Do you want to start a trade show booth? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a trade show equipment business with NO money and no experience. There are several business opportunities an aspiring entrepreneur who is still keeping a paid employment can run without leaving their jobs and one of such opportunities is a trade show booth and equipment rental business.

One good thing about trade show booth and equipment rental is that most often than not, trade shows booth and equipment rentals can be carried out without your presence and if you are lucky not to be working during weekends, you can successfully run this business.

Trade show booth and equipment rental business is all about renting out trade show booths and other relevant equipment that are used by corporate organizations, government, groups and individuals who want to organize or participate in a trade show.

A trade show display is a graphic display device designed to be used at a trade fair or trade show. These may include table top displays, banner stands, pop up displays, flat panels display, and other paraphernalia used to fill a temporary stall or booth at a trade fair or convention.

Depending on the scale you want to start, the startup capital for this type of business can be considered to be moderate. As a matter of fact, you can start your own trade show booth and equipment rental business and then grow it big within a short period of time by re-investing your profits back to the business.

Before launching this type of business, it will pay you carry out your due diligence as it relates to market research, economic and cost analysis and of course feasibility studies. If you get things right before launching your trade show booth and equipment rental business, it will not take you long before you break even and start smiling to the bank.

Before launching your booth and equipment rental business, ensure that you read this article and you will be well equipped. You can start your trade show booth and equipment rental business from a small town in the United States and if you are consistent and creative, it won’t be too long before your brand becomes a nationally recognized brand.

17 Steps to Starting a Trade Show Booth & Equipment Business

1. Understand the Industry

Trade show booth and equipment rental can either be classified under the equipment rental industry or the Trade Show and Conference Planning industry and Trade show and conference planners organize, promote and manage events, such as business and trade shows, conventions, conferences and meetings. They may also provide staff to operate the facilities in which these events take place.

If you are a close observer of this industry, you will agree that after a period of slow growth and diminished corporate spending plagued industry operators, trade show and event planners will experience improved conditions over the next five years. With domestic travel increasing and corporate profit returning, more individuals will attend trade shows and conventions again. However, the rise of online events may limit future growth.

The Trade Show and Conference Planning Industry is indeed a large and vibrant industry not only in the united states of America and but also in most developed countries of the world. Statistics has it that the Trade Show and Conference Planning industry in the United States of America is worth about $14 billion, with an estimated growth rate of 1.6 percent between 2012 and 2017.

There are about 4,938 registered and licensed trade show conference planning firms in the United States and they are responsible for employing about 84,001 people. In the United States, The Freeman Companies and Viad Corporation can boast of having the lion market share in the industry. The industry is still very much open for competition from aspiring investors who would want to launch their own trade show booth and equipment business.

According to report recently published by IBISWORLD, the Trade Show and Conference Planning industry is in the mature phase of its life cycle. Although many cities have heavily invested in convention centers over the past decade, the industry is expected to grow slower than the overall economy in the 10 years to 2022.

IBISWorld estimates that the industry’s contribution to the overall economy, measured by industry value added (IVA), will increase at an annualized rate of 3.1 percent, which is slightly above annualized GDP growth of 2.0 percent over the same period. While a higher IVA rate is normally indicative of an industry in its growth phase, the Trade Show and Conference Planning industry has recently experienced a period of consolidation.

The Trade Show and Conference Planning Industry cannot be said to be oversaturated despite the fact that the entry bar for starting the business is moderate especially if you are only into trade show booth and equipment rental. The truth is that if you are creative and hardworking, you can successfully create your own steady market. It is safe to say the industry is still growing especially with the advent of new social media platforms.

Some of the factors that encourage entrepreneurs to start their own trade show booth and equipment rental business could be that the business is easy to set up, the startup capital is indeed affordable and the running cost can be put at the minimum level; you can actually start your own trade show booth and equipment rental business from the comfort of your home. All you need to do is to create an office somewhere in your house and ensure that you have where to display your trade show booths and equipment put up for rental.

2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

The demographic and psychographic composition of those who require the services of trade show booths and equipment rental companies cut across individuals, corporate organizations, investors and business owners cum entrepreneurs who want to participate in a trade shows or those who are organizing trade shows and business expos et al.

So, if you are looking towards defining the demographics for your trade show booth and equipment rental business, then you should make it all encompassing. It should include corporate organizations, manufacturers, banks, investors, accredited Investors, blue chip companies, businessmen and businesswomen, startups, and entrepreneurs within and outside the city you are operating in who have the capacity to rent your booths and equipment.

3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On

It is important to state that the trade show booth and equipment rental business is a subset of the equipment rental business and in some cases, the trade show and conference planning industry.

