If you enjoy driving and interacting with people, starting a shuttle business might be an attractive option. Transport businesses can often be highly lucrative. A shuttle business is a specialised type of transport business which provides scheduled or on demand transport services for passengers. To start a shuttle business you’ll need to buy or lease vehicles to provide the service. However there is more to consider before starting a shuttle business than just the vehicle. In this article we will explain some of the things you should consider when planning to set up a shuttle business.
Shuttle businesses can be expensive to set up. You might need to buy or lease vehicles, hire staff, rent office premises, and arrange licenses and insurance. Often you’ll need to pay these expenses before the business starts to make a profit. This means that you might need to seek finance or investment to help you set the business up. Because of this, it is advisable to develop a business plan for your shuttle business at an early stage.
A business plan will lay out how you want the business to operate and grow. It can also help to keep your business on track as it develops. Many investors and finance providers will want to see a business plan before agreeing to provide funding.
A business plan should not be static, it should evolve with your business. This means that it is important to regularly review and amend your business plan as your business develops. You should periodically compare your business plan with how your business is operating to ensure that the strategic direction of your business and your business plan remain consistent.
Establish Your Shuttle Business
Once you have developed your business plan and sought any necessary funding the next step is to establish your business. Firstly, you’ll need to decide which business structure is right for you. If you plan to operate the shuttle business on your own a sole trader business might be most appropriate for you. However, there are other options available including a partnership, company, or trust. The business structure will impact how you run your business and how your personal liability if things go wrong, so this is an important decision. Our online quiz “What Business Structure Is Right For You?” can help you work out the best structure for your new business.
To establish the business you’ll need to apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN). If you decide to use a company structure, you’ll also need to register the company with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
Shuttle Business Accreditation
Your business needs to be accredited to provide passenger transport services. The Passenger Transport Act 1990 (NSW) sets out the requirements for accreditation to operate a public passenger bus service in NSW. Your business will need to meet a number of requirements to gain accreditation.
Fit And Proper Person of Good Repute
Firstly, you need to be “a fit and proper person” to carry on a transport business and be “of good repute”. To be considered a fit and proper person, you must not be disqualified from managing corporations. Other things that will be considered to determine if you are a fit and proper person include:
- whether you are a director of a company that has been, or is being, wound up;
- any charges or offences you have received in the previous 5 years;
- whether you have been accused of failing to uphold your duties as director of a corporation; and
- any prior accusations of fraud against you.
You also need to be a person “of good repute”. To show this, you will need to provide references from two people who have known you for at least two years.
You must complete an accredited bus operator training course to get accredited. This course must comply with Transport for NSW guidelines and standards. Transport for NSW provides comprehensive information about accredited training courses so you should consult them for more information about this requirement.
Ability to Carry On Service
You also need to show that your business is competent to carry on the service required for a shuttle business. This will require you to show that you have knowledge and understanding of all relevant laws including the requirements of the Passenger Transport (General) Regulation 2017 (NSW), the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW), and other relevant traffic laws. You might also be required to complete a course relating to the operation of the service that your business will provide.
Additionally, you’ll need to show that the business has the financial capacity to undertake the service. You’ll need to provide evidence of this financial capacity in the form of a signed statement from a qualified accountant. To satisfy this requirement, you’ll need to show that the business has the financial ability to maintain:
- vehicle maintenance and road worthiness;
- the safety of drivers, passengers and the public; and
- the operation of a business.
You will also need to show that you have access to appropriate facilities to provide maintenance and storage of the businesses vehicles.
Start the Shuttle Business Service
Once you’ve developed a business plan, established your business and gained accreditation, you are ready to start working towards launching your service. There are a number of things you’ll need to consider in this phase.
You will need to arrange access to the equipment you’ll need for the business including vehicles, maintenance equipment and office equipment. You might choose to lease this equipment or purchase it outright. Both approaches have benefits and risks, the right approach for your business will depend on a variety of factors including your financial capacity and the aims and priorities in your business plan. It might be worth consulting an accountant or business lawyer to work out the best approach for your business.
Marketing and Promotion
Any successful business needs customers. If your shuttle business doesn’t have any passengers it could quickly become unprofitable. It’s important to make sure the business undertakes effective marketing and promotion campaigns to attract new customers. These campaigns should be developed with the content of your business plan in mind to ensure that they support your strategic development and growth targets.
Transport businesses including shuttles can be highly lucrative for entrepreneurs. While starting a new business can be intimidating, if you follow the steps outlined in this article you will be well on the way to owning your own successful shuttle business.