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Where do I begin? Advice please on starting a business

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  • Where do I begin? Advice please on starting a business


    I would really like to open a shop selling craft items for card making and scrapbooking in my home town. We have nothing here like this. There is Colemans, but I cannot even find a mothers day peel off or wedding day peel off. I think there is a gap and want to fill it before someone else does.
    But my DH isn't sure. I haven't a clue where to start really. Do I have to do anything before going to the bank for advice. Will I need to put my house up as security for a loan to start-up. I don't even know what a business plan looks like.
    If anyone who has been here and knows what to do can help in anyway, it will be much appreciated. Many thanks


  • #2
    Opening a shop is a big deal.. I'm no expert (on anything really!) but i would think the first thing to do would be to decide if there is a market for your stuff..
    You seem to think there is...
    Then you have to find suppliers that you can get stuff cheap enough for you to make a profit...
    Then you have to find your premises... Very important as you need to know what your outgoings will be each month.. Rent for the shop, business rates, etc, and you need to work out how much of your stuff you need to sell every month in order to make a profit..
    When you are working out your outgoings remember to factor in the wage bill.
    Will you be working in the shop full time yourself? Personally i would think that this is the only way to get a business up and running, this will cut down the wage bill which would otherwise be a huge outgoing..
    Remember that a sop just opening needs to be open as much as possible, there's nothing more annoying than a shop being shut at different times.. so it will be a big part of your life!!
    If you go to the bank for money i would think they would need a business plan, havent the foggiest about them, sure some one on here will know, but it will probably contain the information above and a lot more besides..
    Any way good luck if you go ahead with it..


    • #3
      I would suggest getting in touch with your local Business Link, you will find them in your local phone book. Make an appointment with them and go and talk about what you want to do. They will help you get started or put you off the idea! Either way it's a positive first move.
      Good luck.
      Anice xx
      Funkyhand x
      my website
      my blog (updated 09/06/10)
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      • #4
        It certainly is a big step renting/leasing your own shop. The outlay would be huge and the bills would come in every month regardless of what you earn yourself. Not trying to put you off here, but I leased a gift shop and like you, thought there was an outlet for for it - but unfortunately it was not to be and I had to pull out before I lost everything!

        Why not start small and build up - start doing craft fairs, or see if there is somewhere you can 'rent' a small part of. Put your cards into local shops and see what the response is.

        Also be prepared for the long hours you will spend in the shop on your own and your home life will suffer somewhat because you will be out of the house all day and normal stuff like shopping, cooking, cleaning etc etc will be left behind. Your business will 'take over' your life, unless you have the money to employ somebody who you can trust to be left alone.

        What about a market stall? Have you any near you - or within driving distance.

        Honest sweetheart, I am not trying to put you off, just pointing out that I've been there and as lovely as it sounds having your own shop, its a mega amount of hard work and money.

        Take your time and really work out what you can afford to put into a business that you may not see any profit for a long time - can your husband afford to support you both while you are doing this?

        Whatever you do, I hope it works out well for you and you go into it with your eyes wide open - and good luck!

        Personalised Wedding Cake Toppers


        • #5
          Originally posted by Funkyhand View Post
          I would suggest getting in touch with your local Business Link, you will find them in your local phone book. Make an appointment with them and go and talk about what you want to do. They will help you get started or put you off the idea! Either way it's a positive first move.
          Good luck.
          Anice xx
          I couldn't agree more!! My local Chamber & Business Link have been sooo helpful, they have lots of people who are really clued up have expertise in different fields. It's a fantastic place to start, they really helped me put my ideas down on paper & write a business plan etc. It was all done at MY pace & step by step. They also made me think about lots of issues that I'd given no consideration to at all.
          I wish you lots of luck.

          "One must have chaos in oneself in order to give birth to a dancing star."


          • #6
            You will need to have a business plan in place before the banks will talk to you. There are some good ones for free online if you do a search, plus HSBC have some samples to complete on their website.

            You will need to be able to prove that there is a viable business. You may need to have some kind of security behind you before the banks will lend, but I'm not sure. If you are setup as a limited company, then your liability is limited - if the company goes bust, then they can't come after you personally (unless you personally guarantee something). You would need to do that otherwise you put everything at risk.

            You will need to do lots of research - where can you get things from, how much for, proper market research to show that there is demand for a shop, document what you will be selling, how do you come up with your selling price, are there any other income streams, have you got any experience in this kind of thing, who will be employed, how much will you pay them, what sources of funding are there, can you get any grants, etc. etc. etc.

