A friend of mine, actually a mentor – gave me this idea – as a way to share a concept. About “WE” hot dog cart vendors. Why one type of hot dog vendor is doomed.
It's a way for me to show the two types of vendors (the category or camp) that we all exist within.
It's either one or the other.
Chris and John are not real. As in flesh and blood beings, but they are real in the sense that they are absolutely based on – and represent real vendors. Real vendors, real humans that I've met, talked with, counseled and mentored.
I am either a Chris or I am a John. I can go from a Chris to a John, but never from a John to a Chris.
You are one of them.
Well you'll need to keep reading to find out.
One of them is about to quit hot dog cart vending, he's throwing in the towel. Even though he may not realize it just yet.
The other, well…
He's kicking booty. He's making a great living and works the hours of a part-time person.
Before I introduce you to yourself…
I'm not selling anything here. Zip, nada, nothing. So grab a soda, a coffee or a small bourbon and sit back and relax.
MEET CHRIS – Solopreneur
MEET JOHN – Entrepreneur
I grew up a Mormon and one of their many “higher ups” was plum full of great quotes. James Faust was a lawyer for most of his life and held many leadership roles in the church.
This quote is worth mentioning here.
I'll come back to this in a bit. Why I included it will make perfect sense then. It's important for you.
Let me first continue with the big DIFFERENCE between Chris and John.
In 2007 I got fired.
The writing was on the wall in 2006 but with my 3rd grade education, I couldn't read it.
I'd stumbled into a lucrative business years earlier. Selling furniture, used furniture. This grew quickly to new furniture and we became a giant dealer in our state. I crossed state lines and opened up 2 more stores.
My name doesn't have any fancy initials at the end so I failed to see the upcoming housing market crash. If you know anything about houses…
They need furniture.
And when houses are no longer being built and the market is flooded with an excess of unoccupied foreclosed homes – guess what…
No furniture needed.
THE END AS I KNEW IT
From millions a year in gross sales to literally thousands.
We lost our business. Our home. Our farm. And all our vehicles. Including my plane.
I was suddenly in a 2 bedroom tornado magnet (read: mobile home) with 5 kids and my wife.
We got on food stamps.
I being the forever entrepreneur, although terrified and humiliated… I was no quitter.
I started looking for anything I could online (via stolen wifi). I needed a get rich quick plan. I tried penny stocks for $100, I tried an MLM company, I tried selling online ads and everything legal in between.
To no avail.
That's when I heard about hot dog vending.
A family out west was written about that had saved their home from foreclosure with a hot dog cart.
It was too late to save any homes for me, but maybe I could get off food stamps and have a dollar in my pocket every now and then.
Being the shoot first – aim later type.
I dove in. Head first.
In an effort to provide security – I was putting more at risk.
No one has ever accused me of being lazy and so no matter what. I was hell bent on getting a cart.
Without even knowing it, I was — operating as a Chris.
The CHRIS Role
During this “honeymoon phase” I was like a rabid squirrel.
This hot dog vendor is doomed.
I got a cart with no clue about features, licensing or permits. Fortunately my state was lenient and the cart passed inspection.
Got started and heard that I couldn't vend in town. Didn't know until a year or so later, they can't even do that.
Flying by the seat of my pants – I saved every penny. I could.
I bought cart number 2 then 3 all within the first 7 weeks.
Added employees, added subcontractors and still with hardly a clue what the hell I was doing.
Most of my product was coming from a local grocery store.
I added locations.
Did a private gig without even knowing it was “catering” and left money on the table.
Bought lost my butt with a couple rogue and very zealous employees.
By years end… I had 22 carts operating.
I was exhausted.
Literally was inches away from failing my goals without realizing it.
I was changing my menu, adding new products left and right, changing the rules with my team every time I'd figure something else out.
I was hellbent on getting back to the glorious income level I'd once known.
Every step forward was like taking two or three back but I was too unfocused and occupied to even notice. A hot dog vendor is doomed if they do like I did.
