Start Your Own Bicycle Business

Put your bike to work by starting a bicycle business.

| July 8, 2013

Cycling for Profit

Learn how to make a living with your bike in “Cycling for Profit.”

Cover Courtesy Van der Plas Publications

Cycling for Profit (Van der Plas Publications, 2000) by Jim Gregory helps cycling enthusiasts find a way to earn a living with their bike. With information on business practices as well as marketing advice, you can start a bicycle business of your own. This excerpt was taken from chapters 2 and 3.

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Cycling for Profit.

Commercial Cycling as a Business

For those wanting to start their own small business, working as a cyclist has several advantages. The amount of money needed to get started is very low. In some instances, all that is needed is a bicycle. Even the most capital-intensive businesses described in this book require only a few thousand dollars to get started, a fraction of what it costs to start most other businesses. Nor is a building or an office usually needed; inmost instances, you can simply work out of your home.

Moreover, most commercial cycling businesses are subject to few, if any, government regulations. A commercial driver’s license is not required, nor will most businesses described in this book need a permit to operate. (Check with your state and local government to make certain, though.) Using a bicycle may even exempt a business from the rules that other businesses would follow. For example, when I informed the city that I wanted to start a curbside recycling service, I was told I would need a local waste hauling permit and have to get my vehicle inspected annually. When I told them that my “vehicle” was actually a bicycle, both the permit and inspection requirements were dropped.

The Disadvantages of a Bicycle Business

Commercial cycling has some distinct disadvantages. First, it can be dangerous. Commercial cyclists usually have to ride in traffic and, unlike the vehicles around them, have little protection in a collision. For these reasons, it is important to always be alert to traffic, be aware of road conditions, and always wear protective head gear when necessary. Perhaps most important is not to be reckless or foolhardy. There is an old adage among bicycle messengers that says, “There are old bike couriers, and bold bike couriers, but there are no old, bold bike couriers.”

Second, cycling is usually not very remunerative. While a cyclist can often earn $10 per hour or more for each hour ridden, a significant amount of time is also spent off the bike, either doing repairs, preparing invoices, or doing other types of record keeping. Consequently, earning a sufficient income can be a challenge. Most cyclists have to be frugal with their money.

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