How to Start a Mobile Services Business

Updated February 21, 2017

A mobile business can offer you more flexibility than a fixed business. The start-up costs are significantly less. Also, plenty of mobile business owners operate on a part-time basis and work only during certain seasons or events. No matter how much time you intend to invest in your business, you'll need to start with a plan.

Establish your interests. Nowadays, most service-based businesses have gone mobile. From coffee vans to mobile auto detailing, the possibilities are limitless. Select a career in an area that you are particularly knowledgeable or that interests you. Then look for competitors in your local area to help you further narrow your options. If the competition is high, you may want to select a different business.

Invest in any necessary training. For instance, to open a coffee and breakfast van, you will need barista training. To open a mobile auto detailing business, you will need to know about proper care for different types of upholstery and how to eliminate stubborn stains and odors. If a certification is offered for your service, consider getting it. This will give you an edge over your competition and reassure wary customers.

Select a location for your business. You may attend fairs, flea markets or festivals (contact your city bureau for a vending permit) or have a relatively fixed locale in a busy parking lot (contact property managers about using their property). The biggest advantage to a mobile business is that if your location doesn't work, you can simply scratch it and move on until you find one that does.

Contact your county clerk to obtain the proper permits and licenses for your mobile service business. At minimum, you will need zoning approval for your business location. If entering food service, you'll need to familiarize yourself with your county's health codes and have your commercial vehicle inspected. You'll need to purchase liability insurance and auto liability insurance if your current auto insurance won't cover your mobile business.

Purchase a commercial vehicle that can accommodate your business. Invest in professional signage for your vehicle. Contact suppliers to purchase wholesale goods. If serving food, visit local farmers and caterers to purchase your food.

Contact a merchant account provider to obtain a merchant account for your mobile business. If you intend to accept credit and debit cards, you will need a wireless terminal, a cell phone or laptop to process your orders. You may also need a credit card imprinter in order to provide the customer with a receipt.


Register with your Chamber of Commerce.

Be sure to include the cost of gas and vehicle maintenance when setting prices for your mobile service business.

Have a back-up plan in the event that your vehicle breaks down. Establish a relationship with a good mechanic that knows how to fix your vehicle in a timely manner.

Don't overlook how the weather may affect your business.

Things You'll Need

  • Commercial vehicle
  • Auto liability insurance
  • Merchant account
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