How to Make Serious Money With Your Own Mobile Food Concession Trailer Business

The US economy is powered by the joint forces of 25 million small businesses. Over half of these enterprises are home based and they provide much needed services to their local community. The reason why entrepreneurs start a business is as varied as the types of different businesses that they choose. People start their own business as they are often tired of their current job. Many of them know that they can make more money working for themselves. Often they are looking for a new challenge, a different business field to explore or a way to change their lifestyle.

Entrepreneurs come from all walks of life. Some of them are members of minority groups, who have a hard time finding regular jobs in the traditional workplace. Some people, like senior citizens often look for part time employment opportunities to supplement their current income. Many people also start a business because they are passionate about something and have a burning desire to share their products with the world.

While the motivations to start a business vary a lot, the business goals of most Entrepreneurs are surprisingly similar. Most self employed business owners simply want to create their own job and their own income. This gives them more control over the money flowing into their lives- during good times and just as much during a Recession. Millions of Entrepreneurs have succeeded and they have done it with small budgets and by resisting the urge to expand beyond their limits.

One of the proven strategies to succeed in small business ventures is to keep the business expenses as low as possible. This is achieved by closely watching all expenses, like rent, utilities and advertising costs. But as the biggest expense is labor, it also means to keep the business size under control. Statistics show that 75% of businesses in the US are so small, that they don’t even have any employees at all! They operate out of their home to keep the overhead low and are able to scale their operation to a perfect size to meet their financial needs.

In this article I would like to present a business idea to you, that excels in all of these aspects: The Mobile Food business! It is a small, scaled down version of a restaurant that can serve hundreds of people per day. It is very flexible, has high profit margins, is based on a proven concept and can be easily managed by one person.

The profits of most small food businesses are rising- even as the recession is showing its effects on our nation! While price-conscious consumers turn away from conventional restaurants, they are taking more meals back home. Many households like to go all out on convenience foods that offer a good bang for the buck: large buckets of fried chicken, Bar-B-Q Family Feasts or even pizzas that now come in packs of four. Creatively designed coupons give suggestions like: “Buy two and get two free” or “Free Soda with all family meals”…

Food vendors are getting creative with their marketing offers and by they have a solid track record of record sales. They offer everything from gourmet coffees to wood-oven baked pizzas, Sushi, Wraps and even Lobster dinners. Mobile food restaurants are on a roll as they keep up with the trend of the time. More than that- they are bold enough to define some trends themselves, by catering towards a certain lifestyle. The ever young and active family, that lives a life on the go and never quite seems to have time…

While many businesses struggle for survival, most food businesses managed to pull through and seem to enjoy a new surge in popularity. But what is it exactly that makes the mobile food business succeed when others fail? After all, any good business opportunity has to stand up to close inspection to be considered a valid option. I will share my own observations here with you, so you can understand the potential of the mobile food business. Here are eight reasons why you should consider looking further into starting a home based concession trailer business:

1. A good business has to make sense

In the real world, the only businesses that thrive and survive are the ones that fulfill a basic need and that offer real solutions. In a mobile food business, it is very easy to see, where the money comes from and how the profits are made. It is easy to understand why people exchange the value of money for a food or drink item. You might know of some locations that have an unrealized potential that you can fulfill and take home the profits at the same time.

2. A good business should show profits

The mobile food business has a daily stream of customers that pay mostly in cash money. The profits are instant and can be realized the very first day of business! After a while you will know exactly what income potential any location or event has. Weekdays have their own earning potential as well as weekend days. This is why some Mobile Food Business Operators choose to close their businesses on Mondays and Tuesdays rather than Saturdays and Sundays.

3. A good business should be simple to operate

A mobile food business is easy to understand and you don’t need years of schooling just to open your doors. You are able to teach the procedures to part-time helpers as well. Everything you need to know can be learned in our home study course, through research online or by assisting other mobile food vendors for a few days.

4. A good business should have low startup costs

How else can you open up a “Mini Restaurant” with similar earning potential with such a low investment? Some operators have been able to start out with a monthly lease agreement of less than $300. Others are able to start even on a smaller scale: with a sales tent that is very inexpensive and a daily fee to set up on shows and festivals. There are very few other businesses that will let you operate with these startup costs! You also benefit from low operating costs as you don’t have to pay the ever increasing monthly commercial utility bills that most other restaurants have to pay! You can stay small and mobile and at the same time serve many customers per day!

5. A good business should have a high earning potential

Some Operators of simple hot dog carts can make hundreds of dollars every day at a single location! The same potential is even easier to achieve with a concession trailer and a suitable sales menu. Some weekend events can make enough money so you can afford to take off the weekdays! I can show you how you can consistently make at least $500 per day in your own BBQ Catering Trailer Business!

