Do you want to start a private armed security guard company? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a private armed security guard business with NO money and no experience plus a sample private armed security guard business plan template.
Even though the government of the united states of America provides public security services to its citizens for free, many citizens find it hard to completely rely on them because the ratio of security officers to citizens is really low and this has reduced their rate of efficiency.
The US is a country with high crime rate so the need for security services for homeowners, business owners and public figures in the country cannot be neglected. Most people now find it safer to hire private security firms which are mostly owned and operated by retired government security services personnel, to provide necessary security services for them.
Steps to Starting a Private Armed Security Guard Company
1. Understand the Industry
According to a recent research report by ASIS and the Institute of Finance Management, The United States private security industry is a 0 million US dollar market industry with a growth rate of about 2.4% every year. This growth rate is expected to last over the next 10-15 years.
There are about 90,000 private security organizations in the US and the industry employs more than one million American men and women. This employment growth rate is expected to continue to grow in response to the rise in demand for private security services which currently grows at a rate of 5% per year.
Interesting Statistics About the Industry
- The United States is the highest user of private security services in the world.
- Some of the largest private armed security companies in the world are based in the United States of America.
- Private armed security guards can earn up to $600 per day.
- G4S, a private security company, is the largest employer of labor in the world after Walmart.
- In 2016, revenue in the US private security industry was over 68 billion dollars.
The private armed security industry is a growing one with new companies being formed every year to ensure better service delivery. The industry cannot be classified as over-saturated because there are a lot of niches in the industry that are not yet fully tapped into; so as a new investor, you would have no problem finding the right clients for your business.
Why You Should Start a Private Armed Security Business in the United States
The demand for private armed security services has continued to increase over the years, making the business a very viable one.
Security is very important to citizens of the country and they would spare no cost to hire the right type of security officials to protect their homes and businesses. With the increase in crime rate in the country, the future prospect of this nature of business is nothing but bright.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
It is important to understand the demographic and psychographic makeup of the industry before you go on to set up your own private armed security company.
According to a research report by the United States Justice Department, consumers of private armed security services include shipping companies, oil companies, celebrities, government/non-governmental organizations, international organizations, local businesses and homeowners.
Around 50% of people who hire private security services do so for business protection while the other 50% do so for personal protection.
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
There are a few niches that you can specialize in within the industry. Some of them include:
- Business Security Services
- Events Security
- Security Patrol Services
- Vehicle Surveillance Services
- Bodyguard Services
- Surveillance Video Monitoring Services
- Escort Services
- Combatant Services
- Arms Trade
- Technical and Training Services
- Advisory and Consultancy Services
- Aviation Related Services
- Residential Services
The Level of Competition in the Industry
The level of competition in the private armed security services industry is fairly high, however in recent times; the industry has had to deal with a lot of competition from the alarm monitoring sub-sector of the private armed security industry.
Demand for alarm monitoring is on the rise and is expected to double up through 2022. This means that more home and business owners would opt for alarm monitoring over private security services. The good news however is that even with alarm monitoring, there is still a need to hire security services to respond to the alarms and prevent intrusion. This means that both sub-sectors can hardly exist independently.
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
There are a lot of players in the private armed security industry. Some of the most popular ones include:
- Allied Barton
- Blackwater Corporation
- CEO Group
- Tyco International
- Control Risks
- Executive Outcomes
- Military Professional Resources Inc. (MPRI)
- Olive Group
- Triple Canopy
- Sandline International
- Northrop Grumman
It is also imperative to conduct an economic analysis of the private armed security industry before setting up shop. Economic analysis reports in the industry revealed that the surge in growth in the industry started around 2004 and forecasts show that the growth is expected to continue through 2024.
The nonresidential sector of the market accounts for the vast majority of revenue in the industry. It is expected that as the economy continues to grow and more businesses are created, the industry will grow in direct response. Security consulting and systems integration is also expected to witness rapid growth and gains through 2024.
