I am really glad I found this thread...
I too am debating if and how I should get into the sales business, but haven't done the research yet that JR has. I am naive enough to think that good product+great people skills/customer service+high demand+location flexibility+variety of business (special event vending,catering, partnership with restaurant once a week) would ensure at least moderate success. I have a pretty good network/word of mouth base built up, and was hoping to capitalize on that.
I live in Las Vegas, and there is a definite demand for great barbecue. The food truck thing is going crazy here, but no barbecue. The local rag, The Las Vegas Weekly, when doing a big cover story/writeup on the food truck phenom, even listed barbecue as one of the types of food that is desperately needed and wanted. While I really want to have an open air/accessible setup (i.e. a big Lang, Gator, or Pitmaker rig), it seems that regardless of that, the market is here. I've just always had a vision of operating at the same level as the people, with a visually engaging setup, as opposed to being in an enclosed trailer (but that is another story).
I have no experience whatsoever in this business. I am just an avid backyard cooker, I have been a waiter for around 8 years in the same local cafe/wine bar, and I have a degree in Landscape Architecture (which I only mention because I have a certain perspective on "placemaking" and the methodology of responding to the needs and behavioral habits of people). Strangely enough, I was thinking of writing an article on using barbecue as a placemaking device, but that is another story as well.
Sorry to ramble, I don't mean to hijack, I guess I am just coming to realize that my vision of taking out a big loan to get a rig built, and all the other extras that inevitably will go along with it, might not be the best idea. There seems to be a consensus here to start small, and take it easy. It seems to be a catch 21 though, because the health department requires so many things, the menu that one might be planning will require others (i.e. two different cookers on rig for different temps and cook times, santa maria setup for doing tri tip and other stuff, burners/griddle), starting with a WSM is impossible. I have no idea what the earning potential of this business is, or what typical profit margins are.
As I am going along I realize that I am drifting away from JR's initial post. I do apologize. I will stop here and just thank everyone for what I've read so far. I might have to simplify my vision and just get a Lang 84 widebody deluxe and see where that takes me. Would still have to finance it :/