            I would guess that it will take at least 18 months to get into a position before being able to take this to the banks. In the meantime, try selling online, or at markets etc. to prove that you can do it, and also get a bit of a name for yourself out there - if you can say to the banks (for example) "I sell through a website and make £XXX a month, with XXX hits per day" it's a way of showing that there is demand for your products / ideas.

            It's daunting, and in the short term (at least) probably not very financially rewarding. It will be hard work (to say the least!), and you need to be prepared for every possible setback that you can think of.

            If it works, though, it will be the best move you can make, and incredibly rewarding.

            Whatever happens, the very best of luck with it.

            It's never too late to gyrate!


            • #7
              Oh my! What a huge task ahead of you! Everybody has provided great advise.

              I was in a similar position to yourself, not much available in the area etc. However, having looked at the price or renting a bricks and mortar shop and all the associated overheads, I decided it would be a better option to have an on-line shop. To get the local trade, I run a monthly craft club.

              By opting for the on-line option, I have been able to continue working too, so our family income is not affected too much by the business.

              If you decide to go in this direction, do not under-estimate the time you will be spending on the business. I foolishly imagined and hour each evening and half an hour each morning packing up orders. I was totally out on this one!

              Also, when you approach suppliers regarding becoming a customer, some of them are extremely weary of on-line shops, and you have to sign to say you will not de-value their product and sell on ebay.

              Taking everything into account, I am really glad that I took the step. It isn't a great money maker - more a labour of love.

              I hope this has helped. Feel free to email/pm if you need further assistance.

              Sam xx


              • #8
                I took the plunge into buying my own craft shop 18 months ago and beleive me it is very hard work. I work 6 days a week in the shop from 9.30 until about 6pm, and then i go home to do tea and after that I start on the website, as well as the usual ordering for the shop. It takes over your life, Im still not really taking a wage yet as i am still plowing all money back into the business. My efforts are slowly paying off as the business is gradually growing but it does take a lot of effort. My mum helps me out four afternoons a week and I have a lady work for me for 6 hours a week, but mainly I have to do most things myself.

                Its incredibly difficult trying to get your ordering right as customers always want to see something new, and the you can get lost in the bills.

                But all this aside, it is very rewarding when customers keep coming back time and time again and are always looking to you for advice and inspiration. When customers come in with the cards that they hv made to show off to you to see what you think because what you think matters to them gives you a feeling that you are doing something worthwhile passng on your knowledge.

                Just remember Customer Service is everything. If they know they can quiz you at anytime even if they havent spent anything, and if you can make the time to give them a quick demo on things that they are asking about at anytime they will keep coming back.

                Wherever you choose your shop just remember to check that there is parking for customers close by, itmakes a big difference.

                So if you decide to go ahead the very best of luck to you.

                for all your cardmaking and scrapbooking needs!!
                craftyaddicts blog site
                My personal blog


                • #9
                  Hi Everyone

                  Thank you for all your good and helpful advice. It was so interesting reading what everyone had to say. Has given me a lot to think about. I want to do a market stall to begin with in our town but the market in Wellingborough is going downhill.

                  There is never many stalls and therefore not many people visiting. I may try the Tues market which is mainly bric-a-brac, but thats always heaving. The stall rent is cheaper on a Tues and you don't need public liability insurance on this day for some unknown reason.

                  I have set up a website, but for some reason, which may be just the competition, it hasn't had much response. I have searched for key words relating to my website, but I must be on page 300 as unless I type ellieshell, I cannot see it.

                  I would like to try craft fair or organise something in my local town/church hall, but not sure where to start. Have to do some research for this.

                  Again many thanks to everyone for your help - much appreciated.


                  • #10
                    Ellie, your cards are beautiful! I'm sure if you start at the market stall you are going to do a roaring trade!!!

                    What about EBay, or other places on line to sell as well? Try and do some research and see how well they sell online.

                    Personalised Wedding Cake Toppers


                    • #11
                      Thank you Pauline. I have tried Ebay, which again competition - thousands on Ebay and people only tend to search items ending soon for a specific card, not trawl through 30 pages.

                      Have to take a punt at it on the market, I suppose there will always be a loss to start with, just have to get my name out there so people know about me.

                      Thanks again for the great advice.


                      • #12
                        i cant add much apart from research research research! it is sooo worth spending plenty of time ( i took a couple of years for a primarily online jewellery making business!) doing the research- eg finding suppliers, then checking their prices and knowing the market well enough that you can tell if those prices will leave you with a viable profit!i would say a lot of your planning will be to do with money, obviously rent, shop fittings, utilities, insurance, stock etc etc
                        good luck!!