7 Businesses You Can Run From A Van

Written by Chloe Harwood

The freedom of freelancing or working for yourself is a very attractive proposition. With today’s technology, more and more self-employed people can work wherever they like whenever they like. There are also more and more businesses that are adopting these working ethics to create successful companies. Of course, the type of business you start up will depend on your strengths, experience, and skill set.

Most entrepreneurs find it necessary to travel around their region to meet customers, investors, and suppliers. The frequency of this travel has reduced a lot though, thanks to new technologies. Video conferencing or simple online communications is usually enough without the meet-and-greet. This can even be done while you’re traveling thanks to mobile data. Does this mean you can operate your business from the back of a van?

A good sized van like a Ram Promaster can offer you enough space for a mini office set up. You might have a business where you use a lot of tools. It’s no wonder so many tradespeople joke about ‘living in the back of their van.’ If you already own a large vehicle like this, why not get it back on the road with one of these business ideas:

  1. Deliveries

With more and more online shopping every year, delivery companies are working overtime! Most people have ordered something online. The postal service is rarely the best option for delivering large items. But someone with a van could certainly earn a few bucks by taking on some deliveries.

There are several options here. You might offer a specialist courier service, where you pick up and drop off a single item either locally or regionally. You might have a contract agreement with a big logistics company to deliver so many items per day. If you’re strong and have the right kit, you might also be able to make special deliveries of difficult to transport items like pianos or pottery.

  1. Tradesperson

If you have a trade, then you need the right van to house your tools securely. Pick something that offers speedy access like these roll-up doors at Dynatect. Having compartments on board like this means you can reach what you need even in an emergency. Organization is key when you work with tools. Your van effectively becomes your tool shed or workshop. You need to be able to store what you use as well as use it on board.

You might also have an area for a laptop and portable printer so you can print off invoices or quotes quickly and easily. Of course, most customers are happy to receive these things by email these days. If any customers pay by cash, you might need a secure lock box compartment for storing cash. Don’t forget that some customers pay by card. If you keep any sensitive data, you must lock it up securely.

When you use a van for your job, you will also need extra cover on your standard insurance. Some commercial insurance policies demand that you place your company livery on the vehicle too. You might need specialist cover for your tools.

  1. Hot and Cold Food

There are many food vendors out there that use a van for preparing and selling. This can save a fortune in premises costs and even insurance bills. However, you need to make sure the van is kitted out pretty well so you can maintain strict hygiene. You might also need to apply for special licenses at each place you stop to sell.

Cold sandwiches can be prepared in a standard kitchen. Once they are packaged, you can sell them from the back of your van. This would require a much smaller vehicle than if you were preparing the food on board. The type of vehicle you might need will quite likely include a refrigeration unit to keep the food at a healthy temperature while you are on the road. You might also be able to offer hot beverages with the right equipment.

If you are setting up as a burger van or hotdog vendor, you might need a separate generator that will be powered by fuel. These are noisy and can be quite smelly! Your business will rely on this to operate, so make sure it is regularly serviced. They can often be hitched up as a trailer to your van’s tow bar.

  1. Pet Grooming

Grooming a dog requires very little space, and it could certainly be achieved from the back of a van. Just like window cleaning companies, you carry your water supply with you. Good light and secure gates are required. Providing this service on the road means you can reach customers that wouldn’t be able to attend the parlor.

  1. Consultations

Whatever specialist knowledge you have, you can set up a mini office in the back of a van. Park up in the center of the town and use a drop-in system or appointments. A canopy at the back can offer a little more room for seating and for your marketing materials. You might be a therapist or a sales rep. Many large companies like TV services operate this sort of marketing technique to sign up new customers.

  1. Mobile Library

Offering a mobile library service may not seem like a profitable or glamorous business venture. But it will be greatly appreciated in the communities where people can no longer access books. You might buy and sell books and other literary-related merchandise. School texts and stationery could be in demand too!

  1. Mobile Radio Broadcaster

FM radio might not have many years left, but for now, you can rest assured that radio is big business. If you have a license for broadcasting, you can offer your local community a fun program or too. Sell advertising spots to local businesses, and have your say on the issues in your town. Mobile digital broadcasting is relatively new, but you might be able to find a cheaper license for this. There are plenty of different businesses that can be entirely mobile. Could you start a business from your own van?

About the author

Chloe Harwood