Business Tip: Nuts and Bolts of Doing Business

The decision to open an Etsy shop is a decision to start a home-based business. Most go into it not realizing that no matter what you call it or how your present it, it’s is what it is… “A Business!” Whether you work it as a hobby or a part-time, it’s still a business.

So, For this weeks blog post, I asked EcoEsty team members the following question:

“What are your best tips for dealing with the nuts & bolts of doing business, such as shipping, record keeping, business insurance, tax time, sales tax numbers, craft & event shows, etc.”

Organic Baby Gift Set

Organic Baby Gift Set

1. Shipping that is convenient, economical and green!

If you sign up for U. S. Postal Service Click-n-Ship service, you get the convenience of printing professional looking shipping labels from your computer and a discount of up to 14%.

Thanks to Mary of http://www.herbanlifestyle.esty.com

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Upcycled Dryer Pillow Sheets

Upcycled Dryer Pillow Sheets

2. Long Haul

Imagine the long haul and it will always help in decision making. When considering adding to your inventory, ask yourself “in it for the “long haul” “yup”, get that inventory up.

Thanks to Jane of http://www.etsy.com/shop/zJayne

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Baby Drawstring Tote

Baby Drawstring Tote

3. Long Haul Pt. II

When you love a product you’re creating but it’s not taking off like you thought, “long haul?”, “yup”, retake pictures, check your tags, tell a story in description.

Thanks to Jane of http://www.etsy.com/shop/zJayne

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Tote Bag Uus

Tote Bag Uus

4. Envelope budgeting for supplies – the money is ready for your next supply purchase!

Track cost of supplies for each item. When an item sells, set aside that cost so money is ready when you need supplies. I easily track this in a combo of excel & YNAB (envelope budgeting software).

Thanks to Amy of http://ojami.etsy.com

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Handmade Keepsake Box

Handmade Keepsake Box

5. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel!

Research the forums! Thousands of Etsians have learned what works/what doesn’t work and can share best practices saving you a lot of time and aggravation!

Thanks to Jennifer of http://www.greenearthgoodies.etsy.com

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Chartreuse and Plaid Mohair Purse

Chartreuse and Plaid Mohair Purse

6. Fast Shipping!

Log onto www.USPS.com and find the last 4 digits of your clients zip code, your packages will arrive must faster with this code than without it!

Thanks to Karen of http://karenmeyers.etsy.com

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Vintage Metal Tray or Memo Board

Vintage Metal Tray or Memo Board

7. Recycled Branding

I use recycled jewelry boxes & to rebrand them i use a logo sticker printed on recycled paper – thanks to ojamiya!

Thanks to Alexandra of http://vintagebyalexkeller.etsy.com

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Organic Cotton T Shirt

Organic Cotton T Shirt

8. Double Time!

I got in the habit of double checking to see both etsy and paypal addresses match and always writing down the sale info/username on the paypal shipp. receipt so I have all info at my fingertips!

Thanks to Penelope of http://www.neenacreates.etsy.com

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Birds

Birds

9. Packing Counts!

Making your packaging interesting and artistic is part of each sale in my shop..while using each scrape of paper!!

Thanks to ELK of http://www.etsy.com/shop/redorgrayart

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Wedding Day Glittered Soy Pillar

Wedding Day Glittered Soy Pillar

10. Craft Show Exposure

When attending events, be sure to take a hand-out that includes pictures and descriptions of items you can make but are not included in your display. A business card alone is sometimes not enough!

Thanks to Desiree of http://www.etsy.com/shop/ArtZebo

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We have such a talented pool of members here at EcoEtsy, it makes me proud. Now let me put on my MBA hat and share my own personal Top 6 Business Tips with you:

1. Register your business name/DBA.  You can do this by contacting your local city or state office. click here for more info…

2. Get a sales and use tax number and FEIN. Most states require you obtain a sales & use tax number if you will be selling at craft shows or holiday fairs.  Check with your local state office, some states allow you to apply for one by phone at an average cost of $60. For an FEIN, contact the IRS you can apply for your FEIN online at https://sa1.www4.irs.gov/modiein/individual/index.jsp. While your at it, be sure to find out if you will need any type of permit or license to run your business from your home.

