Starting your own security business makes sense for anyone with years of experience in the security industry. Whether you were a law enforcement officer, military security guard, or private security guard, starting your own company may be the next best step for you.
No matter what kind of security you want to provide for future clients, a successful security business starts with successful planning. This article will guide you through the process of starting and building your own security company from the ground up.
Types of Security Businesses
No one company can provide safety and security to everyone who wants it. Different clients will have different needs when it comes to keeping them safe, and your background, experience, and preferences will all play into which specific area of security your business specializes in.
The types of security companies include:
Cybersecurity companies focus on keeping businesses and other clients safe online. This means protecting the data of their clients and possibly their clients' clients. This field requires an in-depth understanding of data technology and what threatens it.
Home Security/Private Security Company
These companies specialize in setting up alarm systems and providing other security measures, such as security guards, to protect the private property of their clients from potential break-ins and theft. Like cybersecurity, you'll rely on technology and technical expertise to some degree to provide this type of security.
Event Security Company
An event security company or security agency provides guards for all kinds of events, big or small. A bit like bouncers at a nightclub, event security guards monitor entrances and exits, as well as the event itself to maintain safety and order.
Personal Security Company
Security companies that provide personal protection are popular with anyone who wants a bodyguard or an escort. These clients may engage your security personnel on both an as-needed or ongoing basis.
State Licenses and Security Industry Certifications
The Security Industry Association is a trade organization that provides a lot of resources for anyone in the security industry. As a new security business owner, it's a good place to start familiarizing yourself with industry standards and requirements.
Security companies need to apply for both a general business license and a private security license. The process for getting your private security license will vary by state, but it generally includes filling out an application and submitting forms of identification. If you were a law enforcement officer or have military experience, this may need to be documented as well. Additional documentation may include several letters of reference and even your credit history.
Another common license your state may require you to get is a private patrol operator's license. You might also either need to get a qualified manager license or hire a qualified manager to start your security company. A PPO will prove that you're allowed to offer security services to anyone who wants to hire you, and having a qualified manager means that you'll have someone with experience responsible for the daily operations of your company.
Laws about licensing and certifications for security businesses vary quite a lot by state, and even often at the local level, so be sure to check with your state's government licensing agency to see what you need to actually go into business. For example, in California, the Department of Consumer Affairs is the state-specific site that will walk a California resident through the process of legally opening their own security business.
Some additional licenses you and/or your employees might be required to have include:
- Firearm license/firearm permit
- Security guard license
- Security service license
You or your employees may also choose to pursue security industry-specific certifications, such as becoming a Certified Information Security Manager (CISM). This requires attending a course or having a certain number of years' experience before taking a certifying exam.
Create a Business Plan for Your Security Business
Starting any kind of business begins with creating a solid business plan. Why? Because in the process of creating a business plan, you'll need to decide which services you're going to offer (i.e., what kind of security agency you want to run), the target market for those services, the average pricing structures among your competition, how many employees you'll need to get started, and how much money you'll need upfront. A well-researched and presented business plan will also show lenders and investors that they can be confident in you as an experienced and serious small business owner.
When it comes to financing, take your time researching and pricing what your business will need. Be sure to factor in everything from office space and equipment to company vehicles and liability insurance, and keep any certifications up to date for both you and any employees you'll be hiring. Starting a cybersecurity company will involve purchasing a fair amount of both hardware and software, as well.
The costs of insuring your security company will depend on various factors, such as location, how many people you employ (because you're legally responsible for workers' compensation), and the amount of coverage you choose to have. Professional liability may start at about $500 a year, but be sure to get a number of quotes from different insurance providers to find the best coverage and the best deal for your business.
Additional things to consider early while you're still planning your security business are creating a master service agreement (MSA) and/or a statement of work (SOW). Both act as agreements or contracts between you and your future clients. The MSA is a long-term contract that defines the overall relationship, and the SOW will define each instance of work and is a shorter-term contract.
For example, if you contract with a company to provide security for their corporate events, you'll draft an MSA as the overall agreement and then issue an SOW per each event. Deciding if and when to use these and other security contracts or agreements should be part of your overall business structure planning.
