Jerry jumped on a modern form of transportation to get his small business moving. In September 2013, he officially incorporated Segway Tours Monterey, Inc. The startup company had been in existence since January 2013 prior to adopting its current formal structure.
Jerry, who is a 1-800Accountant client, runs the small business in Pacific Grove, California. He has one business partner and also works with his wife and a few independent contractors.
Just like its name implies, Segway Tours Monterey offers tours throughout Monterey Bay on Segways. These two-wheeled personal transportation vehicles first hit the market about 15 years ago. Today, many cities around the country have companies that rent them out for tours and for personal use.
The startup company primarily serves groups that include families and corporations. A tour costs between $85 and $99 and can run 2-3 hours. There are three basic tour options for riders, but custom tours are also available. Jerry hands out two-way radios to guide riders throughout each tour while pointing out the highlights as they go by.
Segways can travel up to 12.5 miles per hour. In California, they are treated just like pedestrians are when crossing roads. To control them, riders simply stand up straight to be idle, press on their toes to move them forward, and put their weight on their heels to go in reverse. Jerry says the general rule is that riders should be over the age of 12 and weigh between 100 and 250 pounds. However, many individuals who don’t fall into these categories are usually able to ride them.
Jerry says that there are several reasons that inspired him to put his own startup company on the map.
“When I first moved here to Monterey, I actually started riding a Segway and used it to get around,” he says. “I talked to my current business partner who was renting out Segways and doing tours down in San Diego. We thought it would be a great way to explore the area. Also, Segways have become a very popular mode of transportation for tourists visiting the area. There are some very scenic places around the country, and using these devices is a great way to see them.”
On a related note, he feels the small business concept lends itself to being successful over the long-term.
“This area itself and the ease of use of a Segway are really what will make this company work,” he says.
In his words, there are several things he finds enjoyable about doing this type of work.
“I really like showing people around unfamiliar areas,” he says. “Plus, this can help people who have certain physical disabilities or those who can’t walk long distances. You can really cover a lot of ground on a Segway.”
The small business has used various strategies to get the word out about it to both tourists and those who reside in the local area. They mainly include online methods – having a website, a Facebook page, a Pinterest page, and listings on TripAdvisor and Yelp. Jerry has also connected with local chambers of commerce around Monterey Bay.
Accounting for and finding solutions to challenges are critical when putting a startup company on the map. Jerry has encountered some unique challenges that are specific to his line of work.
“The introduction of the Segway to the community, especially on the recreation trails that don’t allow motorized scooters, has been a bit of a challenge,” he says. “Informing people that Segways are just like pedestrians has also been a challenge. It’s a learning process for people to learn how to ride them as well. You have to be respectful of people walking or driving.”
Advice for Aspiring Small Business Owners
Jerry offers some valuable pieces of advice for entrepreneurs looking to take the dive into small business ownership.
“You have to become very knowledgeable about a business you want to get into,” he says. “Find someone with expertise who can help you with the business side of things so it doesn’t take away from your true enjoyment of the business.”
He believes the biggest advantage to self-employment is being in control – something that’s often hard to find as an employee.
As a client of 1-800Accountant, Jerry says he has been thoroughly satisfied with the accounting and business support he has received from the national accounting firm.
“From the beginning formation of the company to determining which direction to go, 1-800Accountant has been very helpful,” he says. “The accountants have given lots of valuable guidance to me on the LLC vs. corporation structures, how they are taxed, and other important business aspects. I really like the service because I don’t have to become an expert on those things and can instead focus on riding my Segway and taking people around town.”
Photo credit: The photograph of Segway riders was provided by Segway Tours Monterey, Inc. and is used with permission.