Obstacles & Barriers to Be Aware of When Running a Watersports Business

Obstacles & Barriers to Be Aware of When Running a Watersports Business

Obstacles & Barriers to Be Aware of When Running a Watersports Business

Starting a watersports business can be an exciting and rewarding pursuit, offering opportunities to share your passion for water-related activities with others while reaping profits. It’s important to keep in mind, as with any business, there are challenges you may encounter that you’ll need to understand to ensure the success and endurability of your new venture. From licenses to harsh weather conditions, there are a variety of factors that can weigh heavily on the profitability and duration of your watersports business. We’ll delve into some of the most common obstacles & barriers to be aware of when running a watersports business and provide insights and tips to help you overcome them.

Table of Contents


5 Things You Need to Know Before Starting Your Watersports Business


While running a watersports business is a worthwhile endeavor, it requires intensive planning and preparation to ensure you’re successful. There are essential things you need to understand that will help you make well-educated decisions and avoid common mishaps. From opening challenges to start-up costs, there are a number of factors to keep abreast of when starting a watersports business. Below, we’ll explore the 5 key things you need to know before starting a watersports business, providing you with the necessary information and fundamental advice.


1) Challenges of Opening


While starting a watersports business is not as painstaking as one might think, there are certain challenges that may arise when powered equipment is involved. However, if you have a true passion for it, you can reap many rewards from this industry. The initial investment can be expensive for some operators, but this depends on the type of equipment and tours that are implemented.


2) Start-up Costs


The main component of start-up costs is the lease, equipment, and insurance. The cost of the lease and insurance is dependent upon the type of equipment you intend to purchase. For instance, the insurance costs could be double for personal watercraft in comparison to a pontoon boat.


3) Location


Many options may not be available depending on where you’re located, which is why some vendors opt to go mobile to save on their costs by delivering equipment or meeting clients at boat ramps. While this method may work for the initial year, it can prove to be unfeasible in the long run. With that being said, it’s recommended that you drop by as many locations as possible and take note of a few things such as walk-up traffic, popularity, and size of slips. For example, if a marina is already crowded with other vendors that offer the same thing as your company, then it’s best to consider other options.


4) Financing


If you don’t have a lot built up in savings and don’t have great credit, you may be wondering how to finance your business. Fortunately, there are options to get the funding you need. One option to try is peer-to-peer lending websites such as Prosper, where you can often obtain loans ranging from $5,000 to $20,000. If you have good credit, you’ll have a better chance of locking in better interest rates.


5) Profits


It’s important to understand that most businesses do not gain profits in the first year. Profitability is even more difficult when considering common business obstacles like chargebacks, insurance claims, and equipment failures. It’s common to experience challenges along the way. With an open mind to learn from other seasoned vendors as well as educating yourself, you’ll be on your way to speeding up your company’s profitability sooner.


Why Watersports Operators Fail [And What You Can Do to Prevent It]


Watersports operators can often face a number of challenges that make it difficult to stay in business. From lease and location to operation safety, it’s invaluable for operators to anticipate potential risks and act discerningly to ensure long-term success. Below, we’ll explore some of the most common reasons why watersports operators fail, and what you can do to prevent it.


Lease and Location


Lease and location are among the biggest factors of your business. Between rent increases, high competition, and last-minute cancellations, investing in a bad location is the last thing you want to add to your list. If you act in advance, you can have a positive outcome. Try building a great relationship with the marina’s management, negotiate lease renewals months in advance, and consider longer periods if you’re confident you’ll be in this industry for many years to come. Losing your location can be a devastating blow to your business, and in some cases, you may even have to start over.


Operation Safety


While watersports are typically safe, it’s a critical part of your business. Your options for insurance as a watersport operator may be limited, or difficult to find and afford. If you rack up a lot of incidents, you stand the risk of being dropped from your insurance coverage. Losing insurance coverage has been the reason for many vendors being forced to close their doors. Even more so, a majority of launch sites and marinas will not allow you to operate without coverage. It’s important to have excellent policies in place and execute them consistently. Check out our indepth article covering insurance options for tour operators.


