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A clown or costumed entertainer is hired for parties and other social and business-oriented gatherings to serve as entertainment and sometimes hosting of the event.
Who is this business right for?
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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 steps to start a clown business?
Once you're ready to start your clown 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 clown 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 clown 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.
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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 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.
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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.
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.
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, check out our informative guide, 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.
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.
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.
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.