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How to Start a Bottled Water Business

Written by:

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Edited by:

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

How to Start a Bottled Water Business

Fast Facts

Investment range

$6,550 - $15,100

Revenue potential

$130,000 - $416,000 p.a.

Time to build

1 – 3 months

Profit potential

$46,000 - $83,000 p.a.

Industry trend

Growing

Commitment

Flexible

You drink it everyday, but you probably don’t think of water as a business. Well, maybe you should. Bottled water is a massive and fast-growing industry, set to more than double by 2028. Sugar-wary consumers increasingly view bottled water as a healthier choice than soft drinks, and safer than tap water. You could start your own bottled water company and tap into this booming market. Starting your own mineral water plant would cost a small fortune, so the smart move is to find a water producer that offers white labeling, which means they’ll let you put your label on their water.  

But before you start searching for water, you need to learn the ins and outs of starting a business. Fortunately, this step-by-step guide has all the entrepreneurial insights you need to start building bottled water success. 

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons

Starting a bottled water business has pros and cons to consider before deciding if it’s right for you.

Pros

  • Good Money – Profit margins on bottled water are fairly high
  • Flexibility – Run your business from home as a white label company
  • Hot Market – Demand for bottled water is strong

Cons

  • Saturated Market – Competition is fierce in the bottled water industry
  • Partner Needed – Finding a white label water company can be challenging

Bottled water industry trends

Industry size and growth

bottled water industry size and growth

Trends and challenges

Trends in the bottled water industry include:

  • Alkaline waters, which have a higher pH level than regular bottled water, are increasingly popular because they are thought to improve energy. The same is true for electrolyte-enhanced water.
  • New to the market is hydrogen water, made with more hydrogen and thought to increase energy and endurance as well as to provide antioxidants. Though it’s new, it’s increasing in popularity quickly despite its higher price. 

Challenges in the bottled water industry include:

  • Plastic water bottles are piling up in landfills, leading to environmental concerns and increased governmental regulation, spurring manufacturers to look for alternative bottling. Many manufacturers are using recycled plastic, but some are moving to cans and paper cartons as better alternatives.
  • Plastic bottle production in the United States annually requires about 17.6 million barrels of oil, which is of increasing concern due to the current energy situation.
bottled water industry Trends and Challenges

Consumer spending

bottled water industry consumer spending

How much does it cost to start a bottled water business?

Startup costs for a bottled water business range from $6,500 to $15,000. Your costs will depend on the minimum your manufacturer will allow you to order, since the bulk of your startup costs are for your initial inventory. 

You could start your search for a manufacturer at this online platform.  

Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corporation$150 - $200$175
Business licenses and permits$100 - $300$200
Insurance$100-$300$200
Business cards and brochures$200 - $300$250
Website setup$1,000 - $3,000$2,000
Initial inventory from manufacturer$4,000 - $8,000$6,000
Initial marketing budget, plus label design$1,000 - $3,000$2,000
Total$6,550 - $15,100$10,825

How much can you earn from a bottled water business?

The average price for a private labeled specialty case of bottled water is about $10. You can either sell your water online on a site like Amazon, or you can try to find local stores that will stock your water. Your profit margin after manufacturing and packaging costs will be around 35%. 

In your first year or two, you might sell 250 cases a week, bringing in $130,000 in annual revenue. This would mean nearly $46,000 in profit, assuming that 35% margin. As your brand gains recognition and you get your products into grocery stores, sales could climb to 800 cases per week. At this stage, you’d rent out a distribution center and hire staff, reducing your margin to about 20%. With annual revenue of $416,000, you’d still have a nice profit of more than $83,000.

bottled water business earnings forecast

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entry for a bottled water business. Your biggest challenges will be:

  • Finding a manufacturing partner
  • Competition from established firms

Related Business Ideas

If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
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Step 2: Hone Your Idea

develop a business idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a bottled water business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market. 

Market research will give you the upper hand, even if you’re already positive that you have a perfect product or service. Conducting market research is important, because it can help you understand your customers better, who your competitors are, and your business landscape.

Why? Identify an opportunity

Research bottled water businesses in your area to examine their products, price points, and what sells best. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a spring water or sachet water company. Sachet water is pre-filtered water heat sealed in plastic bags instead of bottles.

You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry, such as mineral water or purified water.

This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away. 

