Beach Bum Business Ideas

Beach bum business ideas… is that a contradiction in terms? Who cares! If you're like me, the only thing you hate about the beach… is leaving it. So, after thinking long and hard (and then turning over to tan my backside and think some more), I came up with 10 beach bum business ideas:

1. Airbrush tans, henna & waterproof tattoos

All the fun; none of the health risks! The craze of UV-less tanning is sweeping the nation and has already jumped across the pond to England. Each application only takes about 10-15 minutes after which the lucky sunless bather emerges from behind a shower curtain looking like they just spent a week on St. Barts. You can charge up to $25 per application and quickly earn back your initial investment of $220, and you are practically guaranteed repeat customers.

This is an extremely high profit business endeavor that is getting more and more popular.

Another trend that is creating many entrepreneurial opportunities is for temporary tattoos and hennas. Take your business to the next level by selling body crystals, glitter, jellies and paints retail to your customers as well.

With both airbrush tanning and temporary body art there is a huge margin of profit… anywhere from 500%- 1000%! Also, as I mentioned, this is catching on so if you hurry you could ride this wave all the way to the bank.

2. Become a “Masseur.” What could be more glorious than being on the receiving end of a massage as you listen to the surf gently lapping at the shore. Of course, I mean this seriously – no hanky-panky. I frankly, think this idea functions best of all for couples who work as a team. The more professional you come across the better, that’s why you will need to invest in a few things like a portable massage table and/or chair, some kind of double sided board to advertise your services and prices, a stack of clean towels, massage oils and a large beach umbrella or two to protect yourselves and your customers from getting burned.

Whether you will need a permit or not for your business will depend on the policies of the town in which you choose to set up shop. You will also need to be wise in your selection of a beach to work. It should be in an area frequented by affluent people and if there are any other businesses around, such as restaurants or beach stands, you should probably ask (just to be polite) if they would have any objections to your business.

On a recent trip to Majorca, I ran across just such a couple at Punta de Deia, a practically private beach that opens up on a small cove and is surrounded by hulking cliffs—gorgeous! I spoke with Barry from Scotland and found out that he and his girlfriend charge €25 for a half hour’s back massage. What they make during the tourist season is enough to carry them through the winter without working. In the few afternoon hours I spent on the beach, I noticed they had continuous business (I was one of their customers, of course). Between the two of them they can make up to €100 an hour… tax free!

Now, if you were really ambitious, you could set up several such “shops” and employ masseurs to do the work for you… hmmm.

3. Sell art; yours and/or someone else’s. If you are an artist this is a fantastic way to combine creating your pieces with selling them. All you really need is an easel and your paint supplies as well as some kind of portfolio to display your other works. You might even consider offering to personalize your work for the customer by painting them into the picture for a unique souvenir!

Even if you can’t paint a stripe, you can still set up a “gallery” of other artists’ work and earn commissions off the sales.

4. Photograph couples and families at sunset. If you have any talent as a photographer at all this makes for a lovely souvenir of a vacation. Pick the most beautiful spot on the beach as your meeting point and work quickly. Make a few billboards of your best 8x10’s to advertise your work and then set up a working relationship with area hotels and restaurants where you can display them. Let them book your clients for you and pay them a commission, otherwise you will have to sit around booking clients yourself and that’s not making very good use of your time. Also, your clients will feel better knowing “where to find you”, as you will have to expect a turn-around time to develop the pictures. I suggest you charge half the money when you book the client and expect the other half when you deliver the photos.

5.Wrap, braid or bead people’s hair. This is pretty self explanatory.

6. Supervise children’s activities and charge in half day increments. As a parent myself (who can be rather lazy at times) I make it my priority to scope out the spot on the beach with the most kids and then make camp. Why?? Well, if you are a parent you already know the answer to this question… so that your child will be kept entertained playing with other children. Of course, this doesn’t always work out as I would hope. Either there aren’t any kids around who are the right age or the kids that are there are too shy or uninterested to play along. This leaves me longing for some kind of organized activity for my son.

Vacation clubs and resorts have the right idea on this one. They know that what parents want is to laze on the beach doing nothing more strenuous than turning a page or adjusting the sun umbrella, whereas kids… Kids just wanna have fun! I often wish that somebody would set up a kid’s club, somewhere in my line of vision but far enough away so I can concentrate on my book, and I’m sure that I’m not the only one.

Just make sure that if you do decide to give this idea a go that you don’t take on more children then you can handle and avoid the water so nobody gets hurt. Don’t worry, even if the kids don’t go swimming there are still plenty of ways to keep them entertained.

7. Sell do-it-yourself crafts. This idea is really sort of a “no brainer.” All you have to do is bring the materials, set up a table and take the money. The supplies you need will vary depending on the craft(s) you choose to offer. You will find adults and children alike love making crafts and when they show off their art back home they have a great excuse to reminisce about their vacation. Here are some ideas to get you started:

T-shirt Painting:The supplies you’ll need for this are: Plenty of white T-shirts in a variety of sizes, an assortment of fabric paints and brushes, black permanent markets for outlining, wooden boards to place inside the t-shirts (to keep the paint from seeping through onto the back), straight pins to keep the t-shirts on the boards, a lot of different pages from coloring books (cut out and placed in protective clear plastic sheaths) so kids can trace the designs onto their t-shirts and last but not least, a couple of portable tables (to keep the masterpieces up off the sand).

Other ideas for crafts include:

Beaded Bracelets Kids can't get enough of making these. They're easy to do and they look great.

Sun Catchers These are the little painted plastic designs that you hang in your window to “catch the sun”. Kids love painting them and it’s as simple as coloring in a coloring book.

Sand Designs I’m sure you’ve seen bottles filled with layers of different colored sand. These are a snap to make and everybody loves them.

8. Become a Vendor. This can be as simple or as complicated as you wish depending on the beach you choose to work and what is already available. If the beach you are on doesn’t have any kind of food vendors, then get yourself a grill and a large cooler and you’re in business. If you don’t feel like standing in one place all day then buy a wagon (with large wheels for ease of pulling over the sand and stones) and take your cooler for “a walk.” Make sure to stock it with lots of cool drinks, ice cream and sandwiches. Also, don’t overlook the opportunity to sell sun cream and beach toys.

9. Teach a yoga class. I took a yoga class once on the beach and loved it! Yoga and the beach just naturally go together. As with the photography idea, you ought to offer your services through area hotels and let them do the booking for you.

10.  Read people’s fortunes. Most people just love to have their fortunes read (even if they really don’t believe in it).

A Few Things to Remember

No matter what you decide to do or where you set up your business, you need to plan ahead. Always check with your local chamber of commerce to see if you need to obtain any necessary permits. Neatness and cleanliness are seen as signs of professionalism so be extra diligent in those departments. The prices you charge will vary depending on the location, costs involved, and fair market value. In general, it is up to you to determine pricing.

And lastly, which ever beach bum business idea you decide to go with it’s always a good idea to use laminated display cards and price lists not only to let customers know what services you offer but to let them know that you are open for business!

Article by Anne Alexander Sieder

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