6. A good business should offer the potential for growth

You can easily duplicate your initial efforts by hiring a person to do the actual serving of foods and use your time to set up a second food trailer. Strategically placed they can generate huge sums of cash money and the best part is- once everything is set up- you might be able to stay at home and make money at the same time! There are many underserved niche markets like residential neighborhoods, business districts and office parks that offer great earning potential!

7. A good business should be of service

It feels good to realize what the essence of the mobile food business really is: you are in the business of feeding hungry people! You are helping all of them out. How? By making their lives easier, by saving everybody time as they don’t have to cook and pack a meal for themselves. It really is a win-win situation! Your great food items generate many happy and satisfied customers, and you make money at the same time. And the best part is: They will be back to buy more from you- again and again!

8. A good business should increase happiness

A business only really makes sense, when you are truly happy about yourself and your daily work. The Catering Trailer Business is a fun and rewarding home based business opportunity- full of daily surprises and adventures! When you are dealing with the public, they expect a little bit of entertainment and showmanship as well. Entertaining personalities do extremely well in this business field.

Whatever you do- remember that happiness is an energy that goes back and forth. The more people you can make happy, the more people will make you happy as well!

The secret word to understanding the mobile food business is: “Catering”. Once you understand the basic concept of preparing food items in one area and serving them in another, you have understood what this business is all about! Your catering trailer is simply a tool to transport your food items to your sales location and a way to serve them in style. The Concession Trailer has all the Equipment you need to cook, heat and cool your food items. Plus, it also has hot running water as well as much needed storage space.

The different menu items you can sell are amazing: From wood oven baked gourmet pizzas to hickory smoked BBQ. From New York style hot dogs to custom sausages. From hot gourmet specialty foods like kettle corn and coffees to cool ice creams, smoothies and drinks! With these selections you are sure to please a crowd and make some serious money at the same time!

From Network Marketers To Social Entrepreneurs!

The first rule to a successful Network Marketing business is to add value to people’s lives. Without value you become like the other thousand MLMers out there who want nothing more than to sell you. They don’t care whether you make it or not, they just care that they make their quota for the month. You can not be like this if you hope to start a successful Network Marketing business!

We live in a world where people try to sell us anything and everything. We are constantly bombarded with stuff that we need to buy and upgrades that we need to get, and for the most part we are suckered into such deals. However, a resentment towards such things is starting to build in the people now days. We are beginning to see how we are not treated like customers anymore, but rather greedy consumers, and maybe we are in a way greedy consumers, but we are definitely starting to wake up from our hypnotic state! No longer are we just doing things to do things. We want to feel like we did something important with the decisions we make, and we want to make a difference in people’s lives.

A new term that you will hear from us from now on is Social Entrepreneur, because it is the core of what we are and what we do. A Social Entrepreneur is a business person who constructs his business around not only adding value to people’s lives but also helping those in need. It’s sort of like a humanitarian running a business. A Social Entrepreneur fundamentally sets up every building block of his business to not only make profit but also to help people around us who are less fortunate than us. To be a Social Entrepreneur you must be able to go against the grain and reach out to those around you in everything you do.

So how is it possible to incorporate a business model with a humanitarian mind? Well, for it to be successful you must start or find a business who has the same beliefs as you do, and that might be harder than it seems.

There are very few businesses that truly care about the people around them, and even less who are willing to reach out and try to make a difference. Sure there are some who pretend to help. They go and give food and water to needy children, but you have to ask yourself are they really trying to fix the problem or are they making it worse?

If you have read any of my wife and I’s articles than you probably know by now that Malnutrition is something very serious to us. We understand how bad Malnutrition is in the world and how many people are affected by it everyday. In fact, we have built our whole businesses around fighting it, but what you probably didn’t know is that we use Social Entrepreneurship to battle it as well. We teamed up with a company that tries to fix the problem, and it definitely doesn’t send nutrition depleted, over processed, food to hungry kids We understand that giving kids food with no nutrients in it doesn’t help the problem it makes it worse! They are starving not just from a lack of food, but from a lack of the vital nutrients they need to survive, so why would we give them food that has no nutrients in it. That would be dumb of us, yet most companies today do just that.

It is time for a wake up call! We should be asking ourselves what we can do to help rather than sitting by and watching it get out of hand. People this is not just a problem overseas. It is an worldwide epidemic, and it can be fixed with a joint effort of Social Entrepreneurs just like you! You might not have ever heard of that term before, but I know that most of you are Social Entrepreneurs waiting to break out of your shells. Now is that time! Team up with us and let’s try to make a difference one person at a time!

