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Author Topic: My crazy idea for starting a mini part time business. Looking for feedback  (Read 1615 times)

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Offline lennyk

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With the lockdown I have also been doing paid pizzas for friends once or twice a week
simply by letting them know I'll be running off some pies in the evening.

I usually do about 4-6, my oven is  quick 2-3 min bake time and they pass pay and pickup.
My quality surpasses any chain pizza so its not a hard sell.

I have been mulling going public on social media and taking pickup orders but being a one man shop has its issues to think about.

But the lockdown and future of food business has many persons not going out to eat in the regular places and are going to be more picky how they spend their money for sure, they will want quality.

Offline amolapizza

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How about only making take away pizza for friends, neighbours, and acquaintances?

You make them pizza, they come pick it up and give you a contribution to offset your costs?  Maybe a naive proposition knowing how people are.  But at least like that you're not really a commercial operation (?) and you can get a lot of practice on the pizza making.

At least for a start, if you see that it's successful you can start making plans about if you really like being in the food business (which as others have noted can be detrimental to your health, sanity and personal life), make a business plan, etc, etc.
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Offline lennyk

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that is always a good option for soft starting, a quality product will always spread via word of mouth on its own eventually.

Offline woodfiredandrew

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making pizza professionally in pizzeria is very different than making it in a home for family and friends...... i have done both. Having said that, if you apply commercial discipline to your home pizza making then there is lot of take away from it in terms of confidence.     

Offline TXCraig1

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A couple thoughts:

Before you start a business plan, I suggest defining your goal and focusing on it. Reading you posts, some sound like you want it to be a hobby and maybe cover your costs and others sound like you want to make money.

With respect to insurance, remember, as a sole proprietor, your personal assets are on the line if something goes wrong and you don't have insurance to cover it. Even things that might not seem like they need insurance - bikes for example. What if your delivery kid on a bike gets hit by a car...

Even if it's a hobby, it's taxable income. The IRS isn't going to care if you call it a donation, and I'm guessing the State of California won't either. Don't forget to put the earnings in your tax return. I don't know the law in CA, but you may have to collect and remit sales tax too.

If you're going to both bake and deliver, it may need to be an appointment system - that or people need to be prepared for the possibility of long waits.

Think about your operating hours because you're tied to your house when you're open - business or no business.
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Offline chgorrell

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How about only making take away pizza for friends, neighbours, and acquaintances?

You make them pizza, they come pick it up and give you a contribution to offset your costs?  Maybe a naive proposition knowing how people are.  But at least like that you're not really a commercial operation (?) and you can get a lot of practice on the pizza making.

At least for a start, if you see that it's successful you can start making plans about if you really like being in the food business (which as others have noted can be detrimental to your health, sanity and personal life), make a business plan, etc, etc.

I couldn't agree more, thats what i've been doing during lock down.

« Last Edit: May 22, 2020, 10:42:41 AM by chgorrell »

Offline BigNeapolitanBalls

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Here's a couple of things to consider from someone whose doing something similar to what you're doing.

Will you be able to get everything you need consistently ?

Depending on how many pizzas you will make you're going to run through a certain amount of products.

If you're going through a distributor will you make the minimum order? If you're not going to going through a distributor, more than likely you'll eventually run into problems sourcing your ingredients. The other day I had to go to more than 5 shops to get what I needed. Things were either sold out, on order, or not up to snuff. Luckily where I am I have enough speciality stores I can go to, but it is still a problem. Doing this 7 days a week not going through a distributor you are going to have this problem.


Will you have enough time and storage space to make your dough ?

This question is pretty simple.
Depending on your work flow if using cold fermentation, or room temperature etc etc there's so many variables you're going to need a place to store the dough. If you're going the cold fermentation route do you have enough space to always have dough? Are you going to have time to make it also having to source everything?

Have you accounted for errors ?

You make mistakes. You're going to rip a dough occasionally, you're going to overcook a pie.

These things happen. If you're going to sell 10 pizzas a day you need to make more than 10. You cannot expect everything to go right. Pizza making is like a chain link. It's all attached and if one link goes it all goes quick.


Just some things to consider....



Offline Quebert

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A couple thoughts:

Before you start a business plan, I suggest defining your goal and focusing on it. Reading you posts, some sound like you want it to be a hobby and maybe cover your costs and others sound like you want to make money.

With respect to insurance, remember, as a sole proprietor, your personal assets are on the line if something goes wrong and you don't have insurance to cover it. Even things that might not seem like they need insurance - bikes for example. What if your delivery kid on a bike gets hit by a car...

