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A parasailing business offers adventurous individuals the opportunity to experience sun, sea, and sand in an exciting and visually interesting way. Parasailing gives customers the freedom of flight and the exhilaration of skydiving in an accessible medium.
Who is this business right for?
Parasailing business owners need to have good people skills, knowledge of boating and parasailing safety guidelines, and experience running small businesses. Parasailing is an exciting activity for tourists and beach goers and the owner of a parasailing business should share the same kind of excitement about the business that the customers have for the parasailing experience.
What happens during a typical day at a parasailing business?
Day to day activities revolve around client interactions. The more people you can take out on your boat(s), the better the business does. The business, therefore, must continually work to entice customers through your doors and offer these same customers a memorable and safe experience. Additionally, these businesses will:
- Advertise and promote their business locally and regionally.
- Inspect, repair, replace, and clean all equipment. Safety is key.
- Tune up and maintain tow boat(s).
What is the target market?
Your target market for a parasailing business will be tourists and visitors to your beach, lake, river, etc. Focus on safe excitement for individuals, families, and couples. Tandem harnesses are often quite popular, as two participants are likely to influence each other into joining the adventure.
How does a parasailing business make money?
Parasailing businesses make their money through customers, either from booked reservations or walk-ins looking for excitement on the spur of the moment.
What is the growth potential for a parasailing business?
Proper location will prove to be one of the biggest factors in your business’ success. If you are visible and easily accessible to customers, and have a reputation for safety and reliability, you can see your business venture take off...no pun intended.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful parasailing business?
Since parasailing is primarily a tourist-driven business, you need to be able to successfully communicate with and entice potential customers. Expressing your enthusiasm for parasailing to your customer base is a necessary trait to possess. You should also have experience in and around boats, both driving and repairing and maintaining, as the boat is an essential part of your business. You should also be somewhat obsessive about safety and proper procedure. Your reputation as a careful and cautious parasail operator will go very far in attracting and retaining customers, via your reputation.
What are the costs involved in opening a parasailing business?
A startup for this type of business can be fairly pricey as you will need a powerful boat, outfitted with a parasailing base and winch, at least one parasail, tethering rope, and single and double harnesses for your riders. You will also need insurance for the business and your customers riding the parasail.
What are the steps to start a parasailing business?
Once you're ready to start your parasailing 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 parasailing 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 parasailing 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.
Recommended: Fizzle.co offers video courses and a supportive online community of like-minded entrepreneurs. Try one month membership for free.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a parasailing business?
Since this type of business often thrives on being a novelty attraction, you will need to research the potential customer traffic, as well as competition, for the location of your parasailing operation. You will need to be unique and stand out as a different option for enjoying the water and natural surroundings. Your storefront and beachside kiosk(s) must be visible and readily prepared to sign up customers for time slots. To increase customer recognition, employ social media, such as Facebook and Instagram, as marketing and advertising sources, as well as methods for booking parasailing expeditions.
There is also the option of buying an existing parasailing business, as a turnkey operation. This method will afford you an existing business model to work to improve upon and the boat, equipment, and location to get started. This way, you will be able to allocate a bit more of your energy towards generating excitement about the new ownership. A change sometimes spurns new interest in an already existing business, just by virtue of new resonating in customers’ minds. And a fresh perspective may see more options for generating a greater revenue stream.
How to promote & market a parasailing business
Since your business will likely be close to the body of water you’ll take your clients out on, your business can benefit from visible signage, such as billboards, a store sign or marquee, or even painted window signs. Customers often make decisions, based on the ease of access to the business and proper signage makes that search easier.
You should also network with other local businesses and the chamber of commerce to create business relationships, partnerships, and opportunities to increase the overall customer vitality of your area. Being involved with the decisions of your local entrepreneurs and business community are critical for the long term health of your business.
And, as mentioned above, take advantage of as many social media and internet-based advertising opportunities. You will be able to expand your coverage through linking to other businesses in your area, as well as travel and vacation sites. Remember, your number one goal is to create a reputation for safety, professionalism, and fun. Showing pictures and customer responses on your website and social media outlets will help expand your coverage and reach and solidify your reputation as a trusted leisure activity company.
Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.
How to keep customers coming back
Reputation is everything. You may not have as many return customers, as you will rely heavily on tourist and visitor traffic. What you will generate, though, is excellent word of mouth reviews and recommendations from past customers. This kind of endorsement is second to none. additionally, make sure you show off your safe, professional operating standards with every customer you encounter.
How and when to build a team
To begin, you’ll probably only need one or two additional employees, as the bulk of the work will entail routine maintenance of the equipment and boat, as well as the piloting of the boat for parasailing outings. As your clientele numbers grow, so can your team. Eventually, you may even have more than one location in your area, effectively capturing more business. These satellite outposts will need a team member or two to operate, yet your team will still remain relatively conservative in size. Maximize your potential by minimizing your overhead and operating costs.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a parasailing 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.
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.
Certificate of Occupancy
A parasailing business is generally run out of an office and place to store your boat. 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 parasailing 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 your business’ location to ensure your parasailing business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
To avoid liability and potential lawsuits, parasailing businesses should have their clients sign waivers.
An example of an appropriate waiver can be found here.
How much can you charge customers?
Assuming you have chosen a location with minimal competition and a steady flow of customers, your business can be quite profitable. As mentioned previously, there will be a sizable start-up cost for equipment, brick and mortar location, and a boat or two. Once these costs are covered, your earning potential should remain consistent and in the black. An average 10 minute parasail ride will cost about $30. You will realistically see 25-40 customers per day, if not more in the summer months and holidays.
What are the ongoing expenses for a parasailing business?
Boat and equipment maintenance will be some of your biggest costs. Replacing the tow rope is essential for proper safety and should probably be replaced each year. Fuel for the boat(s) will also add up, over time. Also, rent and utilities for your shop and wet and dry storage of the boat(s) will add to your overall annual bills.
How much profit can a parasailing business make?
Your profits will fluctuate some, depending on if you’re in season or not. A successful parasail business could see profits in the range of $150,000-250,000, annually.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Since many of your customers will be enjoying parasailing for the first time, they may want to capture the experience for posterity and the memories. Consider adding a photography or videography package to go along with the parasail ride. Attaching a GoPro camera to the harness will help capture the experience for your customers. Also, a photographer at the beginning or end of the trip will give customers a chance to have an excellent memory, encapsulated through quality digital photographs. These additions are surprisingly inexpensive, yet become big attractions for your customers and extra revenue for you.