- I chased every new shiny object [read: hot dog cart business doomed]
- I shot and never aimed
- Added carts every chance I got
- Updating menu with every request
- Moving locations too soon
- Consistently inconsistent although always working
I was working my ass slap off and wasn't making what that first cart was making had you annualized my first month alone with it. This hot dog vendor is doomed or is he?
That's when I had an epiphany!
The buck stops here.
I had been operating as – or was a “Chris”. (although I hadn't even labeled these traits as a “Chris” yet)
I had maxed my business out. I had not one moment left that I could spend on it more.
I wasn't about to go bankrupt (ya can't do that for 10 years and I'd just done one) but I was working for what I believed were pennies.
And in actuality… had you divided my income by hours worked that first 12 months… I probably wasn't making much better than MINIMUM WAGE.
I certainly know for a fact (because I've done it since) I could have been making a killing with just 3 carts.
….And have tons of free time to spare on important stuff like fishing and fishing.
Fact is: I got awful damn lucky. I made enough mistakes, errors and poor choices right from the beginning and through that first year that could have put me under.
Hellfire. Just the choice I made to make no due diligence efforts before buying the first cart could have been the end of it all.
After-all, I had begged, borrowed and sold everything that wasn't nailed down to get that first cart.
(MY HOT DOG CART JOURNEY) – IT COULD HAVE BEEN OVER BEFORE IT STARTED.
One event nearly took me out. Two employees nearly took me out. Twenty two carts nearly took me out.
My flawed mindset could have been the death of my business multiple times.
A key difference between a solopreneur and an entrepreneur.
The JOHN Role
A “John” operates completely different from a Chris.
John has had some ups and downs but his experiences have led to a personality type that although is still the rabid entrepreneur… a go-getter…
– John calculates, does his due diligence, looks before leaping, aims before firing and…
He invests in his success by soaking up every morsel.
Contrary to one who is in perpetual analysis… he isn't paralyzed – because he doesn't over-analyze.
John's MO looks more like this.
John doesn't jump in head first without looking.
He aims before firing.
He measures twice, cuts once.
John builds a real business. A lasting asset.
John doesn't even attempt expanding without a plan or reserves.
He's focused on the task at hand, capitalizing on his efforts, putting some back (a safety net) and then he applies his knowledge with his experiences and succeeds.
A road-bump, a hurdle an obstacle… well it's just that. TEMPORARY.
JOHN – he has free time, he provides easily for his family and John doesn't work from week to week or month to month.
THAT FIRST YEAR…
It changed my mindset.
Something about getting a big dose of reality on a plate of 22 hot dog carts and long days less than equal income… will do that for ya.
I became a “JOHN”. I was going to restructure, return to the basics and only grow the right way – the only way that would insure long term profitable results.
As John, I sold off and even gave away carts to those who had already paid me great returns. I got down quickly to just a handful of carts. Manageable and profitable.
I was now home more, waaaaaaay less stressed and making more than what I was with 22 carts.
Now don't get me wrong.
You can certainly rock it with 22 carts – but not without a great foundation of knowledge and knowing exactly the RIGHT WAYs – the exact methods to use between…
- leasing models
- profit sharing model
- employee models
- contractor models
- rental models
BUT WHICH ONE(S)?
[not knowing, doing trial by fire is dangerous and a hot dog vendor is doomed if he doesn't have the details prior to implementing these models]
Well John knows.
And I didn't then but now…. you can betcher bottom dollar – I do now.
If only I'd of know. If only I would have been more concerned about my long term success than making it fast. I certainly could have been a “JOHN”.
I just was too stupid. Yes. Stupid.
My mistakes could of and should of taken me under.
I was lucky.
But relying on luck – is like not paying your rent – because you think your luck will bring a winning lottery ticket. *STUPID
Moral: Don't Rely On Luck – unless you wish to be one of the statistics.
a hot dog vendor is doomed unless…
A Chris sees the hot dog cart business – the opportunities but makes no plan. He squanders his value and drive. He spreads – too thin his assets (ie. work ethic, time, experience) on the multiple opportunities…
NEVER GIVING HIS ALL TO ONE (and growing from there)
He works just as hard or dare I say even harder – but his efforts are futile. Never once giving 100% to a goal but instead a percentage to each goal.
