So you want to start your own handmade (or other small) business!? I think thats awesome!
Its such a great way to put your talents to use, while having fun making a little extra money, and (if you want) eventually quitting your day job and having a more freedom while working for yourself!
I am definitely no professional at starting your own business, BUT I have started a couple pretty successful businesses that let me stay home with my family, and I have also helped some friends get theirs started as well. I figured this would be a great place to put some tips in one spot, to hopefully help others get started (or at least start brainstorming), too! 🙂
*I’d highly suggest doing more research on your own, and hire out for the important things (taxes, design, trademarks, copyrights, etc.) – but this should help get the wheels turning.
Business Name – First things first, you need a great business name!
Ideally you want something that customers can identify with your products, and that gives customers the feeling you are trying to represent (whimsical, professional, bold, etc). I’d also HIGHLY suggest doing plenty of searches for your business name on-line, to make sure someone else is not already using it or using that web domain, or using it for usernames on social media (or something really similar).
Logo / Brand – Once you have your business name, you will want to start thinking about the look, or brand, that you want for your business.
Again, what type of feel do you want your business to give people? Should your brand have strong bold fonts and colors, or soft pastels and pretty delicate fonts? Whatever you decide best represents you and your products, make sure you stay consistent – otherwise it just won’t look professional.
The look you decide on (colors, fonts, logo, tagline, etc.) should be consistent through all of your web, social media, print, and any other presence you put out there to the world. Unless you are a professional graphic designer, this is probably something you will want to outsource to one. You can also find some premade logos on Etsy to get you started, but I’d highly suggest doing this right the first time so you don’t have to go back and rebrand when you realize it looks a litttllleee thrown together 😉
Social Media – Once you have your business name established, go on all of the big social media pages and set up accounts in your business name (separate from your personal accounts)!
Instagram, Facebook (business pages), Twitter, Tumbler, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc. Seriously, ALL of them. Even if you don’t think your business will use Pinterest or Tumbler, get the usernames with your business name set up. Just like you searched to see if your business name was taken on these, others may do the same, and you don’t want to miss the chance at having your accounts reserved in your name. Most importantly, you want customers to be able to find you ANYWHERE they might be looking for you, and social media is a big resource for shoppers to find your products. And again, make sure these pages stay consistent with your brand (same logo, tagline, and website listed on all of them so its easily recognizable as your business).
Etsy / Online Shop – Set up a online storefront for people to shop!
I have used Etsy for my handmade business since I started, and have been really happy with it. There are other options out there, so do your research to see what makes the most since for you and your business, as fees and commissions will be different.
Etsy is a big name in the business, and I love that new customers can go on Etsy to search and find my products, and they have a great community. I also sell in-person at craft events, and they offer a Etsy card reader for in-person sales, which keeps all of my sales info right on my Etsy back end, and keeping things simple and in one place is always a good thing in my book.
If you do decide to go with Etsy, be sure to use THIS LINK to get 40 free listings when setting up your shop! 🙂
Domain & Website – Be sure to purchase your business domain
Once you have your business name, you also want to claim your domain. Even if you don’t plan to set up an actual website (besides the Etsy, or other on-line store front), you will want to make sure you claim your name at “yourbusinessname”.com (not .net, or something else, but definitely .com, other options might confuse customers looking for your website). Once you purchase your domain, you can eventually set up a website or blog with it, or redirect it to your on-line storefront.
I personally use GoDaddy.com, but there are others to choose from as well.
Email – Once you purchase your domain, you can set it up with Gmail/Google to get a professional looking business e-mail address using your domain name (for example, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Weather or not you decide to do this, I’d highly suggest setting up some sort of e-mail account under your business name JUST for business related things. From setting up your new social media and shop accounts, to all communication regarding your business and customers. You will be so glad you did later, when its easy to find everything in one spot.
Phone Number & Address – Set up a phone number and address specifically for your business.
This might seem like something you don’t need, but once you are putting your contact information on your websites, business cards, return address labels when sending packages, etc – you will be glad you have this separate from your personal contact information. Luckily, this can be done SUPER affordably.
You can set up a free phone number through Google Voice. This number can forward calls/texts/voice messages to your personal phone (so you can still receive calls on your current phone, but not give out your personal number to the whole world). Google voice is free for all basic features, but be sure to check out all the details when signing up.
Setting up a separate business address is as simple as going to your local post office and signing up for a PO Box. This is pretty cheap to do, and totally worth not having your personal address as your return address on all of your outgoing packages (and helpful for any returns coming back, etc).
Business Cards / Printed Goods – You have a business now, be sure everyone knows how to find ya!
Now that you have a professional brand, social media accounts, and matching website and e-mail addresses, go out and have some simple clean business cards made (remember to be consistent with your brand). There are plenty of sites that you can easily import your logo and design a simple card within the website. If you are going this route, I love the quality of the MOO cards (their Luxe cards are especially amazing, but they are all truly great quality that will impress you customers – and thats important).
Another tip : Make sure you order MUCH more than you think you will need. It will take a bit of practice, but eventually you will want to give out business cards every single time your business comes up in conversation, when you send out packages, sell at in-person events, and so much more. I always give out a couple at a time so that they might get passed along, too. So they will go fast!
Business Bank Account – Set up a checking account JUST for your business.
You will want to make sure you have a checking account set up just for your business transactions. This includes every single thing you pay for for your business (office supplies, materials to make and ship your products, shop fees, website fees, advertising, etc.), as well as incoming payments from your Etsy shop/online shop, and in-person sales. Eventually your business income will be used for your business expenses, and everything will be self-contained. This will also help with keeping things organized for our next and last topic (that always seems a little scary)…Taxes!
Taxes – *Hire a professional*
Seriously, my best advise here is to ask friends for suggestions for an AMAZING CPA, and make an appointment with them. They will walk you through everything you need to know to make your business legit, and not get into any trouble. Our CPA helped us understand what to keep track of (sales, deductions/write offs, etc.) , and gave us so much peace of mind.
One big suggestion I have is to set up a free account with Wave, and let it automatically import all of your bank transactions (in that business account you set up), and go in to categorize it each month and reconcile your accounts. This will make things SO much easier come tax time, and you will feel like an organized business owning rockstar.
Thats all I’ve got for you for now, and I hope this was really helpful in at least getting the ball rolling and the ideas going to start your own business. I’d love for you to leave a comment if you found anything helpful, or have any other points I could help with!
Good luck, and have fun making your passion profitable for you!