Are you going to business school? Looking to start a business but aren’t sure what? Get into vending! No, this isn’t a blue-sky ad claiming you can make thousands of dollars per month while working your own hours, but vending is a great business to get in to for reasons other than money. It’s flexible, low-risk, and can teach you a lot.
Vending is Flexible
You can put as much or as little as you want in to your vending business. If you’re willing to work hard, you can find a used vending machine for as little as $400 (or less!), find a location, and spend an hour per week servicing the machine. You can turn vending in to a full time job and operate 10-50 machines per week on your own (depending on how hard you want to work, and how much the machines make). If your market will support it, you can even start hiring drivers, marketers, technicians, etc. and focus on the business at a high-level, taking over your entire region, or even grow nation wide! The point is, this isn’t a business that requires a $100,000 investment to get started, but it can be much more than a hobby.
Vending is Low Risk
…at least, if you’re careful. I heard a story of a guy who took out a loan for a couple hundred thousand dollars and placed 50 vending machines in government buildings, only to lose the contract due to budget cuts. These things can happen and you should be careful, especially if vending is your primary income. If most of your machines are in schools, consider expanding in to more office buildings. Make sure to keep your customers happy, and be on the lookout for signs of trouble as well as new opportunities.
There is going to be risk everywhere, but I would much rather lose a location in an office building if the business goes under rather than be working for that business and lose my job. If you’re just vending on the side for a little extra money, the risk is even lower. You can get started in vending for very little money. In most cases you can make your initial investment back fairly quickly but if you lose the location, you can still sell the machine!
Vending Can Teach You a Lot
I graduated with an MBA in 2010. I learned a lot in school, but it was very theoretical. There is a big difference between running a business and learning about business. I would estimate that running a vending business was worth six months to year of business school (and much cheaper!) Think about it. When you’re running a vending operation, you’re getting experience in marketing, accounting, operations, finance, business law, and if you have employees you’re doing HR. What’s more is you’re actually doing. Anyone can read a case study of a business trying to streamline operations, but it’s a little different when you’re trying to figure out the most efficient route to service all your machines before so you can save time and gas while working in a trip to the distributor and be at your last stop in time to repair the machine before the building closes while making sure your candy bars don’t melt in the sun!
So, go for it! If you’re starting school, buy a machine or two. It’s much more meaningful when you have a real business to use as your class project. You’ll be much more interested in your accounting class when the professor starts talking about depreciating your assets for a tax deduction. Just want a hobby? Great! Try one that puts money in your pocket rather than emptying it. Maybe you can even put your vending profits toward an MBA!