Start an airsoft field by following these 10 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your airsoft field. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Check out our How to Start a Business page.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening an airsoft field?
You'll need to rent or buy a substantial amount of wooded or open land. Some players prefer rough terrain with hills and ditches. The field ought to have a small shop and restrooms at a minimum. Optionally, a larger building can provide space for indoor play. An old warehouse may serve this purpose well.
Your business needs airsoft weapons to rent out. Many guns sell for $50 to $275 individually, and high-end units can cost over $800. If you buy them in bulk, you'll pay about 35% to 55% less. You will have to stock your shelves with basic supplies. Safety gear proves necessary as well. You can buy a large commercial first-aid kit for around $100. Be sure to obtain goggles, masks, and protective clothing.
What are the ongoing expenses for an airsoft field?
Even when players sign waivers and wear protective gear, you still need liability insurance. A few insurers offer specialized airsoft coverage. This business involves more hazards than the average establishment, so you're likely to spend at least $1,000 per year. Other costs include maintenance, utilities, property insurance, advertising, food, wages, and rent or mortgage payments. You'll have to periodically replace rental gear as well.
Who is the target market?
Airsoft fields primarily attract young men. Demographic data for the Airsoftology podcast suggests that about two-thirds of enthusiasts are between 18 and 34 years of age. Some children and a few women participate. People may turn to airsoft as a way to escape from stressful or mundane daily life. Many also play paintball, but airsoft holds greater appeal for individuals who desire more realism and/or a less messy experience.
How does an airsoft field make money?
At a minimum, players pay for access to the field. These businesses frequently have daily and weekly rates; some also offer hourly passes. Customers can rent equipment they don't own, such as weapons and helmets. Most fields have retail stores that sell supplies like batteries, pellets, snacks, and beverages. You could prepare and serve meals or rely on a food truck to do so. Income varies depending on the weather, and you'll probably have more customers during weekends.
How much can you charge customers?
On average, players pay around $23 per day for field access. They frequently spend $12 to $25 to rent guns. Customers usually receive discounts when renting equipment or paying admission for an entire week.
How much profit can an airsoft field make?
Thanks to considerable startup and operating costs, entrepreneurs find it difficult to turn a profit on entrance fees alone. Retail sales can produce greater revenue. It's not unusual to earn a 40% margin on guns, according to Independent Retailer. The same goes for accessories like optics. Try to carry products that people can't find at big-box stores such as Walmart and Bass Pro Shops.
How can you make your business more profitable?
It doesn't make sense to pay for utilities and staff when you don't have any revenue. After you've had a chance to attract customers, analyze your daily income, and only open the business on profitable days of the week. Consider establishing an indoor arena so that you become less dependent on dry weather.
Further tips include:
- Add storage and order supplies in larger quantities.
- Offer related activities like paintball or laser tag.
- Consider selling gear, supplies, and passes online.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is very important. Read our detailed guide on how to name your business. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your airsoft field is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.
Open net-30 accounts
When it comes to establishing your business credit, net-30 vendors are considered the way to go. The term "net-30," which is popular among vendors, refers to a business credit arrangement where the company pays the vendor within 30 days of receiving goods or services.
Net-30 credit terms are often used for businesses that need to obtain inventory quickly but do not have the cash on hand.
Besides establishing business relationships with vendors, net-30 credit accounts get reported to the major business credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business Credit). This is how businesses build business credit so they can qualify for credit cards and other lines of credit.
Recommended: Read our guide on the best net-30 vendors so you can start building business credit now, so you never have to worry about cash flow in the future. Keep in mind that poor cash flow is the #1 reason businesses fail!
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
How to promote & market an airsoft field
A field isn't like a hotel or gas station that needs a highly visible location. Enthusiasts willingly seek out these businesses and travel long distances. Make sure they can easily find your website and contact details; add the business to well-known online field directories. While you could advertise your establishment to existing players on relevant podcasts and forums, it's also beneficial to promote the sport itself. Inform the public about appealing aspects that attract newcomers, and consider using limited-time specials to encourage a faster response.
How to keep customers coming back
You could appeal to novice players by offering everything they need in one place. They can get started far more easily if they don't have to go elsewhere for any of the equipment, protective gear, or supplies. Allow new customers to play without prior registration. Avoid making the rules too lax or strict; find the right balance that ensures safety while letting people have fun.
To keep existing players, focus on providing an enjoyable, unique experience. Do something special from time to time, such as offering free admission or bonuses on a customer's birthday. Sell a membership that includes discounts on entrance fees and merchandise. It's important to retain large groups as your customers; charge them a lower per-person rate. You could also encourage repeat visits by handing out coupons that people can only use at a later date.
Still unsure about what kind of business you want to start? Check out the latest Small Business Trends to help inspire you.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use.
Recommended: Find the best phone system for your business; check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2021.
Start An Airsoft Field In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
Airsoft is an exciting, fast-paced activity that people can enjoy indoors or outside. Many individuals play it as a team sport, sometimes with military-style objectives. Basically, the game involves firing pellets at opponents while trying to avoid getting hit. Players often seek specialized airsoft fields where they can safely participate in the sport. You could start a business by providing them with space, equipment, and supplies.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at an airsoft field?
You'll need to perform many different tasks, such as selling supplies, renting out gear, ordering products, fixing equipment, and talking to customers. A referee watches the players, taking action when necessary. Newcomers need to learn the rules and sign a liability waiver.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful airsoft field?
You will benefit from expert-level knowledge of this game and the associated gear. It's helpful to know how to repair weapons, install accessories, and troubleshoot equipment. Additionally, you might perform some tasks more easily if you have experience working at a retail or rental store.
What is the growth potential for an airsoft field?
People started playing airsoft in the United States after 1980. It has gradually gained popularity since then. In 2019, Grand View Research predicted that airsoft gun sales would grow at a rate of almost 7% through 2025. A few companies like Tac City have started franchises. Small chains also exist; California-based Airsoft Extreme was established in 1999. It operates several sites and stores in addition to selling equipment online.
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting an airsoft field?
Many of the weapons look quite realistic, so people may suspect criminal activity. Remember to inform the police before any outdoor games take place. Noise complaints could also become a problem. Try to avoid locating your field anywhere near homes or hospitality businesses. Make sure players follow the law. Ask for proof of each person's age, and check guns for orange or red tips.
Supply customers with biodegradable pellets. Although it costs somewhat more, the ammunition dissolves when exposed to rain. This minimizes the mess left behind on your field. It also reduces harm to wildlife and the environment. Warn people not to put cheaply made or reused pellets in rented guns; they can damage the equipment.
Consider offering short-term passes for individuals who want to try the sport briefly without staying all day. Treat newcomers and experienced players equally; be patient and remember that many people have only just discovered airsoft. A person who spends small amounts may eventually become a top customer if treated well.
How and when to build a team
One person would have difficulty operating the entire business. You'll probably need to employ a referee. Look for someone energetic who possesses first-aid skills and thorough knowledge of the sport. You could also hire a cashier for the shop. Both referees and cashiers often earn minimum wage.