Start a go kart business by following these 10 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 go kart 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 go kart business?
The average go-kart business can cost up to $300,000 to start, due to a plethora of startup costs. Owners will need to supply a warehouse, a multitude of karts, gasoline, maintenance tools, insurance, track materials, and safety equipment. Facility rent is approximately $2,400 to $4,000 per month, depending on the facility’s size and maintenance needs.
What are the ongoing expenses for a go kart business?
A go-kart business can expect to pay for kart depreciation, gas, kart maintenance, track maintenance, facility cooling, heating, and insurance. Employees will be paid between $8 and $20 per hour, depending on their roles. On a monthly basis, you can expect to pay between $200 and $400 for your warehouse’s utility needs. Heating will also be included in your ongoing expenses as your customers will like to stay warm, and large warehouses often lost heat quickly.
Who is the target market?
Because go-kart racing can be incredibly dangerous, preferred clients are those who abide by location rules and who don’t drive recklessly. Understandably, go-karting caters to younger crowds. For this reason, family units are great customer types—if only to enhance a younger rider’s safety.
Go-kart tracks are normally found within arcade complexes, so consistent memberships, on average, are more profitable than single-use riders. A go-kart track profits from ongoing bulk service packages, as they assure consistent services and a constant stream of revenue.
How does a go kart business make money?
An independent go-kart track makes money from either individual rides or monthly memberships. Again, successful tracks utilize ongoing payment “packages” to ensure visitors return. Basic go-kart tracks make money from races, but some may charge extra for site-provided safety equipment. Small amenities, like food and drinks, can make a go-kart track money, too.
If a go-kart track is part of a larger complex, it will either be treated as the part complex or as its own entity serving under the complex. If the latter is true, money is earned after the overarching complex makes revenue.
How much can you charge customers?
Customers can be charged, on average, about $5 per ride. Safety gear should be rented for between $5 and $10 as their use limits overall track usage. If you want to make more money, consider offering yearly memberships for between $100 and $200, or you can offer special memberships for quick-access riding. Fortunately, go-kart pricing is incredibly variable. Since you’re dealing with kart depreciation, gasoline, and maintenance as expenses, you needn’t worry too much about each kart’s value compared to its use.
How much profit can a go kart business make?
While a go-karting business can cost a lot to open, its profits can be large. LLC go-kart businesses can make between $500,000 and $700,000 yearly, if they’re smart about attracting and retaining visitors. However, it’s a good idea to join a franchise to increase service reliability. Individual facilities can spend thousands of dollars on financial and marketing advice.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Reduce the liabilities as much as possible. New go-kart businesses face a lot of difficulty, expense-wise, with insurance and property upkeep. Once your business has grown, join a franchise or become part of an entertainment complex. You could also enter the high-speed racing market niche, and attract long-term customers with unique, competitive membership plans.
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 Go Kart 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 go kart 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?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
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.
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.
Open net-30 accounts
When it comes to establishing your business credit, net-30 vendors are considered the way to go. The term "net-30," which is popular among vendors, refers to a business credit arrangement where the company pays the vendor within 30 days of receiving goods or services.
Net-30 credit terms are often used for businesses that need to obtain inventory quickly but do not have the cash on hand.
Besides establishing business relationships with vendors, net-30 credit accounts get reported to the major business credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business Credit). This is how businesses build business credit so they can qualify for credit cards and other lines of credit.
Recommended: Read our guide on the best net-30 vendors so you can start building business credit now, so you never have to worry about cash flow in the future. Keep in mind that poor cash flow is the #1 reason businesses fail!
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 go-kart 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.
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.
To avoid liability and potential lawsuits, Go Kart businesses should have their clients sign a release of liability. Here is an example of one such form.
Recommended: Rocket Lawyer makes it easy to create a professional release of liability form for your Go Kart business when you sign up for their premium membership. For $39.95 per month, members receive access to hundreds of legal agreements and on call attorneys to get complimentary legal advice.