Even if it's a hobby, it's taxable income. The IRS isn't going to care if you call it a donation, and I'm guessing the State of California won't either. Don't forget to put the earnings in your tax return. I don't know the law in CA, but you may have to collect and remit sales tax too.

If you're going to both bake and deliver, it may need to be an appointment system - that or people need to be prepared for the possibility of long waits.

Think about your operating hours because you're tied to your house when you're open - business or no business.

About the just a hobby to cover costs or do I want to make money. I want to make money, a few hours a day and 10 pizzas I'm not going to be able to retire off it. I wouldn't be doing it just for the money, but if I could do something I enjoy and at the end of the day pocket $100 I'd consider that a good day. I am focused on doing this right.


How about only making take away pizza for friends, neighbours, and acquaintances?


You make them pizza, they come pick it up and give you a contribution to offset your costs?  Maybe a naive proposition knowing how people are.  But at least like that you're not really a commercial operation (?) and you can get a lot of practice on the pizza making.

At least for a start, if you see that it's successful you can start making plans about if you really like being in the food business (which as others have noted can be detrimental to your health, sanity and personal life), make a business plan, etc, etc.

this is kind of what I'm doing now, minus the contribution part. Been giving pizzas away to friends and neighbors as ginny pigs while I figure out my dough and how to cook them properly.  As of the last batch I'm done with the freebies, they've all had 2 - 4 pizzas so if they like them enough to still eat them, they can donate to the cause.  3 said they'd give me $ for future ones, haven't spoken to the others.  Feedback has been positive from everyone though, my roommates brother has eaten 4, and he told her "his pizzas are better than Little Ceasers" lol not exactly a shining compliment, but LC's one of his spots, so I took it as he was impressed. It's not exactly hard to out pizza LC or the Hut.

Here's a couple of things to consider from someone whose doing something similar to what you're doing.

Will you be able to get everything you need consistently ?

Depending on how many pizzas you will make you're going to run through a certain amount of products.

If you're going through a distributor will you make the minimum order? If you're not going to going through a distributor, more than likely you'll eventually run into problems sourcing your ingredients. The other day I had to go to more than 5 shops to get what I needed. Things were either sold out, on order, or not up to snuff. Luckily where I am I have enough speciality stores I can go to, but it is still a problem. Doing this 7 days a week not going through a distributor you are going to have this problem.


Will you have enough time and storage space to make your dough ?

This question is pretty simple.
Depending on your work flow if using cold fermentation, or room temperature etc etc there's so many variables you're going to need a place to store the dough. If you're going the cold fermentation route do you have enough space to always have dough? Are you going to have time to make it also having to source everything?

Have you accounted for errors ?

You make mistakes. You're going to rip a dough occasionally, you're going to overcook a pie.

These things happen. If you're going to sell 10 pizzas a day you need to make more than 10. You cannot expect everything to go right. Pizza making is like a chain link. It's all attached and if one link goes it all goes quick.


Just some things to consider....


Good points, I'll definitely make mistakes and kill pizzas. my Doughmate boxes can hold I think 8 250g balls. I figure I could make 14 at a time, and if I somehow don't screw any of the 10 up I can put left over 4 in the freezer.  And you're probably right about running out of stuff, some things I seem to always see at the store when I don't need them, undoubtedly won't be there when I actually do need it.  I don't think there are any of those cash and carry places near me. The only distributor I see around here is Sysco, and best I can tell they don't deal with single people. And even if they did it's probably ginormous quantities. I don't need 12 5# bags of shredded Mozzarella. There is a R.D. about 20 minutes away, and smart and final. I just picked up a 50# bag of high gluten flour and 3 cans of 7/11 tomatoes. Fortunately the smart and final and 2 really nice grocery stores are within a mile and a half of me. *knock on wood* I've never not been able to get fresh mozzarella or a good pepperoni stick.  I do have a few things on my mock up draft menu that I 100% won't be able to find locally, and could struggle even to find online all the time.

The fridge point's good too, I currently have 4 doughmate artisan boxes and plan to get 2 more and I'm looking for a smaller size dedicated fridge to put them in. I figured with a 72 hour fermentation I should always be able to have 14 dough balls ready.  I'll destroy some for sure, but I can't make 10 successful pizzas with 14 balls I need to find something else.