Uplevel Your Eating As a Busy Entrepreneur

Are you the kind of entrepreneur who starts your day off with coffee, something sweet and basically continue that pattern throughout the day? If so, you’re not alone. Many entrepreneurs rely on sweets and coffee each day in order to get through their long list of “to-do’s”. I understand that your body needs energy, and I also understand what it’s like to have so much to do each day as well. Perhaps you’re even a mom who’s getting up in the middle of the night with a little one, and you’ve got your business to run in the day. You probably have a crazy workload, and you have no idea how you’ll get through your business responsibilities without your caffeine and sweet fix. Does this resonate with you?

Food is a HUGE part of overall health and wellness, and I’m sure you have already heard this before. However, no matter how forgiving your body is, you can’t run on poor quality food choices day in and day out. Eventually, your body will start giving you signals that it’s had enough. Nourishing yourself with the best quality food possible is paramount to improving your energy, clarity and focus and you need ALL of those things as a business owner. I believe that the choices we make each day in terms of the foods we eat greatly impacts the kind of entrepreneurs we are and the kind of business that we can build.

Eating healthy is an important foundational piece when it comes to growing a business. I work very closely with my clients on this part of my 6-step process to becoming a healthy and energized entrepreneur, and my clients learn how to make gradual changes that actually stick in the long-term. These healthy changes happen without diets and without any trendy eating plans, just real strategies that produce real results. The key is to create a healthy eating system that works so well for you, it becomes second nature, and you don’t even have to think about it anymore. You can actually use that time on your business rather than struggling to restore your energy levels over and over every single day. Here are some simple suggestions to get you started on “uplevelling” the way you eat:

*Find a recipe for a new veggie or fruit to try out. Look for ways to include this new veggie/fruit into your snacks or meals more often.

*Visit your local Farmer’s Market and/or produce store and stock up on some items such as baby carrots, celery, nuts or trail mix. These make nutritious and delicious snacks during the day.

*Look for healthier alternatives (ex-reduced sodium, zero trans fat, organic) when grocery shopping. Pay close attention to food labels to make sure that you’re making healthy choices.

I really want you to understand the strong connection between eating well and having what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. I support my clients with their meal-planning systems, and the confidence that comes when entrepreneurs have pre-planned their snacks and meals makes such a huge difference, not only in terms of saving time, but also in improved energy and overall well-being.

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Most new food truck owners walk into this industry with an entrepreneurial spirit, awakened because of, and in spite of, the poor economy, and more particularly, the loss of a job. Given this recession, and despite of it, we have seen a national rise in the food truck industry. This industry has given birth to creative, diverse and flavorful foods that are sweeping the country, one mile at a time.

When we think of the word ‘entrepreneur,’ we often forget that this word does not simply signify individuals that have created business ideas from scratch. Instead, entrepreneurs are business owners that have taken on forms of risk that most people are unwilling or unable to successfully manage.

This definition opens up a whole other route for aspiring food truck business owners to take on. Rather than making it necessary to suddenly become a brand-marketing expert, master chef, or creative designer, you may decide to become a food truck franchisee – which comes with most of the benefits of working in the food truck industry with less of the responsibility. It’s perfect for individuals who have little or no business background.

But how can you decide whether to be an entrepreneurial franchisee or start your own business from scratch? To put it simply, it comes down to the level of involvement you want in making decisions for your operation.

Let’s look at a list of pros and cons of joining a franchise:

Pros:

    • There are fewer up-front decisions. Within a franchise, you are given instant brand recognition. The menu, design, and name are given to you.
    • You’ll have the professional support you need. The corporate office will supply you with support and staff that can address questions and concerns. This can be especially helpful for new entrepreneurs in the mobile food industry, as they may be unfamiliar with how to deal with issues that arise.
  • You have a name. And with that name comes business. Your name is already known throughout the city, state, and, sometimes even, country.

Cons:

    • Food truck franchisees require capital – and lots of it. These ventures can run up to half a million dollars just to join them. And many times, this price tag opposes the reason that entrepreneurs are seeking to enter into this industry in the first place. After all, opening up a food truck is supposed to be much cheaper than running a brick-and-mortar restaurant, right?
    • The concept of the truck – name, menu, and design – is given to you. Just as this serves as a pro for joining a franchise, it can also be seen as a con. It allows for little creativity, which is what most entrepreneurs thrive on.
  • You’re paying fees and royalties (nonstop). Not only do you have to pay for the rights to the franchise, but you are also expected to pay royalties in most cases.

So, what will you decide? Maintain an open mind and make strategic decisions that are in line with your personality and desires. Opening any food truck business – whether it’s a franchise or a truck from scratch – is a long-term decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Unemployed Become Self-Employed in Food Concession Business With Help From New Book

While the economic recovery continues to deliver mixed signals many frustrated job seekers are becoming self-employed in the food concession business with help from a new book.

Twenty six years ago the author of the book was a single parent. She was also a high school drop-out with a minimum wage job. Today she is a nationally recognized expert in the mobile food business: a unique line of work that has recently gained national attention as a viable solution to unemployment. Now, with the release of the second edition of her book, Food Booth, The Entrepreneur’s Complete Guide to the Food Concession Business, author Barb Fitzgerald brings to life the refreshingly unconventional business of selling food from a food booth at fairs, festivals and special events.

