What do I need to start my taxi business?

Written by tiffany bennett
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What do I need to start my taxi business?
Light-up overhead signs identify taxis to the public. (taxi image by Dron from Fotolia.com)

Owning a taxi business can be a rewarding endeavour with fewer requirements than most small businesses. In addition to being your own boss, a taxi business provides an interesting way to meet and interact with both local residents and travellers from around the world. However, you should be prepared for a potentially high start-up cost as you obtain things like a suitable vehicle, necessary equipment, a taxi license and a small business permit.

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Skills

Before you get knee-deep in plans for your taxi business, take a minute to consider whether you are willing to handle the potential strains from the job. Depending on where you live, taxi hours may include late nights and stressful driving situations. You may also be responsible for transporting and receiving payment from individuals or groups who are intoxicated, which may sometimes prove challenging. You will also be responsible for a good deal of administrative work, including answering phone calls and scheduling pickups. If you think you're well equipped for the challenge, then taxi driving may be the career for you!

Vehicle

A suitable vehicle is probably the most obvious requirement for any taxi service. You will eliminate a great deal of the cost if you have a personal vehicle you are able to use. If you plan to purchase a vehicle, begin by checking with a taxi licensing company or your insurance agency to see if they have specific requirements for taxis. Once you have narrowed down your options, be sure to choose a vehicle that has an attractive exterior, comfortable seating, plenty of legroom and a spacious boot for travellers with a large amount of luggage.

License and certification

Next, you will need to obtain a license to drive a taxi, along with a small business certification. If you are planning to run the business from home, you may need to find out about any rezoning requirements needed to operate a business out of a home office. Begin by contacting your local city hall about these requirements, as regulations vary from one area to the next. Taxi driver licenses can usually be obtained from the local Department of Motor Vehicles office.

Accessories

You will need a few accessories in order to operate your newly licensed taxi. A few must-haves include a taxi meter, a “taxi” sign for your roof and any magnets or decals needed to display your company name on the side of your vehicle. If you plan to accept all forms of payment, you should also purchase a credit card machine and receipt printer. Some added luxuries include a protection screen, a camera system and backup alarm.

Long-term planning

Finally, set up the resources you need to manage your business over time. This is especially important if you have a fleet of vehicles and multiple drivers. Contact your insurance company to find out if you qualify for any special rates for insuring several vehicles. You will also want to find a trusted mechanic who can provide regular maintenance and repair damaged vehicles promptly. Talk with your bank about setting up a company account or taking out any necessary loans to get your business started. When you are ready for customers, begin getting the word out using the phone book, a website, business cards or other means of advertisement.

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