As the saying goes, “everything old is new again” and mobile businesses are quickly returning and making inroads (excuse the pun) as an option for first time business owners. In many cases, they represent a flexible, lower risk alternative to a High St address and all the overheads that entails.
According to restaurantowner.com, the cost of starting up a restaurant, whilst difficult to quantify, could be anywhere from $200k to millions of dollars. It is not hard to see why many foodie entrepreneurs jumped on the recent food truck trend when it appears to offer a safer, more viable option. And, there are a myriad of innovative ideas out there for mobile businesses alongside the usual food trucks, including antiques and vintage collectables, clothing boutiques, handmade apparel and just about anything that would be at home in a market stall environment.
Naturally, any business that involves the selling of fresh food will be subject to specific regulations, so if your dream is edible, make sure to educate yourself with a specific mobile food guide and research the requirements and regulations for your local area. Whilst the setup costs, permits and regulations vary between food vehicles and merchandise sellers, the basic principles and advantages are the same. Weighing up the pros and cons is a critical process before committing yourself to any business enterprise so it makes good sense to research the attractions along with the negative aspects before investing in a mobile business venture.
Meeting the Market – Taking it to the Streets
A mobile business is just that – a travelling roadshow. Imagine specialising in collectables, antiques or rare merchandise and having the ability to not only sell but also carry out valuations, buy, swap, trade and network amongst other vendors. It also provides the facility to act as a mobile agent for other established businesses. Being mobile you are literally ‘meeting the market’ as you are able to take your business wherever the action is:
- The seaside
- Markets and fairs
Lease Release – Cutting down on commitments
With an average retail lease ranging normally from 3 to 5 years, many a nervous hand has hovered over a long term lease and paused for reflection. Not only are leaseholders committing to regular monthly lease payments, there are other crushing overheads involved including utilities such as electricity, water and phone charges. Mobile owners, free from the restraints of leasing premises, state that their number one reason for choosing mobile is the liberty of lower setup and running costs.
Slow Simmer – Starting out small
According to the ANZ news site bluenotes.anz.com, the failure rate for small business is smaller than you think and if you are still trading after the first year, you have approximately a 65% chance of still operating four years later. Those aren’t bad odds considering many of those businesses likely ceased operating due to reasons other than bankruptcy. Start out small and your chances of survival are increased proportionately. Success in business can be easily quantified by calculating outgoings over incomings, and beginning with manageable costs has a flow-on effect that enables vendors to hone their skills, test their market and establish a clientele without the pressure to meet overhead costs each month.
Bang-on Branding – It’s all about you
No matter if a business boasts one van or a fleet, the beauty of being mobile is visibility. Parked by a roadside or belting down a highway, you are your own best advertising vehicle (so to speak). Consider the following when designing a face for your business:
- Popping colour,
- Dynamic signwriting
- Unforgettable logos
- Eye-catching uniforms
The above are all indelible methods to make your brand instantly identifiable using a holistic approach. Combine these with exceptional service, a quality product and a strong online presence and you have created a winning formula.
Work / Life Balance – Taking back your time
A self-employed business owner has the advantage of being able to ramp up during peak periods and chill out when demand eases off. In lull periods you can concentrate on your website and social media, online sales, promotions and new positioning opportunities. A mobile scenario gives you the flexibility to work around your own timetable allowing you the freedom to be where you want, when you want.
Global Presence from a Small Stage
An online presence is absolutely vital for mobile businesses and goes hand in hand with brand recognition and customer retention. Regular social media posts via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook including current locations, exciting offers and lively ‘on location’ photos, can boost customer connection and promote return business. Integrating these with a fun, interactive website which provides news, reviews and feedback, will promote your brand consciousness to the world. The ability to include a roadshow approach such as “APPEARING SOON” and listing upcoming locations, allows customers to keep track of your movements in real time. This scenario is ideal for those dealing in collectables as it enables customers to locate you for valuations, sales and trades.
Consider the advantages of an online store which could be attended to during quiet times in your day. Combining online sales with a physical mobile presence can double your market reach.
As you can discern from all this, there exists solid arguments to back up first time business owners choosing mobile vans, trucks and trailers to showcase their wares. Do your research, speak with other mobile business owners, learn from their experiences and you will be well on the road (one last pun…) to a successful, thriving business. Best of luck!
Adrian is a freelance writer for nisbets.com.au. His passions include business, marketing, and technology. When away from his desk you can find him outdoors enjoying Sydney’s beautiful weather while training for his next marathon.