You have a crafty talent, whether it’s pottery, sewing, painting or jewellery making. You can start up your own crafty business, work from home and fill orders as your schedule allows. Follow these steps for a guideline to starting your own home based business and begin earning some extra cash.
STEP 1 – CHOOSING A BUSINESS
Whether you have a business idea in mind or not, it’s always important to look at it with critical eyes and make sure it will be profitable. Start with something you have a genuine interest in and then think of ways to improve upon it, make it more unique or get more specific with your target market. Chances are someone out there is already running a similar business so you need to ask yourself: why will people buy from me?
My favorite way to create a unique business model is to work within a very specific niche and become known as the expert in that field. If you’re starting a jewelry business, perhaps you focus on just one type of stone, like turquoise. You’ll build a strong brand, presence and name for yourself and be able to branch into other areas once you’ve built up a customer base.
STEP 2 – NAMING YOUR BUSINESS
Sounds like an easy task but this one can take some work. If you’re lucky, the perfect name will come to you but generally business names take a lot of brainstorming and time. A few things to keep in mind:
- You want to give customers a clear idea of what your business is when they read your name. If you’re going for more of an abstract or coined name, make sure you can get your message across in the tagline or logo.
- Allow for future growth. If you name your business Turquoise Bracelet Factory, it doesn’t give you much room to branch out into other areas of jewelry making down the road.
- Be sure you’re not infringing on another company’s name. Playing off a big brand name may work when you’re small and local but you could run into problems when you’re ready to expand.
- Consider available domains (.com, .ca). If a website is going to be a major component of your business, you’ll want to be sure the domain is available or something similar that your customers will remember.
Once you think you’ve found the perfect name, sleep on it and test drive it with a few friends. If you’ve got a winner, you’ll need to get a NUANS search done at a registry office to be sure you’re not infringing on someone else’s business.
STEP 3 – REGISTRATION, LICENSES, PERMITS & TAXES
This can be a tricky area so it’s always best to consult your government’s website for more information.
Registering your business name – majority of businesses need to be registered (incorporated/unincorporated, trade name/sole proprietor/partnership). One exception in most provinces; if you’re a sole proprietorship (you’re the only person running your business), operating under your own name (Jane Smith) without any additions (Inc, Co, Jewelers, Creations, etc), you don’t have to register your business name.
Licenses and Permits – most likely you will need a license to operate your business out of your home. The best place to find out which licenses and permits you will need based on your specific business, is BizPal (http://www.bizpal.ca/). It will have you fill in and check off a series of fields and tell you exactly what you need.
Taxes – an area much too complicated to go through in a paragraph. Check out Canada Revenue Agency (http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/bsnss/sm/menu-eng.html) to learn more about the CRA programs that apply to your business.
STEP 4 – WRITING A BUSINESS PLAN
Even if you don’t plan on applying for a loan from a bank, you’ll want to write a business plan. It helps you define goals and timelines, look at all areas of your business, be realistic, get everyone on the same page in a partnership and help guide you along the way.
There are some great resources and guidelines for writing one:
- Canadian Business Network (http://www.canadabusiness.ca/eng/page/2753/)
- The Business Link (http://www.canadabusiness.ab.ca/docs/The-Business-Plan-and-You.pdf)
- Scotiabank Small Business Plan Writer (http://cgi.scotiabank.com/planwriter/scotia_sb.html)
- Your Personal Bank – if you’re applying for a loan with them, it may be a good idea to follow their guideline
STEP 5 – SELL, SELL, SELL
Once you’ve got all your ducks in a row you can begin producing and selling your products. There are several options:
Events – places like craft shows, farmers’ markets and festivals are great for testing out your products and prices and getting feedback from customers. It’s also a great way to network with other vendors and you never know who might stop by your table.
Boutiques – talk to local shop owners who support local artists and bring in some of your work to see if they might be interested in carrying your goods. This route takes a little more dedication as you need to stay on top of getting them product when they need it. As well, they’ll take a portion of your sales (usually 50%) so you’ll need to sell twice the amount you would if you’re selling the products on your own.
Online – a good option if you want to have complete control over what you sell and when. Set up your own website or join an online marketplace for selling handmade. You can list items as they’re available and easily put your shop into vacation mode when you need a break or don’t have any items for sale.
Erin Mooney is the Founder and Co-Owner of Made Urban (www.madeurban.com), an online marketplace for locally selling handmade, homemade and homegrown goods. She loves to think outside the box when it comes to building, branding and marketing businesses.