How to Start a Boat Tour Business

How to Start a Boat Tour Business
How to Start a Boat Tour Business

Starting a boat tour business can be rewarding and exciting, but it requires careful planning and consideration. How to Start a Boat Tour Business Here are some steps you can take to create a boat tour business: How to Start a Boat Tour Business

  1. Develop a business plan: A business plan will help you define your business goals, target market, and the types of boat tours you will offer. It will also help you identify your competitors and the costs associated with starting and operating your business.
  2. Obtain the necessary licenses and permits: Depending on your location, you may need to obtain various licenses and permits to operate a boat tour business. These may include a business license, boat operator’s license, and insurance.
  3. Purchase or lease a boat: You will need to choose a ship suitable for the tours you will offer. Consider the size of the boat, its capacity, and its features (such as a bathroom or canopy).
  4. Market your business: Promote your boat tour business through various marketing channels, such as social media, local advertising, and partnerships with local companies.
  5. Train your crew: If you plan to hire a band, make sure they are trained in customer service, safety procedures, and the local area.
  6. Create a customer-friendly booking system: Set up a booking system that is easy for customers to use, such as an online booking platform or a phone line.
  7. Establish safety protocols: Implement safety protocols to ensure the safety of your customers and crew. This may include safety briefings, emergency procedures, and equipment checks.

Starting a boat tour business can be a challenging but rewarding endeavor. By following these steps and being prepared for the challenges that may arise, you can set your business up for success.

Have you ever had aspirations of commanding a charter boat? The US private boating sector is expanding quickly, and the charter boat business offers a variety of opportunities, including yacht charters, diving charters, and fishing charters. There is considerable money to be made because the industry has a market value of more than $750 million. Boats are expensive, so you must make a big investment, but you will rapidly start seeing a return.

However, you must develop your entrepreneurial skills before setting sail. Fortunately, this step-by-step manual will teach you all you need to know to get started and set you on the right path to developing a prosperous boat charter business.

Trends and difficulties

The following are some boat rental business trends:

  1. The most popular charter boat trip are fishing charters, which gives charter boat companies a chance to specialize.
  2. As boat safety features advance, a charter boat company with the newest safety features may have a competitive advantage.
  3. The charter boat sector has the following difficulties:
  4. Fuel price increases are reducing the profit margins of charter boat companies.
  5. Businesses that operate charter boats must regularly repair their vessels, which can be expensive.
  6. Bait tanks and fishing pole racks are required if your goal is to run a fishing-charter boat business. You’ll require a range of suitable gear sizes for a snorkeling business.
  7. By law and good sense, all boats must have safety equipment including life jackets, rafts, and fire extinguishers. Always have a GPS on your boat. Make that it is in good working order and can broadcast in an emergency.

Plan your business

  • Every company requires a strategy. This will serve as a manual to help your startup get through the launch process while staying focused on your primary objectives. Additionally, a business strategy helps potential investors and partners comprehend your organization and its mission:
  • A concise synopsis of the full business strategy should be written as the executive summary.
  • Overview of the business, including its vision, mission, ownership, and goals.
  • Products and Services: Clearly describe what you have to offer.
  • Market Analysis: Conduct a SWOT analysis and evaluate market trends, such as variances in demand and development potential.
  • Competitive Analysis: Evaluate your primary rivals’ strengths and shortcomings while compiling a list of your services’ benefits.
  • Sales and marketing: Consider your businesses’ unique selling propositions (USPs) and create sales, marketing, and promotional plans.
  • Management Team: A description of the team’s functions and backgrounds and a corporate organizational chart.
  • Operations Strategy: The operational plan for your business outlines logistics, office location, essential assets, and equipment.
  • Three-year financial plan with startup expenses, break-even analysis, profit and loss projections, cash flow, and balance sheet.
  • Include any additional financial or commercial documentation in the appendix.

Obtain a license and a business name.

You must register your business name after deciding on it, just like any other type of business. A captain’s license is required for anyone operating the boat while transporting people. A boat rental business also needs strong liability insurance protection.

