When I first started my business So Handmade at the beginning of 2012 I was completely in the dark as to how to go about it. After much research and frustration I finally got it up and running. I realized how wonderful it would have been at the time to have a check list of all the steps involved to follow. So in order to save the same frustrations and endless research this is how I went about it, I hope it helps crafts people like myself on the ladder to starting new and successful businesses:
1. Brainstorm some name ideas.
2. If you are planning on creating your own website it's a good idea at this point to look online at Go Daddy or other IP address providers to see if any of the names you like for your business have a corresponding IP address that is available and affordable. I believe if you want your own website address it's best for continuity and ease for people to find you to have an IP address that is as similar as possible to your business name.
3. Decide on the name and buy the IP address. At this stage for a small amount of money you can also add on your own new business e-mail address which is great to keep your business and private e-mail addresses apart.
4. Go to the local county clerks office and register your business. There might be a form to fill out before hand so check their website. You will have a pay a small fee to register, approx $25
5. Register for an EIN (employer ID number) online at www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/How-to-Apply-for-an-EIN
6. Open a bank account, shop around to get the lowest fees possible. I believe that having your personal and business bank accounts separate is much easier for book keeping purposes.
8. Take photos of your products and have prototypes ready to show potential retailers.
9. Get business cards printed remember to include your e-mail address, website, etsy shop address, phone number and even your facebook page address.
10. Develop a template for a letterhead/ invoices etc
11. If you registered your own website in step 2 now is the time to design your website. The IP provider usually includes a website builder program where you can easily use their templates and drop in your own photos and blurb.
12. Open a facebook page for your new business and invite all your friend to 'like' you. Try and keep this regularly updated with new products, craft fairs you are participating in and other news from your business
13. Start your own Etsy shop if you want to begin to sell to customers around the country and internationally
14. Investigate local craft fairs and apply to be a vendor
15. If you plan on doing craft fairs or selling direct to the public register online to collect sales tax: www.tax.ny.gov/bus/st/stmp.htm (if you are in NY state). You have to begin by filing quarterly but they will assess your payments and you may be able to file annually in the future.
16. Visit local stores that might be interested in stocking your merchandise.
17. Sign up for Outright to keep track of your income/ expenditure, this is a free book keeping website which helps to keep track of all your accounts and what's coming in and what's going out.
18. Remember to keep good records of your sales and expenditure for tax purposes. If you are working from home you can claim for utilities and also any childcare expenses.
"Do what you love in the service of people who love what you do" Steve Farber
Good Luck and Good Making!
by Sarah Omura, SO Handmade