Business Overview


Kiosk businesses are small, open-front selling stands. Typically, they’re located in malls, shopping centers, or similar areas. A kiosk business sells mobile phone paraphernalia, newspapers, sunglasses, tickets, household supplies, and similar items. Typically, small kiosk businesses thrive off of their incredible accessibility. They’re often located in malls, public areas, and airports. While a kiosk business is often independent, kiosk business owners can become part of larger kiosk networks to generate more revenue.

Who is this business right for?

The kiosk business is perfect for self-motivated individuals. Often small, flexible, and varied, kiosks are some of today’s leading shopping areas for passerby. A kiosk owner has an entrepreneurial mindset, and they’re willing to sell niche products for long periods of time. Individuals who love networking are often fantastic kiosk owners, and they’re incredibly capable when marketing, promotion, and expansion are considered.

What happens during a typical day at a kiosk business?

A kiosk business owner will mostly sell items from their kiosk. When they’re not directly involved in selling, however, they’re researching market potential, pricing alternatives, product variety and new opportunities. Much of a kiosk owner’s savvy as a businessperson relies on their ability to target professional opportunities. Once these responsibilities have been covered, other activities include kiosk cleaning, maintenance and small upkeep tasks.

What is the target market?

Your preferred customers will depend on your location, products, services, and environment. Because your kiosk will sell specific products, you should make sure it’s established in an area which caters to customers who want these products. Preferred customer locations include shopping malls, movie theaters, art walks, bars, and similar areas.

How does a kiosk business make money?

A kiosk business makes most of its revenue by selling either generic or niche products. Generic items aren’t necessarily useless, however. They simply have mass appeal. Some kiosks sell food instead of products. Others offer smartphone charging stations. Regardless, every kiosk business makes money by selling either a product or a service. Some kiosks can profit from advertisements, too.

What is the growth potential for a kiosk business?

A kiosk business is likely to stay local. Some kiosk businesses eventually make enough money to open a storefront. In fact, a lot of successful small business owners began as kiosk business owners. If a kiosk business has high-quality products, they may eventually expand into a kiosk network. If a business owner is smart about their marketing, management and finances, they can generate a lot of revenue by providing products and services in multiple locations.

Getting Started


What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful kiosk business?

Having an eye for high-quality products helps. A kiosk owner should understand what buyers want. They should also be capable of understanding an environment’s marketability. To build a successful kiosk business, make sure you're not competing with big-box retailers. As an independent retailer, you’ll never beat WalMart in terms of price.

What are the costs involved in opening a kiosk business?

Kiosk business startup costs can range from $2,000 to $10,000, depending on a few things. First, a kiosk business’ sold products should be considered. Expensive items will be expensive to produce. Additionally, a kiosk’s location may be expensive to rent. While a kiosk exists in a temporary location, some entrepreneurs may find themselves relocating to make more money. A kiosk business owner’s main cost, of course, is the kiosk itself. Where leases are considered, a kiosk business owner may find themselves spending over $100,000 on three to 10 years.

What are the steps to start a kiosk business?

Once you're ready to start your kiosk business, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:

  1. 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.
  2. Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your kiosk business is sued.
  3. Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
  4. Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your kiosk business keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  9. 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.

Recommended: Fizzle.co offers video courses and a supportive online community of like-minded entrepreneurs. Try one month membership for for free.

What are some insider tips for jump starting a kiosk business?

Don’t be afraid to change location. Even if your product is good, it might not be suitable for an environment once it changes. If you decide to upscale customers, consider their current shopping locations. Find out how to entire adjacent markets, and make sure your branding is effective. Your product displays should have rhyme and reason, making customers want to stop and shop.

Growing Your Business


How to promote & market a kiosk business

Promote your kiosk by being in a highly visible area. Because your kiosk will be a small business front, you won’t be able to market it via newspaper advertisements and in similar mediums. You can, however, market it via Facebook. If you’re in a trending location, connect with the area’s providers. Offer something unique, and prioritize customer incentives like price and product diversity.

Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.

How to keep customers coming back

You’ll attract customers by creating an enticing buying space. Reduce the clutter, and don’t put out too much merchandise. A well-displayed, colorful kiosk will attract and retain customers.

How and when to build a team

A kiosk business is relatively easy to run. For this reason, a kiosk can be controlled by a single operator. If you wish to expand your kiosk business, consider hiring one to two associates. These associates can help sell goods, maintain the register assist with maintenance, help source products, and clean the kiosk. Over time, however, you’re better off keeping the staff small. There isn’t much room in a kiosk, and a cluttered work environment can, unsurprisingly, reduce overall sales.

Legal Considerations


State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a Kiosk 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, check out our informative guide, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.

Reduce Personal Liability

Structuring your business as a limited liability company (LLC) ensures your personal assets are protected in the event your business is sued.

What is an LLC?

Form an LLC in 5 easy steps

Earning Potential


How much can you charge customers?

Product and service costs vary wildly. Some kiosks sell hotdogs, which sell for between $1 and $3. Other kiosks, meanwhile, sell smartphones and smartphone amenities. Your product costs should be competitive with industry prices. You’ll also need to adhere to any industry selling standards before implementing a professional selling strategy.

What are the ongoing expenses for a kiosk business?

Kiosk business owners often spend about $800 per month for their space lease and cart maintenance. This cost depends heavily on mall traffic volume, the season and a location’s amenities. In some cases, however, a kiosk’s rate can be as high as $2,000 per month. Ongoing expenses also include emergency maintenance, products, and advertisement.

How much profit can a kiosk business make?

Annually, a successful kiosk can make about $50,000. A kiosk’s success, however, is dependent on its sold items, location, and residence. Successful kiosks may decide to become permanent space occupants, capitalizing on the area’s customers. Other kiosks, meanwhile, may find it more advantageous to relocate.

How can you make your business more profitable?

Offer product variety. When possible, incorporate different styles, colors and materials. A go-to example, here, Is Crocs. While you can offer the same product over a long period of time, it’s advantageous to give passersby a reason to consider purchasing alternatives from you—the provider.

Prioritize mass appeal, too. A successful kiosk business may offer niche items, but it will also cater to large audiences. Remember your market, and play into the local crowd’s product needs. Additionally, pay attention to your service environment. If you’re in a mall, or another crowded area, give customers a reason to linger near your kiosk.

Next Steps

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