When launching an inflatable rental business, it is easy to fall into certain traps, and make a few mistakes here and there. It always pays to do your research beforehand; get to know your industry, establish your target market, and get a handle on your finances before diving in.

These are some of the biggest mistakes that new business owners make, and how to avoid them:

Thinking too small
Ordering just a few units to begin with makes practical sense, but only having a few units in your inventory may make it harder for you to earn money on your investments, and beat your competition. Research the units that your competitors offer, and order units that allow you to stand out. If you’re unsure about what type of inflatable units to start with, remember that moon bouncers are always a good choice for a new business. They are affordable, and very popular with customers.

Going cheap
It’s true what they say: “First impressions matter.” Put your best foot forward by investing in quality inflatable products that are safe for your customers. You also need to think about that first impression when considering other aspects of your business. You will need a well-designed logo, a functional and inviting website, and a solid insurance plan that will provide you the coverage you need. Choosing inexpensive materials and marketing tactics now may seem like a good idea, but in the long run you will pay the price. People tend to refer quality businesses, and having a reputation for quality in your market will help you get noticed.

Not knowing your market
To be successful, you’ll need to know your local area inside and out. This means having thorough knowledge of the local neighborhoods, cities, schools, districts, churches, city centers, parks, and much more. All of these places provide great areas to advertise and network in. Because referrals are vital in this business (60-70% of your bookings will come from referrals), you’ll need to be very familiar with your local area and how to reach your target audience.

Not understanding your competitors
Just like you need to know your market, you need to know your competitors. This means having knowledge of what units they have, how much they charge for each unit, where they advertise, and where they primarily do business. Once you know who your competitors are, do some research into how they do business. You’ll be able to stay two steps in front of them by channeling your efforts into making your business stand out.

Not having a business plan
It’s hard to make smart investments and continue to grow consistently if you don’t have a solid business plan. A business plan that will serve you well includes a budget for rental revenue and expenses, a description of your target market, a pricing strategy, a launch and growth timeline, as well as a review of your competitive market. A proper business plan will also help you set your monthly and yearly goals. Take time to create this foundation for yourself before diving in.

Trying to do it alone
If you’re starting your own inflatable rental business, this means you have an entrepreneurial spirit, which also means you’re likely an independent spirit. While this spirit has served you well and will continue to do so, it is important to remember that running a successful business is not a one-man or one-woman show. It takes the help of a team to achieve your goals. Make a list of roles other people could play in your business. If you’re just starting out and don’t have a ton of capital to begin with, invite close friends or family members to help. An inflatable rental business takes a lot of physical stamina, and savvy business skills. You can’t be everywhere at once, no matter how hard you try, so you’ll want to have your support team in place.

Being under or incorrectly financed
A healthy business means it’s growing in all aspects, especially financially. Make sure you have enough money left over after all your initial startup costs, which include the purchase of your first units, your company’s website, logo, and other marketing materials, and insurance coverage. You’ll likely have other expenses prior to receiving your first rental payment, so make sure you’re prepared, and have enough cash to operate your business past your initial startup phase. If you’re unsure about how to finance your inflatable units, we can help you explore the options.

Undercharging for your rental units
While your rental rates should reflect the quality of your units, it’s also important to keep in mind what your market is willing to pay, as this will influence how much you should charge. When setting your rates, take into consideration your market’s needs, your customer service skills, and your financial bottom line. These three factors should have equal influence in your pricing decisions, and will guide you to the rate that’s right for your business.

Not marketing yourself
People can’t find out about your services if you don’t spread the word about your business. All businesses need marketing to be successful – especially in the start-up phase. You can create a successful marketing plan without a big budget, but you need to be creative. Once you have decided on a brand/company name, you need to create a logo and a website. Your website is one of the most important tools for marketing your inflatable rental business because your customers will likely begin their search for an inflatable rental company online. After your website is set up, think about what other materials you may need – business cards, brochures, postcards – things that you can give out to people you meet while networking. Make sure you have enough money set aside for marketing in your business plan so you are able to effectively get the word out about your business.