Make friends with people at your neighborhood marina who might know people looking to charter a boat in order to increase your sales. Learn about the local tourism industry board and discuss your offerings with them. Make a website that highlights your offerings and includes clearly stated competitive prices.

By beginning a boat charter company, you may allow people to share the exquisite pleasure of being on the water and everything it offers. As you market yourself and find clients, keep a sharp focus on the experience you want to provide. As with any business, make thorough and careful plans.

Follow these simple steps to assess your present market opportunity for your boating business idea:

  • Examine the competition to see if there is room in your market for a novel good or service that still needs to be provided by the rivals. You may provide a new boating firm with a competitive edge by thoroughly analyzing the competitors.
  • Find out what makes your company special and how you can set it out from other marine firms to create your business value proposition. Please specify the range of goods and services that you will offer.
  • Decide how you will run the company: Is it a local, regional, or national operation? Will your company have a physical location, or can it operate online? Do you need to buy a boat or fleet of vessels for your company? Can you manage your business alone, or will you require staff? The answers to these questions will primarily influence the necessary startup funds.
  • Earn the necessary license(s) – Do you need to obtain unique certificates or permits (such as a captain’s license)? Obtain these watercraft or business licenses for your type of operation, and it could take some time.
  • Here are some of the following actions you’ll want to take and crucial facts you’ll need to know to set up your marine business for success once you’ve determined your specialty for a career in the maritime sector.

Creating an LLC for Your Boating Company

You should think about establishing a Limited Liability Company as your initial step (LLC). You can safeguard your personal assets in the event of a legal dispute by providing marine services through an LLC. Or, you won’t be responsible for any responsibilities or debts your business incurs.

It is simple to establish an LLC in the majority of states. On your state’s government website, you can do it online. You must choose a name for your business. Anything that is not offensive or obscene is acceptable. Additionally, it should be different from or similar to any local or well-known companies because they are likely to object. An annual filing fee of $50 is required in New Jersey. Generally speaking, you don’t need a lawyer for this. For something you can do yourself for a small portion of what a lawyer would charge you in legal fees,

Managing the finances of your business

You should open a company banking account to maintain the safeguards offered by your LLC. You can so distinguish between your personal and corporate finances in this manner. You should compare prices, services, and account opening minimums like other consumer goods. My bank required documentation indicating I had been in operation for four years to be eligible for a business account. I thought this was a chicken-and-egg scenario, but fortunately, I had a business card invoice with an acceptable date.

Refrain from assuming your chosen bank will provide excellent services and the lowest prices if you intend to accept credit cards. Given the volume of transactions and the revenue I receive from credit and debit cards, I discovered that Square had the lowest rates and the most excellent user interface for my needs. A national consumer comparison also confirmed this.

If your business is a sole proprietor or LLC, you should submit a Schedule E to record your business revenue for federal tax purposes. Your income taxes are filed on a 1040 form, attached with Schedule E. You will be required to pay approximated taxes if your profit (revenues fewer expenses) is sizable. You will be penalized if you file your taxes and discover that you owe more than 10% of your entire tax debt.

Because the IRS views your activities as a hobby rather than a business, you can only declare losses for your company twice in five years. As a result, any losses you report cannot be used to lower your overall tax liability. 25% of your adjusted company income is subject to federal taxes. States have different state taxes.

For usage in my business, I have produced spreadsheets. It enables me to classify my expenses into appropriate tax brackets quickly. I can keep track of income by source and mode of payment. Additionally, I maintain a profit and loss worksheet to monitor my progress in real-time. For my bankbook, I also have a second workbook with worksheets that represent each year. My business software of choice is Microsoft Office. To assist you in deciding how to set up and record your finances, consult with an accountant.

Boat and business insurance

Although your LLC offers some protection from civil liability, paying for legal counsel is expensive. The actual benefit of insurance is this. Less is paid for any civil or legal fines, and more is paid for the cost of the attorney. You may either attempt to obtain a marine company coverage, which is pretty pricey or consider boosting your homeowner’s insurance with a general umbrella policy.

