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Setting up a business

mr_eddymr_eddy Posts: 748
edited February 2017 in The cake stop
For a while now I have been thinking about ways of becoming my own boss, Whilst my job is ok I know that my ultimate goal is to be my own boss. I have looked at various options and I think I have hit on an option and wanted some advice before I take it any further, I appreciate that a bike forum is probably not the best place but I thought there must be small business owners on here so seemed as good a place as any.

Ok so I live in a small village in Nottinghamshire - The village has around 2000 people and according to my research has around 800 houses in total. 68% of the village population is middle age / In work. The village has literally nothing in terms of amenities. There is 1 small newsagents that supplies basics like toiletries / snacks / milk etc but that is it.

My idea is to setup a small chip shop in the village - I know for certain that most people in the village would visit regularly (Most of the people in the village are British born working class - I don't mean to be stereotypical but this I think is the most common type of customer for a chip shop), The next nearest chippy is a 10 minute drive away along the main road which means getting over lots of really massive speed bumps. Given the location of the village there are no takeaway services available either.

I have ZERO experience of being a business owner and also ZERO experience of working or running a chip shop but in my mind I don't see any reason why I could not delve further into this idea. Any ideas on what I need to do next ? I appreciate that at some point I would need to consultant the small business team at my bank (I would need a business loan to setup) and I would also need to speak to the council about various red tape issues etc

Thoughts ?

Posts

  • mr_eddymr_eddy Posts: 748
    Another option is converting a transit to be a mobile chip shop - No business rent and I could also go to the other outlying villages as well ?
  • fat daddyfat daddy Posts: 2,632
    mobile chip shop is a excellent idea

    normally one of my holidays a year is spend renting out a house in a village somewhere .... there is nearly always a mobile chip shop .. normally artisan in nature so is a better bet than any possible fixed premises that is in the village 2-3 times a week and in neighbouring villages on other days .... always a queue at them as well
  • FishFishFishFish Posts: 2,238
    mr_eddy wrote:
    I know for certain that most people in the village would visit regularly

    So the village has 2000 people and most will visit. Most is 1001 people at worst. 0.5 kg of food each = 0.5 tonnes. On evenings this will mean serving 1 every 8 seconds..... In my experience, fish and chip shops have been in the decline for 20 years and will die out with the species that provide the staple fare. After all do you think that your 'working class' customer will want monk fish tail, tilapia, and so on. And why do you think that in today's efficient market that there is not a shop there already. This type of outlet has one of the lowest barriers to entry in the game - so why no shop?

    You should talk to people to test your market. The addressable market of 2000 sounds small - go to the nearest town and calculate the number of outlets per head and that will be the norm - if it is < 1 per 2000 then you should be ok - not if the other way round.

    The main risk is falling fowl of employment and tax law - in either of these you cannot be complacent - other than market risk they could put you in serious trouble.

    You also need to look in to your personal circumstances. If you are an employee then you are giving away NI tax credits which will affect your benefits if unemployed and your state pension.

    Great idea though.
    ...take your pickelf on your holibobs.... :D

    jeez :roll:
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,476
    Mobile chipshop would be the lowest cost way to get into it. That way you are not reliant on a single village. You'd need to do the sums for feasibility and it could certainly work - but don't expect to hit 100% on day one. There will be a lot of upfront cost and overheads to cover and you need to be able to fund that whilst you build up a clientbase and good reputation.
    We live in a slightly smaller village - 1600 residents and have 1 mobile chipshop coming along once a week - it seems busy enough, but not so busy I have to wait ages.

    Other than looking for kit - I'd talk to the parish council and get their thoughts - you'd need somewhere to park up for the duration and it's easiest if they're onboard.
  • Garry HGarry H Posts: 6,614
    There's a mobile chip shop that parks up about a mile from my house every Wednesday. A couple of years ago a car drove straight into it and the contents of the deep fat fryer ended up all over the owner. Just saying...
  • cld531ccld531c Posts: 517
    Mobile chip shops seem to do a roaring trade at campsites if there are any near you as an extra market
  • secretsamsecretsam Posts: 4,523
    Bear in mind you'll still need to meet all relevant Health and Safety requirements; read Roddy Doyle's "The Van" for an insight (blimmin' funny book)

    PS: you'd need to set up a company as well - quick process, quite cheap, but you do not want to be a sole trader (apols for pun) in such an enterprise - the van would belong to the company, not you.

