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    9 Replies Latest reply on Nov 11, 2010 8:21 AM by aimtoplease

    Need help with starting up a home based business

    s3invite Newbie
      I would like to start a home based business as an invitation designer.

      I am passinate about it and know what I want to do. II just don't know how to get started. I went to SBA in this area, took free short seminar. How can do market research on this? Will there be assosiation for this? Any tips on will be greatly appreciated!
        • Re: Need help with starting up a home based business
          Research local wedding or event planners in your area and talk to them. Show them your capabilities and get their honest opinions on how competitive you would be. Ask if they would be willing to recommend you to their clients. Make sure you take the time to put together an impressive presentation demonstrating your skills. Visit local companies who sell custom invitations and request price quotes so you know that you are appropriately priced.

          Independent small boutiques, catering to young women may allow you to place brochures in their stores. Research local print shops and see if they need someone to do their invitation designs on a freelance basis.

          There are custom printers selling their services on Ebay, see how you compare to them. Amazon also encourages small businesses to sell services on their website. There are any number of other online options but those would be the most visible. I would definitely use both online and local venues to increase your sales.

          Taking a 'short seminar' on the SBA site is not enough. Research the entire site and also contact your local SCORE office where you can be hooked with a retired executive to serve as a mentor to you. It's a free service and very valuable to someone just starting out.
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            • Re: Need help with starting up a home based business
              s3invite Newbie

              Thank you so much for your help and guidance.

              I have contacted SCORE to schedule an appt with the member. I forgot to mention that I attended the local bridal show. I found only one invitation designer in the show whose product seem not as unique as what I would like to offer. There few local boutique that I have already visited which offer this service but they all seem to look alike but on different paper. My goal is to serve middle to upper tear market which would offer highly customize and quality product - nothing remotely close to what they offer.

              Your suggest for locat print shop and visting event planner is great! I will certainly keep in mind.

              The SBA would like to see the first thing first - the business plan. Would you recommend any thing that will help with the business plan. I read quite a few business plan of successful small businesses. The one that really stands out was a gift shop and home accessories boutique in TX. The plan looked so thorugh and well laid out, you can make out that they would do good. So I checked to see, the company which formed in 2003 is really doing good and came to be the top 50 in america in it's category. I realized that having a good business plan is must whether planning to get financing or not.

              I am totally clueless to get started but I really want to get started! It seems like I have done some research and more to do but is there any thing out there that tells me the order? I have contacted the attorney and he tells me to do LLC. I have created my own logo but the company name is not decided. The web desinger is ready as soon as I have sample to demonstrate. I have contacted some vendor overseas who can provide materials to get started. There are few vendors in US who requires my business name, ID and checking account before I can purchase the sample book.

              For what I want to do is sole proprietory, LLC or S business is good? I also have a full time job and three kids. I am very passinate about this so I know I would enjoy doing it too. It would not feel like another job if I am doing what I like!

              Any help will ge great!
                • Re: Need help with starting up a home based business
                  I am happy to hear that you contacted SCORE, that will be a big help.

                  Go to the SBA site, click on small business planner which will walk you through every step that you need to take. There is a major section on writing a business plan; read everything in it. A business plan is often a big help in showing you where you are weak. A good one will help ensure your success.

                  You would need to be an LLC to be in your line of work. You can Google how to get one in your state. Typically, you can register online or print out a form to send in. There will be a fee, which varies by state. That will allow you to get a federal tax id number which will allow you to get a reseller number from your state. A reseller number will allow you to get mateials wholesale and when you sell your invitations you will need to collect sales tax. Be very careful when dealing with suppliers from overseas, especially China. There are a few good ones and many scam artists that will take your money and never send you the goods. It's better to deal with a reputable company, even if it costs a little more. Google the name of any company and look for things their customers have written about their service; don't just believe their promises.

                  You will need a separate business bank account and you will need to learn how to account for your income. Quickbooks Online is a good system for beginners.

                  The good thing is, you have a full time job so you can take the time to make sure you do everything the right way. It's a little more difficult with 3 children but definitely not impossible. Visit my profile and check out my website where you will find sections on starting and promoting a business with links on where to find many free and trustworthy help resources.
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                sendres Wayfarer
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                • Re: Need help with starting up a home based business
                  Armin Laidre Adventurer
                  I would like to mention the there is an online business plan software that has SBA business plan template built-in. You see, the problem is that on the SBA's website, you can write your narratives, but for financial sections a separate file is needed (excel). With this online tool, text sections and financials are mixed in one application. Btw, it's free to use too.
                  • Re: Need help with starting up a home based business
                    TheMedia Wayfarer
                    What kind of people are you trying to target? What kind of lifestyle do they live? Where do they shop? What do they do in their free time? What are their ages? And finally what kind of invitattions are you doing (ex all occasions etc.) These answers would help me give you an answer to your question.
                      • Re: Need help with starting up a home based business
                        s3invite Newbie
                        I am targeting mid-to upper tier market who would want to set their occasion apart from normal one. The higly cusotmize and luxurious invtation for the wedding is what I have in mind. My intent was to start out small and focus more on wedding invitations later add others as I learn from it. Where would they buy this curretly? Some boutique place and small time on line resources I would say! The client would be financially set and are career oriented who can spare money. Many younger generation may not have money or would like to spend the money in customizing the luxe invitations.
                          • Re: Need help with starting up a home based business
                            The type of customer you are targeting is going to be using a wedding planner, so that is actually your target audience. The key will be in the presentation and the pricing. When you are just starting out, you don't have a reputation to go on so you have to make up for it in your presentation.

                            I imagine there are event planner associations so research that and get involved in their forums. Google 'event planner associations'. Ask for their advice on how best to get a foot in the door. One very well done advertisement on a site like that would be of value. You can do that inexpensively by putting together a website as a showcase for some of your work and then promoting it in their forums. They will also want to examine free samples of your work. Check out the ads that are already on the website.

                            You may want to think about having an upscale line and also a more moderately priced line that you could sell to a larger audience which would increase your customer base.