A few things that are just straight up not true and far too generalized, like "X is never a good idea", or "you will not make money for X years"
Just please, if you're reading this, remember, your situation is different from anyone else's, so do not take anything you read here as gospel.
If you're in a city of a million plus people, your situation will be VERY different from those in a smaller rural area.
If you're opening a $1m+ indoor recreation facility that caters to joe-public, with the same kind of standards and facilities as a bowling alley, cinema or indoor karting centre, your situation will be VERY different from someone opening a woodsball field on their own land for a small community of teams to play on.
So look at YOUR situation. Sure, take advice from other people, but none of it is cold hard truth. It's simply things you need to consider.
On the insurance front:
- it's not stupidly expensive, and it's not optional. A $5m liability policy for $8k/year will protect you against almost anything (as if you do get sued, the insurance company will defend you in court and if you/they loose, they'll pay the damages awarded)
- the only way to learn about costs of insurance in your area/country are to call insurance companies/brokers. Do it. Don't listen to kids on the internet about this stuff. My situation is different from yours. Get a quote, it takes no time at all and then you'll know for sure.
- waivers are a took for YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY to use in court. As long as you do exactly what they tell you to do with them (eg, use them all the time), you can stop worrying about the 'validity' of them; not your problem
- a corporation will not protect you from **** if you're an owner/operator as you have a personal hand in everything that happens at your field. If you are a totally hands-off owner (you never work there, didn't design it, etc), then sure, it helps, but very few people are.
- our insurance company has no requirements for netting or anything like that. Yours may be different, but the only people that can tell you that is YOUR insurance company. Again, don't listen to some kids on the internet for such important stuff when there's no way they can know about your specific situation
On the making money front:
- you can.
- your business model (as above with the rec centre vs woodland) and market will dictate how much and when
- but you can also not. Not because paintball is fundamentally un-profitable, but because you ran a poorly run business
On the spending money front:
- it will cost more than you think, but not double
- most costs are easy to anticipate, but getting hard numbers will take a heck of a lot more than just Google'ing stuff. You need to get on the phone with suppliers. You need to fill in dealer applications. You need to meet people, shake their hands, etc. If you don't, you're doing it wrong
Also: Zoning is the devil. In any major city (500,000+), it will **** your **** up and making finding a space hard. Smaller cities are more flexible as Larry said. Also, the US is hurting pretty bad right now so they're desperate for taxation income. Here in the Great White North, life is good, so they will drag their feet on stuff because they don't have to not.
Don't forget though, zoning is just the first of (probably) 4 interactions with the City. Zoning says what areas you can run your business. A development permit allows you to actually do it. A building permit allows you to build or modify stuff. A final inspection checks everything at the end. The terminology will be different in your area, but the concepts are the same.
To the guy a few pages back who said (in his example) you'll only make $200 in sales in the first month (or $1000 in month 3 and 4). Oh. My. God. We made that in our first minute being open. If that really happens, or you think it will, stop. You're not running a business, that's a hobby.
Hope that helps some people. PM with questions if you'd like.