How to Run a Food Truck 23: Write the Recipe for Future Success

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FoodTruckrs, are you ready for the final unit of the “How to Run a Food Truck” series? We’re so excited to bring you the remaining lessons that will make up Unit 6—a section that’s all about setting goals for your future and doing everything you can to ensure long-term success for your truck.

Just as you wrote a food truck business plan when you were first learning how to start a food truck, you also need to actively continue planning the future of your business once you’re running a food truck. You’ve come so far already—but without setting more goals and finding new things to work on, you’ll quickly find your truck stagnating and failing to evolve. Goals keep you motivated to improve, hold you accountable to yourself and what matters most to you, and keep you more focused on achieving your dreams.

In the next few lessons, we’ll cover goal-setting and various types of goals that many food truck owners choose for their businesses. First up in today’s lesson, we’ll help you write the recipe for future success by looking at some effective ways to figure out what it is that you want most!

Create a Map for Your Future

Before you can truly fine-tune the perfect recipe for your food truck’s success, you need to figure out what you want to achieve. There are all kinds of awesome paths open to food truck owners, so it’s up to you to determine which option makes the most sense for both you and your business.

The SMART Approach to Goal-Setting

There are all kinds of approaches you can take to effective goal-setting, but one of our favorites is the SMART approach. SMART is an acronym for the five qualities every goal should have—goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Bound.

Let’s take a look at what each of these characteristics entails. We’ll use the example of opening a second truck to illustrate each point.

1. SPECIFIC

First up on the list? Your goals should be specific. Ideally, a specific goal should answer five key questions about what the goal entails—who, what, when, where, and why. Identifying the answers to these key questions will help you establish the details of your goal while also setting you up to develop an effective plan to achieve it. Specific goals also help you see potential hurdles that could arise along the way so that you can plan ahead for them.

Example: “I [who] want to open a second food truck [what] in a nearby suburb [where] in the next 18 months [when] in order to diversify my income stream [why] and to increase awareness of my brand [why].”

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2. MEASURABLE

A SMART goal is also measureable. There should be some key benchmarks or identifying checkpoints you can use to track your progress and to determine when you can finally say you’ve accomplished the goal.

Example: If you’re planning to open a second food truck, you can measure your progress by tracking the steps you take along the way. Set checkpoints for key events such as finalizing your financing plan, purchasing the second truck, hiring additional staff, and signing a contract with a local commissary.

3. ATTAINABLE

Of course, one of the most important qualities of a SMART goal is that it must also be attainable. It’s easy to dream big and set goals of all the grand things you wish to achieve, but it requires a lot more serious thinking and honest reflection to determine whether or not a particular goal is actually within the realm of possibility.

Example: Is opening a second food truck in the next 18 months a realistic goal for your business? Determining whether or not the goal is attainable will depend on factors like how much time you have to put into the process of opening a new truck and how well your current truck is doing financially. Though achieving your goal will undoubtedly require a lot of hard work and long hours, you should only embark upon it if it is truly attainable.

4. RELEVANT

Determining the relevance of a goal can be a little tougher, but it’s just as important as figuring out whether or not the goal is attainable. Your goal needs to be relevant to you and your business—which means that it must support your larger plan and your overall dreams. If the goal isn’t really relevant, it will be a lot harder to stay motivated and to stick with it.

Example: What will opening a second food truck mean to you? Will it give you the opportunity to spend more time serving customers, or will you need to spend more time behind-the-scenes, handling marketing and business development? And, most importantly, how does the answer to that question make you feel?

5. TIME BOUND

Finally, your goal must be time bound—which means that it needs to have a deadline. If you can’t commit to accomplishing the goal within a specific timeframe, you might not really be ready to pursue it.

Example: In the example we listed above, the deadline is 18 months from now. Though there will always be unexpected setbacks that arise along the way, having a deadline in place will help to keep you motivated and will enable you to still reach the finish line within a reasonable amount of time.

