Sunday, April 14, 2013

Good Will

My business plan: blueprints and permits.
Some people have asked me if they could see my business plan, or talk to me about how to make a food truck in Pittsburgh or somewhere else. It's not so secret that I never had a formalized business plan. A friend (and food blogger) described what I did as "Jumping off the cliff and building my hang glider on the way down," which is not far from the truth.

The equation is simple, and probably universal. Think first of what you want to do and what you want to achieve with it. I love sharing food with people, and I chose tacos because I love tacos. My end goal was to leave people feeling as happy with a meal as I have in my favorite restaurants in Pittsburgh.

Look at what's being done already and immerse yourself in that. In my case, I have always eaten too much, so I could justify that as market research. Don't dive blindly into something thinking that a great idea you have will sell itself. You need to bring something new or innovative to the market. In my case, the tacos have wheels under them.

Start with good ingredients (the best you can get, or afford) whether that means food, real estate, personalities, design, or in my case an empty truck I found in Denver. It doesn't have to be the best, but it should be the best you can afford. Leave yourself enough money to survive the rainy days. 

My friend Hoon, owner of Fukuda. Photo: JW Lester.
When you do something you love, it is not work. This cliche may fall on deaf ears if you work a 50 hour a week job in a boring environment living paycheck-to-paycheck (as I did for over a decade). Motivate yourself to do something you love. Even if it's a lateral move in that direction. You're always moving, even if it doesn't feel like it, so it may as well be in a direction that benefits you. 

Even if you have no resources, think of your time as a resource, because it is. Spend your time with people who are supportive and embrace your ideas. Find people who love what they do and be around them. Treat people well and give your time to them. Don't offer something in exchange for a favor down the road. Just give of yourself, without enumeration, and the help will be there when you need it. Along the way, you will acquire skills and confidence that you did not anticipate. It just happens. 

And if you then apply these ideas to a business, it might work. You can populate spreadsheets with speculative numbers to see if something looks good on paper. But sometimes you just need to jump off that cliff with a good idea.

As a friend said to me recently: it's not about math. It's about chemistry.

And good will.

1 comment:

cattailsforlunch said...

I am one of the people who asked you about starting a food truck. I have taken small steps in the last year, but at least they are steps in the right direction. Thanks for sharing what you think leads to success.