The release of Food Booth is timely as the mobile food service business has recently gained popularity with frustrated job seekers. With the national average unemployment rate stalled at over nine percent many people have abandoned their job search and turned, instead, to self-employment. However, for many people struggling to stretch their limited bank account finding the right opportunity as well as risking the grub stake needed to start a venture is both challenging and frightening. Further, even during a healthy economy those people who are under-educated, disabled, over-aged, or are ex-convicts can find the job search particularly difficult. Now, with the class of job seekers ballooning to include nearly everyone, viable money-making opportunities are in high demand.

In her book Fitzgerald illustrates how starting a mobile food service business is one possible solution for nearly anyone seeking self-employment. The increasing popularity of this unique business is understandable. It provides cash income with minimal start-up costs and opportunity for a relatively high return. And, being one of very few business ventures that doesn’t first require a college degree or prior experience makes self-employment possible for people who normally would not consider themselves entrepreneurs. And, perhaps even more important to the recently laid off, it is a business that is recession sturdy because people always need to eat.

Fitzgerald herself can attest to the viability of the concession business as a legitimate entrepreneur opportunity. She started her concession business with no more than spare change. Over the years she went on to build it into a successful seasonally run small business that, during the three to four month concession season, earns well over triple her annual minimum wage. However, “The food concession business is not a get-rich-with-no-money down fantasy”, asserts Fitzgerald. “Nor is it as easy as it may appear”. A lack of adequate concession start-up information is one reason the typical concession start-up fails. The long learning curve required by many un-seasoned concessionaires can undermine any financial gain that otherwise could have been achieved. Nonetheless, it’s not surprising that many out-of-work entrepreneurs find the possible benefits far out-weigh the risks of continuing down their current path of unemployment.

Today, selling food at special events, such as fairs and festivals, or from a permanently located food stand requires business moxie, as well as strict adherence to the procedures of conducting due diligence, planning, licensing, and marketing. Food Booth shines a light on all the important aspects of being a concessionaire. Whereas most business start-up books only tell readers “what to do,” Food Booth also addresses the how and the why. Fitzgerald divulges expertise from more than twenty-six years of food concession business experience, including insights gained by co-chairing a position on the Oregon Food Services Advisory Board and founding the Northwest Vendors Network Association. As Fitzgerald observes, “I believe people are more healthy and happy if they move away from wage-earning dependency toward an economy where people have the opportunity to be responsible for producing their own income.” Food Booth, The Entrepreneur’s Complete Guide to the Food Concession Business, is just the comprehensive how-to guide one needs to produce an independent income.

A Taste of Home Sweets Home

Sweet Dream Begins

“I both gave birth to my second child Alvin and the candy making business twenty seven years ago.”
Successfully rearing both the Patigayon children and managing her home-based business was quite a “sweet delight” for an entrepreneur awardee, Mrs. Fe I. Patigayon of Jade Food Products of Brgy. Sumilihon, Butuan City, Agusan Del Norte, Caraga Region, Philippines.

“Manang Fe” Patigayon (as she is fondly called), manager and a mother of five; Joselito, 29; Alvin, 27; Julie Ann, 19; Joe Fe, 17 and Jade, 10 years old humbly shared how her “binangkal making” career in Manila during the early 80’s gave birth to her multi-million worth of candy manufacturing business today-two decades of experience that brought delight not only to her but the children who loves the delicacies of Jade Food Products.

‘Binangkal’ Maker

“Linya na nako ang pagluto ug sweets, binkga, bud-bod ug uban pa. Ako’y nakasunod sa iyang skill” (It has been our family’s’ passion to cook rice cakes and delicacies. I was the one who followed the footsteps of my mom who was very skilled in cooking native delicacies).

Manang Fe, in her early 50s recollected how she got associated with the “sweets” industry. “Binangkal” maker (local muffin-like delicacy coated with sesame seeds which is a popular delicacy in the Visayas and Mindanao regions) ko niadto sa Manila. Nagsugod ko ug helper sa pagluto, peddling ug mag ‘back ride” pa sa motor sa akong amo niadto. Nainteresado ko nga nindot man diay na nga negosyo” (I was a ‘binangkal’ (a dip-fried round bread coated with sesame seeds) maker in Manila. I started as a helper and peddled the bread back-riding on a motorbike with my employer everyday. Then I became interested with the business and thought that the business was good).

