Hot dogs, ethnic foods, organic, even gourmet — nearly all food choices available via mobile food trucks today. The popularity of mobile eateries has swept the country. And now it’s not only restaurateurs who are choosing to take their shows on the road. Retailers, dog groomers, even professional service providers believe putting their businesses on wheels is the key to success.
Mobile Startups Maximize Cash and Location
Why are mobile businesses becoming so popular? One reason is money. If your business needs commercial space, that can be expensive. Typically start-up businesses can’t generate the cash flow to support hefty rent payments. This is why so many new businesses are home-based. Furthermore, commercial landlords usually require a five- or ten-year lease along with a personal guarantee. That means if your business doesn’t make, you’re still personally responsible for paying the rent.
Secondly, a mobile business reduces the risk of choosing a bad location. Choosing the right location for your business is an integral part of your success. But mistakes happen — right? If you’ve signed a ten-year commercial lease, and six months into it realize the location isn’t right, too bad. However, if your business is mobile, it’s easy to move your location and go to where your market is located.
What to Know Before Hitting the Road
Businesses of all types are looking at the mobile business model as a way to minimize startup costs and risks. However, unlike the food industry where pre-equipped vehicles exist, other businesses are starting from scratch. Some are creatively taking old delivery trucks or mobile homes and equipping them to meet their needs. But before you decide to hit the road with your business, here are a few things to consider.
- The Right Fit. Analyze your business concept and make sure it lends itself to a mobile model. Can you outfit a vehicle with everything you need to run your operations smoothly? For example, if you’re selling clothes, how will you provide for fitting rooms? Can you carry enough inventory? How will you anchor and safeguard displays?
- The Right Price. Can you charge enough for your product or service to be a profitable business? Some service businesses which depend on high volume, may find that a mobile venue limits the number of customers they can serve resulting in the need to charge higher prices. Will customers be willing to pay the additional amount for the added convenience? There’s a mobile dog groomer that comes to my neighborhood every couple of weeks. However, her prices are significantly higher than the dog groomer located just five minutes away. For me, the convenience of having the groomer steps away isn’t worth the additional cost.
- The Right Place. Where are your customers located? Can you park your business nearby? Don’t assume you can. You need to research what kind of permits and licenses are needed. Every municipality has regulations governing mobile businesses. You don’t want to get geared up and ready to go only to be stopped in your tracks by a no parking zone.
Have you thought about taking your business mobile, or launching a mobile startup? Tell us about it.
Susan Wilson Solovic is an award-winning entrepreneur and journalist, author of three best-selling books, multi-media personality and contributor to ABC News and other outlets, public speaker and attorney. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.