5 tips for starting your own Street Food Business

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Mike Hardman is from leading independent catering and kitchen equipment supplier, Alliance Online. Here, he explains how you can get started with your very own street food business.

It’s no secret that Brits love eating out, with figures from Barclaycard reporting a 9.7 per cent increase in the amount spent in restaurants for June this year: the largest increase since July 2017. Research like this suggests increasing UK demand for eateries like restaurants, cafés and street food vendors — with the latter being the easier and cheaper industry to get into.

So, if you want to turn your passion for cooking into a full-time job, read on to discover my top five tips for starting up your own street food business.

 

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Where do I start?

Getting your business off the ground can seem daunting, but it’s not nearly as complicated as people think! However, you must be well-educated about the industry you’re entering. 

Start by enrolling on an online course, like the NCASS street food training course, for information and advice on how to set up your business and deal with any potential pitfalls. This will also cover topics like legal requirements, finances and equipment, so you can feel confident going into your exciting new venture!

At the heart of street food is portability, with many vendors opting for gazebos, caravans or trailers. So, consider the logistics and storage space you have for these, as well as what you can afford initially. A report from NCASS showed that a market stall can be bought for approximately £3,000, whereas a new food truck will be significantly more. Remember, you can always upgrade once you become better established and start turning a profit. 

 

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How can I make myself stand out?

With the street food trade becoming increasingly popular, you’ll need to give yourself a unique selling point (USP). Dishes with original touches are a hit with customers, with a survey by Eventbrite finding that 84% of respondents claimed a niche menu or theme was make-or-break.

Adding a unique twist to an already popular dish or cuisine will entice people’s curiosity and make you stand out from the crowd, attracting larger volumes of consumers. Distinguishing your business from others is important, so if you’re struggling with where to start, take a look at our guide to defining your brand identity.

Using inspiration from things you see on social media can also help. While many of us are greeted with videos of mouth-watering desserts and dishes daily, they’re usually creations from outside of the UK, so why not use this to your advantage? If the demand is there, act on it!

 

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Where can I pitch to sell?

Start small by contacting local food festivals and street food markets to find out whether they have any available spaces. The general rule of thumb is that the earlier you contact the organiser, the more likely you are to get a pitch.

When applying for a catering pitch, you’ll need to fill out an online application form on the organiser’s site. Initially, they’ll be looking for personal details like your contact email, address and phone number, as well as the type of food you sell, the dimensions of your stall, and maybe even a few images of it.

They’ll also need proof of your food license and any food hygiene certificates, so make sure you store these in a safe place once you’re awarded them.

 

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How will I know what to charge?

How much you can charge will depend on the wealth of the area you’re operating in, as well as the pricing of your competitors. Creating a business plan and setting an initial budget will identify what you need to be charging per item in order to turn a profit. In general, you should be hitting a 70% yield back on your products, but as a start-up business, don’t be disheartened if this doesn’t happen instantly: experiment with your prices until you find the most suitable ones. 

 

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What are the pros and cons?

With any business venture, there will be advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to weigh these up to know whether a street food business is right for you. To help you make an informed choice, I’ve shared the major pros and cons below: 

Pros

  • You don’t need loads of capital to get started, with second-hand trailers available from under £5000.
  • You get to travel and be outdoors rather than in an office.
  • You’ll be part of an industry that looks set to expand over the next few years.
  • Renting a pitch is relatively affordable, so there’s more scope for profit.
  • You can find private work from selling at food festivals, so there’s more opportunity for profit.

Cons

  • It can take a long time to start making impressive profits, rather than being a quick financial fix.
  • It’s a competitive market, so established food markets can have long waiting lists.
  • It won’t be enough to continue to offer the same things forever: you need to always be developing your food and service to stay ahead of the competition. 

Starting up your own business can seem overwhelming and stressful, but with street vending proving so popular with customers, it’s bound to be worth it! Combine your entrepreneurial skills and your love for cooking for a fun yet profitable venture.