If you have added the necessary safeguards to your boat policy, you should be protected if your marine services are performed there. Review your insurance to see if it is sufficient in every situation.

UCCG Conditions

Your boat MUST be registered and have the Coastwise Trade endorsement if you use it for commercial purposes, transporting customers, or carrying goods. Your boat can be registered for both recreational use and coast-to-coast trade, but you will need to state on the application the proportional amount of service in each category (Form CG-1258 or CG-1270). You won’t be held to these figures because this is an estimate.

A Coast Guard officer revealed the order in which document applications are handled is determined by the endorsements indicated on the application and the specified percentages. Documents that are coastwise (commercial) are always processed first. The vessel’s American construction must be verified with the request for a coastwise endorsement. If not, you must request a waiver, which will cost extra. The Jones Act outlines this need. The National Vessel Documentation Center website contains documents and information.

The Coast Guard requires all crew members of ships involved in coastwise trade to submit to random drug testing. You will be asked for proof of participation with your MMC and other documentation if you should be boarded or if you are involved in an incident to which the Coast Guard or local authorities respond. The same rules apply to crew members without a license. This also holds if you are performing any marine work for which you are getting compensated, like delivering a yacht. Participation costs average between $40 and $60 per individual per year.

Obtain Licenses and Permits

The local, state, and federal governments must grant you some licenses and permits before you can launch a charter boat business.

The US Coast Guard mandates that captain’s licenses be held by boat owners that operate charters. Maritime Professional Training has information on obtaining this license. A permit for fishing guides might also be required.

Doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific rights and receipts, are examples of federal regulations, licenses, and permits related to starting your business.

Additionally, you could require licenses and permits from the state and local counties or cities. To learn more about license requirements and how to get one, visit the websites of your state, regional, and county governments or get in touch with the right person.

For your state’s requirements, consult this SBA guidance. However, we advise using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will investigate and offer the precise forms you need for your company and state to make sure you are entirely compliant.

Establish a Business Bank Account

You’ll need to open a bank account to store your money before earning it.

Even if you operate your charter boat business as a single proprietorship, keeping your business finances separate from your account makes it simple to submit taxes and track your company’s income. Therefore, it is worthwhile to do so. Like opening a personal account, opening a business bank account is very easy. Contact your favorite bank to discover more about the rates and features of the business-specific accounts offered by the majority of large banks.

Banks have different offerings, so it’s a good idea to look through your choices and pick the one that suits you the most. Once you’ve decided on a bank, open your new account by bringing in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you intend to operate as a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal paperwork.

Although it is sometimes disregarded, business insurance can be crucial to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance shields you from unanticipated occurrences that could severely harm your company.

Consider the following types of insurance:

  1. The most comprehensive insurance, general liability, serves as a catch-all for many aspects of business that must be covered. This is the type of insurance you should get if any. Even against property damage and bodily harm, it offers protection.
  2. Business property insurance covers your supplies and equipment.
  3. The expense of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken down due to mechanical problems is covered by equipment breakdown insurance.
  4. Workers’ compensation: Offers benefits to those who sustain workplace injuries.
  5. Property: This refers to your actual space, such as a cart, a storefront, or an office.
  6. Commercial auto: Defense for the car owned by your business.
  7. Professional liability insurance shields you from customer claims that a mistake or omission in your work caused them to lose money.
  8. BOP, or business owner’s policy: This coverage combines the insurance above kinds into one comprehensive insurance policy.

Essential programs and equipment

It can be overwhelming to be an entrepreneur since you frequently have to wear multiple hats, including those for sales, marketing, and accounting. Fortunately, there is a tonne of websites and online resources accessible to make many business chores easier.

You could manage your bookings, scheduling, invoices, and payments using sector-specific software like Sedna, Starboard Suite, or Stellar.


