Starting a mobile business has become a common trend amongst small business owners today.
Economic fluctuations have long been a catalyst for change. One such recent change, courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been consumers’ increased expectations of convenience.
While borne out of necessity, this expectation of improved accessibility to goods and services is likely here to stay. Agile businesses have adapted by developing strategies to be where the consumer is, whether through an expanded online presence, or being mobile – as some restaurants did to survive at the height of the pandemic.
Now, this’s not just limited to restaurants, however. Before food trucks gained popularity, there were mobile veterinary services, pet grooming businesses, courier and delivery services, and notaries. Whether it was borne out of necessity due to costs of brick-and-mortar rent or an acute understanding of the preferences of their customer base, having a mobile business has distinct advantages that can translate into business profit – and profit.
Starting a Mobile Business – What Should I Consider First?
The following key points should be considered when starting a mobile business:
- Mobilizing your skills and interests
- Understand your business nuts and bolts
- Get rolling
These are further broken down thus:
#1: Mobilizing your skills and interests
Your first course of action when starting a mobile business is to determine if what you are good at, or have an interest in, can translate into a mobile-based business.
In most cases, it probably can. Even if it’s a side gig to augment your “real” profession, you can still turn it into a legitimate, profitable business. Let’s say you’re an architect, for example, but have always enjoyed interior designing or house painting. Those are two businesses that can easily be taken mobile.
If you’re a veterinary technician with mad dog grooming skills, you can start an after-hours and weekend mobile pet grooming business – and as long as it’s okay with your employer, your work at the veterinary clinic is a great way to reel in clients.
Housekeeping and janitorial services, landscaping, and pest control are all common mobile-based businesses.
A yoga instructor can offer mobile yoga classes for both businesses and at personal residences.
Physical fitness and personal trainers can outfit a truck into a mobile gym. Massage therapists can also find both personal and business clientele.
#2: Understand Your Business Nuts and Bolts
Starting a mobile business won’t relieve you of practical concerns and the requisite red tape. Creating a business plan that, at a minimum, details your necessary startup costs. A reliable vehicle will of course be a priority; and depending on your business type, you may be able to use your personal vehicle at the beginning and then invest in another vehicle later.
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Create a budget item for your business structure, such as creating a limited liability company, or LLC. This can offer you several advantages…
First, it provides you with limited personal liability in the event of a lawsuit, or if your business fails.
You can also see tax advantages but maintain more flexibility than with other types of corporate structures. Each state varies when it comes to LLC creation, so check your state rules as well as necessary steps for forming one. A lawyer can also take care of it for you, but save those costs and do it yourself with an online formation service.
Now you’re ready to take care of state and local licensing and permitting requirements and get your necessary business insurance, both for your vehicle and other business liability protection. And, since your vehicle is your office, you’ll need to find a mechanic with experience in repairing and maintaining your type of vehicle (if your current personal mechanic can’t handle it) – mechanics often refer customers to others for specialty services, such as if a vehicle is beyond their technological abilities.
You can also ask other mobile business owners in your area who they make use of, or turn to service organizations such as AAA, Consumer Reports, or the Better Business Bureau.
Next, start with some low-cost but effective promotions, such as a website and social media pages.
And finally, you’ll want a convenient way to receive payments.
In addition to using a credit card reader, your customers may appreciate other flexible options, such as using popular online payment apps. If this all seems like a lot and more than your current bank account can handle, you can also consider taking out a small business loan.
This is another way your LLC structure can help, as lenders are more inclined to take your business seriously, and it can help you establish your business with a business bank account.
But in conclusion, you’ll need to arm yourself with your business plan and any current financials.
#3: Get rolling!
Keep in mind that when starting a mobile business, you don’t have to get everything and go everywhere immediately; start with the minimum and add enhancements as you grow.
Keep your target area small or travel to places where your customers congregate.
Marketing to office buildings can be a great way to generate early revenue and gain a reputation that leads to referrals without a lot of travel time or fuel costs. Your ability to follow the demand is a tremendous asset in an era that demands accessibility.