It begins as an idea—the formation of a concept. Perhaps the words mold into selling a handmade product or providing a service. But, where? Will you connect with new customers at a store, e-commerce sites, or at a local public market? Today, most entrepreneurs rely on e-commerce and social media sites to increase their customer base, while selling at a store or market. There are many ways to get started, such as attending classes, reading books, and watching videos; yet, the most practical step is to jump in feet first and get started!
The Farmer’s Market
Testing the waters for your products begins with owning at least two six-foot tables and a sturdy tent with weighted bags. Local farmer’s markets give any business platform the chance to sell products before entering a financial commitment of running multiple websites and applying for an LLC. Outdoor and indoor markets begin in April and extend through the fall. Don’t worry, you’re not too late!
Factors to consider:
- How does the market advertise its vendors? Unfortunately, not all farmer’s markets update their website or list what is available weekly. As a result, poor advertising is why many leave one market for another.
- Saturday markets are popular; but you can find a weekday market to increase sales. Reach out to the market organizer, he or she will supply details on what you will need to provide, cost, and hours of the market. Some are strict, detailing arrival and departure times, while other markets have a relaxed policy.
- Talk to the vendors. Most will be happy to answer questions and extend their welcome. Attitude often explains why some markets are small and lack growth. It’s wise to investigate before committing yourself to one particular venue.
Socializing with experienced vendors will open the door to other markets and festivals occurring throughout the year! Take notes and register early!
Do I Need an LLC?
Most entrepreneurs eventually arrive at this question that wavers in uncertainty. A Limited Liability Corporation, LLC, is a simple business structure for sole or partnered small businesses. Many online platforms are not government regulated and do not require a federal license, unlike popular sites like Etsy, eBay, and Shopify.
What are the legal benefits?
- As a separate entity holding your business and its assets, including bank accounts, property, the capacity to sue and be sued, creditors cannot touch your personal property or financial assets.
- Once products go online, you will soon interact with customers outside your state and internationally, tempting you to raise your risk- management comfort level. The LLC protects the potential entanglement in a lawsuit or bankruptcy case.
- All business owners are held liable for withholding and paying taxes, in addition to employee wages, not defaulting on a loan, and supporting medical injuries that occur on the business premises.
- The term “corporation” is part of the tax structure. Small businesses with sole or partnered propriety often enter a structured S-corporation, which must report income, losses, credits, and deductions.
Rather than paying higher fees, go directly to the Secretary of State website. Read the directions carefully to eliminate filing “articles of correction,” which may incur additional costs ranging from $10 to $50, depending on the error.
Inventory and Business Websites
The excitement in starting a business loses its spark when one is burdened with mundane tasks, such as counting inventory and bookkeeping; thus, once you begin buying products, materials, and packaging supplies, you’ll need a handy-dandy tool, such as an inventory website! Never fear, websites extend beyond 700 options. Consider a site that tracks expenses and taxes, reordering, and accounts for real-time inventory. Once products have pictures, descriptions, and possibly recipes to determine a fair price, it will be time to search for an experienced web designer who can assist any industry or niche.
Questions to ask:
- Can I see examples of your work?
- Do you offer services other than web design?
- Can you design a website that fits my budget?
- Who will be my contact if I have questions?
- What content management system will you use? Will it support business growth and allow me to make updates and additions?
- How long will it take to complete my website?
- Are there monthly or annual fees I should anticipate?
The business idea begins with a spark. But, you can take it to the next levels and see where it goes from there!