    It's just a hill. Get over it.
  • mr_eddymr_eddy Posts: 748
    THanks for the info - Lots to read up on. I think a starting point is to maybe do a bit of door to door to see if people would be willing to use it. Assuming this is the case in the mojority (I suspect it is) then the next step would be researching the various bits of legislation required to get sorted, Once that is done then I would probably put something forward to the business guy at our local TSB - He is really good and I know he sorted my boss with a business loan when he setup a few years go.

    I think a mobile setup would be best as it would allow for me to go to several other locations and potentially increase the customer base quite a bit. The initial costs I think would be £20k to £30k (A fully kitted out catering van in decent 2nd hand cond comes in around £15K).

    Gonna do some door to door research first - See what's what.

    Ta.
  • mr_eddymr_eddy Posts: 748
    I reckon (nothing to back this up btw) a mobile van would server a minimum of 30 people a day / 6 days a week. Assuming an average spend of about £4 then £600 a week. Obviously out of this I would have to take out costs so maybe for a short period at least I would at best break even but then eventually as word spread and my skills on the fryer increased I think I could turn a small profit.

    Another thing I need to consider is possibly borrowing at least part of the setup costs as an equity release loan from the mortgage/house. We have about £40k in equity in the house so that would be a fairly low interest way of getting the cash.

    I did a bit of research re the local area and I can count 4 villages within 20 minutes of my village that also have no local chippy so a mobile van would be (on paper at least) a good idea.
  • mr_eddymr_eddy Posts: 748
    Bear in mind Nottingham is well served to hit lots of festivals / events etc (Donny Park / Goose Fair / Riverside Festival etc), Obviously I bet the costs to pitch up would be pretty high. Also Nottingham being very central is quite close to lots of other stuff so again another bonus.

    Anyway gonna do the research first and I will report back.

    TA.
  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 16,864
    Go to a library. There are lots of books on setting up a small business. Also find somewhere where there are a lot of street food stalls and chat to the other stallholders.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    1980s BSA 10sp

    Liberal metropolitan, remoaner, traitor, "sympathiser", etc.
  • There's a mobile pizza van round our way that always seems to do a roaring trade. I'm no chef but I would have thought it would be easier to operate than a chippy - just a thought. See here: http://www.redwoodstonebaked.co.uk/pitches/

    You should go for it if you can. I set up my business (in a very different industry) three years ago. It's a bit of a roller coaster but I'd never go back to being employed.
  • FishFish wrote:
    mr_eddy wrote:
    I know for certain that most people in the village would visit regularly

    So the village has 2000 people and most will visit. Most is 1001 people at worst. 0.5 kg of food each = 0.5 tonnes. On evenings this will mean serving 1 every 8 seconds..... In my experience, fish and chip shops have been in the decline for 20 years and will die out with the species that provide the staple fare. After all do you think that your 'working class' customer will want monk fish tail, tilapia, and so on. And why do you think that in today's efficient market that there is not a shop there already. This type of outlet has one of the lowest barriers to entry in the game - so why no shop?

    You should talk to people to test your market. The addressable market of 2000 sounds small - go to the nearest town and calculate the number of outlets per head and that will be the norm - if it is < 1 per 2000 then you should be ok - not if the other way round.

    The main risk is falling fowl of employment and tax law - in either of these you cannot be complacent - other than market risk they could put you in serious trouble.

    You also need to look in to your personal circumstances. If you are an employee then you are giving away NI tax credits which will affect your benefits if unemployed and your state pension.

    Great idea though.

    A fairly negative reply even if it was meant to be a grounding exercise.

    The main risk is not making any money. In which case the tax implications mean censored all.

    Seriously, if there is not shop there currently then there is an opportunity that needs exploring! You should look toward similarly populated areas and see if they are supporting a business like you are envisaging be it in a fixed location or a mobile unit. Keep in mind that a fixed location can still service a larger area through a delivery service. People will almost always tell you they would use a new service in their area... And they mean it at the time. However using it every six months won't keep the till ringing.

    I am in the mobile food business and find biggest issue to be finding other like-minded employees who can run it your absence. It is much easier to find employees with the skills to operate things for you than to find employees with the skills to run it AND be qualified to drive it around for you. You will want a day off and holidays! If you have a small customer base you will also most likely have a small pool from which to employ.

    The biggest barrier into the food business is start up cost as you have discovered from your research. Most people who work in the food industry earn low wages so it is difficult to set up from scratch.

    Do your homework and keep positive! Just because nobody has done it doesn't mean it won't work! All the best.
  • ProssPross Posts: 22,137
    Biggest thing with a chippy is getting a reputation for good tasting food. People will travel to get the chips they like. There's an award winning chippy near me that's always busy and that we travel 15 minutes to by car whereas the one in the village rarely has a queue but the wife doesn't like their chips (too greasy). About 25 years ago me, my sister and some friends talked about doing the same and identified two villages where there was no competition. We never went further but within a year or two there were chippies in both. One has thrived and the other closed after a few years.