Certificate of Occupancy
A go-kart business can be run out of a large storefront or large outdoor 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 space:
- 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 go-kart 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 space:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for you business’ location to ensure your go-kart business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO
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 go kart business
You should promote your business through nearby fun complexes, arcades, and outdoor entertainment complexes. Promotion via sports complexes, gyms, basketball courts, baseball fields, and similar areas is a good idea. Internet promotion is a solid marketing plan, though your business’s most profitable clients will be found in similar areas—engaging outdoor activities, extreme sports or exercise. The most cost effective form of advertising will be the creation and maintenance of a social media page which showcases pictures of your business, a list of activities you offer, and any special events/promotions that are presently occurring.
How to keep customers coming back
Record your races, promote on YouTube, and offer Facebook membership exclusives. Go-kart tracks, again, thrive on return visits. If you can offer yearly memberships, discounts, holiday deals, and birthday racing packages, you’ll become a preferred provider in your area. Beware of opening a large track, however, as large tracks have niche audiences. While these audiences are often willing to pay hundreds of dollars for high-speed racing, they generally aren’t sustainable buyers.
Still unsure about what kind of business you want to start? Check out the latest Small Business Trends to help inspire you.
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.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
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.
Recommended: Find the best phone system for your business; check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2021.
Start A Go Kart 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?
Go-kart business management is highly flexible, and it’s suitable for a number of individuals. Car enthusiasts, carnival workers, maintenance operators, and those with a sense of excitement can benefit greatly from owning a go-kart business. Regardless of your interests, a go-kart business should be run by someone with a keen eye for auto mechanics, driving safety, and safe entertainment.
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 go kart business?
Go-kart business owners handle insurance plans, kart maintenance, track timing systems, part sourcing, safety gear sourcing, barrier setup, and day-to-day racing governance. Looking through an administrative lens, successful go-kart business owners handle finances, marketing, management, and location maintenance. Successful tracks are run by personnel who are experienced with driver safety, since it is important to monitor every race.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful go kart business?
Firstly, a firm understanding of driver safety, insurance, and premises maintenance is important. Go-karting is incredibly dangerous, and many go-kart businesses must stand strong against legal scrutiny for their sake and for the sake of their customers.
Go-kart business owners also need to understand the fundamentals of motor vehicle management, safe driving procedures, mechanics, racing procedures, warehouse operation, and general business planning. Go-kart racing is a profitable opportunity, but it fails to be sustainable if it isn’t approached by a responsible someone with an entrepreneurial mindset.
What is the growth potential for a go kart business?
Since most go-kart businesses operate as contractor entities, many simply serve larger complexes. In these cases, a go-kart business’s growth potential will eventually be tied to the complex’s. Larger complexes absorb many go-kart businesses, too. This mostly happens because individual go-kart businesses struggle to compete against larger entertainment complexes.
As an individual entity, however, a go-kart business can become an area’s preferred provider. Go-kart businesses are far and few between, making them a unique service in the market. If a go-kart business manages to stay independent, it can benefit from a healthy environment of returning customers. However, it is quite difficult to become a multi-state go-kart racing provider.
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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.
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 go kart business?
At the beginning, a go-kart track shouldn’t exist as a sole proprietorship or a partnership. It should exist as a limited liability corporation (LLC) to be protected against accident and risk claims. Jump-starting a go-kart business isn’t necessarily difficult if you have the capital, but liability coverage must be incredibly sustainable. Every jurisdiction has specific laws regarding LLC coverage.
As for jump-starting in a local market, pricing matters. Your go-kart business should price competitively, pricing family races at about $5.
How and when to build a team
You’ll need a team of at least five before opening day. Your workers will include technicians, track operators, safety instructors, and payment processors. Once your go-kart track is sustainable, consider increasing your team to about 10. Go-kart tracks tend to become popular quickly, if they offer a solid pricing incentive, so scaling can be rapid, difficult, and dangerous.