A serious big THANK YOU to everyone who's replied.  I'm going to find some new neighbors, and call all the people I've made pizza's for so far and ask them to tell 3 or 4 friends if they'd like to try a couple free pizzas next month. By Sunday finish making my initial menu and get some nice ones printed up online. Get a working web site up for the ordering, then I can start June 1st with a 1 month run of free pizzas. Where people can tip if they feel inclined.  if I have 20-30 people who get 2-3 pizzas each over the month I can get food feedback on what I need to change.

Still got a TON to figure out, but at least on the pizza end I can start getting more feedback on what people think of them.

Offline MN-Smoker

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In situations like this, you almost have to wonder if you aren't better off taking the next step.

Not too far away from us I know of a couple who are doing a pizza trailer. Started off making them in their backyard.
Then got a trailer with a woodfired oven and started doing events.
From there went on to now renting a space for a kitchen and they are doing order only on specific dates.

It's a slow ramp up, but they are gaining a following.

The out of home idea always seems tough. It seems like people would be less likely to order because it feels imposing and a bit awkward.

I would like to start something small sometime, but I really think I need to center it on the labor portion. How do I set it up where I can ramp it up enough to make a little money, yet not to manage tons of employees who are not trainable.

You are a step before that and your plan doesn't scale up well.
If you decide to take the next step you are essentially starting over from scratch to build the next step.





Offline Thicccpie

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I am wanting to do this really bad too Quebert. My only problem is in my county home kitchens cannot be licensed so I would have to work out of a rented commercial kitchen...

Honestly I almost want to just sell to friends and family sort of to see if I have it in me and if a larger circle of people enjoy my product. The home kitchen rules is really putting a damper on doing this the right way...

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Offline Quebert

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I am wanting to do this really bad too Quebert. My only problem is in my county home kitchens cannot be licensed so I would have to work out of a rented commercial kitchen...

Honestly I almost want to just sell to friends and family sort of to see if I have it in me and if a larger circle of people enjoy my product. The home kitchen rules is really putting a damper on doing this the right way...

Yes, lot of rules and regulations which I understand why. But it can be hard to impossible depending on where you're at. I don't know about the rest of the country but in So Cal we have Elote men, they are a guy who pushes around a cart and sells Mexican street corn. Corn on the cob slathered with mayo and butter then rolled in powdered parmesan cheese & sprinked with Tajin, or hot sauce depending on the guy. I have spoken to a few, so I can't comment on all of them. But the one who comes to my neighborhood has been doing it for years and years and has no sort of permit to do it. I don't know how the cops haven't shut him down.  I know he's technically not cooking anything in his cart, but even just preparing non packaged food out here you need to have a food handelers card, and probably a bunch of different permits and a license of some sort. There are dozens in my town alone, I wonder if any operate legit. I know the guy who comes to my neighborhood makes an absolute killing. $2 each and probably sells 150-200 a day. And nobody I know seems to care about what his health rating would be if the health inspector inspected carts. Right now he has on a coronavirus mask and still has a lot of customers.

Every time I've seen him the past week, I've thought in the back of my head what if I got a cart like his, but instead of selling street corn put my Koda on it and pushed it around making Neapolitan pizzas.  I'm joking, but it's an idea that maybe could work. Especially with the pizzas cooking so fast.  I've never seen a mobile pizza cart before so I have no idea if anyone would come. But I know people in my town flock to the Elote men all day. Of course corn's simple and only $1.50-2 depending on the cart.  I admire their hustle, they obviously don't have a lot of money when they start, so they just get a basic cart and put a bicycle horn on it and go make money.


You know what, maybe I will attempt a pizza cart, it could actually become a thing. And I could sell my pizzas without any delivery involved.   It would be like a food truck, only no truck. I need to look into if this would even be doable due to all the regulations and laws. Or, I could be like the corn men out here and just do it regardless.

« Last Edit: May 23, 2020, 12:53:21 AM by Quebert »

Offline Thicccpie

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Yes, lot of rules and regulations which I understand why. But it can be hard to impossible depending on where you're at. I don't know about the rest of the country but in So Cal we have Elote men, they are a guy who pushes around a cart and sells Mexican street corn. Corn on the cob slathered with mayo and butter then rolled in powdered parmesan cheese & sprinked with Tajin, or hot sauce depending on the guy. I have spoken to a few, so I can't comment on all of them. But the one who comes to my neighborhood has been doing it for years and years and has no sort of permit to do it. I don't know how the cops haven't shut him down.  I know he's technically not cooking anything in his cart, but even just preparing non packaged food out here you need to have a food handelers card, and probably a bunch of different permits and a license of some sort. There are dozens in my town alone, I wonder if any operate legit. I know the guy who comes to my neighborhood makes an absolute killing. $2 each and probably sells 150-200 a day. And nobody I know seems to care about what his health rating would be if the health inspector inspected carts. Right now he has on a coronavirus mask and still has a lot of customers.

