Should You Start A Portable Toilet Business? What You Need To Know

March 5, 2024
7 min read

The portable toilet industry is a robust service sector that can yield substantial profits if managed effectively. This industry provides essential services at outdoor events, construction sites, and other temporary locations where traditional restroom facilities are not available.

Starting a portable toilet business involves upfront costs, primarily acquiring portable toilets. However, this is just one aspect of your budgeting considerations. You'll also need to account for expenses like hiring delivery personnel and purchasing hand sanitizers, toilet paper, waste tanks, and cleaning supplies. 

Investing in comprehensive industry knowledge is essential, covering aspects such as securing financing, optimal staff training, identifying disposal sites, and preventing health hazards.

If you're looking for information on what it takes to run a successful portable toilet business and the potential challenges that come with it, read on. This article explores the profitability of a portable toilet business and provides a comprehensive guide to help you kickstart your venture.

Understanding the Market

The first step towards creating a successful business is understanding the market. You need to research and analyze the market in your area to determine if there is a demand for portable toilets.

Research & Analyze the Market

North America holds the largest market share of the global portable toilet industry (50.7%). This market is expected to see a 7.6% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2022 to 2032.

Aside from understanding your area's market share and growth prospects, you must also research and understand your target market. 

In North America, outdoor event organizers stand out as a key market segment because of the frequent public gatherings at outdoor concerts and exhibitions. Another significant market segment in this region is construction companies. This is because of their consistent demand for temporary restrooms and the strict regulations that contractors must adhere to.

Research the Average Rental Rate

To set competitive pricing for your portable toilets, it's crucial to research the average rental rates in your local area. Several factors influence these rates, including delivery distance, event duration, nature, and any extra services bundled with the portable toilets. 

By comparing rental rates in your vicinity, you can gauge the average and adjust your pricing accordingly.

Know Your Competitors

Another critical factor to consider is the competition in your area. Identify other portable toilet rental companies operating nearby and examine the services they provide along with their pricing. 

This information can help you differentiate your business by offering unique services or competitive pricing. 

When researching competitors, review their customer feedback. This will provide valuable insights into their strengths and areas where they could improve.

Determine the Optimal Number of Toilets

It is crucial to determine the ideal quantity of portable toilets required for various events or construction sites. This ensures you have enough inventory to meet demand without overstocking and incurring unnecessary expenses. 

By gathering this information, you gain a clearer understanding of demand patterns and the competition in your area.

What Do You Need to Start a Portable Toilet Business?

Once you understand the market and have a robust business plan, you can work on starting your portable toilet business. Here are essential items you'll need to kickstart your venture:

Business License & Permits

Before launching your business, you must get a business license and any necessary permits from your local government. These requirements may vary depending on your location. Research and fulfill all legal obligations. Some licenses and permits that your local government might require you to have include:

  • Business Registration Documents: Your local government will require the registration of your business along with obtaining specific licenses and permits. These typically include Articles of Incorporation and Planning Approval.
  • Insurance Policies: Get an all-round insurance policy to cover damages, your vehicles, and workers' compensation.
  • State or Provincial Registration: You'll be required to register for regional tax regimes for your porta potty business.
  • Federal Registration: Registration with federal authorities may be required.
  • Vehicle Registration: You'll also need to register the trucks and vehicles you'll use to transport your toilets with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This process will require you to provide documentation, such as proof of ownership and insurance information.


You must make a significant initial investment To ensure profitability in your portable toilet business. This investment encompasses various startup costs, including:

  • Purchase or lease of porta potties
  • Vehicle acquisition for porta potty transportation
  • Business and vehicle insurance premiums
  • Permit and license fees from local and state authorities
  • Advertising and marketing expenditures
  • Hiring and training of personnel costs
  • Cleaning and maintenance expenses for porta potties
  • Supplies procurement, including toilet paper and hand sanitizer

Considering these expenses and potential additional costs, you may require an initial capital investment of around $160,000 to start a successful venture. Wondering how to secure this capital? Here are several options to consider:

  • Savings: If you have personal savings, consider using them to fund your startup costs. This allows you to keep control over the business without having to deal with loans or investors.
  • Loans: You can apply for a business loan from a bank or credit union. However, these institutions will require a good credit score and collateral to secure the loan.
  • Crowdfunding: Another widely used approach for raising capital involves using crowdfunding platforms, where individuals can contribute small amounts of money towards your business for rewards or equity.
  • Investors: You can also pitch your business idea to potential investors, such as angel investors or venture capitalists. These investors will most likely want a stake in your business and may have a say in decision-making.
  • Provincial & Local Government Grants: Local governments offer these grants to support entrepreneurs who address local needs, focusing on job creation and fostering local innovation. There are various small business grants available to support entrepreneurs in starting their businesses.


An important detail that many people overlook when starting a porta potty business is the need for storage space. Clients may use portable toilets for varying lengths of time, and you might receive multiple inquiries from potential clients even before the current ones are finished. 

However, there could also be periods when no clients require your porta potty rental services for several days. This is where having storage becomes essential.

Renting a storage unit or warehouse space simplifies storing your equipment and portable toilets. Storing your toilets can have its advantages, as it provides the opportunity to rebrand and maintain them when needed.