Love Is Sweeter

A year after Fe’s career as a ‘binangkal’ maker and delivery assistant, she went back to the province and met Joe Patigayon, a candy factory worker in Talamban, Cebu City. After series of ‘sweet’ courtship and finally ended in marriage, the couple decided to migrate and settled in Brgy. Tagabaca, Butuan City, Agusan Del Norte in the Northern Mindanao, where their five children grew up. Since Brgy. Tagabaca relied more on agriculture, Manang Fe ventured into farming to support the family’s needs. However, since the needs began to grow and her desire to be an entrepreneur grew intensely as well, she then thought of going back to creating sweets and delicacies as an alternative livelihood to augment the family’s income.

Thousand Peso Capital

“Kami lang duha sa husband ko sa pagsugod sa negosyo. One thousand pesos lang amo puhunan niadtong 1982 ug wala pa’y buwan ako anak na si Alvin” (My husband and I started with just a thousand peso capital last 1982 when my son Alvin was barely a month-old). It was in Langihan (Salvador Calo Public Market), Butuan City where she first sold her goods in wholesale price to different retail stores. After years of supplying and doing business in Langihan and with a sizable number of “sukis” (valued customers) Jade Food Products became a by-word in the local market.

As the business grew, Manang Fe decided to generously hand-over her Langihan “sukis” to one of her valued clients who eventually became a distributor of Jade Food Products herself. When asked why she needed to turn over her valued customers to other entrepreneurs, she just smiled and said, “Gipabor nako sa iya ka’y naluoy man ko. Hinuon na-a pa man ko’y nabilin. Ang resulta, nahimo nu-on nako sila nga mga distributors.” (I gave my valued customer the opportunity to have the distributorship business. In return, it gave me even more distributors).

Meager Capital

“Pangitaan nako ug paagi nga makaya ra nila (customers) ug palit ako baligya. Pang-masa ug tag piso-piso ra.” From the “piso-piso” (a peso worth of candy) of Jade Food Products, Manang Fe was able to send her children to school until her eldest son Joselito graduated from college and is now helping the business as the company’s Assistant General Manger and in charge of the operations. Joselito not only manages the company’s operations but also runs the motor pool and equipment maintenance of their service-delivery vehicles. Jade Foods “presyong masa” (mass-based price) really paved the way to support the family’s needs for education and support to the Patigayon children. Truly, Manang Fe not only raised a home-based business but the enterprise produced fruits of prolific children as well.

Maternal-Approach Business Model

“Gibalayan gyud nako…” (I provided housing assistance to them) (as Manang Fe was referring to one of her loyal employees). “Makatabang ko, mabuhi ko, mabuhi pud sila” (I can help, I live and they will live as well). Dili nako gustong sulohon ang tanan” (I don’t want to grab everything), she humbly answered.

As a mother, Manang Fe can’t help but think beyond how she can care for her employees especially those who have been working with them for some time and helped her walked the road to a successful enterprise.

With a handful number of full-time and part-time workers (re-packers), Manang Fe does not only pay their salaries but also provided non-wage benefits such as providing them with free board and lodging assistance as perks. In addition, some of the regular employees were given housing assistance which they are only required to pay the cost in terms of a “data-data” (installment basis).

Just like a mother cares for her children, Manang Fe takes care of her valued employees. Her motherhood management style resulted to loyalty from her employees and eventually improved their quality of life.

Love Your Neighbor

True to what the Bible says, “Love you neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:32), Manang Fe exemplified a life of a loving and generous neighbor by providing them with free transportation services at times when they needed assistance especially during emergency situations.

At present Manang Fe has expanded her business from farming, manufacturing & managing their public utility jeepney. Whenever there is a need for emergency transportation assistance, Manang Fe is always there to lend a helping hand to her neighbors in times of needs – free of charge.

“Nabuhi mi ani (home-based business) ug nakatabang pud ni ug dako sa uban labi sa mga nanay nako nga silingan”. (We lived through a home-based business and it helped us a lot even our neighbors).

At present, Manang Fe is not only involved with community service to her neighbors by providing free rides but she also gives them opportunities for livelihood especially to the unemployed mothers. Jade Food Products employees comprise both wage-earning employees and or “pakyaw” (piece-rate) workers.

From a capital of One Thousand Pesos (Php 1,000) in 1982, the company’s gross sales are now estimated to reach a quarter of a million every month! From its phenomenal growth, truly the Biblical principle of loving our neighbors produced fruits of blessings to the Patigayon family.

Entrepreneur of the Year

“Advance mi sa pabayad ug amo mga contributions (like Philhealth. Para ra man pud sa akong kapamilya ug mga empleyado ko and pagbayad ug ensaktong balayranan. Maka-harvest man gud mi ug benefits, doble-doble pa.”(We always pay are workers’ social security premiums in advance, in fact we do exceed providing other benefits to them).

When asked how’s her involvement with government agencies such as DTI and the LGU and her views as an entrepreneur towards the agencies’ support to Jade Food Products, Manang Fe proudly replied that they’re actively participating and advance in paying their obligations and contributions both to the local and other government line agencies.