    All this talk of chip shops 2.5 weeks into a 1 month strict diet isn't good. I'm salivating now!
  • mouthmouth Posts: 1,196
    I'd recommend going to another operator - not too nearby, because they won't give it away to a potential competitor - but somewhere with a similar profile to your village and ask if you can observe/work alongside them for a short while. Other business operators are a great source of advice and experience, and will tell you the truth about how hard it is.

    If you go the mobile route, it could be done alongside your current role, if you have some flexibility for a short while. Social media profiles make marketing a good deal easier for you than it has been in the past. Also, building a reputation with a view to opening a further static operation is a great way of getting a customer base before you even open the door.

    Whereabouts in Nottinghamshire are you? I'm a local, also.
    The only disability in life is a poor attitude.
  • laurentianlaurentian Posts: 1,687
    I run a business and it enables me to have a great work/life balance.

    There are times when the money is leaching away when I often think how much simpler life would be to simply turn up, do a job, go home and collect the salary each month, but then I think of the "career path" back stabbers, the sycophants, the clueless would be Napoleons and generally the people who would get on my wick and have come to the realisation that I never, ever want to work in an organisation other than one I run or perhaps be in partnership with a trusted friend. I could never go back (well I suppose i could but I'd hate every second of it).

    The poster above made a very good point about holidays. I am in the fortunate position that I can go wherever I want, whenever I want - 7 or 8 weeks holiday overseas per year. But I am never actually on holiday I am simply working in a different environment (but careful planning can take some pressure off). But most of what I do can be done via a computer with a wifi connection and, wherever you are in the world, you are never more than a day or so away from that in my experience. You can't do that with a chip shop so this is very important to consider. A two week holiday taken by you when your service is not provided could be enough to send folk, your hard earned customers, elsewhere . . . for good

    Before doing what I do now, I was in the food industry - although not in catering. When reading your initial post, the first thing I thought, like others, of was a mobile chip van. There is far more chance of being able to "thrash the asset" than with a shop. (Also consider a modified horse trailer that can be towed behind a 4 x 4 - painted and liveried properly this can look much more up market than a transit)

    Whatever you do, you need to research heavily first. Chips are food, food is about taste - how do you make your chips better than anyone else in the county? How do you make the customers experience that much better than queuing up at the local chippy? To tempt them away from what they eat or where they go now, you will have to offer them a better product at better value (not necessarily cheaper!)

    Overall the advice given to me by my erstwhile director before setting up was:

    "Double the overhead and half the revenue, if it still looks like it will wash its face, have a go"!

    Good luck . . . you'll never know unless you give it a bash
    Wilier Izoard XP
  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 16,864
    A couple of vaguely relevant observations:

    I work near Leather Lane in Clerkenwell, London, which has mobile food stalls providing lunch for all the office workers. There are a few converted vintage Citroën vans as well as more traditional stalls. Come lunchtime, they are churning out falafel, burritos and the little boxes of curry at a fair old rate, but they're all clearing up by 2pm and gone by 3pm. They must need to sell a lot of lunches in 2 hours to pay for ingredients, the van/stall, rent the pitch, and pay 2-4 people's wages for a day.

    My local chip shop is directly opposite an FE college, and has a big queue at lunchtime, as well as in the evening. A van would allow you to capture a lunchtime market, where people don't have time to go further afield.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    1980s BSA 10sp

    Liberal metropolitan, remoaner, traitor, "sympathiser", etc.
  • slowmartslowmart Posts: 3,807
    Factor in running costs, liability insurance, appropriate licensing to prepare, serve and sell food. Business insurance, NI, corp tax and finfpding a pitch, applying to the local council to operate there.

    I used a butty van and got to know the owner well and we are not far away from the V Festival. He was on about trying to get a pitch at the festival until he enquire down as to the cost for the pitch for his van, selling burgers and hotdogs.

    £20k and it had to be in cash. The thing is over the weekend he' had worked out he'd clear a profit but not enough to risk the outlay.

    So if you know youre swimming with sharks , dress appropriately and use plenty of shark repellant. Running, growing your own business is fantastic, there's good and bad points but there's nothing else like it . Research it, then degrade your projections by 35% to give you a picture of what that would look like and then plan accordingly.

    Best wishes for your venture
    And God created the bicycle, so that man could use it as a means for work and to help him negotiate life's complicated journey.
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