3 Steps to Launch Your Startup Security Business
Once you have your business plan, financing, and other starting elements ready to go, it's time to move forward with launching your business.
Create a Structure and Legal Identity for Your Business
Something you will have determined while creating your business plan is the structure of your business. Whatever structure you decide to start with, search your state's unique name database to register your business's name. If you plan to remain a sole proprietor, at least for now, the next step will be filing and fulfilling "doing business as" (DBA) name requirements. Other structures, such as a limited liability company (LLC) or corporation, will have different formation requirements. Check your state government's website to find out what forms and information you'll need to complete or provide.
Once you've chosen a business name and structure, the next step is applying for an employer identification number (EIN), which will act as a kind of Social Security number for your business. If you remain a sole proprietor, you won't need to do this since your own Social Security number will suffice. You can, of course, later change your business to an LLC or other structure, and part of that process will be applying for an EIN at that time.
One of the most important reasons to go through the process of legally forming your startup security business is being able to open a business bank account. You can't receive payments, make purchases, or hire and pay employees without being a legal financial entity.
Build Your Brand to Market Your Security Business
Successful marketing starts with strong branding, so it's worth taking a fair amount of time not only with your business's name but also with your website design and even your logo. These days, your website is one of the main ways potential clients will get to know your startup company and decide whether to hire you. A well-designed, easy-to-recognize logo will add strength to all of your marketing efforts, both traditional and online.
If you're familiar with website building, you can build one yourself using a platform like WordPress or Squarespace. Are you not comfortable with that? Finding freelancers to handle graphic design and even website copy can take a big load off your shoulders. Sites like Upwork can help you find experienced freelancers. You can also hire with an eye toward developing or managing your social media presence.
Social media marketing will be an important part of your business's overall marketing strategy. It's a good way to find and interact directly with potential clientele. Your first step is taking what you learned about your target market while writing your business plan to decide which social media platforms they're most likely to use and then actively build your accounts on those platforms. Facebook and Instagram are some of the most popular platforms today, but LinkedIn is where professionals and their companies go to network. This makes it perhaps the best place to begin establishing your security business's social media presence.
Building a strong online presence - through a well-designed website and active social media accounts - is a simple way to promote your new business. More people than ever rely on the information they find about businesses online before deciding to contact them. Keeping your website fresh, being active on your social media accounts, setting up Google My Business, and keeping track of reviews on sites like Yelp are all crucial but relatively easy ways to market your new security business.
Resources to Manage Your Small Business Successfully
Once you've opened your doors and started taking on clients, you'll transition into the challenges of actually running your security business. Like any other small business, your security company will require you to keep a lot of balls up in the air.
You'll have already planned out at least your initial employee and hiring needs back when you were writing your business plan. Now is when you'll see just how well that initial plan works out. Staffing security personnel is a lot of work - you'll be responsible for interviewing, conducting background checks, hiring, and making sure all certifications and required training are completed. Sooner or later, you may end up hiring a qualified manager to help carry this and other loads. While you're still responsible for establishing the structure of your company and the workflow for daily operations, a manager will help see that things run smoothly.
Putting good systems into place also helps you maintain the financial health of your business. Managing invoices and billing, payments and deposits, and other financial information is made easier through the use of accounting software like Skynova. Like hiring a manager, utilizing accounting software and templates to create quotes for your clients or to bid on potential projects just makes sense.
Run Your Security Business Your Way With Skynova
Experience in the security industry, along with a desire to run your own company, might have you considering starting your own security business. That experience should give you a fairly clear idea of what you're getting into when it comes to providing safety and security for your future clients. When it comes to running your own business, you might be a little nervous.
Following the steps in this guide can help you deal with those nerves. Write a solid business plan, research and obtain all necessary licenses and certifications, build a good website, and remember to include social media marketing in your overall marketing and advertising strategy. Each of these steps will set you up for success - but don't be afraid to ask for help along the way.
With software products - including easy-to-use accounting software - and business templates to help with all of your business accounting needs, you can stay on top of your security business and feel more confident with Skynova.