Hello and good day!
In our small town of Issaquah, WA, there is a new taco truck. It is owned by a young couple from Mexico. The husband and wife work together, and they have a seven-year-old son who is always hanging around. For my money, they make the best Mexican food in our town.
I am originally from San Diego, CA and I grew up accustomed to the Baja California style of Mexican food.
Here where we live, the Mexican folks are from a different part of Mexico and their style of cuisine is different. It is still good, but not what I grew up with. This new place is the exact style that I love. But beyond that, this family is pouring their heart and soul into their business.
Sometimes when I go over there, it is completely dead. Their location is just awful. They are parked next to a gas station on the other side of a farm supply store. It is way off the beaten path and there is no foot traffic at all. I found out about the place because the husband is the nephew of a friend of ours.
I am now telling everybody I know about it, trying to get the word out. Once people taste the food, and love it, they will spread the word and over the course of the next couple of years, this little family business can build up a clientele and become sustainable.
Unfortunately, most small businesses never cross that gap. They aren't able to hang in there long enough financially to get through to the other side. In the case of this taco truck, they have all the makings of a business that should be a long-term success.
The product is an A+. The service is an A+. The prices are fair. The family is hard working and deserving.
When you place your order, either the husband or wife takes it, and then they turn around and the two cook together. They have benches and a fold up plastic table with chairs under a tarp off to the side. While you are waiting, their kid runs around, and he is very cute and funny.
Then one of them walks everything out to the table for you and if they aren't too busy, they stay and talk with you and explain a bit about their business.
One day the husband stayed and talked for a good long while, because there weren't any other customers. He spilled his guts. I could see the worry on his face as he explained that he and his wife weren't making enough to live on.
He told me that they poured all their money into getting the truck fixed up. On a daily basis, he has to decide how much money to spend on perishable goods. If he doesn't spend enough, he won't have enough inventory to make the necessary sales to support his family.
On the other hand, if he spends too much, he could have money he can't afford to lose tied up in ingredients that could rot and have to be thrown away. I can see that this daily decision torments him.
He wants to be optimistic and hope that each day will be better than the last, but the hard-boiled part of his brain insists that he go small, even though it means he might end up having to turn away a big order. And it also means that he is guaranteed not to make enough money to pay the bills.
This is very common for small business owners who are just getting started.
For our part, our family business went two and a half years without any income whatsoever when we got into the chocolate business.It took us that long to learn how to buy and process cacao, figure out how to have chocolate made, and then figure out how to sell it. Even when we started making sales, we were hanging on by the skin of our teeth. During that time, we lived off my dad's life savings.
There were many times when we all wore that same concerned look that I saw on the owner of the taco truck. We were walking around not knowing how we were going to pull off what we needed to pull off.
But since we believed in our product and the mission of our business, buying cacao at premium prices from hundreds of cacao farm families, we just kept on going.
And if my friend over at the taco truck finds a way to just keep on going, no matter how hard it is, or how impossible it seems, he'll figure it all out.
He might need a new location. He might need a new product line up. Maybe they need to start doing catering, or get with Uber Eats, or whatever else. They need word of mouth and a regular clientele.
It will all happen for them. But it will take 2 - 5 years, guaranteed. It always does.
In the meantime, all of us folks out there who believe in entrepreneurship and in chasing the American dream can do our best to support small businesses. Small businesses are what add vibrancy and excitement to the economy.
I can get a taco at Chipotle right near our chocolate shop. It is a little cheaper and a lot more convenient. But it is not as good, and I'd rather have a locally owned authentic Baja California taco truck in town than a Chipotle. In truth, the world doesn't need another Chipotle. I've got nothing against Chipotle by the way. It's a good option, all things considered.
It's just not as good as a husband and wife making fresh tacos with high quality ingredients and wonderful service.
So, when I can, I drive over to the gas station on the other side of the farm supply store and sit under the tarp and watch the seven-year-old run around and I chat with the husband and try to encourage him. And I tell everybody I know about the place.
That is about as much as I can do. The rest is up to them and what they mostly have to do is find a way to survive, while maintaining their quality and level of service.
If they do that, they will become a long-term staple in the community and they will end up being something that all the locals are very proud of.
That is how it works.
If you hang in there, you become a landmark and your neighbors start bragging about you. They tell everybody they know that there is a great place in town and that visitors absolutely must go over and check it out.
But it takes time and the support of conscientious customers. If you know of any small business owners who could use support, please keep them in mind!
Thank you so much for your time today. And, of course, thank you so, so, so much for your continued support of our small family business.
You can get chocolate in a lot of places, but by doing business with us, you are supporting an independently owned company who is committed to quality and operating ethically and doing our best to take great care of our customers.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
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