The number of small businesses in California has grown. According to business-strategy company Oberlo, the roster of small businesses in the United States reached 33.2 million this year, a 2.2% increase from last year and more than a 12% increase over the past five years.
But some of those entrepreneurs have decided to step away from traditional brick-and-mortar shops to put their companies on wheels.
Take, for example, Eddie Bustos, who owns Encino-based Premier Studio Mobile Barbershop. Prior to opening his barbershop on wheels, Bustos opened a physical shop with a business partner, which he eventually had to leave. He then worked in a friend’s shop but missed running his own business. So, in 2019, Bustos took to the road.
“It was kind of a survival move for me … I went from being my own boss to working for someone and was far from where I used to work, so I lost all my clients,” Bustos said. “That’s when the idea came up. What if I go mobile and then there’s no excuse of me being far because I can go to them; I can be in any location I want.”
Bustos said he can’t imagine having a brick-and-mortar location again.
“It’s more than just a haircut; I sell people their time back,” he explained. “I show them that instead of
wasting 30 minutes driving to the barbershop, 30 minutes waiting, I give them something that’s more priceless to them.”
Bustos said his biggest challenge in running a mobile business is finding clients. The same is true with Axel Maderos, who started his own car detailing business in 2008.
Maderos had worked eight years at a car wash for very little money. So, he started south L.A.-based Axel’s Mobile Car Wash by purchasing a 1987 BMW stocked with a small air compressor, vacuum, soap and rags. He recalled knocking on people’s doors and asking them if he could wash their cars, but that method did not garner many customers.
“I got depressed for a couple of months because I would knock on doors and get rejected a lot,” Maderos said. “The bills would come around again, and I was responsible for those. Regardless, I kept going.”
With time, the people who gave Maderos a chance recommended him to their friends, family and co-workers. By 2012, he was able to upgrade his car and his cleaning materials.
Maderos said he gets to spend more time with his customers and pay more attention to the quality of his service running his own company instead of working at a car wash.
“A customer is happy because they can be in their office or in their home continuing with what they need to do, and meanwhile I come, wash their car, and all they have to do is come out for their keys,” Maderos said. “Mobile is 100% better than a physical location because the customer saves time and I have the ability to do better work.”
Another mobile entrepreneur is Jessica Bishop. She founded Santa Monica-based Jessica Bishop Yoga after three stressful years as a high school teacher. Bishop looked to yoga to relieve that stress and decided to combine her passion for teaching and yoga into one. She temporarily worked in a studio, where she would lead group sessions, but said the hectic schedule was too much. She decided that she was ready to be her own boss.
Now, Bishop teaches one-on-one sessions either through Zoom or at her clients’ homes, traveling often to the San Fernando Valley. The highlights for her are that now she has the ability to work her own schedule and set her own prices.