Start a clown business by following these 9 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 clown business. 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 a clown business?
The initial costs for starting your own clown business can be fairly low, with the bulk of your money and resources being spent to outfit your business with the proper insurance, reliable transportation, and the basic supplies used for entertaining at parties. And, with less emphasis on the traditional clown makeup and outfits, many performers are able to perform in regular clothes and minimal make-up, relying instead on the acts they perform and talents they put on display. For approximately $1000.00, most performers are able to get their clown business up and running, although the cost will fluctuate, depending on your expertise and business plan.
What are the ongoing expenses for a clown business?
Recurring fees will relate to the materials and disposable goods used for each performance. Maintenance for any equipment, including a vehicle, will also constitute a portion of a monthly budget, along with travel expenses for getting to and from the party locations.
Who is the target market?
Typically, your target audience would be parents looking for entertainment for a child’s birthday, holidays, or other social gatherings, such as Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. More recently, target markets have also extended to businesses or organizations looking for party entertainers and hosts. Corporate businesses and organizations are considerably more interested in the talents of a clown, minus the face paint, and will often pay considerably more for your time.
How does a clown business make money?
Clown businesses make their money from the fees collected for their entertainer jobs. Fees will should be adjusted based on the hours in attendance and the work being performed.
How much can you charge customers?
For most performers, fees are charged by the hour. You will need to see what other performers in your area make, on average, for their services. Fees can range anywhere from $15 to $100, per hour, depending on the job and the services requested. And, as mentioned above, the person or group hiring the performer may be more willing to pay top dollar if they have the organizational financial backing to pay more. These will all vary, depending on the climate for clown and costumed performers in your area.
How much profit can a clown business make?
The average costumed performer can make around $35,000 per year. This number will fluctuate, depending on if this is a full or part-time job and what services you can offer your customers. Some larger party companies have reported profits exceeding $100,000, annually,although these businesses tend to be multi-faceted and able to supply party performers and atmospheres for a myriad of customers and situations. Versatility, then, becomes key.
How can you make your business more profitable?
As mentioned above, versatility is important for expanding on a niche market to include more than just a clown performer. Consider all the aspects of party entertainment and look for what you can specialize and add as part of your entertainment packages.
Also, since there is more of a scary clown vibe among many people, exploit this fear and offer your services as a scary clown. Haunted houses and Halloween-themed attractions may be looking for real clown performers to add to the overall terror of their business ventures. If people are scared of clowns, who better to profit than clowns themselves.
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 Clown 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.
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 clown 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!
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?.
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.
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.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a clown 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.
In addition, certain local licensing or regulatory requirements may apply. For more 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.
IF your business plays music publically:
In order to play music in a business setting, permission must be acquired from the composer or license holder. Typically, it is possible to obtain a “blanket” license allowing a businesses to play music owned by a large catalog of artists and recording studios. Such licenses can be obtained from Performance Rights Organizations, such as ASCAP or BMI.
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 a clown business
Using the internet and social media are some of the most effective methods for a new business, especially when considering keeping overhead costs low. E-mail blasts, regular blog and photo content, and interaction among related performer groups and entertainment outlets will help to spread your name and reputation. Also, look into business cards, flyers and magnetic car signs. Create a mobile billboard with your vehicle and ask to leave business cards or flyers around town in crowd trafficked areas.
How to keep customers coming back
The strength of customer responses will directly affect your next jobs. Make sure the customer is left happy and content with your performance. You may have a tough time pleasing every single person, but you should strive to give the customer(s) what they want. Build personable relationships, ask for feedback, and give discounts for return customers or referrals. And, if someone isn’t satisfied, follow up to see what can be improved on, what you can do to make the current situation right, and how you can adjust, moving forward. The customer will be your biggest indicator of success or failure, so work hard to ensure you see them again.
STEP 9: Establish your 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.
Start A Clown Business 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?
