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Old 13-09-2020, 12:32   #1
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Boat Business - What Type to Start?

Instead of sailing the world I am thinking about instead opening up a boat business. Then instead of my hobby costing me money I would make money. Or at least lose less.

Getting into the boat business is a bit harder than breaking into the car business. There are huge numbers of jobs opportunities to learn about cars, but not boats. For example, how many sail repair places do you have in your town as compared to transmission repair? I would want to work as an employee first.

SOME IDEAS and (Problems):
1. Boat documentation (Lack of demand?)
2. Bimini and canvas installation (High learning curve?)
3. Yacht broker (Won't sell much?)
4. Boat towing/saving (Needs captains license for job)
5. Engine repair (Boring to me)
6. Surveying (Where do I get experience?)
7. Boat supplies/equipment (Retail stores not doing well)
8. Sail repair (Need a giant space to start)
9. Boat repair and service like painting & fiberglass (physical and chemical hazards)
10. Sell boat insurance (Reality is the business model is to sell full lines)

Yacht broker seems to be the one that people gravitate to, but people usually do not do well.

I like boat documentation the best, but there are very few companies that do it. Any boat sales company does it for the customer, so probably over 95% is done by the company selling. A company like this: https://www.coastaldocumentation.com/ I could actually do this sitting on my boat. Is this realistic? Anybody use a company like this?

Any ideas for a business I did not mention?
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Old 13-09-2020, 12:48   #2
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Re: Boat Business - What Type to Start?

If you are in south Florida you could become an expert in arranging and expediting the Covid tests for Bahamas bound boaters. IIRC you need a test that is no more than 5 days old upon arrival, boaters will have to coordinate that with waiting for a favorable weather window for a safe and smooth crossing. Currently tests are taking nearly 5 days or even more if you are not wanting to spend a fortune.
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Old 13-09-2020, 16:11   #3
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Re: Boat Business - What Type to Start?

Quote:
Originally Posted by zamber View Post
Instead of sailing the world I am thinking about instead opening up a boat business. Then instead of my hobby costing me money I would make money. Or at least lose less.

Getting into the boat business is a bit harder than breaking into the car business. There are huge numbers of jobs opportunities to learn about cars, but not boats. For example, how many sail repair places do you have in your town as compared to transmission repair? I would want to work as an employee first.

SOME IDEAS and (Problems):
1. Boat documentation (Lack of demand?)
2. Bimini and canvas installation (High learning curve?)
3. Yacht broker (Won't sell much?)
4. Boat towing/saving (Needs captains license for job)
5. Engine repair (Boring to me)
6. Surveying (Where do I get experience?)
7. Boat supplies/equipment (Retail stores not doing well)
8. Sail repair (Need a giant space to start)
9. Boat repair and service like painting & fiberglass (physical and chemical hazards)
10. Sell boat insurance (Reality is the business model is to sell full lines)

Yacht broker seems to be the one that people gravitate to, but people usually do not do well.

I like boat documentation the best, but there are very few companies that do it. Any boat sales company does it for the customer, so probably over 95% is done by the company selling. A company like this: https://www.coastaldocumentation.com/ I could actually do this sitting on my boat. Is this realistic? Anybody use a company like this?

Any ideas for a business I did not mention?
I used a boat documentation service for a somewhat tricky situation of importing a boat from France which involves deflagging in France and reflagging in the U.S. with CG documentation plus some temporary paperwork so I could sail the boat in to the U.S. while we waited for the CG documentation. The whole thing involved an extremely competent person whose knowledge was extremely valuable and who I think at the end of the day charged me something absurdly low like $200, which is something like 30 minutes of my time when I do a consulting job. So either there is a lot of competition driving down prices there or they just don't charge as much as they should, but doesn't seem very lucrative to me. Also you'd need some serious on the job training, I'm a retired Coast Guard officer and learned some things about CG documentation from my agent.
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Old 17-09-2020, 11:07   #4
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Re: Boat Business - What Type to Start?

Here are a few threads about starting a boating business.

https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...ss-212463.html

https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...or-212715.html

My recommendations are.
1. Start small to test the waters.
I think you are already thinking this way because you want to start as an employee.
2. Put together a reasonable business plan with a financial forecast.
In my case my plan was to not make money the first year because of startup costs.
Then make money each year after.
So far I am on plan.
3. Adjust your business plan as you go.
In my case I am looking into adding 2 hour sunset sailboat cruises as part of my business.
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Old 17-09-2020, 11:27   #5
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Re: Boat Business - What Type to Start?