As a home-based enterprise situated in the midst of a rural barangay, seldom do we find an entrepreneur as pro-active in outlook like Manang Fe about her attitude towards supporting the government especially through payments of obligations and contributions at the same time understanding how it can help employees and the enterprise in return.

No wonder, Manang Fe’s effort was eventually recognized as the “Gawad Entrepreneur” awardee from the “Tulong Sa Tao Project” spearheaded by our country’s former President, Fidel V. Ramos last 1997 in partnership with DTI Agusan del Norte.

From then on, the recognition she received inspired her more to be of support to the government’s programs especially on entrepreneurial development projects organized by the local Department of Trade and Industry and other related government agencies.

Jade Food Products indeed not only delighted its customers but became an inspiration to other home-based entrepreneurs in the community.

Sweet Dreams Never Stop

At the age of 54, Manang Fe, an award-winning entrepreneur, fulfilled mother of five productive children, supportive wife and a woman who endured the obstacles of life still dreams of developing and expanding the business of Jake Food Products at the same tine continue her farming activities despite of the blissfulness she’s now experiencing.

She’s not only concerned with just the profit side of the business but now gearing toward sharing her blessings more to the family and community.

She envisioned being an inspiration to the budding home-based women entrepreneurs in Butuan City. Her livelihood advocacy is for the home-based women entrepreneurs and unemployed mothers to help their family’s’ income by being more productive and not rely on dole-outs or debts. Manang Fe lovingly shared, “Mag-tuon pud sila (especially the housewives) ug negosyo, dili kay mag-sige ug utang, mubarog sila sa unsa’y makatabang sa ilang kaugalingon ug pamilya.” (Housewives need to learn to be entrepreneurs and not keep on borrowing money or be indebted).

As a successful woman entrepreneur, Manang Fe still dreams of more quality time with her family. “Gusto sa akong mga anak nga awto na ang akong dribun.” (I’d like to drive a car still). Manang Fe shared how her children wanted her to drive a car instead of the usual delivery truck that she used to drive. Then smiled as she shared and ended the interview session with a slight humor, “Bisan sa una pa, manager na, driver pa gyud ko” (Even before, I’ve been a manager and driver). She ended our interview with sweet laughter.

Social Media for FOOD

So you’re out to dinner and the food comes to the table and everyone pulls out the smart phone and starts taking pictures of the food before they eat what is in front of them… #whendidwegetsowrappedupinlettingpeopleknowwhatweareeating. Food and Social Media was the original playground of just a handful of Food Trucks letting everyone know where the food was to be served that day. Whether it was time, menu specials, or just some crazy over the top picture of street tacos on steroids. Today social media is the most important form of media to most chefs and restaurateurs. It has replaced the ordinary and most traditional form of word of mouth media. Lets take a look at what is most popular on the Social Media Menu today.

Instagram is an online mobile photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, and share them on a variety of social networking platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr. A distinctive feature is that it confines photos to a square shape, similar to Kodak Instamatic and Polaroid images, in contrast to the 4:3 aspect ratio typically used by mobile device cameras. Users can also apply digital filters to their images to make that molten lava cake oooozzzz all over the screen.

Yelp is a multi-national corporation headquartered in San Francisco, California. It develops, hosts and markets the Yelp mobile app, which publishes crowd-sourced reviews about local eateries. The company also trains small businesses to respond to reviews responsibly, hosts social events for reviewers, and provides data about businesses, such as health inspection scores.

OpenTable is a real-time restaurant-reservation service. The firm provides online reservations at about 31,000 upscale restaurants around the world seating some 15 million diners a month. The company was founded in 1998. Reservations are free to end users; the company charges restaurants monthly and per-reservation fees for their use of the system.

The goal of Foodzie, which is kind of like Etsy for food, is to create an online marketplace for locally grown, handmade, and/or artisan foods. Foodzie allows people without access to high quality food from small producers a way to get that food via the mail, and it provides farmers and small artisan producers the opportunity to more easily reach a wider audience. Now that the chef at your local café introduced you to NC Grown and produced Sorghum syrup… you can find that farmers market where he gets his secret stash.

Urbanspoon is a restaurant information and recommendation service founded in 2006. The site combines user reviews with those of critics and food bloggers for thousands of restaurants. What really sets Urban Spoon apart, though, is their highly useful iPhone app that lets you easily find local restaurant options, filtered by cuisine, neighborhood, and price. Now you can find the best macarons in the downtown area of Charlotte with just a click.

An application that helps people locate local, in season food has just been released for the iPhone. Simply titled Locavore.

In Season – Locavore tells you what is currently in season, how much longer it will be in season, and what will be in season soon.

