Shore-based Business

3 March 2011 By Marne MacPhee

If the possibilityof leaving the yachting world has ever crossed your mind, you might entertainthe idea of creating a land-based business while still working on boardvessels. Depending on whether you are aninternational resident looking to start a business in the U.S. or an Americancitizen, there are two ways to get started.

If you aren't an Americancitizen, you will have to go through a process to acquire an E-2 Investor Visa,which allows an individual to enter and work inside of the United States based on an investment s/he will be controlling whileliving in the United States. This visa must be renewed every other year andthe investor must contribute to the U.S. economy.

Dirk de Cuyper, from Belgium andBritish citizen Allison Morgan of Eten FoodCompany found the path to an E-2 twisty and cumbersome at times. Morgan and de Cuyper needed an E-2 Investor Visa in order to start their gourmet food storeand catering kitchen in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Investor visas are available onlyto treaty nations; de Cuyper, a chef, and Morgan, a former purser/chief stew, wentthrough the U.S. Embassy in Belgium. The pair had to show they would hire U.S.citizens and follow their business plan. They officially began by seeing a lawyerin November of 2008 and received their visas in December 2009.

Starting a business as an Americancitizen is quite different and is not as complex as applying for an E-2 Visa. Thereare fairly basic guidelines to follow: get an Employer IdentificationNumber (EIN), register for state taxes (if applicable), obtain businesslicenses and apply for permits.

Regardless of your nationality, general principles to starting yourown business apply to everyone.

Research and plan your business. An Internet cafe would be the perfect spot tostart the research process. Also, use the resources you have sitting right in front of you. In the yachting industry, you cross paths with manydifferent types of business owners who may be willing to offer their advice if you ask.

Seek business advice: Morgan of Eten found support with a small group of ex-yachties whoall started businesses in Fort Lauderdale. They still meet the firstFriday of every month to exchange stories and advice.

Select a location: Aaron Byers, a former mate, started his own mobile taco bar, NachoBizness. He researched zoning grids in the Fort Lauderdale area and noticed that theMaritime Professional Training building fell within his compliance zone. Heapproached the company with a business plan to work out of their parking lot. His truck now feeds not only students at the training facility, but also many industry professionals and locals who flock to his truck for delicious, fresh food.

Finance your business: Many ex-yachties saved up for about a year before they got off the boatto start their ventures. However, ex-deckhand Whitney Tillinghast and ex-chief stewKaren Tillinghast of ProStock Marine, Inc. had the goodfortune of working for a very generous yacht owner. The owner helped get their fenderbusiness off the ground and funded it for nearly three years before Whitney andKaren took it over.

Select a business name: Erin Bass and Michael Mandich of M/YLaundry came up with their businessname when coming back from a dive excursion at sunset. Karen and Brian Goebelcombined the first initials of their names and KB Yachts Mobile Shrink WrapCompany was born.

So, whether you are tired ofworking for someone else or you are feeling the need to settle down to startsome roots, you unknowingly have been training towards being your own boss thiswhole time. "Working on a private yacht gives you a huge capacity forrunning your own business. It's hard work! However, it is worth every minute of it because it is yours,” saysMorgan of Eten.

There’s no time like the present.Whether you begin a company to make some extra cash while you’re still workingon boats or you’re grooming yourself for a jump to a land-based life in thefuture, starting a shore-based business may not be as difficult as one mightthink.