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.
Learn how to start your own Bodyguard Business and whether it is the right fit for you.
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Start a bodyguard business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Bodyguard Business
- Form your Bodyguard Business into a Legal Entity
- Register your Bodyguard Business for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Bodyguard Business
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Bodyguard Business
- Get Bodyguard Business Insurance
- Define your Bodyguard Business Brand
- Create your Bodyguard Business Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
We have put together this simple guide to starting your bodyguard business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.
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 will you name your business?
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Bodyguard Business Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
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 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.
Who 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.
How much can you charge customers?
Hiring bodyguards isn’t cheap. In Hollywood, individual bodyguards cost between $500 and $1,000 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.
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 owner 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.
Want a more guided approach? Access TRUiC's free Small Business Startup Guide - a step-by-step course for turning your business idea into reality. Get started today!
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 bodyguard business 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!
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.
Open a business bank account
Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.
Get a business credit card
Getting a business credit card helps you:
- Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.
Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from BILL and build your business credit quickly.
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.
Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.
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.
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, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
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.
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.
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.
FInd out what types of insurance your Bodyguard Business needs and how much it will cost you by reading our guide Business Insurance for Bodyguard Business.
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.
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
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.
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.
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.
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. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
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Is this Business Right For You?
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.
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 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 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 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. Security & Protective Services LLC 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.
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 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 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.