Continually side tracked by the next shiny object.
The results: always predictable.
Those who see the viable opportunity in hot dog vending / catering and commissaries (renting) – they go in head long. Like Chris.
And they fail.
Shiny objects abound in this hot dog vending business, each of value, each worthy of your time – but each requiring your all.
Try to do them all at once… BAM – Failure.
A John, well he sees it all. He gets just as excited as Chris with each hot dog cart opportunity he learns about.
Like these “hot dog cart” opportunities:
- I can rent my cart when not in use
- I can profit share with other vendors
- I can rent out my makeshift commissary and make $3-5 thousand monthly
- I can cater
- I can drop off cater
- I can do events
- I can do street gigs
- I can do exclusive (the unknown) locations – the one's most vendors don't even know about
- I can have 100+ carts running
Each of the above are real bonafide (and proven) income earners – capable of earning you a real full time income. Try them all at once and they're equally capable of – becoming your latest failures.
Also why a hot dog vendor is doomed if he doesn't know this.
And when I say “income earners” I'm not talking about a “just getting by” income. Nope. I'm talking great pay for little hours.
Of course you can try my “Chris” method and get decent pay and lots of hours.
I hope you're more like John though – and…
A HOT DOG VENDOR IS DOOMED
- a hot dog vendor is doomed if he thinks he'll learn as he goes
- a hot dog vendor is doomed if she attempts to grow to fast
- a hot dog vendor is doomed if they take on events without knowing these things.
- a hot dog vendor is doomed if they let their egos drive their decisions
- a hot dog vendor is doomed if they attempt this as a solopreneur
- a hot dog vendor is doomed without due diligence
I can't think of many businesses I could start today that I could be GUARANTEED success. Hot dog cart vending is one that I'm 100% positive IS!
HOW CAN I MAKE SUCH A STATEMENT?
Digging a hole is 100% possible. Anyone can do it. Even if they've never done it before and have never seen a shovel.
And even if you didn't have instructions on shovel operations – and used the wrong end – you'd still get a hole but it will definitely – take longer.
The truth is, anyone and everyone can succeed in this street food business.
Of course you need the steps – but you also need the willpower and John type smarts to stick to those steps – and avoid the next shiny object.
It requires pig headed determination – and it requires real WORK.
There ain't a vendor on the planet (a pro vendor) that would say it's easy.
They will tell you though – that you – can do it – and that by doing the right things, following a plan and by avoiding getting sidetracked…
You have choices. Like the quote above…
- the choice to take control of your life and truly be your own boss
- the choice to “wing it” move fast and rely on a hope and a prayer
- the choice to do your due diligence
- the choice to arm yourself and at the same time guarantee yourself success
You can choose to follow your dreams of independence. Hot dog vending provides a fool proof, economy proof and guaranteed way to live happy, secure and fulfilled.
Hot dogs saved my life. I'm not kidding. From the bottom, 5 kids in a 2 bedroom mobile home and on food stamps… I changed – EVERYTHING.
YOU CAN TOO!
It's all available. To you.
You don't need to hope for a raise.
You don't need to hope for a promotion.
You don't need to worry about a lay off or getting fired.
Due diligence is simple. It's arming yourself (learning) about the business, the steps, the obstacle avoidance guidance, it's the process of learning before doing.
AND IT DON'T TAKE LONG.
You can learn as you go. Get the basics in an hour and begin. But don't stop learning. Keep adding to your arsenal of knowledge about hot dog cart vending and when it's needed, it will auto apply.
And simply put… if not followed, a hot dog vendor is doomed.
Just like the shovel – once you know, when it's time you'll know which end to use.
Choose to do it right and YOU WILL SUCCEED.
An existing hot dog vendor is doomed unless he changes… does things right and AIMS FIRST.
A new hot dog vendor is doomed if he flies by the seat of his pants.
Any hot dog vendor is doomed if he attempts the solopreneur route.
I've had the pleasure of helping thousands and thousands of vendors. Every time – those who do it right, do their due diligence, they succeed.
I wish you the MOST success in hot dog vending. (and in life)
Don't be a Chris,
~ Ben Wilson
Don't be a Chris!