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How to start a security company: how much it costs and what you need

Security may not be the most glamorous of industries to enter into, but it’s becoming an increasingly popular choice for entrepreneurs who want to capitalise on market demand and the changing nature of our world. Governments are cutting policing budgets and consumers are becoming increasingly security-conscious thanks to the rise of extremists and terrorism, and many are turning to private security firms to monitor their homes or provide chauffeuring services - particularly the upper classes who have high levels of disposable income and are willing to spend big bucks on their safety.

However, security companies no longer operate exclusively in business environments and affluent areas - according to one report, the physical security industry is set to reach an eye-watering US$292 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 9.4%, demonstrating the vast power of the market - and indeed the gaps in the market where new businesses can thrive.

To make a success of a new security venture, however, you need to be prepared, and understand both your requirements and potential costs before you get started. Below, we share more details on both of those things to help you make the right decision.

Deciding on a niche

Before incorporating a security business, it’s essential that you hone in on a niche and decide whom you want to target. The chances are that you have some personal experience in at least one security sector, so run with that and conduct market research to determine the levels of demand in your area. You may choose to enter into business security, for example, employing a team of security guards and mediators at offices or retail outlets, or you might run a house-to-house operation, patrolling neighbourhoods for a fixed fee per household.

The more you know about your sector, the easier it’ll be to run and find success, so don’t try to enter into a market where you have no expertise, as the chances are you’ll be swallowed up by a competitor with more experience and market presence. Craft a business plan and be confident in your ideas before you start investing capital and time in a new venture.

Getting licenses

If you’ve worked in security in the past, you’ll know that the industry is fraught with licensing and regulations - albeit to protect both businesses and citizens. As soon as you’ve decided you want to incorporate a security firm, reach out to the relevant bodies in your local area to apply for security licences and make sure you’re swotted up on local laws and regulations. It takes time to get to grips with the ins and outs of the law, but if you don’t, you won’t operate legally, and you could face significant fines or even criminal action down the line. Please don’t risk it.

Applying for insurance

Licensing and insurance go hand in hand - having the necessary insurance in place not only covers your business against a whole host of potential issues, but it also means you comply with the law. -It offers you peace of mind, and it serves as a selling point to clients - very few would trust a security firm that wasn’t insured or couldn’t provide the relevant documentation.

Depending on your location, you’ll likely need to take out more than one form of insurance for your business - such as liability insurance and employee insurance - so we recommend that you work with an insurance provider who can tailor a package to your new security firm.

Marketing your business

Once you’ve got a plan in place and you’re ready to get going, launch a professional website for your new security business and start promoting it from day one. In today’s times, it’s essential that you have an online base where customers can find you and learn more about your business. Invest in a professional web designer and search engine optimisation to get to the top of the ranks organically, and your security business will soon compete with more established firms in your area. As in any industry, marketing is the ultimate key to success.

Finding potential clients

Don’t wait around to find clients - reach out to companies and individuals who might be interested in your services online, over the phone, and face to face. LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool and can be useful in the B2B world, while job boards and business sites can be used to find opportunities - many companies advertise opportunities such as contracts or temporary security staff, and firms can bid or pitch for those contracts online or in person.

Contracts can be very competitive but hugely rewarding - a tender that lasts for five years, for example, guarantees regular income month to month and allows you to grow comfortably in that time, so work with a tender expert and don’t wait around to apply for opportunities.

Hiring the right staff

Now to the nitty gritty - security staff. When you first incorporate a security firm, you might decide that it makes sense to hire experienced people on a temporary or freelance basis to save time, or you might employ inexperienced staffers and train them on the job. Both are more affordable than advertising full-time experienced security staff (the average security guard in the US earns between $16,000 and $24,000 in the US and around £24,512 in the United Kingdom, so finding an expert doesn’t come cheap and can be expensive before you find clients and agree on contracts). Be sensible with your labour spend and remember that it’s better to start small and scale, rather than build a team you can’t afford to pay well.

Managing your security staff

Once you’ve hired a couple of security guards, think about managing their workloads effectively to ensure that you’re getting the most value for money from them. You could hire a manager to oversee their workloads, or you could instead purchase security staffing software that can schedule and track security guards and their pay and absences, significantly cutting costs and allowing you to scale your business as new staffers enter the fold. Software is also portable - you can take your management suite wherever you are in the country or even the world, so whether you’re having a well-earned break in the Mediterranean or you’re on-site meeting a new client, it’s easy to see what your staff are doing and how they’re performing.

How much does it cost to start a security company?

The million-dollar question: how much does it cost to start a security company? The answer to that, unfortunately, is that we can’t tell you! It all depends on what sector of the security industry you’re going to get into, how many staff you hire on day one, and how much you spend on marketing your business. You can effectively incorporate a security business on your own, apply for licenses and build your website for less than $100 (£80), but you’ll struggle to juggle so many plates - especially if you’ve got to find your clients on top.

However, if you’re sensible, bootstrap wherever possible to save money, and think about your new security company as a long-term venture rather than trying to run before you can walk. It’s certainly possible to break-even or turn a profit in your first year - work hard, find the right staff, and rely on experts and software to plug the gaps in your knowledge.

Whatever you decide to do, we wish you the very best of luck! We know that setting up a new business may be daunting at first, but taking the leap and getting started on your own allows you to become your boss, compete locally and nationally, and reap the rewards.

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