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Going Indie: An LA Chef With TV Chops Packed His Knives to Go Solo



Sometimes great businesses start with a revelation: “Why work for someone else when I can do this exact same job - but on my own terms!” The bold entrepreneurs we’ll meet in Going Indie have all done just that -- quit their salaried positions to declare independence, starting up their own ventures in the same field.


Name: Johnny Zone

Business: Howlin’ Ray’s Hot Chicken

Founded: 2015

Location: Los Angeles, CA


The Revelation: Johnny recalls, “I made a name for myself cooking on TV, so when it came to setting up a business, we were lucky enough to have some big investment offers. One guy offered us $1 million to start out, but we turned him down. My wife Amanda and I decided to open the food truck with only our personal savings — we’d spent enough time working for others and making them richer, so decided to do this all on our own. There were risks, but we had no doubts. It was just a matter of building the right structures.”


The New Venture: Fortunate enough to receive a lot of Tinsel Town-style PR before opening, Johnny’s food truck instantly hit the spot. “We got a bunch of publicity before opening and tons of people were craving Howlin’ Ray’s chicken after reading the press, including Mark Weiss, our first customer. He works in L.A. as a producer on shows like The Real Housewives of Orange County and eats with us once or twice a week.”


He continues, “Running a food truck is a lot of hard work, but it’s paying off. We’ve got a loyal following on social media and we found a few good spots to park our truck across L.A. every day, which bring us solid and predictable sales. We’re also taking a ton of bookings for private events as an additional stream of income. Our vision for the future is to open up a brick and mortar restaurant once we’ve found the right location. We’d keep the food truck going because it’s a moving billboard. Howlin’ Ray’s is a very franchisable company, so I’m optimistic about our potential for growth.”


Read more about Johnny’s work on QuickBooks Community


Now it's your turn (1).jpg



Did you leave a salaried position to start your own thing? What were the scariest and the best parts of “Going Indie” for you?


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