First appeared on Food Riot by Autumn Barker
"Hey, my parents owned a snow cone stand! They make good money!"
That was quite possibly the last rational statement my girlfriend ever made, including that time she proposed.
So, we bought an established business that was dearly loved by all in our small town. What could possibly go wrong? But here's the hilarious part- we had no idea what we were doing! We quickly learned that owning a business, even one primarily concerned with such fanciful items as shaved ice drenched in sugar syrup, the unicorns of the dessert world, firstly entails participating in tiring, "business-type" activities such as taxes, building repairs, and fending off the government, and secondly (if you have the time!) (and money!), actually CREATING foodstuffs to sell.
No one tells you any of this.
It's pretty unfortunate, since the American Dream hinges on a few key ideas:
1.Do what you love, and the money will follow
2. If you work hard, you too can be a Rockefeller
3. You'd better do it all on your own.
I know we don't know each other personally, so I'll go ahead and dispel some rumors you might have heard about me: I don't own a private island, we don't have a solid-gold toilet, and I haven't been to the doctor in a few years, when we had both insurance AND the $$ required for co-pays.
I'm not saying you can't work in food and be well-off; the existence of Paula Deen (who probably has a solid gold bidet- let's be honest here, you can't eat that much butter and expect your gallbladder to work properly), and those people who started that "Sprinkles Cupcakes" place are all here to prove me wrong. What I am saying is that they probably have more business acumen than me, or maybe they were able to hire people early on to take care of the paperwork, or maybe they're masochists who just LOVE making hundreds of little piles of receipts every January, fragile, precious piles that catch the breeze and float away every time you sigh huffily at the Indignity Of It All (which, for me, is every 1.28 minutes).
You know though, it's not all bad. For starters, I sell snow cones for a living. I am not delivering news of a terminal illness. I am not waist deep in sewage. I know your snow cone desires better than you do, like a damn Sugar Whisperer. We also have these SUPER AMAZING kids from the high school that come and do job training with us. They all have special needs, and they are full of awesome. Sometimes, one of them will express a wish that we can fulfill (a boy wishes to see snow just once in his life- BOOM- we make tons of snow- 'CAUSE WE OWN A GODDAMN SNOW CONE STAND, AND WE CAN DO THAT.)
If you suspect that you, too, are full of the awesome, and are toying with the idea of starting a food business, hear me- it will rarely be easy. There will be less free time and even less money. (I think it must be like having a child, but without the societal approval and support.) Know that some days you will totally feel like throwing in the ol' barmop.
And then one day one of your customers will bring you a treasure map her kid has drawn and the "X" is right over your business, and you realize you can't possibly give up, because someone has to provide all those good memories. (And really, who else has the dedication to wake up every day and give people the diabeetus?)
Tell us your dream food business- no judging here, I swear.
Read more on Food Riot