Thinking about opening a passport and visa services business? We tell you what you need to know to get started.
Value Proposition for Passport & Visa Services
Passports and visas are essential documents for international travelers. Since passports are issued directly through the U.S. Department of State, for a nominal fee individuals can obtain passports on their own, simply by following the guidelines posted on the State Department's website. (The visa process is slightly more complicated, but still navigable by most individuals.)
So if individuals can secure passports and visas themselves, why would they choose to work with a private passport and visa service? In the passport and visa service industry, the key value propositions are simplicity and convenience. In many cases, it's easier for individuals and families to work with an experienced passport and visa service provider than it is to attempt to do it on their own.
The need for professional services is more acute for time sensitive passports and visas – much of your startup's revenues will be generated from individuals who require expedited passports and passport renewals.
Must-Have Elements of a Passport & Visa Service Startup
For the right entrepreneurs, passport and visa startups are straightforward business ventures. The majority of your work will leverage skilled personnel, basic office technology and excellent communication channels, none of which requires exorbitant startup costs. Here are several other elements your startup can't live without:
- Functional Office Space. Visible office space is important for passport and visa services, especially if your business model is at least partially based on walk-in traffic. However, the most important feature of your office space is functionality. When you perform a build-out of leased space, you'll need to carefully evaluate how you will create a work environment that emphasizes efficient workflows and document tracking systems.
- A Great Business Website. Most passport and visa service clients won't give much thought to your business until they need a passport or visa – and the Internet will be the place they will go to identify a service provider. To compete, you'll need to field a first-class business website and perform SEO to make sure your company appears at or near the top of search results in your geography.
- Industry Expertise. It goes without saying that you'll need to know your way around travel documents to launch a passport and visa service business, and demonstrate expertise in the field. But as a passport expediter, you'll need to register with the U.S. State Department's National Hand Courier Program and consider membership with the National Association of Passport and Visa Services.
Core Characteristics of Passport & Visa Services Company Business Plans
Every business plan is unique, yet the most effective plans share a handful of essential traits.
If your plan lacks required elements like an executive summary or marketing plan, it could jeopardize its potential to deliver real benefits to your startup.
To discuss the external factors that will influence your startup, consider dedicating a section of your business to a PEST (Political, Economic, Social & Technological) analysis.
Look Over Competitors
Well in advance of opening a passport and visa services business in your town, it's a smart move to find out how strong the competition is. Try our link below to find competitors nearby. Simply enter your city, state and zip code to get a list of passport and visa services businesses in your town.
It's important to be aware of what the competition is doing. Take the time to visit the competition to properly assess their strengths and weaknesses.
A Good Source of Advice
If you are interested in starting a passport and visa services business, be sure to speak with somebody who is already in the business. It's very unlikely that the local competition will talk to you. The last thing they want to do is help you to be a better competitor.
But, a person who owns a passport and visa services business in a location that is not competitive to you will be much more likely to talk with you, as long as they don't view you as a competitive threat. Many business owners are happy to give advice to new entrepreneurs In my experience, you may have to call ten business owners in order to find one who is willing to share his wisdom with you.
How do you go about finding a passport and visa services business founder in a different locale who can assist you?
Here's one way to do it. Just use our link below, find somebody and call them.
Advice for Acquiring a Passport & Visa Services Business
Many entrepreneurs elect to acquire a profitable passport and visa services business instead of navigating the challenges of a business startup.
But before you can seal the deal on a passport and visa services business purchase, you're going to need financing. The good news is that it's easier to finance an existing company than it is to finance a startup business. However, there is still some distance that needs to be traveled before you can secure enough funding to put your name on the letterhead.
Our Business Acquisition Financing Tips have the information you need to successfully navigate the challenges of financing your new business.
Explore Franchising Options
As an entrepreneur, your chances surviving in business are greatly increased when you franchise instead of doing it all on your own.
If your goal is to start a passport and visa services business, you would be wise to assess whether franchise opportunities in your space might make it easy to get started.
The link below gives you access to our franchise directory so you can see if there's a franchise opportunity for you. You might even find something that points you in a completely different direction.
These additional resources regarding starting a business may be of interest to you.
If you currently own a passport and visa services business, these resources will come in handy:
If you sell to passport and visa services businesses, you're in the wrong place. These resources are more appropriate for you:
If you are interested in starting a different kind of business, please browse our directory of guides below.