The Level of Competition in the Industry

No matter the line of business you decide to pitch your tent in, you are still going to compete with others who are into same area of business and trade show booth and equipment rental business is not an exemption. The level of competition in the trade show booth and equipment rental line of business depends largely on the quality and number of booths and equipment you have for rental.

The truth is that no matter the level of competition in an industry, if you have done your due diligence and you brand and promote your products or business properly, you will always make headway in the industry. Just ensure that you have standard and user – friendly trade show boot and other relevant equipment and you know how to attract and reach out to your target market.

But over and above, there are several trade show booth and equipment rental businesses scattered all around the United States and even in the same location where you intend starting yours. So, if you choose to start your own business in the United States, you will definitely meet stiffer competitions amongst other related businesses. Besides, there are larger trade show booths and equipment rental brands that determine the trends in the industry and you should be ready to compete with them for customers.

4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry

In every industry, there are always brands that perform better or are better regarded by customers and the general public than others. Some of these brands are those that have been in the industry for a long time, while others are best known for how they conduct their businesses and the results they have achieved over the years.

These are some of the leading trade show booth and equipment rental brands in the United States of America and also in the globe;

  • Absolute Exhibits, Inc.
  • Exponents Insta USA Inc.
  • Trade Show Supply
  • Expo Services & Products Inc
  • Exhibit Fair International Inc
  • Tradeshow Booths Group
  • Rental Exhibit Source
  • 2021 Exhibits
  • ExpoMarketing Group, LLC
  • Trade Show Emporium
  • American Image Displays
  • Trade Show Display Depot
  • Monster Displays
  • Skyline Displays of Orange County
  • The Xzibit Group
  • Skyline Exhibits
  • TradeShowPlus Inc
  • The TradeShow Display Store, Inc.
  • Nimlok Kentucky
Economic Analysis

If you are looking towards successfully launching a business and maximizing profits, then you need to ensure that you get your economic and cost analysis right and try as much as possible to adopt best practices in the industry you choose to build a business in.

Trade show booth and equipment rental business is no longer considered to be a Green business as you will come across several trade show booth and equipment rental stores when you go sourcing for one or when you search through online and offline directories.

So, if you are mapping out your economic analysis, you should carry out thorough market survey and costing of what is required to rent a store/warehouse facility and the amount needed to purchase trade show booths and related equipment and also the cost to successfully run the business.

If you are considering starting a trade show booth and equipment rental business, then your concern should not be limited to the cost of renting trade show booths and related trade show equipment, but also on branding and on how to build a robust clientele base. The truth is that if you are able to build a robust clientele base, you are sure going to maximize profits in the business.

5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch

If you are looking towards starting a trade show booth and equipment rental business, you would have to start from the very scratch because you can hardly get the franchise of a trade show booth and equipment rental business to buy, if you do, it will be way too expensive.

Besides, starting such business from the scratch is less stressful when compared to other small scale businesses. With a trade show booth and equipment rental business, you should just try as much as possible to secure a warehouse facility that is close to a major road, purchase the needed trade show booths and relevant equipment and then leverage on every marketing tool within your disposal especially the internet to market your business.

Please note that most of the big and successful trade show booth and equipment rental business around started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand. It takes dedication, hard work and determination to achieve business success and of course you can build your own trade show booth and equipment rental business brand to become a successful brand with corporate and individual customers in your city.

6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face

If you decide to start your own trade show booth and equipment rental business today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well – established trade show booths and equipment rental stores and any other businesses that offer similar services. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market.

Some other challenges and threats that you are likely going to face is economic downturn and unfavorable government policies. There is nothing you can do as regards these threats and challenges other than to stay positive that things will work well for you.

7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)

When considering starting a trade show booth and equipment rental business, the legal entity you choose will go a long way to determine how big the business can grow.

Generally, you have the option of either choosing a general partnership, limited liability company, or a sole proprietorship for trade show booth and equipment rental store. Ordinarily, sole proprietorship should have been the ideal business structure for a small – scale trade show booth and equipment rental business especially if you are just starting out with a moderate startup capital in a small neighborhood.

But if your intention is to grow the business and have chains of trade show booths and equipment rental stores across the United States of America and working with corporate organizations and multi-nationals, then choosing sole proprietorship is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company, LLC or even general partnership will cut it for you.

Setting up an LLC protects you from personal liability. If anything goes wrong in the business, it is only the money that you invested into the limited liability company that will be at risk. It is not so for sole proprietorships and general partnerships. Limited liability companies are simpler and more flexible to operate and you don’t need a board of directors, shareholders meetings and other managerial formalities.

These are some of the factors you should consider before choosing a legal entity for your trade show booth and equipment rental business; limitation of personal liability, ease of transferability, admission of new owners and investors’ expectation and of course taxes.