Do you enjoy talking to and performing for groups of people, both young and old? Do you have a knack for arts and crafts, music, dancing, singing and other aspects of party entertainment? Clown and costumed entertainment businesses thrive off of the energy and creativity of the performers. If you found yourself answering yes to these questions or feel excited about the possibility of making a living from your combined entertaining talents, then this may be the career for you.
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 clown business?
A traditional clown business focused on entertaining audiences, as a face-painted clown. More recent business models have expanded on this theme and include many more facets of entertainment. A modern clown business attends to:
- Receiving and responding to booking requests
- Updating monthly calendar(s) to reflect upcoming jobs
- Preparing theme-based shows and packages for upcoming parties and events
- Restocking supplies and care and maintenance of equipment and costumes for events
- Hiring additional performers (as needed)
- Marketing and advertising your services
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful clown business?
Many clown and costumed performers are and have been trained in clown performing schools. As a sub-genre of acting and entertaining, a good clown must be a natural performer, able to perform many tasks and forms entertainment. Often, these are the types of things taught through a clown school, but it is not necessary to have attended a school in order to be a successful clown and performer. However, there are a number of traits and talents you must possess, or be able to learn, in order to become a success in this business. Some examples are:
- Singing, dancing, acting, playing musical instruments, and interacting with a crowd
- Applying make-up and performing face-painting for audience members
- Juggling, performing magic tricks, making balloon animals and “sculptures”, and doing some basic gymnastics
- Understanding a crowd and adjusting your routine to fit with the audience
- Managing a small business, including hiring and firing employees, balancing finances, and marketing and promotion
- Managing and using social media and technology to maximize the reach of your business and the quality of your performances
What is the growth potential for a clown business?
Clown and costumed performer businesses have traditionally done well, with numerous requests for children’s birthday parties and celebrations often accounting for the bulk of the reservations. However, in more recent years, traditional clowns have seen less work, primarily caused by a shift in perception of clowns from cheery and happy to more ominous and, for some, scary. Numerous factors can be cited for this societal shift but, the bottom line is, the business is experiencing a change in how these performers use their crafts to maintain a decent work schedule. By expanding the forms of entertainment available in the performer’s repertoire, the clowning business is finding new and exciting ways to bring the spark back to this classic performing profession. And, with the new changes come more expansion and growth potential. As a performer, the field is rife for expansion, but needs creative individuals to steer this clown car to the modern events of the new millennium.
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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.
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 clown business?
As we’ve been mentioning, clowns, in general, have experienced a backlash in popularity. The typical imagery of a clown, complete with white face paint, a ruffled collar, and a red nose, is now perceived as creepy or scary for many. In fact, coulrophobia or the illogical fear of clowns, has its own dictionary entry. Knowing this will help you prepare for the inevitable “evil clown” references and imagery. Here are some methods for shifting focus and making the most of your combined abilities.
- Consider less face paint. Focus on accent areas and look to involve your audience in the face painting experience. This can lessen the impact, especially for children, and will help de-stigmatize clowns, in general.
- Focus your advertising on ALL of the aspects of your entertainment packages, not just traditional clown performances.
- Consider corporate party organizing and performing. As an animated performer, you will still engage an audience, yet your focus becomes more about the act and talents than the makeup.
- Join or create groups, forums, and organizations pertaining to clowning or costumed entertaining. By becoming part of a community, you will increase your exposure and ability to network for greater employment opportunities.
- Advertise through local party rental stores or partner with existing party rentals or party supply businesses. You will more than likely work as an independent contractor, which allows you to pursue many different types of jobs, along with the referrals coming from party related businesses.
How and when to build a team
Starting out, you will probably be a one-person team. The expenses need to be minimal to start, and the revenue should be at least partly funneled back into the business. As you become more popular, though, you will probably want an office manager and performance assistant to come on board. If at all possible, these two roles should be combined for one person. Not until you are regularly booked for work weekly will you want to add more team members. But, once your business is rolling, many clown and costumed performance businesses will employ a stable of performers, capable of fitting the needs of almost any gathering, party, or event.