Markets – With the help of Localharvest.org, this app points you to the closest farmers markets. It accurately points me to about 15 markets in a 13 mile range, and accurately points me to the two closest to my house. There’s one about 8 miles from house that’s open year round that I didn’t know about. Good to know.

Food – You can browse by food, from almonds to zucchini, and find out where in the U.S. it is currently in season. There are also links to articles about the foods and recipes for them on Epicurious.com.

States – By clicking on Northern California, I can easily see that there is so much more in season there right now than there is in my state. I suppose this would be helpful if you’re traveling to another state to know what will be in season once you get there. Right now, all it’s doing is giving me a big case of locavore envy.

I think the market locator part of the application is the most helpful. Since it asks each time I open it if it should use my location, I can easily find farmers markets close to wherever I happen to be on vacation. And, if I’m visiting a friend, I can help her find markets near her.

There’s no information here that I wouldn’t be able to find out on the Internet, but it’s nice to have it handy in my pocket whenever I might need it. At $2.99, it’s the most expensive app I’ve bought for my iPhone so far, but I think I’ll get my money’s worth. Now I can get salted caramels from that local confectioner that I didn’t know existed.

Choosing the Right Target Market for Your Specialty Food Product

Almost before you do anything else in creating your business and selling your food products, you need to identify WHO your target market, or your audience, is. Ask ten business people the question “who is your target market?” and eight of them will say something to the effect of “everyone can use my product or service.” That answer makes me want to scream because it indicates that either they really don’t know what they’re offering OR they’re (pick one) too lazy, greedy or fearful to create a useful client profile.

Everyone is NOT your target market and you need to choose who IS before you start making a lot of your other business building decisions. This is one of the benefits of running your own company. YOU get to decide with WHOM you want to work and sell to. Pricing, what your packaging will look like, the design of your logo, web site and marketing materials all depend on who your buyer(s) are.

Think, for example, how Mercedes markets its cars vs. how Chevy markets its trucks. Very different target audiences. Your product is no different. Is this an item that you see on your average grocery store shelf or is it a better fit for high-end gourmet specialty markets? Is your product gluten-free, sugar-free, or otherwise a good fit for a group of “special needs” consumers? Nothing is wrong or better about any of the answers you come up with; it’s a matter of creating a niche for yourself.

When I started my company, I decided to focus on serving the needs of business clients. Sure, I had a great-tasting cookie, but again, it wasn’t my intention to become “the next Mrs. Fields.” My goal was to work directly with business people who wanted to show appreciation for their clients or members. My definition of business clients was primarily those in the corporate world, although I also included associations and not-for-profit organizations. I was creating a gifting product, more than a common food item.

With that information, I could choose packaging that fit the needs and would be attractive to that audience. I could create a web site that would speak to them in a language they could relate to. I could write copy for and design marketing materials that made them comfortable with my company and confident that I would serve their needs.

Think what would have happened if I’d made all those decisions BEFORE I knew to whom I was talking! Let’s say your favorite colors are pink and purple, so you decide to create packaging in those colors. You use a funky typeface for the logo and wording. You design a cute cartoon character as your “mascot.” And you write a brochure highlighting the taste and nutritional benefits of your product. Then you send those brochures out to construction companies to encourage them to buy your product for holiday gifts to their clients. Um, putting all those elements together is not likely to work.

But, if your target audience is moms of toddlers and you’re promoting your product as great for birthday parties, then you have a much better match and are more likely to succeed.

Even your pricing will be affected by the target audience, and we’ll talk about that in more detail in another article. But suffice it to say that if you want to sell your food product to a grocery store, such as Publix, Kroger or Safeway, your pricing model is going to be different than if you are selling directly to the end user.

Do you see why and how deciding on the target market has to be first?

Now, I hear you, sitting there saying, but EVERYONE loves my hot sauce, granola, green onion chips. I can’t narrow it down to one target market. Yes, you can and you must, if you want to succeed. You don’t necessarily have to make it as narrow as saying women with blond hair, between the ages of 25-35 who go to spin class three times a week and drive BMWs.

So, think about how you see your product being used. If your product is a steak sauce, then obviously meat-eaters is a good start in the narrowing process. That vegetarians might possibly use it on potatoes is fine, but you are not going to focus on them. Keep going. Do you see men who consider themselves “grill-masters” buying this product? Where would they purchase it – at Wal-Mart or from a Williams-Sonoma catalog?

Confession time! Had I known better, I would have narrowed down my targeting even further and chosen one or two specific industries on which to focus. Doing this would have allowed me to even more specifically customize my marketing efforts for them, which in turn would build the business faster. As it turned out down the road, some of those industries kind of identified themselves when I started seeing more and more clients coming from them. And even then, I didn’t start niche marketing to them right away. Geez, I was a slow-learner. Learn from my mistakes, and narrow down your target market!

