In his Song of the Open Road, Walt Whitman wrote about being light-hearted as he took to the open road, healthy and free, with the world before him.
All these years later, taking to the road is a viable business proposition. More and more remote work opportunities and the spread of Wi-Fi access has given birth to the digital nomad phenomenon.
Yet the idea of traveling while you work is not the preserve of the nomadic young and/or adventurous.
There are mobile business opportunities aplenty. Entrepreneurs are seeing the sense in not being desk-bound. More and more are moving away from brick-and-mortar locations in favor of businesses behind the wheel.
Take a look at the American Mobile Retail Association, AMRA to see how popular mobile businesses are.
It is worth mentioning that you still have to ensure you’re covering all the usual bases to run a successful business.
Before you invest in a vehicle and equipment, find out what regulations apply to your particular business.
Going mobile might be the viable alternative you’ve been looking for.
We’ve put together six exciting mobile business ideas to get you going.
Create a niche by selling a particular type of food, such as sandwiches, hot dogs, or specialty foods. Sticking to just one type of ethnic food, such as Mexican or Chinese, also gets you into the niche market. Vegan, vegetarian or organic options could also work for you.
This kind of mobile business is probably good as a two-person venture. One person can take orders and deal with cash, while the other concentrates on the cooking.
You can do some food prep in advance in a home kitchen so that you’re good to go once you’re on the road.
Check out the health and safety regulations you need to follow.
You have a lot of selling options with a food truck. Food fairs, concerts, and other big events are all places where there are lots of hungry people. Having a food truck gives you the versatility you need.
You could also branch out into offering on-site catering at birthday parties, and other celebrations. Start a new craze!
Remember the old adage: service with a smile gets customers coming back for more!
If you love animals and have experience with pet grooming, being able to travel to your customers’ homes could be a distinct advantage.
Mobile pet groomers usually install self-contained washing facilities for dogs and cats. They use another section of the van for grooming.
The convenience factor for pet owners is huge. It saves them time and is less stressful for their pets because they do not have to leave home.
You could also offer related services, such as dog walking, or sell grooming products that pet owners could use between your visits.
Many offices, large facilities, and wealthy homeowners yearn for versatility when it comes to outsourcing the cleaning of their premises.
Tourist areas, where many property owners rent out vacation homes, say, might just be the market for you to target.
A van full of cleaning equipment and cleaning products, an organized schedule and a lot of energy, and you’ve got the basics covered.
This is a business where you could start out on your own and gradually build up a team of professional cleaners as your business grows.
Capitalize on the fact that few people truly love to mow their lawn. Even if they do, there are times when they need additional help to maintain their gardens.
Digging, planting, pruning, weeding, raking, mowing. A gardener’s job is never done.
If you have green fingers, this could be the mobile business for you. You’ll need a sturdy truck for all your tools, and with space at the back to clear away lawn clippings and other waste.
You could even complement the clear-away service with a compost-making venture in your own back yard. Then, in time, you could offer your customers compost and potting soil for a fee.
Everyone loves a beautiful garden, but many people don’t have the knack of maintaining one. Your gardening expertise — and flexible availability — would be much appreciated by this type of customer.
Small towns and semi-rural areas are likely the best places for this particular trade.
Reasonable prices, quality services, and reliability will land you some customers who could stay with you for years.
The type of gardening services required, as with other examples in this article, depends on the season. If you live in a climate where winters are severe, you’ll need to decide what to do when being outdoors is not such a great idea.
Keeping a greenhouse in your back yard to grow plants that you can sell to customers in spring might be an extra service you could offer.
Home Improvement, Decorating, and Odd Jobs
Are you a plumber, carpenter, painter, interior decorator, or very handy at general DIY? Then making your business mobile makes a whole lot of sense.
You can offer a combination of services, depending on your talents or preferred trade.
You could also specialize in just one area. Building or repairing wooden porches, for example, or attending to plumbing emergencies.
Word-of-mouth recommendations are just as important as the signage on the side of your truck.
It’s a good idea to have pamphlets or business cards with your contact details to hand out to people in person. Not everything is digital, you know!
Are you a professional translator, writer, designer or social media expert, but don’t like the idea of backpacking? Why don’t you make your business mobile and do your digital nomad thing in style for a couple of months?
If an RV is too grand, how about converting a smaller van so that you have space to sleep and space to work? You might be able to buy an already converted van or campervan that suits your purpose.
Before you set out on your great adventure, make sure you know where the best camping or overnighting spots are. Most towns and cities have restrictions about where you can park if you’re living out of your van.
Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from overnighting in a hostel or spending a few days with friends or relatives across State. The freedom is yours.
Remote work is great. You can work from anywhere in the world. Remember to keep a watch on those time zones though. We would hate you to miss a deadline!
Who knows? You might find a new home while on your travels. If not, there’s always home to come back to.
Mobile Business Ideas in General
It is important to do your market research before taking to the highway.
The laws of supply and demand apply to mobile business as they do to any other. Choose what you want to do and where you want to do it very carefully. It could mean the difference between failure and success.
Choosing Your Vehicle
When you shop for trucks you should bear in mind what type of mobile business you are going to operate.
Do you need a van or a flatbed? If you choose a flat-bed, do you need a fitted lockable toolbox? What size vehicle do you need?
How far do you plan to travel? Does the vehicle have internet connectivity?
If you have a limited startup budget, consider a good used truck instead. You can always upgrade once your business is well established.
With signage on your truck or van, you’re advertising your services wherever you go. Think up a catchy company name and get a professional signwriter to do the vehicle graphics for you.
Set up a Facebook page for your business. Encouraging customers to like your page will help spread the word. Customers can also make recommendations, and give you permission to use the jobs you do for them as examples of your work.
Use spare minutes during your day to update your Facebook page with photos of your work or events you’ll be attending soon. Keep your potential customers informed!
Communication and Customer Care
Your mobile device is useful while you’re on the road. You can keep track of appointments, customer details, as well as GPS navigation if it’s not installed in your vehicle already.
You can use your smartphone to let customers know you are on your way, and customers can get hold of you easily if the need to reschedule.
What Are You Waiting For?
The major difference between regular business ideas and mobile business ideas is one of focus. If you have a brick-and-mortar shop or office, you’re aiming for customers to come to you. When you start a mobile business, your primary goal is to go to where your customers are.
Mobile businesses tend to provide that personal service that customers find so appealing. This could provide you with the competitive edge you need.
Of course, every business, whether static or mobile, needs to follow business best practice to do well. You still have to consider how to manage the strategies involved in launching and operating a business. You’ll find plenty of articles on our blog on these subjects.
So, if you’ve got a great small business idea, imagine what it would be like if it were a mobile business. And if that idea appeals to you, what are you waiting for?