The residential market sub-sector is expected to be dominated by Personal Emergency Response Alarm Monitoring Systems between 2014 and 2019.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
There are a number of established private armed security companies that offer franchising opportunities to new investors. Of course this gives you a higher chance to succeed in the business because there is an already established and proven business formula in place that you can take advantage of.
Franchises are also considered lower risk businesses by investors. Buying a franchise or an existing private security guard company would also enable you to take advantage of the established credibility, positive reviews and the goodwill that the company already enjoys. You would also be relieved of the stress of training your employees when you buy a franchise.
However, the franchising private armed security company may charge you a lot of money before agreeing to a contract. Also, your creative freedom would be taken away, so it is important to consider these when you want to decide on whether to start your private armed security guard company from the scratch or to simply buy a franchise.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
The first challenge you may have to face in this business is finding the right employees for your business. Most armed security service employees are ex-military or police officers and there has been an increase in reported cases of rogues who were dismissed from the public service, running to the private security companies to offer their services.
You would need to have a solid plan in place for carrying out background checks on potential employees in order to avoid employing bad guys in your organization. Another challenge you may face is that of obtaining a license for the business with ease.
The United States government considers this nature of business a very serious one and would not offer licenses to just anybody. A lot of security checks, background checks and personality assessments would have to be carried out before you can be offered a license to start a private armed security company.
Obtaining the necessary equipment for the business is another challenge. You would not only need a lot of funds to acquire equipment, you would also need a lot of permits and licenses to handle certain types of security gadgets, especially guns.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
The best legal entity to use for this nature of business is the Limited Liability Company (LLC). The private armed security services business is a very risky one and you can be sued for damages and negligence by your clients and employees at any time.
The best way to protect yourself and your business is to set the business up as a limited liability company so that only the company’s assets can be used to offset liabilities. There are two types of Limited Liability Companies in the United States- S-corp and C-corp. S-Corp refers to S-corporations while C-Corp is an acronym for C-Corporations.
The major difference between the two business forms is that C-Corporations are taxed twice on their net income and also on dividend distributions to shareholders while S-corporations are only taxed on distributions to shareholders. It is very important to contact your accountant and legal adviser for professional advice on the best way to structure your business so that you can avoid excessive tax liabilities.
8. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
Regardless of the size of your company, it is very important to acquire the necessary insurance policies to protect yourself, your employees and your business. Some of the insurance policies you would need to obtain for the business include:
- General Liability Insurance
- Professional Liability Insurance
- Workers Compensation
- Auto Insurance
- Property Insurance
- Product/Completed Operations
- Personal Injury/Advertising Injury Insurance
- Fire Damage Legal Liability
- Extended Bodily Injury Insurance
- Assault and Battery
- Errors and Omission
- Medical Payment
9. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
You would need to file for intellectual property protection for some unique aspects of your business such as your business uniforms, company logo and any other unique ideas you have introduced into the business. As for professional licenses, apart from a business license, your employees would be required to sit for and pass a private military contractor examination that qualifies them to offer services as private armed security personnel.
10. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
The legal requirements for starting a private armed security business in the US varies from state to state; however, some of the most common requirements include:
The owners and managers of the business would have to go through a background check to ascertain whether there have any criminal records. Some states like Texas would refuse to grant licenses to people who have served sentences for felony within the last five years.
Security Guard License
Some states like Texas and Washington also require managers of private armed security companies to have a valid security guard license.
Before a business license can be granted, you would have to file a full disclosure of the ownership of the business with the state licensing board.
Gun Licenses and Permits
Since you would be running a business where guns would be used, you would need to ensure that all your employees have the necessary licenses and permits that allow them to carry and guns and other weapons.
- Services Contract
- Business registration documents
- Business Plan
- Insurance Policy Documents
- Employee Contracts
- Operating Agreement
- Tax Compliance Documents
11. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
You would need between $200,000 and $500,000 US dollars to set up a private armed security company in the United States. This is a lot of financial commitment which you may not be able to afford on your own. You can explore any of the following financing options if you are unable to singlehandedly fund the business:
One of the best ways to fund your business is to look for a partner who would be interested in committing some funds to the business in exchange of equity participation in the business. This would help you avoid paying huge interest rates on loans.
