No one likes working for the man. We all want to work for ourselves.
Starting an inflatable rental business is one way to do that.
It's what I did.
But, I have to warn you, I quit my day job too soon. It was a long time ago now, but if I had it to do over again, I would do some things differently.
It's not just about having enough money to survive if things don't go as planned. That's a given. Assuming you've built the business to a certain point and quit at the beginning of your busy season, you will have immediate income. But there are other considerations to take into account.
Having a 9-to-5 job can actually be a blessing in disguise. It forces you to treat your rental business as a business instead of a job. It is the best time to put the processes and systems in place so that you can "build" instead of "do".
If you are doing the majority of the work, you will end up building something. But not something you want. You will build yourself a low paying job.
Let's face it, the actual "work" of a party rental business is not high value work. It is a combination of low-skilled manual labor and some clerical work. You do not want to quit your real job to do that. It is a bad trade-off. But it's what I did.
If you open up a hamburger stand you do not want to be the one flipping burgers.
I immediately got caught up in "doing" the work rather than building the foundation for a business that could run without me. Yes, I hired employees. Mainly drivers and driver assistants. But I gave them the work I couldn't handle. I was always the first in line to do the work.
I also answered the phone and did all of the office work. This is all flipping burgers.
My work ethic taught me that this was the right mindset. Do the work. But the work you need to do is not the manual labor and clerical work that you can hire someone for $10-$15 per hour to do. Sure, you need to know how to do the work so you can train others to do it, but do not get caught up in doing the work.
You need to be doing high value work if you want to make a good living. If you want to really build a business and not a job.
High value work at a party rental company includes:
~ Hiring quality employees
~ Creating processes and procedures that those employees can follow
~ Strategic planning
~ Sales & Marketing
~ Choosing systems to run the business
~ Ensuring quality control and that processes are being followed
Don't think about quitting your day job until the following staff is in place.
1) An Office Administrator
This person will answer the phone, enter orders, respond to customer emails, handle social media, make accounting entries into Quickbooks, the scheduling of deliveries, calls to customers and any other office admin work.
If you live in a part of the world where your business is seasonal, this person needs to be seasonal. You probably can't afford to pay them for 12 months if you are only busy for seven. I've found this is not a problem. If you offer the right working conditions, meaning they get to work from home, you'd be surprised of the quality of employees you can get for this type of job at the right price.
It has only been the last two years that I have hired an office admin. After experiencing the difference, I can't imagine ever going back to where I was the guy doing all of the low level office work. It just won't happen. The thought of it makes my stomach turn.
I would much rather be out in the sunshine doing set ups and pick ups than in the office answering the phone and replying to emails. But, you shouldn't be doing the manual work either.
If you are saying, "but how can I quit my day job and then still afford to pay an office admin?". If you are saying that, you are not ready to quit you job. I'm telling you this from experience. The easiest time to hire an office admin is when you still have a job. The admin does your routine office work for $14-$15 per hour while you are at your job making a lot more than that (hopefully).
If you don't have enough work to keep the admin busy, you don't have enough work to quit your job. It is that simple.
2) A guy who can fix things and handle weekday work.
This one eluded me until I took on a partner who could fill this role about five years after I quit my day job. A partner whose skills compliment mine (he can fix things, I can't). But a partner is expensive. I think you should be able to hire this person as an employee. It will take some effort and/or luck, but no one said this would be easy.
Fixing blowers, trailer lights, minor inflatable repairs, maintenance of generators and concession equipment. This stuff needs to be done, but it is not high value work.
This person should be first in line for weekday deliveries and pickups. They should be doing weekday deliveries while you are still working your day job.
3) All the employees you need to handle the weekend work at the busiest time of year.
This one is not too tough. Long before you consider quitting your job you will have other drivers and driver assistants. Most of these guys are going to have 9-to-5 weekday jobs and work for you on the weekend to earn extra money.
It can be a constant battle keeping enough guys on staff who are good. You always have to be looking for employees.
To sum it up:
You will tell yourself how much faster the business will grow if you could only do it full-time. This is partially true, your rental company probably will grow significantly the first couple of years after you quit your day job. But, if you don't put the pieces (staff and processes) in place first, you will end up "doing the work" rather than "building the business".
And that is a mistake that you don't want to make.
About the Author
Rob Wright is Founder of Bounce Rental Solutions and Co-Owner of Boing! Bounce Rentals