NITTY GRITTY CANDLE BUSINESS STUFF
Where to even start? We’re guessing if you are starting a candle business, you are most likely an artsy creative type…but being creative doesn’t mean that you aren’t or can’t be business-minded. Actually, we are quite sure that some of you are the perfect balance of both creative genius and business geek. We’re also willing to bet our paycheck that many of you aren’t!
Over the many years in this business, we have watched many an entrepreneur fail. Usually it wasn’t due to a lack of creativity or great product, but often because as a small business owner, one woman/man show, the things that we don’t consider ourselves good at, or don’t like doing, are often set aside for another day… and that day never really comes. We are here to say, if you don’t spend the time doing the “not fun stuff”, you run the risk of having a lot of great ideas and product, but a disorganized business with financial or even legal issues.
Trust us, we’ve seen it again and again, a super-smart creative entrepreneur who puts their heart and soul, along with all of their time and energy, into creating stunning product, but neglects the business-y stuff, and in the end it all falls flat on it’s beautiful face.
So how do you make sure you are taking care of the business stuff? Well, we’ll be frank. We aren’t a business school or law, accounting or marketing guru, and we certainly aren’t going to pretend that we are. However, we do have a lot of experience, so here are some tips and links for starting a candle business that we hope will help.
Have a business plan. We know, some of you just gagged. While it is possible to build a business without one, we highly suggest at least creating a basic plan. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or scary, it can be simple. For a small home based start up, maybe it’s as simple as a list of goals with target dates and a short paragraph of how you plan to achieve each goal.
For more complex plans, there are online templates and tons of information on how to construct a business plan. Start with Entrepreneur Magazine’s Business Plans: A Step-by-Step Guide “A business plan is a written description of your business’s future, a document that tells what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. If you jot down a paragraph on the back of an envelope describing your business strategy, you’ve written a plan, or at least the germ of a plan. Business plans are inherently strategic. You start here, today, with certain resources and abilities. You want to get to a there, a point in the future (usually three to five years out) at which time your business will have a different set of resources and abilities as well as greater profitability and increased assets. Your plan shows how you will get from here to there.” (Entrepreneur Magazine)
Legal stuff. It’s SUPER important to know what you need as far as a business license, resale license, trademarks, patents and the like. Be sure to cover your butt!! Will you be a Sole Proprietorship, Corporation, Partnership or LLC? It is worth spending a little money on an accountant and attorney to make sure you start off on the right foot.
One online source we love is The Hell Yeah Group – a fantastic source for creative and small business owners. “Here at the Hell Yeah Group, we help creatives make weekly progress on understanding their finances because it’s feels so damn good to not be in the dark about it.”
Marketing Plan. OK, so this can be simple but it needs to be well planned, cohesive and tell a story. You can’t be everything to everyone (we’ve said this before), so be who and what you are and be the best at it. Keep your social media (Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc) specific. Don’t be a hodgepodge of random things. People won’t get who you are and what you are about. That’s just simple basic stuff, but if you want to dive a little deeper into the real thing, check out this article on The Balance.
Have a budget. I know, I know, I know, this part really isn’t fun! Check out Budgeta or The Balance Small Business Budget for help. It might not be a bad idea to get Quickbooks to keep your finances organized and it sure makes it easy when tax time comes and all you have to do is print out reports and hand them over to the accountant rather than scrounge through shoe boxes of receipts and try to put together spreadsheets on Excel.
Keep in mind with all of this, that it is a changing and evolving process. Your candle business has a life and it’s important to review and reevaluate, adjust when necessary and plan. But for God’s sake, have fun!
Be sure to start with the best candle components from Wooden Wick CO!
READ OUR CANDLE BUSINESS SCHOOL SERIES: Help, I Need a Logo!, Choosing a Brand Name, What is the Best Mode of Distribution for my Candles?, How Should I Price My Candles?, Budget and Small Business Stuff, How To Sell Scented Product Online