Why Our Incredibly Popular Farmers Market Food Truck Failed

We landed our dream gig, an exclusive invitation from Georgetown University to bring our organic food truck onto campus. I was on location barely five minutes before I got the truck stuck in a tunnel, the exhaust system scraping against the low concrete ceiling. I eased the transmission into reverse, creeping backwards, praying that my stainless steel blower was still attached. Pedestrians stopped in their tracks, cringing as sounds of grinding metal echoed out of the tunnel. Dust and rubble fell from the ceiling as I backed out. James, the young man I was training that day to deliver food from our farm to the truck, looked at me skeptically. “Uh… this isn’t part of the job description, is it?” “No,” I said, leaning out the window to make sure I wasn’t backing into another vehicle. “It’s not part of your job description. Come to think of it, it’s not part of mine, either.” It wasn’t supposed to be this difficult. We had dreamed up the truck several years earlier, and spent an additional year working out a detailed plan, wading through the permits of two different states. The free-range meat and eggs would be sourced from our farm. A local baker supplied our buns. Farmers market lettuce and tomatoes topped our sandwiches, and an organic herb farm

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2 thoughts on “Why Our Incredibly Popular Farmers Market Food Truck Failed

  1. Great story
    “exit” plan. That is a way to get out of a business without claiming failure or success. Selling a business or enterprise is a nice way to celebrate an exit. Check out Freakonomics (books or podcast) and see why economists will say “quit fast/quit early”. Failing to quit once the business fails to achieve your goals is a real failure of management decision making. It takes real guts to quit, learn and move on!

  2. Forrest,
    I have tremendous respect for what you are accomplishing and the amount of work that you have on your plate–no pun intended. And there is no doubt you were too busy to do it all. So why not just hire it out, or contract the food truck to someone else? In my opinion, the food truck is/was a terrific idea, and well executed, except for one thing…

    One of the mistakes small business owners make is in thinking that they have to do it all themselves. It’s ok to become the leader of your business and hire others to do the work, in fact that’s how good businesses grow, and offer customers more of what they want–your food truck was a wonderful service to your customers. Plus, you also then offer opportunities to others to get into this thing we call sustainable agriculture, and find meaningful employment–not everybody can own and operate a farm. I think you can make it work, but you need to grow into more than just someone who does chores all day, though. You will need to grow into a leader of employees who do much of the work. Your job then is to keep the ship pointed in the right direction, not to swab all the decks and hoist all the sails.

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