Every time I've seen him the past week, I've thought in the back of my head what if I got a cart like his, but instead of selling street corn put my Koda on it and pushed it around making Neapolitan pizzas.  I'm joking, but it's an idea that maybe could work. Especially with the pizzas cooking so fast.  I've never seen a mobile pizza cart before so I have no idea if anyone would come. But I know people in my town flock to the Elote men all day. Of course corn's simple and only $1.50-2 depending on the cart.  I admire their hustle, they obviously don't have a lot of money when they start, so they just get a basic cart and put a bicycle horn on it and go make money.


You know what, maybe I will attempt a pizza cart, it could actually become a thing. And I could sell my pizzas without any delivery involved.   It would be like a food truck, only no truck. I need to look into if this would even be doable due to all the regulations and laws. Or, I could be like the corn men out here and just do it regardless.
That's the thing, I feel like the police really won't care about some youngster selling pizzas, especially if I take proper precautions during this time. I saw some guy, not sure if he is was on here but I think it was on Reddit, who was simply having people order online and leaving the pizzas at a designated time slot at the end of his driveway. That sounds like something perfect for me to do.

I'm in too suburban of an area to do this pizza cart idea, my only concern for you would be how often you would have to re-up on your ice to keep your ingredients cold enough. I imagine a propane tank could last you all day.

Offline Quebert

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This is a work in progress of my 1st menu, it's 2 sided with more pizzas on the back and a this is who I am statement I wrote. Anywho, I think I'm kind of over the top with the number of sauces, cheese, toppings basically everything. Once I get it finalized I'm going to have it printed on thick cardstock and give it out to my neighbors and friends. Perhaps if I keep it to people I know I can operate below the radar and go unnoticed and still have enough business to stay busy for my couple o' hours a day.

Any feedback on the menu would be wonderful.

« Last Edit: May 23, 2020, 01:04:45 AM by Quebert »

Online Chicago Bob

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This guy goes by PizzaJawn, and is killing it from his porch in Philly.

Make it great, and they will come.

https://www.inquirer.com/food/pizza-jawn-grandma-neapolitan-david-lee-20200404.html
.  Serious question cause it's bugging me....
they place the boxed pizza for pick up on a table outside on their porch.... Why all the hand sanitizer stuff on that same table?
I think I'd put out a dish of complimentary individually wrapped mint thingies or something.... What is the sanitizer for?? :-\
They want you to clean your hands before picking up their pizza box?  It's counter intuitive....
« Last Edit: May 23, 2020, 01:47:33 AM by Chicago Bob »
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Offline Quebert

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That's the thing, I feel like the police really won't care about some youngster selling pizzas, especially if I take proper precautions during this time. I saw some guy, not sure if he is was on here but I think it was on Reddit, who was simply having people order online and leaving the pizzas at a designated time slot at the end of his driveway. That sounds like something perfect for me to do.

I'm in too suburban of an area to do this pizza cart idea, my only concern for you would be how often you would have to re-up on your ice to keep your ingredients cold enough. I imagine a propane tank could last you all day.

I don't know the ins and outs of how the laws are enforced if the police get involved. But no I don't think the police will do much more than tell you to stop doing it and at worst give you a ticket. Which would be pretty hefty out here in So Cal.

And while I was mostly joking about the cart idea, if I did attempt it things would be the same as my initial idea. 10 pizzas a day and I'm done.   Trying to manage a cart for an entire day in So Cal heat would be an absolute nightmare. I'd need a cooler to keep toppings the proper temperature so nobody gets sick. And I'd need something not cold to keep my dough balls ready to be used, but they couldn't be too warm either.  I think for corn the carts are perfect for them because nothing needs to be refrigerated. For pizzas a food truck would be the way to go. Or some type of super fancy expensive cart that has a built in fridge that runs off battery and some other high tech stuff.  It's an interesting idea but very unrealistic and would cost lord knows how much money.

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Offline Robin

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I have been operating this exact business model for the last 13 years.

I have a commercial electric deck oven in my home kitchen and make 17" New York style pizza. I operate 5 PM - 9 PM  three days a week and deliver within a 3 mile radius. I also started by delivering to friends first then got a menu printed and posted it to houses around the area.

I would definitely encourage you to follow your idea. You will make mistakes along the way but you will learn a lot - I did!

