The term “taqueria” originated in Mexico, where street vendors sold inexpensive Mexican food in local gathering places. While menu specifics and ingredients vary, tacos have always been an integral part of the taqueria. Americans have embraced this unique business model, making food stands and trucks one of the fastest growing industries today.
Learn how to start your own Taqueria Business and whether it is the right fit for you.
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Start a taqueria business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Taqueria Business
- Form your Taqueria Business into a Legal Entity
- Register your Taqueria Business for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Taqueria Business
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Taqueria Business
- Get Taqueria Business Insurance
- Define your Taqueria Business Brand
- Create your Taqueria Business Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
We have put together this simple guide to starting your taqueria business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What will you name your business?
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Taqueria Business Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
What are the costs involved in opening a taqueria business?
Taqueria business owners report start-up costs of between $8,000 and $21,000. Geographical location and the specifics of your business model will impact your upfront costs. Consider the following needs when determining your budget:
- Location - Some taco stands are mobile, while others operate out of a permanent structure. Your taco stand should be in a visible, high-traffic location with ample parking. Food truck owners pay a fee to the land owner, while permanent locations will need to pay rent and a deposit.
- Buildout, furnishing, and equipment - Save on upfront costs by finding a location that is designed for this type of business.
- Permits and insurance
- Food ingredients and restaurant essentials
- Point of sale (POS) system
- Signage and marketing materials - Save money and support your local community by hiring an artist to paint your sign and design your logo, etc.
What are the ongoing expenses for a taqueria business?
Part of the appeal of running this type of business is the low overhead costs. With a carefully chosen establishment, rent and utilities should be a fraction of the cost of running a larger restaurant. Payroll expenses, insurance, and maintaining your stock will represent the greatest part of your budget.
Who is the target market?
Patrons that frequent this type of establishment are looking for a quick and casual meal at affordable prices. When building your menu, consider the area and what niche is currently lacking. If your goal is to serve authentic Mexican cuisine, yet the area is saturated, concentrate on a different niche, such as fusion or Tex-Mex.
How does a taqueria business make money?
A taqueria business generates revenue from the sale of each food item. Most taquerias focus on tacos, with a variety of ingredient options available for a small fee. Low overhead costs offer the potential for higher profits.
How much can you charge customers?
Your prices should be directly tied to food costs. As a rule, set your prices between 30% and 35% of the menu items’ food costs. Most taquerias have set menu items, with the option to add additional items for a nominal fee.
How much profit can a taqueria business make?
Unlike the vast majority of businesses, many taco stand business owners report a profit in the first year, with between $112,000 – $156,000 by the third year.
How can you make your business more profitable?
As mentioned, offering add-ons will help drive the prices up. Experienced owners also encourage offering double portions as part of your upsell strategy. If you have the space, hiring a local band as entertainment can help increase your customer base. Additionally, speak with your local patrons and determine if there is a market for offering a delivery service.
Want a more guided approach? Access TRUiC's free Small Business Startup Guide - a step-by-step course for turning your business idea into reality. Get started today!
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your taqueria business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Open a business bank account
Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.
Get a business credit card
Getting a business credit card helps you:
- Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.
Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from BILL and build your business credit quickly.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
How to promote & market a taqueria business
In today’s business landscape, it is critical that every business maintain social media accounts. This is an effective way to keep your business’ name fresh in your customers’ minds and update them on new developments. Ads in local publications with a coupon will get people in the door and keep them coming back. Many business’ have found success donating to a local nonprofit or sponsoring a community team.
For your grand opening, invite food bloggers, local press, and influential members of the community. Use your soft opening as a dry run, working out any kinks that might arise
How to keep customers coming back
To ensure repeat customers, deliver quality food and customer service consistently. Interact with your patrons and ask for feedback. This will help strengthen your brand, communicating to guests that you value their business.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
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Is this Business Right For You?
A taqueria is an affordable business venture for the food lover who is passionate about sharing their Mexican food creations with others. While many start out looking at this as a stepping stone to owning a larger restaurant, most ultimately find greater fulfillment and success sticking to this profitable business model.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a taqueria business?
Whether it’s taking orders, answering questions, and interacting with customers, customer service will be the focal point of your day. Re-stocking ingredients, maintaining accurate records and finances, and marketing the business will also be a part of your daily activities.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful taqueria business?
As a restaurant owner, you must have a diverse set of skills. Since customer service plays a large role in your success, it is critical that you possess strong interpersonal and communication skills. Whether you plan to be involved in the kitchen or leave that to your staff, a culinary background would prove beneficial. To maximize profits, you’ll need to maintain detailed, accurate records. Therefore, strong business and leadership skills are also essential. Those who do not have a hospitality background are encouraged to gain real-world experience.
What is the growth potential for a taqueria business?
The food truck phenomenon has changed the business model for many entrepreneurs looking to open a restaurant. Consumers are attracted to the idea of supporting a small, local business and enjoy the relaxed setting. Due to higher profit margins, many taqueria business owners have been able to invest their money back into the business, opening multiple locations throughout the city.
Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a taqueria business?
In this type of business, the overhead costs are low. Taqueria owners are able to pass these savings on to the customer through lower prices, without eating into their profits. Keep it simple by offering canned/bottled drinks. Focus your energy on ensuring you serve high-quality, fresh food, with recipes that are simple yet palatable. Before opening your doors, know your recipes. This will not only help ensure consistency and shape your budget, it will impact your brand and how you market. Your taqueria’s location will have a direct impact on your hours of operation. Be flexible with your hours until you have determined peak days and times.
How and when to build a team
Operating a taqueria business requires detailed planning and a strong staff. During the planning stages, hire key employees. Leave ample time to train front and back-of-house personnel and ensure your team is knowledgeable about your menu and food preparation. Your kitchen staff should have cooking experience and your front-of-house employees should have prior restaurant or customer service experience.