Start a paintball field 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 paintball field. 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 paintball field?
Experts estimate that the cost of opening a paintball arena business is approximately $50,000. Depending on the type of arena you want to open, the cost for a business operating license, additional permits, and liability insurance can range from $3,500 to $5,000 dollars, depending on local laws. The design and preparation of field surfaces can cost up to $10, 000. Since the average amount of space required for an outdoor arena is 10,000 feet, monthly rent payments can average approximately $6,000, depending on local real estate market prices.
Each entry-level semi-automatic or electro-mechanical paintball gun and the necessary equipment to use it costs between $70-$100. Professional-level guns can cost as much as $2000. They also require compressed air tanks, rather than CO2, which range from $50 to $200 dollars and are more expensive to test and maintain. Inexpensive paint begins at approximately $30 for a case of 2000 rounds or $10 for a box of 500. Higher grade professional tournament paint can cost as much as $80 for a case of 2000. Masks average $20 apiece, and CO2 tanks average $12 each, with refills costing between $3 and $6 dollars, depending on the size of the tank. You’ll also need some legal advice for creating waivers, disclaimers and brochures.
What are the ongoing expenses for a paintball field?
- Space rental fees
- Paint, CO2 tanks, and refills
- Safety equipment replacement costs for required masks, vests, and helmets
- Equipment cleaning and maintenance
- Employee salaries
- Electricity for lighting and temperature control
Who is the target market?
Paintball appeals to individuals with disposable income and leisure time, and who are not limited by a medical conditions which could be exacerbated by the emotional excitement and physical exertion of a paintball competition.
How does a paintball field make money?
Paintball arenas generate revenue by charging participants entrance and equipment rental fees. Some paintball arena business owners also make money by arranging local, state, and national tournaments and charging participants an entry fee. Some owners also rent out equipment for use off-site.
How much can you charge customers?
The prices charged for entry fees and participation range from $10 to $60 dollars per participant, depending on the quality of the equipment and the complexity of the field or arena. Some owners sell season passes or offer memberships at reduced rates to encourage regular attendance.
How much profit can a paintball field make?
With a good business plan, paintball business owners earn an average of between $20,000 and $30,000 per year. That amount increases in direct proportion to the amount of community participation in your business and the number of arenas you operate.
How can you make your business more profitable?
One of the ways you can make your business more profitable is by saving money by offering your experienced customers play in exchange for employee services, such as providing orientations for new players. Other money-saving strategies include purchasing, rather than renting, CO2 tanks, refilling your own paintball tanks onsite. Some owners limit venue hours to nights and weekends to reduce operating costs.
Renting out paintball equipment to those who want to play, but aren’t able to schedule a full session at your facility generates additional income. So does selling memorabilia such as hats and t-shirts. Training and sponsoring teams that qualify for national championships can generate enough community enthusiasm to bring in new customers as well as extra income from entry fees. Varying reservation rates to reflect peak and off-peak periods and differences in playing venues can also make a positive economic impact on your business.
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 paintball field 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: Find the right bank for you, read our review of the Top 5 Banks for Your Small Business
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 paintball arena 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:
- 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.
Paintball arenas should strongly consider requiring customers to sign liability waivers to prevent risk of legal action in the event that a customer is injured. Though waivers should be custom-made, this sports center example waiver provides a helpful example.
To minimize liability and comply with law, participants should be over the age of 18, or have the consent of a parental guardian when signing a liability waiver.
Recommended: Rocket Lawyer makes it easy to create a professional release of liability form for your paintball 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.
Protective Gear and Safety Regulations
In most states, customers are required to wear protective gear. It’s recommended that the safety gear includes masks to protect customers’ face and eyes and durable gloves to protect the customer's hands.
Additional state and federal safety regulations apply. For example, paintball arenas are required to use paintball guns with a maximum limit of 300 FPS.
Certificate of Occupancy
An paintball business is always run out of a physical location. 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 paintball 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 location:
- 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 paintball 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.
How to promote & market a paintball field
For this competitive business, market research is essential for reaching your desired demographic of potential customers. Unlike other businesses, the success of paintball arena businesses depends on customers having both the leisure time and the disposable income necessary to participate in this planned activity. Focusing your efforts on effectively targeting the right demographic can make all the difference. Leaving brochures with private schools, summer camps, as well as with local veteran’s organizations can be a smart way to attract people with both interest and resources. Visiting organizations and businesses whose members or employees would benefit from positive team-building exercises is a great way to advertise your business and expand your customer base.
How to keep customers coming back
Offering merchandise like t-shirts and hats is a good way to provide your customers with memories of their experience at your arena as well as spread the word about that experience. Loyalty rewards programs are especially effective for this type of business, especially those in which customers receive prizes or discounts as rewards for signing up new customers.
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 Paintball Field 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 is a great business for people who enjoy physical activity and promoting exercise and teamwork. If having fun and teaching others to have fun is as important to you as earning money, this might be the perfect business for you.
What happens during a typical day at a paintball field?
Some of the day to day activities may include:
- Purchasing/Setting up equipment and supplies
- Collecting rental fees
- Designing games and competitions
- Advertising and promotional activities
- Accounting and payroll
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful paintball field?
- Physical dexterity for demonstrating the use of equipment and leading teams participating in tournaments
- Knowledge of the rules of paintball and the equipment required, which consists of standardized helmets, vests and regulation pads for each participant
- Teaching ability to provide proper orientation for new players before they enter the arena
- First Aid and Safety Training (Contact your local Red Cross for information on classes)
- Spatial reasoning and architectural design skills for utilizing space in creating interesting and challenging field conditions.
What is the growth potential for a paintball field?
The growth potential of this business often depends on creating and maintaining more than one field or indoor arena to provide varying degrees of difficulty. Some paintball arena businesses have grown large enough to offer franchise opportunities.
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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.
How and when to build a team
Having a team in place before opening your business is important, since customers must be taught the rules in order to become skilled enough players to enter competitions and tournaments. Paintball players make the best paintball arena employees.