What? Determine your products

Bottled water companies are legally allowed to offer:

  • Mineral water from an underground source with naturally occurring trace minerals
  • Spring water
  • Well water, artesian well water 
  • Purified water, or treated tap water 

You can choose any of those. Your key will be your labeling and how you brand your product. You could decide to offer vitamin or flavored water, but that would move you out of the bottled water category and into the soft drink category and would make production much more difficult. 

How much should you charge for bottled water?

If you present your water as a high-end specialty water, you can charge about $10 per case. The key to this is in packaging and branding that creates the impression of a superior product. Using phrases like “natural spring water” and giving your bottles a confident, appealing design goes a long way. If you go to Amazon and search for bottled water, you’ll see many ways in which water is presented as high-end and commands prices as high as $15 or even $20. 

You should aim for a profit margin of about 35% after manufacturing and packaging costs.

Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

Your target market will be broad, but it may tend to be a younger crowd. You can find them on sites like TikTok and Instagram, but you could also advertise on Facebook, LinkedIn and beyond.  

Where? Choose a location

When selecting a location for a bottled water company, the approach varies depending on whether you have a partner manufacturer or not:

  1. With a Partner Manufacturer:
    • Water Source: Prioritize a location near a high-quality, sustainable water source like a spring or well.
    • Regulatory Compliance: Ensure compliance with water extraction and bottling regulations.
    • Market Proximity: Choose a location close to your target market to reduce transportation costs.
    • Infrastructure and Accessibility: Look for adequate infrastructure for bottling and packaging, and good transportation links.
  2. Without a Partner Manufacturer:
    • Water Source: The same priority for a sustainable, high-quality water source applies.
    • Manufacturing Facilities: You’ll need space for your own bottling and packaging facilities.
    • Labor Availability: Ensure access to a skilled workforce for various operational roles.
    • Environmental and Community Impact: Assess and minimize environmental impact and build positive community relations.

In both scenarios, consider the local climate, potential for natural disasters, and the legal and political environment. Future expansion possibilities and overall costs are also important factors.

bottled water business idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Bottled Water Business Name

Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better 
  • Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “mineral water” or “spring water”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “AquaSource Bottling” over “AquaSource Sparkling Water” or “Coconut Bay Water”
  • Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion

Discover over 280 unique bottled water brand name ideas here. If you want your business name to include specific keywords, you can also use our bottled water name generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. 

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.

Step 4: Create a Bottled Water Business Plan

Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:

  • Executive Summary: A concise overview of your bottled water business, highlighting key points and objectives.
  • Business Overview: Detailed information about the bottled water industry, your company’s mission, and its structure.
  • Product and Services: Explanation of the types of bottled water you offer, including any unique features or benefits.
  • Market Analysis: Examination of the target market for bottled water, considering demographics, trends, and potential growth.
  • Competitive Analysis: Assessment of other bottled water companies in the market, identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
  • Sales and Marketing: Strategies for promoting and selling your bottled water, including distribution channels and advertising plans.
  • Management Team: Introduction of key individuals involved in running the business, emphasizing their qualifications and roles.
  • Operations Plan: Details on how your bottled water business will operate, covering production, quality control, and distribution.
  • Financial Plan: Projections of your business’s financial performance, including income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow forecasts.
  • Appendix: Supplementary materials such as supporting documents, charts, and additional information to enhance the business plan.
what to include in a business plan

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business! 

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you’re planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to bottled water businesses. 

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state. 

Choose your business structure

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your bottled water business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely. 

Here are the main options:

  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
types of business structures

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have.

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Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN. 

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you’re completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

  • Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best option, other than friends and family, for funding a bottled water business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept. 

types of business financing

Step 8: Apply for Bottled Water Business Licenses and Permits

Business Licenses and Permits

Starting a bottled water business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include 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 licenses and permits. 

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your bottled water business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account. 

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of the above insurance types.
types of business insurance

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

Launching a Business

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business. 

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks. 

You may want to use industry-specific software, such as LS Retail, Vend, or Retail Pro, to manage purchasing, inventory, and invoicing.

Accounting

  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero
  • If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial. 

Develop your website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism.

You can create your own website using website builders. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google. 

Marketing

For your bottled water business, the marketing strategy should focus on establishing a strong brand presence, highlighting your commitment to purity and sustainability, and connecting with health-conscious consumers. Here’s a marketing blueprint tailored to boost your brand’s image and engage your target market.

