The flexibility of a mobile shop has enticed small business owners of all kinds and this model has the benefit of allowing budding entrepreneurs to dip a toe in the water before jumping all in with a brick and mortar shop (and all the costs and commitments that type of business comes with). But mobile businesses do come with their own unique set of concerns too.
So what are the advantages of a mobile business?
The startup costs are lower than a brick and mortar shop. You can buy sized trucks or trailers between $5,000 and $20,000 depending on the condition. By comparison, you can expect to spend at least $10 per square foot per year with an average size of around 1000 square feet equals $10,000 per year. Plus, most business rentals include something called NNN, which are additional fees to cover common area maintenance, building insurance and property taxes.
You can take your business to the people! Mobility allows you to try different locations on different days and pack up and go to special events where you can find huge audiences for your products. It can be helpful to have a set schedule of where they will be on what day of the week (so your customers can look forward to seeing you and what new goods you have) but roaming freely can also help you to find shoppers you might not be able to reach if you were staying put.
Because your business is small, customers won’t expect a huge variety of products. Instead, they’ll be looking for a niche selection. This enables you to try out a small selection of products and test the market (be sure to listen to customer feedback online and in real life!) before committing. You might find that certain products sell well at particular locations or events and you can (and should!) cater your selection for those times.
But owning a mobile business DOES Require SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS...
You will need to check local laws to see where you can park your mobile business and for how long each day. Avoid hefty fines that could sink your business by being proactive instead of setting up shop where ever you find a space. Consider talking to complementary businesses in your area too. Parking in their lot may be a good option that will benefit you both.
Shoppers won’t be able to pull you up on Google Maps so you’ll have to get proactive. Be sure and embrace social media and mobile marketing to tell your customers and potential customers where you’ll be and what to expect from your shop. Take part in festivals and events that will do some of the marketing for you.
You will need to make sure to set some of your profits aside for emergency repair work on your mobile business. If your business isn't working (literally), you'll be unable to make any sales.
Don’t forget fuel. You will have to calculate gas prices as part of your business costs. If you have a gas guzzler, you'll have to take that into account when setting product prices.
So what do you think? Would your business idea work with a regular change of address? If so, get moving on it!