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Mobile food businesses as startups!

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EricW //

If you follow the stock market, economy, or business headlines you have probably noticed, as I have, that there are often discussions about business startups. Mostly, these conversations turn to startups that get some huge amount of investment venture capital or about a very successful start up technology company in Silicon Valley that plans to go public. 

No doubt that I am supportive of all types of new businesses and startups but what's missing for me is a greater emphasis on truly smaller enterprises; I wish that small business owners would get a bit more of the startup attention. 

But, what exactly is a startup? There are a lot of ways to define "start-up", Merriam-Webster simply defines it as "a fledgling business enterprise". My favorite definition, however, is a “Startup is a state of mind,” by Adora Cheung, co founder and CEO of Homejoy, one of the Hottest U.S. Startups of 2013. “It’s when people join your company and are still making the explicit decision to forgo stability in exchange for the promise of tremendous growth and the excitement of making immediate impact.” (source). This really applies perfectly to most new businesses regardless of their size or industry. 

So, bringing the discussion closer to our own businesses, in the last eight weeks alone FoodTrucksIn.com has added over 200 new mobile food vendors to our ever expanding list of vendors. Each and every one of those businesses is a startup. They each face the same challenges and issues that every startup, of any size and from any industry, must successfully overcome to reach levels of success and profitability.  
 
And, of startups, it is often the smaller, more modest startup that is by nature more nimble than larger ones. In fact, I often hear from new food truck owners that they are able adjust quickly and improve rapidly, often day to day.  It is the smaller businesses that are quick to respond to feedback and suggestions. It is somehow reassuring, at least to me, to see new businesses work hard to get better at what they do every day, always striving to offer a perfect product or service. 
 
This seems particularly true for mobile food vendors. Most food trucks open their windows for the first time with an individual concept and of high quality food, a plan to offer friendly customer service and, perhaps, with a unique twist. It has been really enjoyable to see just how many of these small businesses owners work on improving all aspects of their business, every day.  Almost without exception any mobile food business owner can describe how they have been able to improve their business as they learn more about the industry, their individual situations, their goals and gain day to day experience. 
 
Thinking about small businesses and startups leads me to think about just how long a business is considered a startup???  After all, FoodTrucksIn.com is a small business and a startup and we continue to work through the same challenges that most every startup deals with.  We have been at this for two years now. Are we still a startup? Is a food truck that is entering their second or third season still a startup?  There does not seem to be clear consensus on the answer.  There are a lot of thoughts, opinions, and theories.  But, we do know that at the end of the day new businesses can often take 3-5 years to start making a reasonable a profit and achieve their goals. It would seem to me that during that time it would be more than reasonable to consider that business a startup. But, regardless of how you define startup, or determine how long a company is a startup, the challenges that all new business encounter are pretty muchthe same.  
 
We came across this great graphic at 100firsthits.com  that is an important reminder to mobile food business owners (and new businesses everywhere) about the challenges they need to overcome. Take a look!