Have you thought about a concierge service for yachts? Would have to be in a bigger port. Need to be a great networker.
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Old 17-09-2020, 12:36   #6
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Re: Boat Business - What Type to Start?

Boat detailing and vinyl wrapping.

Also - marine electrician work.
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Old 17-09-2020, 13:24   #7
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Re: Boat Business - What Type to Start?

Fixing and maintaining inboard generators.

Head plumbing experts.

Think of all the threads on here and think of where most of the unsolved problems people don’t want to or can’t deal with are.
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Old 17-09-2020, 13:32   #8
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Re: Boat Business - What Type to Start?

Quote:
Originally Posted by zamber View Post
Instead of sailing the world I am thinking about instead opening up a boat business. Then instead of my hobby costing me money I would make money. Or at least lose less.

Getting into the boat business is a bit harder than breaking into the car business. There are huge numbers of jobs opportunities to learn about cars, but not boats. For example, how many sail repair places do you have in your town as compared to transmission repair? I would want to work as an employee first.

First question: what's your experience with boats in general?

Second question: what are you currently good at? The easiest way in is to apply a current skill to its nearest marine equivalent.


The second question is the practical one. If you don't have a current skillset that would be useful in the marine world, then often the best course is to pick something and learn it, inside or outside of marine. Eg mechanic, electrical, fiberglass repair, automotive painting, etc.

The first question is a measure of persistence. If you don't adore just about everything to do with boats - the good and the bad, the fun and the stinky - then it's questionable whether you'd put in the effort to become employable, or want to commit the funds and time to starting a business.
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Old 17-09-2020, 13:54   #9
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Re: Boat Business - What Type to Start?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lake-Effect View Post
First question: what's your experience with boats in general?

Second question: what are you currently good at? The easiest way in is to apply a current skill to its nearest marine equivalent.


The second question is the practical one. If you don't have a current skillset that would be useful in the marine world, then often the best course is to pick something and learn it, inside or outside of marine. Eg mechanic, electrical, fiberglass repair, automotive painting, etc.

The first question is a measure of persistence. If you don't adore just about everything to do with boats - the good and the bad, the fun and the stinky - then it's questionable whether you'd put in the effort to become employable, or want to commit the funds and time to starting a business.

Finally we have a bingo.

Sure you can be a diesel mechanic. Right after two years of school and apprenticeship at $18/ hour.

Dodgers and sewing requires an investment and lots of leaning through waste.

What are you good at? Do that.
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Old 17-09-2020, 20:10   #10
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Re: Boat Business - What Type to Start?

Since you do not have any immediate experience...maybe start a boat detailing business.
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Old 18-09-2020, 01:23   #11
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Re: Boat Business - What Type to Start?

Marine specialists do pretty well. But it takes skill.

HVAC/AC/Refrigeration.
Heads (as Chotu suggests)
Electrician
Electronics/Networking.

I've also noted there are several cruisers doing pretty well with a single product. There's a guy in Socal selling a reasonably priced bulletproof watermaker. Another couple out of St Augustine FL who sell a boat security system. Both of these examples likely have their products pre-packaged and ready to ship from a small island distribution office thus avoiding need to hold physical inventory in the confined space of a boat.

Of course, if you can rock a bikini and have decent videographer skills, you could do a YouTube channel.

Peter
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Old 18-09-2020, 19:07   #12
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Re: Boat Business - What Type to Start?

Probably the best bet for me is to get a job in a boatyard/marina with a boat dealership as a salesman. Hanging around the boatyard/dealership would build my knowledge of boats.

The problem with starting a boat detailing business is I would not learn much. The problem with becoming an electrician or plumber is that the business model for a self-employed person is similar to insurance, it is fix the electricity wherever it is needed, boat or house.

The main problem is I am interested in sailboats, the boat industry is mostly powerboats.
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Old 18-09-2020, 19:18   #13
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Re: Boat Business - What Type to Start?

You would be surprised with how much detailers make and how many contacts you would make for future endeavors.
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Old 18-09-2020, 20:34   #14
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Re: Boat Business - What Type to Start?

Sell recycled boat parts and nautical items from a low cost warehouse location. Nothing fancy but clean and well organized. Advertise on Craigslist and Facebook.
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Old 18-09-2020, 21:06   #15
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Re: Boat Business - What Type to Start?

Don't do it. Too many people have had your dream of combining an avocation with an occupation - so there are too many people chasing the few good paying jobs. Most of the remaining jobs are a grind with relatively poor average earnings.

One way to make it work is to buy a profitable marine business - maybe the owner is retiring - but that takes money.

But most people who get into a marine business end up with very little time for sailing - and not a whole lot of desire to do it.
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