Food trucks are now a mainstay in many cities, but many folks remember when they were considered somewhat of a novelty. Just like that, you could easily find restaurant-quality food that went far beyond the classic hot dog cart and sidewalk pretzel stand. In reality, some version of the modern-day food truck has been around for over 100 years, from chuckwagons to ice cream trucks. Savvy entrepreneurs saw a way to reimagine this classic mobile vending strategy to meet modern palates.
It’s not just food trucks, however. Many entrepreneurs are witnessing the advantages of transferring their business ideas to wheels and a driveshaft, similar to the traveling medicine men, peddlers, and physicians of yesteryear. Others do it out of necessity, unable to find or afford a suitable physical space for their business. Whatever the motivation, starting a mobile business requires more than a driver’s license and a great idea. And if you have dreams of expanding nationally or even globally, talk to the experienced team at GSD Venture Studios.
How mobile should you be?
Your business may be mobile, but it still may not make business sense for you to try to serve beyond a certain radius from your home base. That may be determined in part by the business you’re in: A mobile veterinarian who charges more per hour plus a trip charge may find it feasible to travel several hundred miles, particularly if they can coordinate several clients within that area while they are there. On the other hand, if they are able to secure plenty of business with repeat customers within a certain range, it makes little sense to go beyond that.
Other mobile businesses are just better suited to specific demographics and regions. A mobile grocery store may be ideal for a “food desert” in which there are few healthy grocery options within walking distance, or where residents don’t have easy access to transportation, as long as the prices make sense for the potential customers. Fashion trucks and florists may easily find an audience in a metropolitan area, while a mobile gym may discover a reliable customer base in a dense commercial complex or even a construction site.
The mobile notary business is one that can easily translate to any region. Mobile notaries can easily conduct business from a fuel-efficient vehicle, and the services are in demand in rural areas and retirement communities, as well as commercial centers where those services are in frequent demand.
Whatever business you’re in, you may be able to get a feel for the demand and how far to travel by creating social media polls in specified geographic areas. Those platforms can also offer ideal opportunities to recruit your first customers by offering purchase and referral incentives and by encouraging online reviews.
Tightening the mobile nuts and bolts
Operating a mobile business may seem carefree with a rather vagabond lifestyle, but it is still a business. If you intend to rely on it for revenue generation, you need to view it through the same lens as any other business or career. One way to inject professionalism into your mobile business is through its structure. Operating as a sole proprietor, with you as an individual owner, can put your personal assets at risk. Creating a partnership, a limited liability company, or a corporation can be advantageous for many mobile businesses.
Put some thought into your business name. For food trucks, making it clear what you offer makes sense, such as “Uptown Classic Barbecue” or “Roving Ravioli.” For some businesses, you may want to incorporate your geographical service area, like “Keene County Mobile Notary Services.”
Next, make sure you have the required permits and know all applicable laws governing your business type and the geographical areas you will be serving. This is particularly true of food truck operators, as you will have local health regulations to comply with.
Once you have a business name, you should also request a separate tax ID number, or EIN, for your business. What is an EIN number? It’s a unique identifying number – an Employee Identification Number – issued to separate your business operations and finances from your personal finances. It’s simple enough to get from the IRS, and it’s a requirement if you operate under a partnership, LLC, or corporation. It also keeps your personal information, like your social security number, secure.
Finally, you’ll need someone reliable to “maintain” and service your “office” on wheels. A day without a serviceable vehicle is a day of lost business, so proper, regular maintenance and an accessible mechanic is like money in the bank! Ask your current personal mechanic if they have the bandwidth to take care of your mobile business needs and if they have the experience to work on the type of vehicle you are using. If not, ask them for a referral. You can also ask other mobile vendors with similar vehicles for recommendations.
The ultimate versatility
A mobile business can be the ideal way to easily adapt to changing circumstances. If neighborhood suitability for your business changes, it’s far easier to seek the proper permits and move to a different neighborhood than to relocate a brick-and-mortar business. You can also grow your mobile business as you would any other, whether it’s hiring other employees to operate additional trucks or growing your business into a national or global franchise. If you have big entrepreneurial dreams for your mobile business, give GSD Venture Studios a holler. We’ll keep you dreaming and dealing on wheels.