If you take your time to critically study the various legal entities to use for your trade show booth and equipment rental business with the ability to sell franchise and open chains of trade show booth and equipment rental stores all across the United States of America, you will agree that limited liability company; an LLC is most suitable. You can start this type of business as limited liability company (LLC) and in future convert it to a ‘C’ corporation or an ‘S’ corporation especially when you have the plans of going public.

Upgrading to a ‘C’ corporation or ‘S’ corporation will give you the opportunity to grow your trade show booth and equipment rental business so as to compete with major players in the industry; you will be able to generate capital from venture capital firms, you will enjoy separate tax structure, and you can easily transfer ownership of the company.

8. Choose a Catchy Business Name

When it comes to Choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. If you are considering starting your own trade show booth and equipment rental business, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;

  • Premium View® Trade Show Booth & Equipment Rental Services, Inc.
  • Vision Extra™ Trade Show Booth & Equipment Rental Services, LLC
  • Trans World™ Trade Show Booth & Equipment Rental Services, Inc.
  • Broadway® Trade Show Booth & Equipment Rental Services, LLC
  • TDK Group® Trade Show Booth & Equipment Rental Services, Inc.
  • J Linux® Trade Show Booth & Equipment Rental Services, Inc.
  • Real Media© Trade Show Booth & Equipment Rental Services, Inc.
  • The Organizer™ Trade Show Booth & Equipment Rental Services, LLC
  • Hedgers™ Trade Show Booth & Equipment Rental Services, Inc.
  • Show Screen® Trade Show Booth & Equipment Rental Services, Inc.

9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You

In the United States and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policy covers that are required by the industry you want to operate from. So, it is important to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your trade show booth and equipment rental business.

Here are some of the basic insurance covers that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own trade show booth and equipment rental business in the United States of America;

  • General insurance
  • Health insurance
  • Liability insurance
  • Workers Compensation
  • Overhead expense disability insurance
  • Business owner’s policy group insurance
  • Payment protection insurance

10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents

If you are considering starting your own trade show booth and equipment rental business, usually you may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection/trademark. This is so because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successfully run it without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.

But if you just want to protect your company’s logo and other documents or software that are unique to you or even jingles and media production concepts, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection. If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO.

11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification

When it comes to trade show booth and equipment rental business, you do not need to have any formal training or special certification before you can be allowed to start a trade show booth and equipment rental business. All you need is informal training that will expose you to the in and out of booth and equipment rental business.

On the other hand, if you come across any form of certification that can aid you to effectively manage and grow your trade show booth and equipment rental business, then by all means try and pursue such certification.

12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate

The essence of having the necessary documentation in place before launching a business in the United States of America cannot be overemphasized. It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in the United States without the proper documentations. If you do, it won’t be too long before the long hand of the law catchup with you.

These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own trade show booth and equipment rental business in the United States of America;

  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Business License
  • Tax Payer’s ID/Tax Identification Number
  • Business Plan
  • Copy of license for the warehouse facility and/or a recent inspection report
  • Employee Handbook
  • Employment Agreement (offer letters)
  • Operating Agreement for LLCs
  • Insurance Policy
  • Contract Documents
  • Online Terms of Use
  • Online Privacy Policy Document (for online payment portal)
  • Company Bylaws
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
  • Building License 

13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital

Starting a trade show booth and equipment rental business can be cost effective especially if you choose to start on a small scale. Securing a standard and well – positioned warehouse facility, purchasing trade show booths and other related trade show display and equipment are part of what will consume a large chunk of your startup capital, but if you choose to start the business on a large scale, you would need to go source for fund to finance the business because it is expensive to start a standard large scale trade show booth and equipment rental business with the capacity to supply blue chips and multi – nationals with the required trade show booths and related equipment.

When it comes to financing a business, one of the major factors that you should consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business.

Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for startup capital for your trade show booth and equipment rental business;

14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business

When it comes to choosing a location for your trade show booth and equipment rental business, be guided by the demand for trade show booths and related equipment. Of course, if you are able to secure a central location for your trade show booth and equipment rental store, it will give people easy access to locate your store.

It cannot be overemphasized that the location you chose to open your trade show booth and equipment rental business is key to the success of the business, hence entrepreneurs are willing to rent or lease a facility in a visible location; a location where the demography consists of people and organizations with the required purchasing power and business exposure.

Most importantly, before choosing a location for your trade show booth and equipment rental store, ensure that you first conduct a thorough feasibility studies and market survey. The possibility of you coming across similar business that just closed shop in the location you want to open yours can’t be ruled out.

These are some of the key factors that you should consider before choosing a location for your trade show booth and equipment rental store;

  • The demography of the location
  • The demand for trade show booth and equipment rental in the location
  • The frequency at which trade shows, and business expos/fairs are done in the location
  • Accessibility of the location
  • The number of trade show booth and equipment rental businesses and any other related business in the location
  • The local laws and regulations in the community
  • Traffic, parking and security

15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs

On the average, there is no special technology or equipment needed to run this type of business except for Point of Sales (POS) Machines, shelves, and software applications. You will also need computers/laptops, internet facility, telephone, fax machine and office furniture amongst others and all these can be gotten as fairly used.

