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10 Street Food Business Ideas and How to Get Started
If you’re looking for a food business idea with small capital, street food and food trucks are the way to go. Street food businesses are growing increasingly enticing in recent years. As food trucks and creative dishes attract dozens of foodies.
Cheap, quick, and easy street foods are ideal for basically anyone looking to grab a bite. And you can profit off of that.
But getting started with your own street food business can be overwhelming, and you may not have a ton of capital to get going. If you’re looking for your own food business idea with small capital and how to start a street food business.
Keep reading because I have listed everything you need to know to get started.
How To Start A Street Food Business
Starting a street food business is ideal for people with less capital on hand because there are low costs to get it going. You don’t need a physical building and so you don’t have to pay rent, which is typically one of the most expensive parts of running a restaurant. That also makes it less risky.
On the other hand, be prepared for long hours, including many late nights and weekends, and the struggle of finding a proper location.
Step 1: Research Street Food Business
Before starting any business, it’s wise to research the demand for it in your area and how you will fund it. Don’t start a street food business without your research first.
For example, you’ll want to research answers to the following:
- How will you set up a street food business in your city; what does it take? Do you need a special license?
- What hours will get you the best use of your time?
- Who will be your target audience? Where do they go for food?
- How will you market to them?
- What is the current competition like?
Step 2: Pick from street food business ideas
The most popular street foods are hamburgers, hot dogs, ice cream, and doughnuts.
However, many food trucks are experimenting with creative food ideas and international foods. You should consider what you enjoy cooking, what will sell well in your area, and what you can get supplies for.
Also, consider foods that you can cook in large quantities and will be easy to serve on-the-go.
Here are ten street food business ideas.
Tacos are a street food favorite because they’re easy to make and easy to transport. Almost everyone loves tacos, and a taco menu would be very straightforward to create. This YouTube video will walk you through how to start a taco food truck business.
2. Ice cream
Everyone loves a good dessert! Ice cream is a traditional street food but has dozens of variations. For instance, you could try ice cream rolls, dairy-free ice cream, or even deep-fried ice cream! Check out this street food business plan for an ice cream food truck.
3. Gourmet popcorn
Gourmet popcorn is another easy-to-make, easy-to-sell street food business idea. It’s perfect for selling at large events, not very messy, and cheap to get supplies. Check out this YouTube video with ideas to get you started.
Pizza is a lucrative option for a food truck business because it’s easy to make and always delicious. Here’s a free pizza business plan template.
5. Juice and smoothies
Juice and smoothies could be a successful breakfast stand or the perfect drink for a night out. Especially as people are more health-conscious and looking to include more fruit and veggies in their diets, it could be a rewarding business. Check out this Amazon how-to guide to start a juice bar business.
Sushi is healthy and fresh and will attract foodies looking to try something different. This video can help you start your own sushi business
7. Shaved Ice
This food is a bit more seasonal, but in the summer, in hot areas, you have the potential to sell a ton of shaved ice! This youtube video can help you get started.
8. Bubble tea
Another popular drink, bubble tea has become increasingly popular in recent years. It’s very profitable since your cost of goods is so low, and it’s in high demand.
9. French fries
French fries can be served plain or topped with dozens of different toppings. They are pretty cheap to source, too!
Burgers are a classic choice and will appeal to a wide audience. You can switch them up by offering vegan and gluten-free options as well. There might be some strong competition for burgers, but if you find a strong brand and type you can stand out.
Step 3: Create a street food business plan
Starting a street food business is a lucrative enterprise, with low start-up costs and potential for high revenue. Food trucks are the perfect food business idea with small capital, but you still need to make a plan before you start especially considering how competitive the market is.
Determine any legal requirements.
The first thing to do when creating your street food business plan is to determine any legal requirements, permits and licenses you need. The actual requirements will vary depending on your location, so it’s impossible to list the exact requirements for every state and city.
But the best way to know what legal requirements you have are to contact your local Health Department and your city hall or county clerk’s office.
Make sure to ask your Health Department the following questions:
- What licenses and permits are required for the types of food you’re selling, and how it will be prepared.
- What your city street food vendor regulations are.
- What food handling courses are required.
- What inspections or approvals are needed for your equipment.
You might need to get your food truck inspected annually to keep up with permits. Bonus tip: selling prepackaged foods might be easier than cooking foods in your truck, and you may run into fewer regulations.
Ask these questions at city hall/the county clerk’s office:
- How do I apply for a business license?
- What do I need to do to get a state sales tax permit?
- Where do I register my food truck or food cart?
Create a budget
Plan ahead to know what you need to purchase to get started, including food, your vehicle, and potential employees. Also include in your budget for some initial marketing activities so you can get people to your cart!
Then, plan for income. What will you charge for each item on your menu? Will you offer discounts to attract people initially? Also, consider the timing of your cash flow and how soon you need to pay for expenses versus how soon you will have income.
Here are some estimated expenses to help you start your street food business plan (note that your equipment, truck or cart, is the largest expense):
|Food cart/Food truck||$3,000 – $70,000|
|Initial ingredients||$500 – $1,000|
|Permits and licenses||$400 – $1,000|
|Marketing||$500 – $1,000|
|Total||$5,400 – $74,00|
Design a menu, logo and branding guidelines.
Now’s the creative part. What will you name the business? To help you out with the name of your street food business name, I have listed “100 of the Best and Clever Food Truck Name Ideas, which will have crowds of people running to your truck.
What is your mission statement? And what colors/themes will represent your brand? If branding and marketing aren’t your fortes, you may consider outsourcing help from a freelancer or marketing agency.
Make a marketing plan.
Will you post photos of your scrumptious dishes on Instagram? Put photos on Pinterest? Or share how-to recipe tips on Tik Tok? Whatever you decide to do, make sure your marketing efforts are targeted at your key audience.
Besides social media, you should also consider hosting a website, sending email marketing, and potentially running paid ads if you have the budget for it. Hosting a website is quite affordable, and can be done for less than 5.00 per month.
Decide where to park your food truck.
Location is everything when deciding how to start a street food business.
Here are a few ideas of popular places to park a food truck:
- Parking lots
- Shopping malls
- Tourist locations
- Sports stadiums/fields
- College campuses
- Bus and train stations
Additionally, there could be large events in your area like conferences, conventions, weddings and you might be able to park your street food truck nearby to capitalize on those events.
However, make sure you have the required licenses and permits to park and sell in these locations.
Finding quality ingredients can affect the quality of your food and your ability to attract repeat customers. Check for local farmer’s markets, food manufactures and local suppliers to find supplies for your street food business.
Pros & Cons of Starting a Street Food Business
There are tons of benefits to starting a food truck business, but it’s not all easy. Here are the most common pros and cons of having your own food truck business.
- Can start with low capital
- Don’t need a physical location
- No rental contract
- Less risk than a traditional restaurant
- Can set your own hours
- Street food is growing in popularity
- Can be your own boss
- Long hours and need to work weekends
- Lots of competition
- Must remain compliant with regulations and food licenses
- Self-employment can have less stability
- Finding a location to set up
- You have to work in a small space
- Every city is different – if you move it could affect your business
Get Started With Your Own Street Food Business
A street food business can bring in plenty of revenue if you have a solid street food business plan. Food trucks and food carts are the ideal food business idea with small capital.
This article covered everything you need to know about how to start a street food business. So, which of these street food business ideas will you start with?