Hot dogging it and making money!


I’m a long time entrepreneur and most of us in small business spend time thinking about ways to make money.  For me that sort of mindset makes me very observant when it comes to business and watching what other people are doing.  One thing I’ve come to learn that what you do to make money doesn’t have to be glamorous and fancy or even particularly big, although with success it may wind up that way.  More often than not, it’s preconceived notions about what a business should be that actually prevents success.  At bottom, a good business either solves a problem or offers a compelling convenience.  That’s what one must start off with  rather than preconceived notions about glamour and other stuff that has nothing to do with making money.

There are two Lowes that are near me and I’m in either store two or three times weekly and at both locations, I notice a hotdog stand right outside of each store.  I also notice that he’s pretty busy.  I normally don’t deal with processed meat, but I decided one day to stop a get a hot dog and engage the guy.  He tells me he lost his job one year and simply decided to go into business with the hot dog stand and cut a deal with Lowes to let him sell them outside of the store.  As we’re talking, he tells me he’s sold 500 hot dogs that day.  His average price per sandwich is about $ 7.00 per sandwich, so that means he grossed about $ 3500 for that day.  This is a 100% cash business and the margins are huge.  How much does a package of hot dogs, buns and condiments cost?  On $ 3500 gross, I’m guessing cost is about $ 500-$700, so he’s cleared around $ 3000 just in one day from one location.  His initial investment in the cart itself was probably around $ 2000 to $ 4000. The guy is out there everyday all year long come rain, snow, cold or shine.  He covers two Lowes stores in my area and traffic is heavy at both with contractors and consumers constantly flowing in and out.  Did I mention that this is an 100% cash business?  Who would think a hot dog cart would do that kind of business?  He has some risk though as a change in management at Lowes could end a very lucrative arrangement overnight.  If I were him, I’d be channeling that money into other ventures

We can talk the 1%, unequal wealth distribution, the broken political system and etc.  All the criticism of that is true and can have an affect on lives, but there is a limit and sometimes we grant more power to these things than we do to our own abilities to impact our own lives.  Simply put, it’s our choices that have the greatest impact on our lives and livelihoods.    This guy lost his job and came up with an alternative way to make a living. Moreover, he wasn’t limited by what he chose to do.  For many folks, running a hot dog stand is “beneath them” or isn’t glamorous enough.  A lot of this comes from popular media portrayals of “successful entrepreneurs” which tend to overlook the everyday small businesses that are decidedly unglamorous but making money.  This is a perfect example of someone fixing his own problem.

Did I mention this is a 100% cash business with a relative low capital requirements?  Many people I talk to have elaborate unworkable schemes for going into business that require a bunch of capital or will choose low capital stuff like multi level marketing which haven’t the slightest chance of generating profit.  A simple business model that provides a good or service folks buy everyday is the best.

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