Contrary to popular opinion, brick-and-mortars aren’t doomed. That said, it’s true that running one is harder than it’s been in the past.
The obvious solution is to move online, but what if your business requires face-to-face interaction? In this case, your best bet may be to start a mobile business. Going mobile gives you a flexible schedule and comes with low startup costs.
Of course, not all mobile business ideas are set up for success. If you’re not sure where to start, here’s a short guide to help you out.
Create a Business Plan
Having a solid business plan will make it much easier to get funding. Your plan should contain a market analysis and a thorough description of your business and services. If you can, include some financial predictions for the near future.
One thing that can help you in your quest is choosing the right business name. Pick a name that will identify your target audience and set you apart from your competitors. Once you have one, check the federal database to see if it’s available.
Set Your Budget
Overhead costs for mobile businesses are low, but they do exist. To begin with, you’ll need to secure a vehicle and outfit it to suit your business needs. You’ll also need to pay for app/website design, POS system, and registering a new business.
Running a mobile business comes with some specific ongoing costs as well. These include fuel, parking, and vehicle/commercial insurance. You’ll also need to plan ahead to avoid bad weather and comprehensive vehicle repairs.
Acquire a Vehicle
Consider what you want to do with your business and choose your vehicle accordingly. For instance, if you’re planning on hosting parties and events, opt for a truck over, say, a bus. Here’s more information on what a party truck allows you to do.
You’ll also need to decide whether to lease a vehicle, buy pre-owned, or order a custom ride. If you’re buying pre-owned, keep in mind that you’ll likely need to customize it as well. Leasing makes sense if you’re not sure you want to invest in your own vehicle.
Get Your Licenses
Once you have your vehicle, it’s time to get it licensed. Many cities have specific requirements for mobile businesses, so do your research. As an example, New York City has a cap on how many food truck permits it can issue in any given year.
For starters, you’ll need a seller’s permit and state/local business licenses. You may also need a fire certificate or a health department permit. Finally, you’ll need industry-specific licenses—such as TABC permits if you’re selling alcohol.
More on Running a Mobile Business
One tip for the road: identify your target audience and be where they are. For instance, shopping malls have high-traffic foot areas with thousands of people strolling by every day. Other options include festivals, campuses, and even your customers’ homes.
Looking for mobile business apps that can help you expand your reach? Want to know more about the many benefits of starting a mobile business? Check out our Start section!