Becoming a private investigator is without a doubt one of the most challenging and fulfilling careers out there. If you have a knack for finding things, if you have exceptional observation skills or you know how to hear and see what most people do not, then maybe you should think about turning those talents into a profitable business venture as a private investigator!
Starting your own private investigation business is much like starting any other business. For starters, you must have a passion for your line of work. Most people think that the availability of starting and operating capital makes or breaks a business. The truth is that the lack of passion is what makes or breaks a business. Once you are passionate about something, you will move Heaven and Earth to make it work. So, you must have a passion for investigation. After that comes the regular run of the mill requirements.
You need to get your licenses and permits
To operate as a private investigator, you require a license. Every state has its own fees and requirements. If you’re considering hiring or becoming a private investigator in Atlanta, Georgia, you will find this website very useful: http://www.eiionline.com/private-investigator-atlanta-georgia/. The average license costs about $500-$600 to obtain and a different figure to renew each year (about $350). It is imperative that you find out any other requirements imposed by your state. Like in many states, you will have to take a test or you may require an experience of three years in any investigative capacity to qualify for a license and you may also need insurance.
Once you have dispensed with all the legalities, what comes next is all about your business running skills. For starters, as a private investigator, you may not need an office because you will be mostly meeting your clients at their convenience. But as a professional outfit, it might be a good idea to have an address that you identify with. So getting an office isn’t as bad an idea as it might sound.
You will have to invest a little money in your start-up. As a private investigator, you will need to buy a few basic pieces of PI equipment. From cameras, tape recorders and a fast computer with an internet connection. As your business progresses, you will need to get more sophisticated and get more expensive and specialized equipment such as bug detection tools and so on. Part of the tools of trade involve specialized private investigator software that will help you run more specific searches on online. All these you will learn and acquire as the need arise.
Do your research
A lot of your time will be spent conducting research into your chosen field. The best advice is to look around you and see what your immediate community needs. Are you within a business district where industrial espionage is rife or are you within a suburban location where spousal infidelity rules the day? The kind of environment you will be operating in will tell you where the money is and what niche you should specialize in.
To help you with this step, it may be wise to check out your new competition and see what services they offer or promote. Remember, a service that’s promoted may indicate low natural demand. Take the time to think this step through and plan your services carefully.
Marketing your private investigation business
When it comes to marketing your business, it is going to take a continuous coordinated effort on your part. Since you are the core of the business, you will need to act as the key selling point. What this means is that you need to start carrying yourself as a professional. Everything you do and say will have to be deliberate. You will have to wow people with your observation skills at any given opportunity.
Apart from that, you will need to carry out actual marketing. This will involve:
Advertising online and getting your corporate website up and running. You can also join several online forums and have a heavy social media presence. You might not want to get too much of your face out there, because to some degree, you will have to operate incognito. You must, however, get your name out there. Be active online and offline. Make so that if people within your community think of private investigation, they think of you.
Network with other businesses. As a private investigator most of your business will come from referrals. You will need to network with the local businesses around. Businesses such as prestigious law firms, private company as well as individual clients who might need your services. Another wonderful idea would be to liaise with the local police. They are a good source of referral business.
You also need to prepare a simple pitch for private clients. Nothing fancy, just a quick rundown on why they should hire you and the kind of benefits (e.g. closure) you can bring to their lives.
It is good practice to keep very detailed records of all incurred expenses. Be they travel, lodging, mileage, meals and so on. All of this will tie up into the final invoice. Moreover, if they are not to be reimbursed by the client as per the agreement reached, then they will come in handy when it comes to your business tax returns.
Another valuable piece of advice is to avoid charging your clients a highly discounted price just to get their business. Most people who choose to hire PIs know that the hourly cost is going to be considerable. This is mostly due to the sensitivity involved in the whole business. But it is also wise to keep your range within a margin of error. If your competition is charging $200 an hour and the average PI within your immediate surrounding is charging the same, then it would be unwise to charge $500.
Word of advice
Although PI work may seem exceptionally engaging on TV, there are hardly ever any high speed car chases and Mexican standoffs involved. The typical PI assignment involves a great deal of research and stake-out work. That is not to say that it does get a little interesting sometimes. Especially if a cheating spouse discovers they are under surveillance, it could get a little dicey. Otherwise, being a private investigator has more to do with your power of observation and deduction than anything else.Read More