Start a dating service 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 dating service. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
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 long it will take you to break even?
- 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 dating service?
The startup costs for a dating business can vary, and the differences hinge on what kind of website you want to have. It is possible to set up a very basic dating website for less than $1,000. This assumes $100 to purchase a domain and start hosting it and $60 to use a custom WordPress theme on it. You will need to pay about $400 for dating software such as SkaDate. Finally, you may pay around $300 to have an eye-catching logo designed.
If you want a more complex site to help compete with services like eHarmony or Match.com, you may end up paying between $15,000 to $50,000 to have a website designed from the ground up. This cost is all-inclusive and factors in logo, software, databases, search engine optimization, and a number of professionally-written pages for your site.
Because your business relies on online customers, it may be worth investigating $5,000 to start advertising online. Advertising via Facebook, Twitter, and Google AdWords can help increase brand awareness, and creating your own social media pages can help you form positive interactions and relationships with customers.
What are the ongoing expenses for a dating service?
The ongoing expenses for your business may vary. It may cost over $16,000 to pay the collective monthly salary of a small team, and the monthly hosting charge for your website will probably be around $10 (or more as it becomes more popular). If you have the money, it may be worth spending $1000 or $2000 a month on additional advertising for your site. It is worth noting, though, that you can run a smaller site without a team, and the more technical knowledge you have about website design and studying analytics, the more of this job you can do on your own.
Who is the target market?
Your best customers will tend to be those between the ages of 25 and 35. This age group is less likely to have settled down in a relationship. However, they may also be less likely to rely on apps such as Tinder which facilitate “hooking up” more than ongoing relationships.
How does a dating service make money?
A dating service makes money by charging clients for the use of its services. The exact fee structure can vary, but it is typically in the form of a monthly fee as well as additional charges for entry to special events.
How much can you charge customers?
How much you can charge clients varies. Other dating websites typically charge members between $20 and $60 a month. You may consider offering discounts for clients who sign up for multiple months at a time, or even offering different tiers of membership in which the lower tiers are more accessible but the higher tiers offer enhanced services.
How much profit can a dating service make?
The exact profit your dating service makes is completely contingent on how many members your site has and how much they are paying in monthly fees. For instance, if your site has 5,000 members that are paying $25 a month, then your site can generate $1.5 million each year. However, it may take a lot of initial investment in advertising and marketing to build your site's reputation so you can attract as many clients as possible.
How can you make your business more profitable?
As your site grows, you may consider creating a sister website (using the same basic site architecture) to cater to different groups or niches. Consider developing a separate app which will allow you to compete with app-based services. Finally, be sure to put your face into some of the marketing and website pages. This helps clients feel like your site is someone they can trust rather than a faceless website.
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.
After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your dating service is sued. There are many business structures to choose from including: Corporations, LLC's, and DBA's.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Check out the Top Business Formation Services from our friends at StartupSavant.
You should also consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.
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.
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: You can get $300 when you open a Chase business checking account with qualifying activities. Learn 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 Eco tour business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
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.
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.
It is advisable to provide clients with informed consent agreements to decrease legal liability and encourage transparency. Here is an example of a liability waiver, sometimes called an “informed consent agreement”.
Certificate of Occupancy
A dating service can be run out of a storefront or office space. 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 dating service.
- 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 dating service will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
STEP 7: 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.
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.
How to promote & market a dating service
As mentioned earlier, some of the best promotion will come from your website, your online advertising, and your social media presence. Additionally, you may conduct “speed dating” and other events in different areas as a way of promoting your business. Finally, consider speaking in places like libraries and college campuses to create brand awareness and interest.
How to keep customers coming back
The best way to attract and retain customers is to predict what they fear about online dating and try to make it better. Some sites do special screening of clients before admitting them, reducing the chances of online harassment. Others focus on making it easy to send pictures and video so that clients aren't surprised by the other person when they finally meet. Despite being online, these people are like anyone else trying to get a first date: nervous and self-conscious. If you help them feel confident about themselves and the date, they will keep coming back and refer their friends.
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 Dating Service 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?
This business is good for those who like to play matchmaker with friends and those who like to socialize. A background in website or app development can help you set up the technical side of your operation.
What happens during a typical day at a dating service?
On any given day, you may compose emails or make phone calls to current or prospective clients. You may be coordinating and organizing any upcoming events on certain days or monitoring some of the analytic details from your website and/or app. Downtime is typically spent working on advertising as well as researching emerging trends that will help your dating business.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful dating service?
If you have not already done so, be sure to brush up on as much research regarding dating as you can. Taking classes or even having a degree in a field like Psychology can be a big help. Finally, experience using other dating services or sites is valuable because it gives you ideas for what to do and what not to do.
What is the growth potential for a dating service?
The growth potential for this business is steady; the Pew Research Center reports that people of every age bracket are using online dating sites and services more than they have before.
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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 dating service?
Try to find a niche in the dating community that is not yet filled by a website (such as catering to a group or lifestyle that does not have their own site). Start small and basically “beta test” your site with a small number of clients before going public. Finally, make sure your site and all of your content is mobile-friendly so that everyone can access it via smartphone very easily.
How and when to build a team
Unless you are starting with the humble WordPress-themed site, you will probably need a team immediately. This will include people to write for the website, to manage the website, and to maintain and study the analytics from the website.