Starting a tour business. Any advice?
November 25, 2008 10:40 AM   Subscribe

Starting a custom tourism company in California. What do I need to know and be sure I cover?

I have years of experience as a private tourguide and I recently came up with an idea that actually has unique potential and appeal, believe it or not. Although it's going to be a side business to start, I want to take it seriously and plan things smartly so it can succeed if it's meant to. I don't want poor planning to be the thing that makes it fail. (I have a stressful day job and my thought is if this new idea actually takes off it could be an easier and more profitable business to manage throughout my retirement... so I want to give it a solid try.)

I have registered a great domain and am starting on a business plan. I work in marketing and promotions so I am an expert at a lot of the publicity and advertising aspects -- those are the last of my worries. Most of the logistics of the tours (vehicles, destinations, expenses) will depend upon the clients but for the most part there's very little overhead. I already have people who are interested in both hiring the company and working for it but I am giving myself six months to a year to actually get anything started. As of yet I have not done a dba yet or filed any official paperwork and I'm not even thinking about any of that stuff until after the holidays are over. I'd just love any useful advice or insights any of you might have, as I'm new to the legal and official business end of tourism. If you know of any particularly great sites I should check out or books I should read, that would be supercool too. THANKS!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Taxes and cashflow. If you can't pay the former or create the latter, it doesn't matter how good your idea is. Find a way to monetize your idea.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:43 AM on November 25, 2008

Here's a recent, similar thread. Maybe it will help.
posted by nitsuj at 10:44 AM on November 25, 2008

I work in marketing and promotions so I am an expert at a lot of the publicity and advertising aspects -- those are the last of my worries

well that's good because the importance, nay criticality, of marketing demonstrated to me first-hand the Rumsfield Quadratical ("But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know.") back in the 90s when I was starting my own business and didn't really know what the absence of good marketing will do to an enterprise.

As a native Californian I've been wanting to do a similar tour line for like 20 years for Asian customers so good luck to you! I actually did a little bit of this taking a tour-group of my Japanese students from Tokyo to Guam in 1993. It was fun but one of the students bruised her leg on the bungie jump when she got tangled in the cable so I hope you've thought the insurance angle through completely.
posted by troy at 11:10 AM on November 25, 2008

At the risk of being accused of being a one-trick pony here on AskMe: please talk to a lawyer when you have a clear idea of what you'll be doing. IAAL, and much of the commercial litigation I do could have been prevented if at least one of the parties had consulted a lawyer before they did whatever it was that gave rise to the litigation. There are many aspects to running business with which the law is concerned - employees, taxes, contracts, etc. - and if you talk to a lawyer and get advice on how to do things the right way before they go wrong and before you have a lot more at stake, you will probably be very glad you did.

Also, keep good records. For almost anything that could go wrong, the first thing you'll usually be asked for is your company records pertaining to that issue. Things get very messy - and consequently very expensive - when those records aren't there or aren't accurate.

IANYL; none of this is legal advice.
posted by AV at 6:47 PM on November 25, 2008

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