experiences as a street food vendor. Use polls and interactive content to involve your audience in decisions like new toppings or menu items.
  • Direct Outreach and Networking — Network with local businesses and community groups to find opportunities for setting up your cart at events, festivals, and busy areas. Collaborate with local businesses for mutual promotions.
  • Experiential Marketing — Regularly participate in local events, food festivals, and markets to increase exposure, attract new customers, and integrate your business into the community.
  • Partnerships and Local Sourcing — Forge partnerships with local suppliers like butchers or bakers to ensure your ingredients are high-quality and fresh, highlighting this as a selling point to customers.
  • Community Engagement — Take part in community events or charity functions, offering your services to boost visibility and contribute to local causes, enhancing your community image.
  • Customer Loyalty Programs — Implement a loyalty program that rewards customers with discounts or a free hot dog after a certain number of purchases. Offer special discounts to repeat customers to foster loyalty.
  • Local Advertising — Advertise in local newspapers, on community bulletin boards, and in online community groups to promote your location and special events or promotions.
  • Themed Promotions — Develop themed promotions tied to holidays, local events, or sports games to draw in customers and create a festive atmosphere around your cart.

Focus on USPs

unique selling proposition

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your hot dog cart meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire. 

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your hot dog cart business could be: 

  • Quick, tasty lunch at an affordable price!
  • Gourmet hot dogs to tempt your tastebuds
  • Asian-inspired hot dogs – bite into life!

You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a hot dog cart business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in food trucks for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections. 

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in food carts. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. 

Step 12: Build Your Team

If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a hot dog cart business include:

  • Hot Dog Cart Workers – make hot dogs, customer service
  • General Manager – staff management, ordering, accounting
  • Marketing Lead – SEO strategies, social media

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need. 

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed , Glassdoor , or ZipRecruiter . Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent. 

Step 13: Run a Hot Dog Cart – Start Making Money!

Does a hot dog cart business sound like fun? It can be, and it can also make good money. You just need to make an initial investment in the cart and trailer, and you’re in business. Find good locations for your cart and deliver quality service and a good product, and you’ll soon have customers lining up around the block.  

You’ve done your homework now, so go ahead and find that hot dog cart and start grilling up some profits!

  • Hot Dog Cart Business FAQs

Yes, your overhead will be fairly low, so you’ll keep a large percentage of what you bring in. You’ll just need a high-traffic location, quality service and good products, and you can succeed.

It is difficult to determine which city consumes the most hot dogs, as data on hot dog consumption is not regularly tracked. However, some cities that are known for their love of hot dogs include Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles.

The largest hot dog chain in the world is likely 7-Eleven, which operates more than 60,000 convenience stores in 17 countries and sells millions of hot dogs each year. Other large hot dog chains include Sonic, Nathan’s Famous, and Wienerschnitzel.

To differentiate your hot dog cart business from competitors, you can focus on offering unique and high-quality products that stand out from standard hot dog carts. This can include using high-quality ingredients and locally sourced products, offering a variety of toppings and sauces, or creating signature menu items that reflect your brand and style. 

To ensure the safety and quality of your products, it is important to follow all local health and safety regulations for food handling, preparation, and storage. This may include obtaining any necessary permits or licenses, conducting regular inspections of your equipment and workspace, and ensuring that all food is cooked and stored at safe temperatures.

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  • Decide if the Business Is Right for You
  • Hone Your Idea
  • Brainstorm a Hot Dog Business Name
  • Create a Hot Dog Cart Business Plan
  • Register Your Business
  • Register for Taxes
  • Fund your Business
  • Apply for Hot Dog Cart Business Licenses and Permits
  • Open a Business Bank Account
  • Get Business Insurance
  • Prepare to Launch
  • Build Your Team
  • Run a Hot Dog Cart - Start Making Money!

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