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How to Start a Jet Ski Rental Business

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Published on February 1, 2022

Updated on September 20, 2022

How to Start a Jet Ski Rental Business

Disclaimer: Step by Step Business’ content is for informational and educational purposes only. It’s not intended to be a substitute for professional legal or tax advice. All of our articles are thoroughly reviewed and fact-checked by our editorial team. Read our editorial guidelines for more details.

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Fast Facts

Investment range

$13,550 - $47,600

Revenue potential

$150,000 - $450,000 p.a.

Time to build

1 – 3 months

Profit potential

$120,000 - $225,000 p.a.

Industry trend

Growing

Commitment

Flexible

How to Start a Jet Ski Rental Business

If you’ve ever been on a jet ski, you know that there’s nothing like flying over the water with the wind blowing through your hair. Recreational boating is a big industry, worth nearly $30 billion, and jet skis are one of the more popular segments. That’s why personal watercraft sales increased 8% in 2020. You could start a jet ski rental business, grab a share of this growing market and give people joy while making a good living. 

You can’t just jump into a jet ski business, however, like you zip across the water. Knowledge of the ins and outs of the business is necessary in order to be successful. Fortunately, this step-by-step guide has all you need to begin your entrepreneurial adventure.

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons

Starting a jet ski rental business has pros and cons that you should consider before you decide if it’s right for you.

Pros

  • Have Fun! – Work outside on the water, helping people enjoy their leisure
  • Good Profit – Bring in hundreds of dollars a day
  • Flexibility – Work when you want

Cons

  • High Startup Costs – At least two jet skis needed
  • Seasonality – Down times due to weather

Jet ski rental industry trends

Industry size and growth

  • Industry size and past growth – The recreational boating market was worth nearly $30 billion in 2019. Personal watercrafts are part of that market and saw an 8% increase in sales in 2020.[1]https://www.alliedmarketresearch.com/recreational-boating-market  
  • Growth forecast – The recreational boating market is projected to grow to nearly $36 billion by 2027.
jet ski rental industry size and growth

Trends and challenges

Trends in the jet ski rental industry include:

  • Due to the expanding variety of jet ski models and price points, interest in jet skiing has been rising. 
  • Jet ski fishing has become a popular sport, presenting an opportunity for a jet ski rental business to earn more revenue.

Challenges in the jet ski industry include:

  • Accidents on jet skis are common, and if injuries result, jet ski businesses can face liability. For this reason, good insurance is crucial. 
  • Rising fuel prices are cutting into profit margins on jet ski rentals.
jet ski industry Trends and Challenges

Consumer spending

  • Average consumer spend – Americans spend more than $86 billion a year on water sports gear, accessories, and trips, including jet skiing.[2]https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5389204.pdf
  • Potential customer base – In 2017, more than 5 million Americans aged 6 years and older engaged in jet skiing.[3]https://www.statista.com/statistics/191916/participants-in-jet-skiing-in-the-us-since-2006/
  • Average prices – The average price of a jet ski rental is $85 for one hour.
jet ski rental business consumer spending

How much does it cost to start a jet ski rental business?

Startup costs for a jet ski rental business range from about $13,000 to nearly $50,000. The largest cost, of course, is the jet skis, so it depends on the quality of the jet skis you get and how many. 

You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your jet ski business, including: 

  • Jet skis
  • Trailer
  • Storage space
  • Life vests
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
Jet Skis$10,000 - $40,000$25,000
Life vests$300 - $500$400
Storage space rental$200 - $1,000$600
Trailer$1,500 - $2,000$1,750
Total$13,550 - $47,600$30,575

How much can you earn from a jet ski rental business?

The average price of a jet ski rental is $85 for one hour. Your profit margin after fuel and maintenance should be about 80%.

In your first year or two, you could rent two jet skis per day for 5 hours each for 175 days of the year, bringing in nearly $150,000 in annual revenue. This would give you nearly $120,000 in profit, assuming that 80% margin. As you grow your fleet of jet skis to 6, you might need an employee or two, reducing your profit margin to around 50%. With annual revenue of close to a whopping $450,000, you would make close to $225,000.

Jet Ski Rental business earnings forecast

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entry for a jet ski rental business. Your biggest challenges will be:

  • Funding the startup costs
  • Finding a good location for jet skiing, preferably with tourism

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Step 2: Hone Your Idea

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

Why? Identify an opportunity

Research jet ski rental businesses in your area to examine their services, price points, and customer reviews. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a jet ski fishing rental business.

You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry, such as guided jet ski trips.

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

What? Determine your products or services

You’ll want to determine if you want to add on any services to jet ski rental. You could add jet ski fishing, guided jet ski trips, or jet ski lessons.

How much should you charge for jet ski rental?

Jet ski rental prices range from $70 to $100 for an average of $85. Your costs will be for fuel, maintenance, and storage of the jet skis. You should aim for a profit margin of about 80%

Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price point. 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 mainly tourists to your area. You can reach them on sites like Instagram and Facebook. You can also distribute flyers at local hotels, restaurants, or local attractions. 