  1. Smaller firms frequently use the web-based accounting tools Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero.
  2. You should engage a professional if you don’t know much about basic accounting, especially in the beginning. Accuracy is essential since filing inaccurate tax forms can have profound implications.
  3. Marketing While online visitors and casual onlookers may contribute to a portion of your revenue, and you should spend on digital marketing! Spreading the word is crucial for new businesses as it will increase brand and client recognition.
  4. Link your social media profiles to your website once it is life and vice versa. Because you can make exciting postings that promote your items on social media, it’s a fantastic tool for business promotion:
  5. Facebook is an excellent tool for paid advertising since it lets you target particular demographics, such as men in the Cleveland area under 50.
  6. Similar advantages to Facebook, but with a different audience for Instagram.
  7. Website: SEO will assist in moving your website up in relevant search results, which is essential for boosting sales. Make sure your website is optimized for calls to action. Test text, color, size, and positioning options for calls to action like “Book Now.” This may significantly boost purchases.
  8. Google Business:  Google My Business might be essential to attracting customers for companies that depend on local clients.

Launch Your Marketing

Utilize your website, social media platforms, and offline events to spread the word about your products and develop your brand. Several recommendations are:

  1. Put up enticing signage at your boat’s position and on your website.
  2. Email marketing/newsletter: Contact clients and potential clients regularly. Make them your own.
  3. Create a blog. Post consistently on your new blog. Share your stuff on other websites while changing it up.
  4. Paid social media advertisements should be placed on platforms allowing you to reach your target audience.
  5. Pay-per-click advertising: To rank higher in searches, use Google AdWords. First, do some keyword research.
  6. Pay individuals with substantial social media followings to promote your charter boats through influencer marketing. Micro-influencers with smaller audiences and cheaper prices are available.

Create a website.

A website is essential since it serves as your online presence and must persuade potential customers of your professionalism and experience. However, unless you use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques, they are unlikely to locate your website. These actions assist pages in rising in the rankings of leading search engines like Google. You can build your own website using tools like Squarespace, Wix, or WordPress. This option is incredibly cost-effective, but learning how to create a website can take time. You can employ a web designer or developer to establish a unique website for your company if you need to gain technical know-how.

Focus on USPs

A product or service’s unique selling points, or USPs, are the qualities that make it stand out from the competitors. Customers today have a plethora of purchasing options, so being able to rapidly convey how your charter boat business satisfies their demands or wishes will give you a distinct advantage. Make every effort to make your USPs shine on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials to pique the interest of potential customers.

Domino’s, a well-known international pizza restaurant, is known for its USP, “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Your company’s unique selling points for charter boats could be: Day trips for fishing to catch the big one! Dinner cruises to elegantly view the sundown

While cruising the area’s surroundings aboard a luxurious yacht


You might not enjoy networking or using personal relationships for professional advantage. But there is a lot of untapped commercial potential in your personal and professional networks. Perhaps a LinkedIn acquaintance of yours is connected to dozens of potential customers, or maybe a Facebook friend you had in college is now in charge of a charter boat company. Your cousin or neighbor has worked on boats for years and may provide priceless knowledge and connections in the field.

Check your personal and professional networks and get in touch with people who may have connections to or an interest in boating because the possibilities are unlimited. You’ll probably attract new clients or come across businesses with which you could collaborate.

Create an LLC

  • Establish a business bank account
  • Verify or purchase sufficient insurance
  • Participate in a drug testing program for yourself and your crew, and if necessary, obtain a coastwise endorsement for your vessel.
  • I feel a fantastic sense of accomplishment from holding a captain’s license. In addition to pursuing additional business prospects, including tour boat and ferry captain work, water taxi and tow boat duties, and relieving captain positions on other schooners, I have enjoyed working with my clientele. I anticipate spending a lot of time on and enjoying the water in the future.


Owning your own company may be both rewarding and challenging. You could make money with your captain’s license if you have one. After all, having a license is for that purpose! Alternatively, combining your love of boats with a business might be just as fulfilling if you’re trying to get into something else related to boating. To sum up, to launch your boating business, you will want to or need to take the following actions