As the world gravitates towards a more agile way of doing business in the digital era, there is an increase in mobile businesses. The increasing costs of commercial property and the unpredictable markets are causing entrepreneurs to begin on a lighter, more mobile note.
What is a mobile business?
The answer lies in the name. It’s a business that isn’t run from a fixed, brick-and-mortar shop or office. Instead, it operates on the go from a truck, trailer, van, or bus. A mobile business can be run from anywhere, depending on the size of your setup. Local laws permit mobile business owners to operate for a fixed duration of time from a single location.
What are the advantages of going mobile?
Mobile businesses offer entrepreneurs unique advantages they would not enjoy in a fixed setup.
- Low startup and setup costs as you are confined to a smaller area and need to keep your inventory lean
- Wider customer base since you are always on the move and not rooted in a single area
- Higher chances of profitability since you deal with smaller ticket sizes and can have a cash in-flow rather than operate on credit
- Better branding opportunities with pop-up branding rather than fixed signages that brick-and-mortar setups have to use
A mobile business can create a unique and personalized customer experience, which can help to build customer loyalty and reputation.
9 mobile business ideas you can take on the road
Only some types of small businesses can successfully operate as mobile businesses. The ones that adopt this model have the potential for rapid growth. Here are nine business ideas that can set you on the road to success:
1. Food truck
The most common and pioneering mobile businesses are food trucks. They have been around for generations, often handed down from generation to generation. The food truck business could reach $26.3 billion by 2027. Now, that’s a lot of money for a business format that has resulted from several smaller dreams.
Quirkily named, vibrantly designed, and cleverly menued, food trucks attract patrons to try experimental palates. Knowing that a food truck being is present at one place today and may disappear tomorrow causes a sense of FOMO. The fear of missing out encourages potential customers to “try it out” immediately.
Starting a food truck may entail some logistic challenges, but the pay off is well worth it.
2. Refill station
The pandemic taught the world to be more responsible with its resources, especially home supplies. Increasing global awareness about plastic wastage and reusing becoming a good habit has led to a revolution. Instead of purchasing new packs of home cleaning supplies, toiletries, and other goods, citizens head to refill stations with their empty containers.
Refill stations are a successful mobile business experiment because it not only contributes to the betterment of the planet with lower wastage but also allow you to meet like-minded people who share your beliefs of living a sustainable and responsible life. If you’re going to start a mobile business, start a sustainable one.
3. Thrift store
Clothes have a longer lifespan than we can imagine. Giving fashion a new lease of life by selling them in a pop-up thrift store can be a good business idea. Operating this thrift store out of a van is easy because you have light, easily transportable goods. Thrift shopping is a trend among smaller communities and is commonplace at concerts, fairs, and gatherings.
As a mobile business, you enjoy the agility to set up around these gatherings to increase your chances of a sale.
4. Pet grooming
Pet owners love getting their pets groomed to look prim and proper. Transporting some pets to a grooming station far away can be troublesome. The solution? Give them a pet grooming station that comes to them. This ingenious mobile business idea makes perfect sense.
Research firm, Aranca, has estimated that the global pet grooming market will reach $2.5 billion by 2032. Running a pet grooming business on wheels has the potential to bring in profits without investing in property and heavy infrastructure. You also get the invaluable pleasure of meeting some delightful pets.
5. Ice cream truck
Ice cream trucks have been mobile for several years. In many regions, ice cream gets purchased only from ice cream trucks. Some communities build strong bonds with the ice cream trucks on their streets.
Ice cream has a longer shelf life as it is refrigerated, but like all foodstuff, it has an expiration date. The better you plan your ice cream route, the quicker you can sell your product.
Running an ice cream truck can be expensive because of refrigeration and cooling costs. With time, technology and electronics have advanced to a level where effective cooling technologies have become affordable.
6. Nail spa
Not all nail spa appointments are well-planned. Sometimes, nail spas come to the rescue of busy-bodies stuck between meetings and overlapping schedules. Nail spas are easy to set up. You require a specific skill to get started and need to invest in the light and easily portable products.
Choosing the right area for a nail spa can depend on the location tests you run. You could flourish in a commercial-building area or become a big hit in a community of townhouses with higher word-of-mouth promotion. The key is to test out all markets before realizing your true potential.
7. Cleaning service
Cleanliness is non-negotiable and an absolute must for every homeowner. They employ cleaning businesses who visit at regular intervals or on a booking basis. As a mobile business that offers cleaning services on the go, you could find yourself in either of the two situations and become a preferred service for a neighborhood.
Your vehicle becomes a place where you store your cleaning equipment. Simply add a tank of water to offer out-of-home cleaning like patio cleaning. The possibilities are endless in a world that prefers being clean rather than sorry in the aftermath of a scary pandemic.
8. Junk removal
Junk production is on a steady rise. Effective waste management is becoming an increasingly urgent need for countries across the globe. By applying for a license as a junk removal business, you can invest in a specially designed vehicle for junk collection. Local authorities may impose laws and guidelines that you need to follow.
Junk removal requires physical effort and you may need a helping hand to do the heavy lifting. It also requires stringent health protocols to be followed. You will need to double-check all these things before you begin.
9. Car wash and detailing
Cars have their own cosmetic needs. While washing is an absolute must and is possible by supplementing your mobile business with a tank of water and cleaning materials, you can also invest in tools to help in detailed cleaning.
Heading to a car wash and waiting for your car to get washed is time-consuming. So, car owners prefer a carwash and detailing service to come to their homes and do business.
If your customers show the potential of being regulars to use your service, offer them a subscription model with competitive pricing to ensure they never leave you.
Frequently asked questions about starting a mobile business
What are some commonly asked questions about starting a mobile business? Get your questions answered with these three FAQs.
1. Can you make a living off of ice cream truck?
On average, an ice cream truck can earn $300 per day, which adds up to over $5,000 per month. Your initial investment will have to cover things like your ingredients, ice cream truck, insurance for your equipment, permits, and licenses.
2. What does a mobile nail technician do?
Your clients' well-being is your top priority as a mobile nail technician. You will be responsible for checking the condition of your client's nails and providing advice on aftercare, in addition to keeping all of your equipment clean and sterile in the truck.
3. Do food trucks actually make money?
Industry data suggests that a successful food truck can earn between $23,000 and $100,000 annually. All sorts of factors, including location and marketing strategies as well as the menu, product offerings and even deliveries, play a role in determining that spectrum.
Running a mobile business is fun, exciting, unpredictable, and insightful. Every corner you turn could present opportunities. The key is to observe and discover your catchment areas. Create an attractive logo and choose a memorable name. Since customers cannot remember you by your location (being mobile), an easy-to-remember name would help.
Hand-out contact cards and display your business contact number in a legible font outside your vehicle so that your customers know how to reach you in the future.