Digital Presence and Online Marketing

  • Engaging Social Media Campaigns: Utilize platforms like Instagram and Twitter to highlight the purity and source of your water.
  • SEO for E-commerce: Optimize your online shop for organic searches related to bottled water and hydration solutions.
  • Interactive Website Features: Develop an engaging website that educates visitors on the health benefits and sustainability efforts of your brand.

Content Marketing and Engagement

  • Health and Wellness Blogging: Share articles and posts on the importance of hydration, water purity, and eco-friendly practices in the water industry.
  • Customer Testimonials: Leverage positive customer feedback to build trust and encourage new customers to try your water.

Experiential and In-Person Engagements

  • Hydration Stations at Events: Set up branded hydration stations at local sports and wellness events to promote your water.
  • Product Sampling: Offer free samples at supermarkets, gyms, and health fairs to introduce people to the taste and quality of your water.

Collaborations and Community

  • Partnerships with Fitness Centers: Partner with gyms and yoga studios to provide your bottled water, aligning your brand with a healthy lifestyle.
  • Community Initiatives: Support local health and sustainability initiatives to demonstrate your brand’s commitment to community wellness.

Customer Relationship and Loyalty Programs

  • Rewards Program: Implement a program that incentivizes repeat purchases with discounts or rewards.
  • Referral Incentives: Encourage current customers to refer friends and family with benefits for both parties.

Promotions and Advertising

  • Targeted Advertising Campaigns: Use targeted ads to reach health-conscious consumers and those interested in sustainability.
  • Influencer Marketing: Collaborate with health and wellness influencers to promote the benefits of choosing your bottled water brand.

Kickstart Marketing

  • Striking Branding and Packaging: Design eye-catching labels and packaging that communicate the quality and values of your brand.
  • Point-of-Sale Displays: Create compelling point-of-sale displays in stores to attract attention and drive purchases.
  • Email Marketing: Keep in touch with your customer base through newsletters that offer hydration tips, company news, and special offers.

Focus on USPs

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that set it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your bottled water business meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire. 

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your bottled water business could be: 

  • Refreshing natural spring water to live your healthiest life 
  • Fortifying mineral water so you’re always at your best 
  • Hydrogen water to give you an energy boost
unique selling proposition

Networking

You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a bottled water business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in bottled water for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections. 

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in bottled water. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. 

Step 12: Build Your Team

Building a Team for a New Business

If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a bottled water business include:

  • Distribution Center Workers – prepare bottled water for shipping
  • General Manager – ordering, accounting
  • Marketing Lead – SEO strategies, social media

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need. 

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent. 

Step 13: Run a Bottled Water Business – Start Making Money!

Running a Business

Ready to get in on the action? The bottled water industry is set to double, which means now is the perfect time to create your own bottled water brand. You can start for a relatively low investment if you can find a white label manufacturer and make a nice return on that investment. You just have to come up with an identity for your water and design your packaging well, and you can bring in some good money.

Now that you understand the business, it’s time to hit the ground running and launch your bottled water business!

Bottled Water Business FAQs

Can a bottled water business be profitable?

Yes, bottled water has good profit margins. Your key will be to brand your water in a way that is appealing to consumers. You also need to find a reliable manufacturer.

How can I start a bottled water business without opening my own plant?

You can find a water company that will produce your water and packaging and put your own brand and label on it.

Who buys the most bottled water?

The United States is the country that buys the most bottled water in the world.

How can I increase the sales of my bottled water?

To increase the sales of your bottled water, focus on marketing and branding by highlighting the quality and unique features of your product. Target your advertising efforts to reach your desired market through various channels. Consider product placements and partnerships to increase visibility and availability. 

What distribution channels should I consider for selling my bottled water?

When it comes to distribution channels for selling your bottled water, consider a combination of options to reach a wider customer base. This can include:

  • Retail stores: Approach grocery stores, convenience stores, health food stores, or local markets to stock your bottled water on their shelves.
  • Online platforms: Utilize e-commerce platforms such as your own website, Amazon, or other online marketplaces to sell your product directly to customers.
  • Distributors: Partner with beverage distributors who specialize in the distribution of bottled beverages. They can help you reach a broader network of retailers and handle logistics.
  • Direct sales: Sell your bottled water at events, festivals, farmers’ markets, or through direct-to-consumer channels, such as home delivery or subscription services.
  • B2B sales: Explore partnerships with restaurants, cafes, offices, or gyms to supply your bottled water as part of their offerings.

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How to Start a Bottled Water Business