3. CYA Business Insurance.  I’ve been amazed at the number of people who run their business without insurance.  Your homeowners or renter’s insurance will not protect your home business.  Here are some companies to check out for low cost business insurance:

  • Bomba Insurance Company offers home-based business insurance – loss and liability.
  • Indie Beauty Network offers liability insurance for individuals who craft bath and beauty products.
  • RLI offers home-based business insurance that covers any type of business loss

4. Budget & Track your financials. You really can’t start a business and not expect to start it without investing a single cent – that’s unrealistic.  You need to develop some sort of budget and work within it.  So if you only have $200 to get your business going or keep it running, plan wisely – it can be done.  Keeping your business money separate from your home funds is crucial.  You can use free software offered by Quickbooks or Outright which allow you to import your PayPal.  Also checkout Shoeboxed which allows you to scan and save all your business receipts.

5. Protect Your Goods. There are two ways your can protect your goods.

  • First you can apply for a trademark (costs about $300) which allows you to protect symbols, words, or logos.  Once a trademark is granted your can use the ® symbol next to the item you trademark.  If you can’t afford a trademark at this time, you can use the â„¢ which still offers a level of protection.
  • If you invented or improved upon a product you can apply for a patent.  Start with a provisional patent (DIY-it cost about $110) which will protect your product for 12 months and allow you to use the phrase “patent pending” on your product label and descriptions.  You must convert your provisional patent to a full patent within that 12 month period.

6. Develop a Plan. Whether it’s a business plan or marketing plan, it doesn’t need to be neat and bound but it does need to be doable.  I find that marketing plans are easier to create, just pull out a calendar and plan the activities you will partake in to promote your business.  To begin developing a business plan first ask yourself, “why am I in business?” “what am I offering?” “who is my target market?” “what do I expect to achieve?”  These are all internalized questions you can ask yourself just jot your answers to these questions on paper and then begin piecing them together.

This post was written by

Myra @ HerbanLuxe – who has written posts on Eco Etsy.
Myra is an Etsian with an MBA. The art of business and technology are her two obsessions. She has been writing EcoEtsy Business Tips since 2010. Myra grew up in Puerto Rico with grandparents who were a head of their time and didn't know it - living what we would call today, "a simple green life." Her love of learning and teaching are the key drivers in almost everything she does.

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About Myra @ HerbanLuxe

Myra is an Etsian with an MBA. The art of business and technology are her two obsessions. She has been writing EcoEtsy Business Tips since 2010. Myra grew up in Puerto Rico with grandparents who were a head of their time and didn't know it - living what we would call today, "a simple green life." Her love of learning and teaching are the key drivers in almost everything she does.

Comments

  1. Thanks so much for this post – I especially enjoyed the info at the end on taxes, registration, etc. That really helps me!

  2. such great ideas…. myra you have gathered them in to a informative post!

  3. Budgeting and tracking financials is key. It’s not the reason you start an Etsy business, but it can certainly help keep it going. There’s a handy Android app that you can use to take the envelope budgeting method online and mobile. It’s an easy way to start budgeting, and to track expenses. And since it’s on your phone you can enter purchases immediately (at the point of purchase) and know if you are in danger of overspending in a non-crucial area. It can sync between phones too, so if you have a partner you can keep track of money spent in real time. The app is called EEBA (Easy Envelope Budget Aid) and was created for households. But it’s a basic budgeting tool and works well for small businesses too. The Basic level is free and upgrading is pretty inexpensive ($3/month). Check it out https://eebacanhelp.com/getstarted.
    Tricia@eeba

  4. Jennifer;
    Issurance is one of those things that most think they can do without. Liability insurance is really important. It something that helps you cover the ‘what ifs’, even if they never happen. You need to protect your personal assets such as your home and your bank account.

    Myra

  5. Myra, what a fantastic post. I love everyone’s comments, but yours was definitely food for thought. I’m one of those crazies that doesn’t have insurance and just brought this topic up the other day with DH; he was sure that it would be covered by homeowners, but I’m thinking I need additional coverage. Thanks for providing that extra oomph to call my agent today and follow up!

  6. LOVE THESE TIPS! Wish I had these when I first started up!

    One thing I learned early on was to also TEST DRIVE YOUR PRODUCTS. Don’t make too many until you see what friends, family, and your Etsy fans have to say about it. I made the mistake of making huge batches of clothing in the beginning, that didn’t have appeal beyond my own aesthetic. Once I learned to make a few samples and post them and wait – I had a much more fruitful sales experience.