Starting a business is a challenge even for the most passionate person. Startups require a lot of work and planning but with proper preparation a business can be launched successfully. There are certain things that all businesses have to do get off the ground, but then there are things that are specific to the type of business being launched. In the case of a shuttle service, the type of vehicle to be used and the target market for the business have to be considered.
Write a business plan. A business plan is a business's road map for operation. The plan includes the business vision (also known as a Mission Statement), financial projections, marketing and advertising ideas, local competitors, their share of the local market and their market niche and the background of all principal owners of the business. A business plan will be required as part of the application process if you choose to seek financing.
Apply for all required state and local licenses and permits and choose a business entity status. Business permits are required for a business to legally operate. Choose a business entity by the number of owners and the amount of personal protection owners want. The two most popular entities for a small business are Limited Liability Company (LLC) and sole proprietorship. Another consideration; depending on your state, the shuttle drivers may be required to carry a special classification to drive a commercial vehicle. Your insurance policy might also require this certification for drivers.
Join local business organizations. Networking is necessary for any business and is especially vital for a start-up. Join local networking organizations and go to the meetings and mixers. Offer your business card and introduce your business. Networking means free advertising and the connections made can equate to customers.
Determine what type of shuttle service you want to provide. This is where knowing your competition is helpful. If there is a specific niche that is not met, then consider meeting it. For example, if there are several airport shuttle services, but none that cater to college students, working parents with school-aged children or the elderly, this could be a good direction for the business. Whatever market and service you opt to enter, create ads in the newspaper targeted at them. Place flyers and business cards in the locations where the target market frequents. If you are targeting the elderly, then focus your advertising in places such as nursing homes, assisted living homes and retirement communities. If college students are your focus, then advertise on college campuses and in neighborhoods where students reside. If you would like to offer an after-school service for school-aged children, approach elementary school, daycare centers and after-school programs.
A website is not required, but can be helpful if it professionally showcases the business.
Talk to people who have started a similar business. Your local competition won't be keen to share information, but owners in other areas could be happy to answer your questions.
Keep your rates competitive. Too low and you run the risk of being viewed as an amateur, price your service too high and potential customers might balk at your prices.
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images