Thursday, July 29, 2010

So You Have an Idea...

You are thinking about starting a 
home based business.

Congratulations!
You are thinking in a way that many
people never will.

You are also considering one of the most
challenging things you may ever tackle.

However, this could be among your most
rewarding ventures as well.

I got started in the candle business nearly by
accident.  It was never my dream to make candles.
I'm really not that crafty.
In fact it was just a thought spoken out loud
to my next door neighbor who had retired
from work in a retirement community kitchen.

She loved to make candles just for fun.
Beverly would melt down ends of candles that 
she had burned as far as they would go.
I used to get a kick out of watching her do this.
So one day when she was talking about getting a 
part time job for something to do I just opened my 
big mouth and asked her if she would be interested in 
a candle business.  After all, I am a financially minded
person with the skills and abilities to keep her books 
and take care of the paperwork.  She could make the
candles.  We would be partners.

Well, this started a whole series of events.
First, we needed a name.
We played with this for a few days.
What stuck was The Good Neighbors Candle Co.
Not very creative if you stop to think about it.
We were neighbors and we were good neighbors
who wanted to make candles.
That was that.
But then came the paperwork.
Registering with the State of PA.
We got our tax id number right away.
As for the name,
You have to make sure that the name
you want is available.
You don't want to print up business
cards, get name recognition and then find out
that someone else already had that name registered.
Now, in our case, I verified that the name was
available but did not register it right away.
I don't recommend that you do what I did.
I would not have had a leg to stand on if someone
else had wanted this name before I got it done.

As for getting a tax identification number, I highly recommend it!
You do not want to be sitting at a craft show
worrying that agents might show up and confiscate
all of your inventory.  
It happens!


The second part of this caution is a reminder:
 keep a copy of your license 
with you 
at all
selling opportunities.

It is not enough to have
one...you must be able to show it.
This is true in our state...you'll have to check 
your state regulations to see what is required.
The paperwork is not fun.
But it is much more cost effective to have 
everything in order than it is to pay fines.

That is about all I will say now about legalities.
My main focus with this short series of posts
is to help you realize how  

important it is to 
have a plan, do something you love and 
be financially responsible.

When Beverly and I decided to make candles
that was just the tip of the iceberg.
Do you have any idea how many
candle types there are?

Also, we discovered how many thousands
of people are out there making candles.

We wanted ours to stand out in the mix.
Beverly showed me a teacup candle that she had
purchased several years before.
It was adorable.
We were convinced that we could do that.
We were also convinced that they would sell
like crazy.

Not so much.

We had a lot to learn.

For example:
Did you know that many people
are afraid of gel candles?
In some cases they have very good reason.
We found out in our research that not all
fragrance oils are gel safe.
There had been some candlemakers who did not
do research and had made unsafe candles.
They had been distributed widely causing
fires and what were referred to as explosions.

Please, if you are starting a business....
do the research!

Don't make it harder for those doing things properly.
It is hard enough to build a name for yourself
without having to deal with someone else's
sloppy work.

We also decided to explore the newest
trend in candlemaking...soy wax.
That had many upsides.
The only downside was that
we were so cutting edge that we had to
do a lot of customer education.
This is where the craft shows came
in handy.
Beverly as we set up at a Willow Valley Craft Show
Face to face with curious customers
we were given the opportunity to
explain all of the positive differences
between paraffin wax and soy wax.

By now, most people are aware of,
and love soy.
But, remember this was several
 years ago.

My next post on the subject should be
a bit more specific, however,
This gives you a little background into
how I came to own a
small business.

What do I want you to take away
from this post?
Starting out legally is very important
 and taking time to do research 
is not a waste of time.  It is potentially one of 
the most important things to being successful!
It may even make sense for you to 
seek out advice from a small business advisor 
in your area.  There are volunteer organizations 
who are more than happy to meet with you
and go over your business plan.
They can offer advice from their own 
experiences that can save you a boatload 
of time and money!

I'm thinking of making these posts a Thursday Feature
until I run out of material on the subject.
Feel free to leave your questions in the comments.
  I will answer those that I can.
Remember, I am not a lawyer and so 
will not address specific legal questions.

Thanks, Diane, for suggesting this.
It is challenging and fun to look back
at our successes and failures.
We've had both!
Anyone in business does.
Diane has just begun her own business making
head coverings.  
It is called Lovely Coverings and can be found at Etsy.
She has found so many creative
ways to construct her coverings.  
The feedback is very positive already.
Awesome!
Now this is truly a "niche" business.
One that just might be very successful.
Go for it, Diane!!!!
Becky K.

9 comments:

Mrs.Rabe said...

After doing the pillowcases yesterday and knowing what they cost in the stores, I thought that this could be a great business! What do you think?

Becky K. said...

I think it sounds great!!!

Have you looked on Etsy to see who else is selling them? How much they are charging? What their sales are like? If this is something you could enjoy for days on end....then it might be the business for you.

Research and check out the costs vs. rewards. I think you just might be onto something! So much potential!!!!!

Becky K.

Persuaded said...

Oh Becky, thank you so much for doing this series! And you know what? You've taught me something already... I feel foolish, but I didn't have a clue about tax ID numbers or anything like that. *blush* But now I do.. thanks to you;-)

I am in the process of signing up for a "micro business" course that is offered by my county. Hopefully they'll be able to advise me about things like this, so I don't unwittingly do anything illegal!

Looking forward to next Thursday's post already☺

Becky K. said...

Diane,

I am so happy you are going to the class. You will get so much from it, including the energy from other excited business owners.

I love this!!!

Becky K.

Vee said...

Very interesting and very helpful for the entrepreneurs among us.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Becky, that's very interesting about paraffin versus soy. I didn't know there was a difference. I just buy candles I like that smell good or are pretty.

This was very informative. Thanks!

XO,

Sheila :-)

Welcome said...

Please cont. post like this cause I'm considering starting a business. I have some ideas not sure what to go with.

LV said...

I am not interested in a business. My only business is making it through each day. You sound like someone that would very helpful if they were.

Tracy said...

WONDERFUL post, Becky! SO much good information and fun! As I am closing my little online business at the moment, I'm all nostalgic a the moment... Hope you are feeling better these days! :o) ((HUGS)) Oh, I'm having some giveaway fun... stop by if you get a chance...