Portable Toilets

When purchasing portable toilets, you'll notice that there are different types available in the market. These include:

  • Standard Single-Stall Units: The most common and basic types of portable toilets, they come equipped with a toilet seat, toilet paper dispenser, and a hand sanitizer dispenser.
  • Deluxe or VIP Units: These units offer more space compared to standard ones and may include amenities such as flushing toilets, sinks, and mirrors. They often feature upgraded interior designs and lighting.
  • Wheelchair-Accessible Units: Specifically designed to accommodate individuals with disabilities, these units have a wider entrance and interior space to allow for wheelchair access.
  • Trailer Units: Larger portable toilets mounted on trailers, they can be transported to different locations. Often equipped with multiple stalls, they are suitable for events or construction sites with high foot traffic.

Given the diverse requirements of your potential clients, it's crucial to consider investing in a variety of porta potty units to cater to every need. Having an array of options ensures you're prepared to provide the right solution for every job.


You must have a reliable team to help you with the delivery, setup, and maintenance of your portable toilets. This staff may include drivers, technicians, customer service representatives, and cleaners.


Investing in vehicles to transport your porta potties to different locations is essential. These vehicles may include vans, haulage vehicles, or trucks, depending on the size and number of units you have. Regular maintenance of these vehicles is crucial to ensure they remain in good working condition and can handle the weight of transporting portable toilets.

Waste Disposal Site

Portable toilet businesses dispose of waste in a municipal or private sewer system, which then undergoes treatment at a plant. Familiarize yourself with the local laws and regulations regarding waste to ensure compliance and safeguard public health.

You'll need to secure a waste disposal site, likely requiring a permit. Ensure you research various disposal sites in your local area and compare their disposal fees. Also, consider each site's operational hours and capacity to ensure it fits your business logistics and budget.

Before choosing a site, consider its proximity to your operational area. The closer the site, the less time and money you'll spend on transportation. If your routes are extensive, waste management software might help with routing optimization, offering efficiency.

Choosing a Business Structure

Selecting a business structure is a crucial decision that affects various aspects of your operation. This decision affects your income taxes, your ability to secure financing, your method of paying yourself, and your eligibility for specific types of insurance.

Each business structure comes with its distinct advantages and responsibilities. Let's explore different business structures and their associated liabilities and tax implications.

Sole Proprietorship

As a sole proprietorship, it's the simplest structure for a small business, offering complete control over finances and operations. However, there's no legal separation between you and your business, potentially putting personal assets at risk in case of legal or financial issues. 

All business profits and losses are reported on personal income tax returns, potentially limiting financing options and tax deductions.


A partnership involves two or more individuals running a business together, with two types: general and limited. In a general partnership, all partners share equal responsibility for operations and debts, exposing each to liability. 

Limited partnerships provide liability protection based on individual investment but involve more formalities. Partnerships, like sole proprietorships, are pass-through entities for tax, with profits and losses reported on individual tax returns.


A corporation is a separate legal entity, providing maximum protection for personal assets and limited liability for shareholders. However, forming one involves extensive paperwork and compliance with state laws.

Corporations face double taxation, but they offer advantages like easier funding access through stock sales and potential tax deductions for specific expenses.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

An LLC combines the limited liability protection of a corporation with the flexibility and tax benefits of a partnership.

LLCs are relatively easy and inexpensive to set up compared to corporations, require less paperwork, and offer pass-through taxation like partnerships.

However, LLCs can only have limited owners (known as members) and may face more scrutiny from the IRS for taxes.

In addition, some states impose higher fees and taxes for LLCs than other business structures.

How Profitable is a Portable Toilet Business?

Renting out portable toilets can be a fruitful venture, with potential annual earnings ranging from $50,000 to $100,000. However, it's important to note that income can fluctuate based on factors such as location, demand, and business acumen.

Like any other business, success in the porta-potty rental business hinges on strategic planning, outstanding customer service, and adapting to market needs.

Investing in areas with high demand but limited suppliers will increase your profitability as will offering additional services like hand-washing stations to attract higher-paying customers.

The Pros & Cons of Starting a Portable Toilet Business

Starting a portable toilet business has its pros and cons. Here is a breakdown of some of the major factors to consider:


  • Low startup costs compared to other businesses
  • High potential for profits in areas with high demand and limited competition
  • Flexible work schedule and low maintenance required for equipment
  • Potential tax deductions for business expenses


  • Fluctuating income based on location, seasonality, and market demand
  • Possibility of facing strict regulations and permits in certain areas
  • Physical labor is required for cleaning and maintaining equipment
  • Potential for liability in case of accidents or unsatisfied customers

Final Thoughts

Starting a portable toilet business can be a profitable venture with low overhead costs and the potential for substantial earnings. However, before venturing into this industry, it's essential to conduct thorough market research and understand the potential challenges that lie ahead.

When seeking financing for your portable toilet venture, it's crucial to consider repayment terms and interest rates carefully. Take advantage of any government grants for which you may be eligible to assist with initial investments in equipment and supplies.

To remain competitive and adapt to growing market needs, continuously enhance your services. One effective strategy is to invest in portable toilet software, which can simplify your operations significantly.

Explore our Basestation cloud-based platform, specifically designed for portable toilet businesses. This software streamlines scheduling, invoicing, and management tasks, ultimately saving you time and enhancing customer satisfaction. Book a demo today!