It isn't rocket science but it can be daunting. Trying to figure out where and how to get started is no easy task if you haven't previously done the research. What type of business is right for you?
Let's say you are a mechanic who is tapped out on earning potential working for someone else, or you just want to venture out on your own. Where do you begin? Many before you have tried a great many things. Some have been successful, some have failed, some have found that going about it the wrong way simply leads to other challenges and road blocks.
Here is how to do it right:
Before you do all that you need to decide what the business is going to be. Are you trying to open a full bicycle retail shop with the whole gauntlet of stuff including service? Are you going for service only? Are you going mobile? What you likely don't want to do is open your shop in your garage if you are trying to do it "right". Many of the companies you want to open accounts with aren't interested in home based businesses. Over the next years that may change as many communities (even here in Austin) are building more live/work spaces. Other older neighborhoods likely do not have HOA conditions that disallow you from doing this, but I can tell you it will be harder to reach your full capacity with ease, though it is not impossible.
A full bicycle shop is likely the most expensive and least profitable for the individual owner/operator, if you have business partners and financing it is possible to be successful but always look at your business needs, your budget and your forecasts before committing your new business to brand debt. You can certainly make headway here but you'll need to be very, very smart about how you build your business.
Mobile is a real draw and offers the freedom of providing service to the customer, moving your business to the demand, there are a growing number of mobile bicycle shops, some even now selling bicycle regularly. Here you'll want to do your research. You don't need a new van and there are great resources available on the various vehicle types. Most distributors and many brands are open to working with mobile as long as you have done your homework, created a proper business and dotted your "I's" and crossed your "T"'s. You will need a ship to address that isn't your home, even though you have a bike shop on wheels, most companies won't ship to your home, you shouldn't expect it. Many storage spaces and even some UPS or Mail stores offer "addresses" and can receive packages on your behalf.
Service only is not a popular option but if done right can be highly profitable. Keeping your rent low is key, find a nice spot on the fringe, don't be afraid of providing service to every bicycle that comes through the door and keep regular hours. Even offer pickup and delivery into the city or neighboring communities. Just like the movies, if you build it they will come.
At the end of the day, your business needs to be a legal entity within the city, state, county, country you are operating within. Those rules are going to vary, even from county to county within the same state. Do your homework and be prepared! Also don't forget to take care of yourself, operating your own business take a lot out of a person, be sure you've included family and downtime for yourself.
When we created A Better Bike Biz we shared this useful information. The link below shows you how you calculate what you need to make every hour you are open. You set the profit margin you desire and work the math from there.... check it out by clicking here