Let me know if you have any questions about running a business like this (apart from rules/regulations - I live in the UK) 

Offline MN-Smoker

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Yes, lot of rules and regulations which I understand why. But it can be hard to impossible depending on where you're at. I don't know about the rest of the country but in So Cal we have Elote men, they are a guy who pushes around a cart and sells Mexican street corn. Corn on the cob slathered with mayo and butter then rolled in powdered parmesan cheese & sprinked with Tajin, or hot sauce depending on the guy. I have spoken to a few, so I can't comment on all of them. But the one who comes to my neighborhood has been doing it for years and years and has no sort of permit to do it. I don't know how the cops haven't shut him down.  I know he's technically not cooking anything in his cart, but even just preparing non packaged food out here you need to have a food handelers card, and probably a bunch of different permits and a license of some sort. There are dozens in my town alone, I wonder if any operate legit. I know the guy who comes to my neighborhood makes an absolute killing. $2 each and probably sells 150-200 a day. And nobody I know seems to care about what his health rating would be if the health inspector inspected carts. Right now he has on a coronavirus mask and still has a lot of customers.

Every time I've seen him the past week, I've thought in the back of my head what if I got a cart like his, but instead of selling street corn put my Koda on it and pushed it around making Neapolitan pizzas.  I'm joking, but it's an idea that maybe could work. Especially with the pizzas cooking so fast.  I've never seen a mobile pizza cart before so I have no idea if anyone would come. But I know people in my town flock to the Elote men all day. Of course corn's simple and only $1.50-2 depending on the cart.  I admire their hustle, they obviously don't have a lot of money when they start, so they just get a basic cart and put a bicycle horn on it and go make money.


You know what, maybe I will attempt a pizza cart, it could actually become a thing. And I could sell my pizzas without any delivery involved.   It would be like a food truck, only no truck. I need to look into if this would even be doable due to all the regulations and laws. Or, I could be like the corn men out here and just do it regardless.

Making some assumptions here, but the reason why the cart might not have been shut down is because there is nothing for government to chase. If the person doesn't have much in personal income or assets, their ability to govern the person are pretty minimal since they know they won't collect much in penalties should they write him a fine for being out of compliance.  In turn they make their work more difficult and they lose the plausible deniability should someone get very sick and a lawsuit happen.  ("Oh, we had no idea there was a guy selling corn.")

Where if you do it, and you have other income or significant assets, they know they can hold you to the letter of the law, and collect on fines and payments.

Sometimes it's better for enforcement agencies to look the other way, and sometimes it's better to force people through the process and collect $$ along the way.


Offline chgorrell

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.  Serious question cause it's bugging me....
they place the boxed pizza for pick up on a table outside on their porch.... Why all the hand sanitizer stuff on that same table?
I think I'd put out a dish of complimentary individually wrapped mint thingies or something.... What is the sanitizer for?? :-\
They want you to clean your hands before picking up their pizza box?  It's counter intuitive....

So no sanitizer? or Sanitizing area removed from the pizza pick up area? I myself am trying to understand the "best way" especially when it's outside and physical barriers between the pickup and cooking area.
That being said i mean i see people strapped with sanitizer so it' can't be a bad or harmful thing even if it's unnecessary.

Online Pizza_Not_War

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Making some assumptions here, but the reason why the cart might not have been shut down is because there is nothing for government to chase. If the person doesn't have much in personal income or assets, their ability to govern the person are pretty minimal since they know they won't collect much in penalties should they write him a fine for being out of compliance.  In turn they make their work more difficult and they lose the plausible deniability should someone get very sick and a lawsuit happen.  ("Oh, we had no idea there was a guy selling corn.")

Where if you do it, and you have other income or significant assets, they know they can hold you to the letter of the law, and collect on fines and payments.

Sometimes it's better for enforcement agencies to look the other way, and sometimes it's better to force people through the process and collect $$ along the way.
It's simply that the Police aren't in the business of shutting down food carts. It's a health department issue and they probably only respond to complaints made. I can hear the phone call to 911, my house is being broken into, please send help. Sorry sir, all units are shutting down an illegal corn on the cob seller downtown. You'll just have to wait.

Online Chicago Bob

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So no sanitizer? or Sanitizing area removed from the pizza pick up area? I myself am trying to understand the "best way" especially when it's outside and physical barriers between the pickup and cooking area.
That being said i mean i see people strapped with sanitizer so it' can't be a bad or harmful thing even if it's unnecessary.
.  Now that I've thought about it..... Maybe they are trying to show that they clean the area after someone had been there to pick up their pizza?
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