How to validate a taco stand

What if you wanted to open a Taco stand? 

Like a taco-truck on the side of the road.  
 
How would you do it?
 
A typical “wantrepreneur” would do the following:
  • Start researching licenses and city permits.  
  • Scout out possible lease locations and speak with all the property owners. 
  • Start Googling taco recipes.
  • Take out a loan (or borrow money) to buy a truck or cart.
  • Spend money and time to get the truck food-certified by the city.  
  • Start looking for employees to help with making the tacos.
  • And…… 
  • A……
  • Bunch……..
  • Of……. 
  • Other……
  • Boring……
  • Stuff……. 
 
Soooo after all that work, thousands of dollars, and months of time…. where are we?NO WHERE!
 
NOT ONE FUCKING TACO HAS BEEN SOLD!!
 
So let’s say $10,000 later, and 6 months down the line….we’ve got this magical taco truck ready.  
 
We excitedly go out to our pre-researched location and turn on the “Open for Business” sign!  
 
::CRICKETS CHIRPING::
::CRICKETS CHIRPING::
::CRICKETS CHIRPING::
::CRICKETS CHIRPING::
::CRICKETS CHIRPING::
 
Well shit.  That didn’t work out so well.  We were open all day & night, we spent hundreds of dollars on fresh meat, avocados, tortillas…..and we only sold 10 tacos the whole night.  
 
“But oh well, it was just the first night…..we’ll get more business soon!” 
 
The next night….
And the next night….
Aaaand the next night……
And our taco truck is still bleeding money.  
 
And since we spent all our money and all our time on this…..we still desperately cling onto this shitty business.  
 
All because WE DIDN’T FIRST VALIDATE THE IDEA.  
 
Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. 
 
 
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Ok, now let’s take a break and re-do this whole taco-truck idea as if we knew how to validate ideas before jumping in:  
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The absolute FIRST THING TO DO is see if people even WANT your tacos.  
 
Now there’s hundreds of things that could make a successful food business……so instead let’s focus on something the late & great Gary Halbert said:
 
Gary Halbert said (I’m paraphrasing here):
 
“If you opened a hot dog stand…..and I opened a hot dog stand……I can beat the PANTS off you.
It doesn’t matter if you have better hot dog buns, or fresher meat, or more condiments….. 
My secret would be setting up my hot dog stand around a STARVING CROWD.”  
 
 

Using this theory, let’s do a taco-stand validation in one day:

 
FIRST STEP.) Let’s make a bunch of tacos at home (maybe 25-50 tacos) and wrap them in foil.  
 
SECOND STEP.) Let’s take those tacos to some location we think there is a starving crowd, and stack them in little pyramid on a cheap plastic table.
THIRD STEP.) Let’s use some markers and poster-board to make a big-ass sign that says:
 
“HOT BEEF TACOS – $2 each”
FOURTH STEP.) See if people actually buy all your tacos. 
That’s it.  Kind of like this:
DO YOU REALIZE WHAT WE’VE DONE HERE ALEADY??
In one day, we’ve understood:
  • How easy or hard it was to make all those tacos.
  • How much time it took to make the tacos.
  • How much money it took.
  • If we even LIKED doing this work.
  • If our tacos were delicious, or shitty.  
  • A rough estimate of how much to charge for each taco.
  • If the location was good or bad.
  • …..and most importantly:
  • If people even WANTED our tacos from that location.
The next day, we can repeat the experiment, but try a different time, or location, or even an entirely different product…..and see if it works.  
 
And don’t give me shit about, “But Nevillleee…..what about city permits and stuff!!”
 
There’s many ways to get around this (such as setting up your stand on private property like a bar stoop or house lawn)……or even doing it WITHOUT permission.  If a cop actually tried to stop you (highly unlikely), you can just shut down the experiment and repeat elsewhere.  
 
(I asked cops in my bottled water experiment what they would do if they saw me selling water without a permit…..they said, “We don’t really care”) 
 
BE SCRAPPY.  
BE CREATIVE.  
USE LOOPHOLES.  
 
The point of this is to SEE IF PEOPLE WANT YOUR DAMN TACOS.  And if you do an experiment like this, you’ll learn SO MUCH.  
 
So if night-after-night your tacos sell out within 20 minutes…..You’ve proved that people love your tacos, love your location, and love your prices.  
 
…..you might actually have a damn good business on your hands!
 
However if no one buys, or the logistics of taco-making are just entirely too difficult (or boring) for you…..it might make sense to just SHOOT THIS IDEA IN THE HEAD AND KILL IT BEFORE IT SUCKS UP ALL YOUR TIME AND MONEY.  
 
………………and there you have it. We validated a taco stand! 
 
 
Sincerely, 
Mexican Neville