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Questions to Ask Yourself

Okay—so now that we’ve established the basic principles behind setting SMART goals, it’s time to figure out what your personal goals are. FoodTruckrs will undoubtedly have a wide range of next-step goals depending on where they’re at in their businesses and what their overall dreams are, so we won’t be looking at specific options just yet. Instead, we’ve developed a series of questions you should ask yourself to get clarity on your own hopes, dreams, and passions.

These questions are intended to help you learn more about your favorite parts of running a food truck and the parts you could probably do without. We recommend spending a few hours with this exercise—really sit down and reflect on the questions, and feel free to write long responses. In many cases, the additional writing you do on the why behind each answer will be the most eye-opening and informative of all.

  1. What does your ideal day look like?
  2. Who do you want to spend time with?
  3. Who do you want to serve?
  4. What excites you?
  5. How do you define success?
  6. How will you know when you’ve attained success?
  7. Think about your current routine. What is your favorite part of the day?
  8. Now again, based on your current routine—what is your least favorite part of the day?
  9. What do you wish you had more time to do?
  10. What do you wish you didn’t have to do so much?
  11. What parts of your day don’t seem very important? Are these tasks that you could outsource to someone else?
  12. What makes you feel good about yourself?
  13. What motivates you?
  14. How do you want to be remembered?
  15. What are your strengths? What could you do to maximize them?
  16. What are your weaknesses? How could you work to improve upon them?
  17. Are there any skills you need to develop before you can begin making progress toward one of your current or future goals?
  18. When do you work most effectively?
  19. How could you be more efficient?
  20. Is there anything currently holding you back?
  21. Do you think you could achieve more by working on your own or with a partner?
  22. Who could help you learn more or work better?
  23. How do you contribute to your community?
  24. What is the best decision you’ve ever made (in life or in your business)?
  25. What is the worst decision you’ve ever made (in life or in your business)?
  26. Do you view your business as a career or a passion?
  27. Describe the past year in three words. How do those words make you feel?
  28. Now, assign three words to what you would like your future to look like. How are they different from the words you used to describe the past year? Why did you choose the new words?
  29. What do you imagine your life will look like 10 years from now? How do you want to be spending your time each day then?
  30. What are some general steps you would need to take to get there? Are there any specific goals or accomplishments you would need to reach first?
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After answering these questions, go back and read what you wrote down. Look for common themes and for answers where you got specific about what you want, what fulfills you, and what you’d like to change. As you begin reflecting on your answers, think about what kinds of paths your business might take and how they would serve your personal vision.

Turning Principles Into Plans

It’s important to remember that the goals you’re setting now will dictate your action plans for the upcoming months and years (and even for your overall direction in life). That’s why it’s so important to really take your time in figuring out what you want—and in setting SMART goals that will help you get there. Too many people get so caught up in their daily lives that they never stop and reflect on what they really want and on what changes they need to make. Fortunately, FoodTruckrs are a special breed—and we know that with the right levels of commitment, passion, and hard work, you can develop an actionable plan for yourself that will ultimately fulfill you and satisfy your deepest personal goals.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be wrapping up the “How to Run a Food Truck” series by examining several of the most common paths FoodTruckrs take to reach their goals. These lessons will cover the three big business possibilities you may want to consider to grow both your profits and your audience: events, catering, and expansions. Stay tuned—it’s going to be an information-packed ride!

Until then, we want to know more about your current goals. What are you working toward? What one thing is most important to you when you think about your future? What are you going to start working on to achieve it? Share your top goals and your favorite goal-setting strategies with us in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter!

image by COD Newsroom

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FoodTruckr is the #1 online destination for current and aspiring food truck owners looking to succeed in the mobile food industry. Self described “food truck devotees,” the FoodTruckr team enjoys reading about successful entrepreneurs, salivating over photos of burritos on Twitter, and long walks through food truck parks. Chat with FoodTruckr on Facebook or check out the FoodTruckr School podcast for more awesome tips to level up your business.

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