As regards leasing or outright purchase of a warehouse facility, the choice is dependent on your financial standing, but the truth is that to be on the safe side, it is advisable to start off with a short – term rent/lease while test running the business in the location. If things work out as planned, then you go on a long – term lease or outright purchase of the property but if not, then move on and source for other ideal location/facility for such business.

When it comes to hiring employees for a standard trade show booth and equipment rental business, you should make plans to hire a competent Chief Executive Officer (you can occupy this role), Warehouse Manager/Admin and Human Resources Manager, Rental Manager, Sales and Marketing Officer, Accounting Clerk, Technicians/Operators and Truck Drivers. On the average, you will need a minimum of 3 to 6 key staff members to run a small – scale but standard trade show booth and equipment rental business.

The Service Delivery Process of the Business

When it comes to the business services process of a trade show booth and equipment rental business, the process is simple and straightforward and can be run on autopilot.

Generally, a trade show booth and equipment rental company lists out the types and capacities of the trade show booths and related equipment that they have for rent. When a trade show organizer or customer approaches them, they agree on the prices of the trade show booths and equipment to be rented, payment is made, and deposit is also made.

The deposit is compulsory because it is used to replace any damaged equipment. In most cases, once the payment and deposit are done, the trade show booth and equipment rental company use their truck to convey the booths and equipment to the venue of the trade show or business expo, and also install and arrange the booths and equipment. After the trade event, the Rental Company will convey the booths and equipment back to their warehouse.

It is important to state that a trade show booth and equipment rental store may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them efficiency and flexibility; the above stated trade show booth and equipment rental business process is not cast on stone.

16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies

Running a business requires that you should be proactive when it comes to marketing your goods or services. If you choose to launch a trade show booth and equipment rental business, then you must go all out to employ strategies that will help you attract customers or else you will likely struggle with the business because there are well – known brands that determine the market direction for the trade show booth and equipment rental line of business

As a matter of fact, your marketing strategy will center on swift delivery and installation, quality, pricing, and above all excellent customer service. You should ensure that whenever your customers rent trade show booths and equipment from you, they will get quality equipment and excellent service. The truth is that if you are able to put the above stated in place, you won’t struggle to retain your old customers and at the same time win over new customers.

Businesses these days are aware of the power of the internet and which is why they will do all they can to maximize the internet to market their services or products. In other words, a larger percentage of your marketing effort will be directed to internet users.

These are some of the marketing ideas and strategies that you can adopt for your trade show booth and equipment rental business;

  • Introduce your trade show booth and equipment rental store by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to corporate organizations, manufacturers, banks, investors, accredited Investors, blue chip companies, businessmen and businesswomen, startups, and entrepreneurs in and around the city where your trade show booth and equipment rental store will be located
  • Advertise on the internet on blogs and forums, and also on social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn to get your message across
  • Create a basic website for your business so as to give your business an online presence
  • Directly market your products
  • Join local party supply rental associations for industry trends and tips
  • Provide discount days for your customers
  • Advertise your business in community based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
  • List your business on yellow pages ads (local directories)
  • Encourage the use of Word of mouth marketing (referrals)

17. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity

If you are in business and you are not conscious about boosting you brand awareness and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portrays your business to be. One of the secrets of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend fortunes to boost their brand and communicate their corporate identity the way they want people to perceive them.

If your intention of starting a trade show booth and equipment rental business is to grow the business beyond the city where you are going to be operating from to become a national and international brand by opening chains of trade show booth and equipment rental stores and franchising, then you must be ready to spend money on promotion and advertisement of your brand.

No matter the industry you belong to, the truth is that the market is a dynamic and it requires consistent brand awareness and boosting cum promotion to continue to appeal to your target market. Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand awareness and create corporate identity for your trade show booth and equipment rental store;

  • Place adverts on both print (newspapers and events and business magazines) and electronic media platforms
  • Sponsor relevant community based events
  • Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + et al to promote your trade show booth and equipment rental business
  • Install your billboards in strategic locations all around your city or state
  • Engage in roadshows from time to time in targeted neighborhoods to create awareness of your trade show booth and equipment rental store
  • Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
  • List your trade show booth and equipment rental business in local directories/yellow pages
  • Advertise your trade show booth and equipment rental store in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site
  • Position your Flexi Banners at strategic positions in the location where your trade show booth and equipment rental store is located
  • Ensure that all your staff members wear your branded shirts and all your vehicles and trucks/vans are well branded with your company logo
Joy Nwokoro