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Terrorism around the world has skyrocketed since 2011, with well over 10,000 terrorist incidents occurring annually since then. People who are especially likely to be targets of terrorist acts frequently look for extra protection, and they turn to bodyguard businesses.
Bodyguard businesses may provide an array of close protection services. Some offer protection only during special events, while others offer around-the-clock protection anywhere in the world. For many that work with celebrity clients, dealing with paparazzi can also be part of the job.
Who is this business right for?
Many people who get into the close protection industry have prior experience in security, law enforcement, or armed forces. Prior experience in these areas provides a lot of the firearm and self-defense training that’s needed, and it impresses potential clients.
Knowing how to use a firearm and fight aren’t all that bodyguards must be able to do, however. They also must have strong situational awareness and excellent interpersonal communication skills, for avoiding incident is the best way to keep clients from being harmed, highlighted in the tabloids or sued.
What happens during a typical day at a bodyguard business?
Bodyguards spend a lot of time in close proximity with their clients. While offering protection, they follow clients most anywhere they go. At all times, bodyguards must be ready to step in on a moment’s notice and keep their client safe.
When not providing protection for clients, business owners may be recruiting additional bodyguards, meeting with current and prospective clients, arranging training sessions for staff, and marketing their business. Most of this work is normally done from a commercial office.
What is the target market?
There are many people who may need close protection services. Bodyguards work for celebrities, business people, and politicians. In some areas, they also protect journalists and activists.
How does a bodyguard business make money?
A bodyguard business makes money by charging clients for the close protection services they need. Clients might want protection for a single event, a prolonged period of time, or on an ongoing and indefinite basis.
What is the growth potential for a bodyguard business?
A bodyguard business may be a local business run by a single business owner, or it can grow into a multinational corporation with lots of employees. Chestnut Street Security, Inc. is an example of a smaller security company that offers close protection services. Risks Incorporated is a larger company with services in 10 major cities around the world.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful bodyguard business?
Without prior experience in security, law enforcement, or the armed forces, business owners may have trouble attracting prospective clients. Few people will trust their safety to someone without experience.
In addition to experience, bodyguards may need additional training in specialized areas. Depending on their prior experience and the services they offer, business owners might also want to take martial arts, firearms, close protection, or other courses. Many local organizations offer martial arts and firearms classes. Some larger companies and associations in the industry, such as Risks Incorporated, Security Industry Authority and ESI, offer close protection training.
What are the costs involved in opening a bodyguard business?
The costs to start a bodyguard business range from $10,000 to $50,000. These funds go toward:
- An office
- Licenses and permits
Business owners who have limited startup funds might be able to reduce their office and advertising costs some, but it’s difficult to save on the other expenses.
What are the steps to start a bodyguard business?
Once you're ready to start your bodyguard business, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:
- Plan your business. A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are your initial costs, your target market, and how long it will take you to break even.
- Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your bodyguard business is sued.
- Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
- Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your bodyguard business keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
- 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.
- 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.
- Get business insurance. Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
- 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.
- Establish a web presence. A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Where can I 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.
Recommended: Fizzle.co offers video courses and a supportive online community of like-minded entrepreneurs. Try one month membership for free.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a bodyguard business?
When deciding which clients to take on, business owners should carefully consider prospective clients’ lifestyles. Because bodyguards go where their clients go, business owners must consider whether they’re comfortable in nightclubs, large events, international settings, combat zones, and other places. They also must decide what potentially illicit activities they’re comfortable being around (although not directly involved in).
How to promote & market a bodyguard business
In addition to having a strong website and using local advertising, business owners can also attract clients by sending personal letters to high-profile individuals and networking with police officers. Many people who need bodyguards will contact the police at some point, so officers can provide valuable referrals.
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How to keep customers coming back
Bodyguard businesses that provide excellent service tend to have high numbers of repeat clients. People who want security continue to hire the company they trust.
How and when to build a team
A bodyguard business can start out as a one-person operation, but many business owners hire additional people. They might bring on board both bodyguards and support staff, which manages the office operations. Many business owners find bodyguards by working with a recruiter who has connections throughout the security industry and with several law enforcement agencies.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a bodyguard business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, check out our informative guide, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Certificate of Occupancy
A bodyguard business is generally run out of an office. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.
- If you plan to lease a location:
- It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
- Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a bodyguard business.
- After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
- If you plan to purchase or build a location:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your bodyguard business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
Bodyguard businesses should consider requiring clients to sign a services agreement before starting a new project. This agreement should clarify client expectations and minimize risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, service level expectations, and so on.
How much can you charge customers?
Hiring bodyguards isn’t cheap. In Hollywood, individual bodyguards cost between $500 and $1000 for a day around town. Traveling to another city can increase that cost to more than $2,000 per guard, per day.
While businesses elsewhere in the United States might not command these rates, those that offer international services may be able to charge even more.
What are the ongoing expenses for a bodyguard business?
The ongoing expenses for a bodyguard business are substantial. They include rent, utilities, and employee salaries. Travel expenses and other special costs are often built into clients’ bills.
How much profit can a bodyguard business make?
Bodyguard businesses can bring in a significant revenue regardless of what type of services they provide. A self-employed business owners with no employee might be able to earn between $1,000 and $2,000 a week while only protecting clients on the weekends. A company that offers services to clients while traveling might bring in $9,000 or more in one weekend.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Bodyguards can easily increase their revenue by offering additional services to clients. Selling alarm systems, firearm training sessions, and guard dog training is easy because clients are already interested in protective services and trust their bodyguards.
Bodyguards might personally offer these services for an extra fee, or they may recommend trusted partners who offer a commission.