Where? Choose your business premises

You only need storage space for your jet skis unless you want a physical structure on the water to rent your jet skis from. Find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.

When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:

  • Central location accessible via public transport
  • Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
  • Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
  • Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
jet ski rental business idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a 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 “jet skis” or “jet ski rental”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “Jim’s Bakery” over “Jim’s Cookies”
  • Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
  • Use online tools like the Step by Step Business 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 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: Brief overview of the entire business plan; should be written after the plan is complete.
  • Business Overview: Overview of the company, vision, mission, ownership, and corporate goals.
  • Product and Services: Describe your offerings in detail.
  • Market Analysis: Assess market trends such as variations in demand and prospects for growth, and do a SWOT analysis.
  • Competitive Analysis: Analyze main competitors, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and create a list of the advantages of your services.
  • Sales and Marketing: Examine your companies’ unique selling propositions (USPs) and develop sales, marketing, and promotional strategies.
  • Management Team: Overview of management team, detailing their roles and professional background, along with a corporate hierarchy.
  • Operations Plan: Your company’s operational plan includes procurement, office location, key assets and equipment, and other logistical details.
  • Financial Plan: Three years of financial planning, including startup costs, break-even analysis, profit and loss estimates, cash flow, and balance sheet.
  • Appendix: Include any additional financial or business-related documents.

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist at Fiverr 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 are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to jet ski rental 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 jet ski rental 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.

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 ZenBusiness’s 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. 

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 are 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 jet ski rental business.

Step 8: Apply for Licenses/Permits

Starting a jet ski rental business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments. You’ll likely need a watercraft license. Check with your state for requirements.

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 jet ski rental 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, especially for jet ski rental, 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.

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

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 Alert, booqable, or Quipli, to manage your bookings, inventory, purchases, and payments.

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. 

Marketing

Some of your business will come from the casual passerby or online visitors, but still, you should invest in digital marketing! Getting the word out is especially important for new businesses, as it’ll boost customer and brand awareness. 

Once your website is up and running, link it to your social media accounts and vice versa. Social media is a great tool for promoting your business because you can create engaging posts that advertise your products: 

  • Facebook: Great platform for paid advertising, allows you to target specific demographics, like men under age 50 in the Cleveland area. 
  • Instagram: Same benefits as Facebook but with different target audiences.
  • Website: SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Schedule Now”. This can sharply increase purchases.
  • Google and Yelp: For businesses that rely on local clientele, getting listed on Yelp and Google My Business can be crucial to generating awareness and customers. 

Kickstart Marketing

Take advantage of your website, social media presence and real-life activities to increase awareness of your offerings and build your brand. Some suggestions include: 

  • Flyering – Distribute flyers at local hotels and restaurants.
  • Post a video – Post a video about your jet ski rental. Use humor and maybe it will go viral!
  • Seek out referrals – Offer incentives to generate customer referrals to new clients. 
  • Paid ads on social media – Choose sites that will reach your target market and do targeted ads.
  • Pay–per-click marketing – Use Google AdWords to perform better in searches. Research your keywords first.
  • Influencer marketing – Pay people with large social media followings to promote your jet ski rentals. You can find micro-influencers with smaller followings and lower rates.

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. 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. 

You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. 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.

Focus on USPs

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets 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 jet ski rental 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 jet ski rental business could be: 

  • Fun from sunup to sundown – all day jet ski rental
  • Two in one fun – jet ski and fish!
  • Best jet ski rental prices in town
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 jet ski business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in jet ski rentals 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 jet ski rentals. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. 

Step 12: Build Your Team

You may not need any employees at first, but eventually you may want to hire assistants to help you with the jet ski rentals. 

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: Start Making Money!

A jet ski rental business offers a great lifestyle, working on the water, enjoying the sunshine and helping people enjoy their free time. What could be better? People love being out on the water, with the recreational boating industry coming in at $30 billion. 

It will take a bit of an investment to start your business, but the many rewards, including a hefty wad of cash in your pocket, will be worth it. Now that you understand the business side of jet ski rentals, get ready to zoom your way to becoming a jet ski entrepreneur!

Jet Ski Rental Business FAQs

How much does it cost to start a jet ski rental business?

You can start a jet ski rental business for about $13,000. That would get you started with 2 jet skis, and later you could add more to your fleet.

How profitable is a jet ski rental business?

You can rent jet skis for about $70 to $100 per hour, so even if you only have two jet skis, you can make up to $1,000 per day. Even if you’re only working half the year due to the weather, you can bring in some nice money.

What licenses do I need to start a jet ski rental business?

You will probably need a watercraft license, and you may need various other licenses and permits at the state and local levels. Check with your local governments for requirements or visit MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance page.

How much can I charge for jet ski rentals?

You can charge between $70 to $100 per hour for rentals. You could also earn additional revenue by offering jet ski fishing or doing guided tours on jet skis. You could also offer jet ski lessons.