Use Your Credit Card
If you have a credit card, you can use it to purchase some of the equipment you would need to run the business.
Bank and Credit Union Loans
Credit unions usually offer their members loans with very low interest rates. You can consider becoming a member of one or you can consider obtaining loans from your bank if you have a good credit standing with them.
Home Equity Financing
Another financing option you can consider is Home Equity Line of Credit Financing (HELOC), a program that allows you to obtain loans using your home as collateral.
For equipment like surveillance vehicles and other security gadgets, you can look towards equipment financing companies who would offer you credit facilities for that so that you can spread payments over a long period of time.
12. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
A lot of factors have to be considered before choosing a location for your business. Zoning law is top on the list because a lot of neighborhoods would not allow you to situate a security company around their neighborhood. So the first thing you should do is to check and ascertain that there are no such restrictions in your preferred location.
You would also need a location with a lot of space for conducting regular training and fitness exercises for your employees. A shooting range may also be necessary since your employees would be carrying arms and ammunition.
Proximity to potential clients is another important factor to consider because your employees may need to shuttle between your office and their duty posts so you must ensure that your office is not too far away from the central business district in your area.
13. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
The technical requirements for starting a private armed security guard business in the United States depend on the niche you choose. However, some basic things you would need for the business include:
- Office equipment
- Bullet Proof Vests
- High Visibility Clothing
- Defense Equipment like pepper sprays, batons and guns
- Digital Cameras
- Alarm Systems
- Surveillance Equipment
- Communication Gadgets such as two-way radios
- Mobile Phones
- Heavy Duty Security Belts
- NFC Tags
- Patrol Vehicles
- Guard Dogs
- First Aid Kits
As for manpower requirements, you would need:
- Licensed and Trained Security Guards
- Patrol Van and Surveillance Vehicle Drivers
- IT Personnel
- Front Desk Officials
- Dispatch Officers
- Human Resources Manager
- Trainers or Training Consultants
- Security Manager
- Legal Advisors
- First Aid Officials
You don’t necessarily have to hire too many officials for a start. You can start with 5 security guards and then as your business expands, you can begin to hire more people. You can also consider outsourcing some of the administrative and accounting services until you are able to afford to hire your own staff.
14. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
Marketing is the lifeblood of your security business but sometimes it is a challenge because unlike some other types of businesses, you cannot sit and wait for your customers to find you. You would have to go looking for your clients most of the time. Some effective marketing ideas that you can employ for the business include:
Hiring a Marketing Firm or Consultant
Most private security guard companies rely on the services of marketing experts for guidance on the most effective ways to market their businesses. A professional marketing company would cost you a lot of money but they have the experience that you need to catapult your business to the forefront especially in the initial stages of the business.
Direct Mailing and Cold Pitching
Through the aid of digital marketing, you can easily get details of clients who may be interested in your services and cold-pitch to them by sending introductory letters and regular correspondences about your business to them.
Social Media Marketing and Search Engine Optimization
Creating pages for your business on social media networks can also help you reach the millions of potential clients on social media. You can also consider paying for ads on social media especially on Facebook as it helps you target clients who fit into your specific demographics.
You would also need to create a search engine optimized website for your business so as to help more clients learn about your business and hire you easily.
Hire a Marketing Officer
A marketing officer can help you get clients for your business faster because they are able to go around meeting and speaking to potential clients, trying to understand what their needs are and then offer them the best price and package that would satisfy their needs.
Brand Your Business
You must make use of effective brand awareness strategies for your business. You would need to have a unique uniform for your employees as a nice looking uniform can endear clients to your business. You should also ensure that your business vehicles are branded and easy to set apart from the competition.
It also helps to be flexible and competitive with your prices to make them attractive to potential clients.
One major key to success in the private armed security services business is proper training of your employees. Your employees have to learn how to tone down the excesses, conduct themselves in the right manner at all times and pursue the best interests of their clients and the public at all times.
Having well-mannered and properly trained employees would give your business the right public image needed to position your business at the forefront in the industry.