Turning a passion or a hobby into a business can be one of the most rewarding pursuits in careers. However, there many different risks associated with any business start-up, but especially for businesses related to outdoor sports equipment rentals. Knowing what you will need to do before opening day will help you to have a plan to succeed in the long run.
Take care of the details, licensing, and paperwork that come standard for any business start-up. You will need insurance, a small business license, and registration with the government for your business name and tax information.
Purchase your equipment. You should also design a plan to replace equipment. Kayaks are designed to take some wear and tear, but inevitably, you will need to replace your boats on a regular basis. You should also set aside some funds for maintenance and repairs as well as replacing a badly damaged boat.
Find your niche market. It may be that a river with four other boating outfitters does not need another standard outfitter, but if you are set on being on that particular river, then find a way to differentiate yourself from the other established outfitters. You may want to start a small restaurant or cafe, offer photography services, guiding, rafting trips, or lessons. You can also try to find a river with little or no competition and establish your business there. Finding your niche also implies finding the best location where you will not only be visible to the public, but have a wide range of options for accessing different parts of the river.
Hire a lawyer to look over waivers contracts for renting your kayaks. The outdoor industry is known for lawsuits, especially with accidents and deaths occurring. As an outdoor activity, kayaking is one of the more dangerous sports due to the ever fluctuating water levels and river features. Make sure that you do not carry any liability for accidents that may happen on the river while using your equipment.
Institute a shuttle service. Although shuttling kayakers up and down the river is an added business expense with fleet maintenance and upkeep, driver training, and insurance, having a shuttle service will keep customers coming to you as their source to fulfil all their kayaking needs.