Weather Conditions


When a business is located near the water, storms such as hurricanes can pose a major challenge. If a marina is damaged with no other location to move to, this could cause an interruption or end a watersports operation. If you’re located in an area that’s no stranger to harsh weather, you should have an appropriate plan in the event that you lose your fleet and location. Some ways to gain a better understanding of how to plan for these types of situations is to speak with a marina manager, have an alternative location in mind, or even see if you can collaborate with a competitor.


Getting a USCG License


Obtaining a USCG license is essential if you’re looking to operate your watersports business at its fullest potential, especially when providing captained pontoon boat tours for bachelorette parties. Most operators opt for the 6-pack license, permitting up to six passengers aboard their charter. However, obtaining this certification requires more than simply taking an exam. You must pass a physical and provide evidence of both boating experience and U.S. citizenship as well. Fortunately institutions such as Mariners Learning System offer approved courses with online Coast Guard exams that would allow adventurers like yourself to obtain USCG licenses in no time!


Figuring Out the Right Watersports Activities to Offer at Your Location



Choosing the right watersports activities for your location could mean the difference between success and failure. Depending on factors such as permits, waterways, and the types of maintenance needed, there are many influences that should be considered when figuring out which type of watersports activities to offer. Below, we’ll go over how to properly assess your location and select watersports activities that will appeal most to your customers.


Permits and Approvals


Before adding a new watersport activity to your offerings, it’s best to contact your marina manager in the area in which you’re operating. The last thing you want to do is invest money into equipment before obtaining the necessary permits or approvals.


Understanding the Waterways


Once you’ve gotten the legal requirements out of the way, you’ll need to gain an understanding of the waterways and whether they are a good fit for the activity you intend to offer. For instance, if it’s crowded with boats, then non-motorized equipment may not be appropriate. Additionally, the waterways may have a dangerous environment from underwater trees to hidden sandbars. You’ll also want to consider if your waterways offer a delightful experience for your customers like historical landmarks or ocean life as it can make for an easier way to market your new offering.


Types of Maintenance


When adding a new activity offering, it’s important to take the type of maintenance required into consideration as well as the staff you’ll need. Since tour boats have diesel engines, mechanics are not easy to find. Licensed captains are required to operate the boats and the challenges that come with finding them depend on the capacity and the tour.



Direct your attention to activities that are popular, but are not provided in the area. While it may take some time to create the demand for it, you’ll be able to benefit from being the only operator with that activity. You can also consider offering an existing activity at a better deal than the other competitors out there. Overall, add activities that speak to your brand.


Laws & Regulations – Not knowing the law



A day out on the water should always be enjoyable, and it’s important to understand Florida’s boating laws that work towards achieving this. From regulating safety practices to encouraging responsible behavior, these regulations are put in place for everyone’s benefit so we can all share an amazing experience while enjoying time out at sea.


Vessel Registration


All vessels in Florida must be registered through your local tax collector’s office, with the exception of non-motor-powered vessels that are under 16 feet in length. Once you receive the Certificate of Registration, you’re required to keep it on board and ready for inspection when your vessel is being operated. The vessel registration must be renewed every year and is required to be displayed within 6 inches of the registration numbers.


Reckless Operation


You must make sure that your vessel is operated in a safe and discerning manner with regard to posted restrictions, boat traffic, and other circumstances so that others are not endangered. If your vessel is operated with disregard for the safety of others, you can be cited for reckless operation.


Speed Restrictions


When traversing a posted speed zone, you must adhere to the relevant regulations. For those zones marked “Idle Speed – No Wake”, you need enough headway and steerageway to ensure progress is maintained; while with zones labeled as “Slow Down – Minimum Wake”, boats should be kept out of plane and settled in the water.


Florida Boating Resources



Whether you offer boat rentals, paddleboard rentals, or parasailing tours, there are many resources available in Florida to help you succeed. If you’re new to the world of running a watersports business or looking to expand your business, these resources can help you accomplish your goals and thrive in the watersports industry.


Federal Boating Resources


Not only are there resources in Florida, but there are numerous resources available throughout the United States that can help you run your watersports business.


Grow Your Watersports Business



TripShock is here to provide your watersports business with the tools and resources it needs to reach new customers, offering an easy and efficient path for growth. With us as a partner, you’ll be able to delight current clients while engaging prospective ones, creating amazing experiences along the way. To find out more about how we can help power up your business, get in touch with us today!

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