The Benefits of Starting Your Own Private Label Food Company

Private label is all the rage. Unlike several years ago when store brands or small company brands didn’t always carry the prestige of national brands, today’s consumers are seeking out a more personal connection to the products they buy. This is where starting a private label food company or adding private label products to your line can be very successful.

What is Private Label?

Private label (PL) is when a product is manufactured by one company so another company can put their brand name or label on the finished product. PL products are also known as private label branding, store brands and private-label goods. For example, the next time you are in the breakfast cereal aisle of your favorite grocery store read all of the names on the cereal boxes. You’ll probably find several different types of cereal with the name of the grocery store on the outside of the box. The finished product you are seeing on the shelf is usually manufactured by another company but the grocery store has “private labeled” the product.

So What are the Benefits to Starting a Private Label Food Company?

You see, I come from a family of food entrepreneurs. Several of my uncles were among the first franchisees of the one of the nation’s largest pizza chain. In fact, I started working for one of my uncles pizza stores when I was 14 years old. In addition, a number of my cousins also own a number of restaurants. So I have been around food all my life and I still remember a story my uncle told me about my grandmother. When he told me that a food business will always be in demand and you’ll always have money in your pocket. Of course, he went on to say you must offer good food at a fair price, but his advice is very sound.

Here are some of the benefits of starting a private label food company:

– Low start up cost – You don’t need to invest in a kitchen to cook or make the final product.
– Add Products Fast – Since you are not making the product you don’t have to worry about source the raw material or retooling your production line.
– Start with an idea – You can find countless number of PL kitchens offering a number products in almost any niche you desire.

– Start with only a recipe – If you only have a recipe, you can hire a PL kitchen to produce the final product for you. This allows you to focus on marketing your brand and growing your business.
Now that you know some of the benefits of starting a PL company, the next step is to determine what type of products you want to offer. While there is a number of different niches you can select from, here are some of the most promising and profitable niches. These include weight-loss, healthy food, gourmet foods, ethnic foods, low-glycemic and low-sodium.

One area that is extremely popular is salsa. In fact, salsa and Mexican foods are one of the hottest niches. So if you are looking to PL salsa consider Traverse Bay Farms. The company offers a complete line of PL fruit and gourmet salsas. In fact, their recipes have won national awards for best salsas two years in a year.

5 Best Tips for Food Safety

Eating healthy involves that food served on the table passed food safety requirements. From purchase to preparation to cooking to storage, here’s the list for handling food with care and competence. This is the first tip to food safety. Eating healthy is not limited on eating only, but also making sure that those meats, fishes, breads, and other foods were fresh to begin with. Fresh ingredients pack the maximum amount of nutrients, thus, ensuring food safety. You get the most out of your money by buying fresh ingredients.

Food safety is the main concern of discerning parents and serious food entrepreneurs. Whenever they go to the supermarket for supplies, they make sure that the food is well within the expiration date. They make sure that most of their senses are satisfied – color, texture, smell, and taste. High quality foods are vibrant or without funny smells. Your senses mostly tip you off if something is not right so trust and use them well.

When it comes to veal, tip number two for food safety is making sure the meat passed a health inspection. This is an important requirement for those who plan to buy ground beef, pork or other meat to serve at home or at their restaurants. Passing the inspection guarantees that your meat did not come from sick or contaminated animals and that the packages the meats are wrapped in are not misleading.

The third safety tip lies in your hands, literally. Hand washing before you prepare your food would minimize transfer of bacteria or chemicals. Make sure you have a clean work station or kitchen to work in. And wash your vegetables and meats to remove excess dirt or preservatives clinging on the surface.

At the cooking process, the fourth tip for food safety is not to under cook the food. If you cook the food at right time, the flavors will come out and the spices will seep into the food. You get to kill the bad bacteria that simple washing had not removed. In cooking or grilling hamburgers or meats, most bacteria in meat are annihilated at 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember under cooking meat is harmful for most people especially children. Their stomachs do not tolerate undercooked meat well enough, so it is up to you to make certain that the meat are suitably edible and safe for your family. Eggs shouldn’t also be undercooked to eliminate food poisoning from salmonella bacteria.

The last tip involves storage. Some foods need to be placed in airtight containers or in cold temperatures for freshness. So, don’t leave for food exposed to air. Just by putting those in the refrigerator, food freshness, crispness and overall texture is extended for a few more days. Flies and insects can degrade food quality, so it is better to place food in containers with covers.

Food should really be savored. They give us nourishment and pleasure from preparation to consumption. Following food safety procedures would ensure a great dinner and curtail high health or legal expenses on your part. So, don’t let a little misstep ruin an entire meal.

Ray Morris is co-founder of the ever popular web site Hamburger-Recipes-And-More.com [http://www.hamburger-recipes-and-more.com] and enjoys sharing grilling and cooking ideas for great ground beef meals!