Editor’s note: this is the first of a series discussing the pros and cons of certain side businesses that CU members may approach their credit unions to finance using a Side Business Loan.™
By: Ramona Bell
Geographical areas that exhibit a multitude of meteorological variations can often be ideal for the start-up of a supplemental side-business endeavor. A perfect example of this is the possibility of creating a snow-plowing business in areas where winter weather can wreak long-term havoc on a community. Many individuals find the allure of this potential business glamorous since very little is initially needed to start working and collecting money. If an individual has a suitable truck and the proper plow components, and has the initiative to work erratic and long hours, the success of the business is essentially limitless. Coupled with the fact that many well-established snow plow drivers make between $16.00-$35.00 per hour (based on experience), you have the formula for a financially prosperous side-business project.
Despite this, snow plowing, like any side-business, still has the potential to send the would-be business owner pushing many other obstacles out-of-the-way long before the first snowfall. Financial start-up costs which include one or more vehicles, their overall and continued maintenance during the plowing season, fuel and snow-dissolving solvent costs, and proper insurance can be challenges faced early on and throughout the plowing season. The ability to drum up initial business can also be a problem, with many well-established plow and landscaping companies putting personal and private bids in way before the wintery season officially begins. On the marketing side, word-of-mouth is key in this particular niche, with personal recommendations being crucial to the success of a new business. More positive comments about a business can lead to either more personal or private contracts, or ideally, both.
Pushing aside everything from vehicle costs to often dangerous working conditions, the most elemental yet devastatingly crucial element to the success of a snow plowing business involves one simple word: Snow! Without snow, the need for such a service would dramatically decrease, leaving the business owner with insurance bills and vehicles costs, but with no way to satisfy them. Before one decides to embark on the creation of such a business, one has to be willing to acknowledge that the prediction of a financially successful year is nearly impossible to forecast. It is essentially a gamble that one must take, which can either pay-off handsomely if weather conditions are bad for many days over a season, or which can put the would-be business owner in a not-so comfortable financial position. The overall key here might be to start off small, with fewer financial risks, and then work up to a larger business that could handle the possibility of a weak winter. The notion of safety is paramount in the snow plowing world regardless, whether in reference to physically plowing or in relation to financial standings. No matter what, you don’t want to be left out in the cold.
Ramona Bell is a free-lance writer who is currently pursuing her Ph.D in Research Psychology.