Your Business Success Path
Remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint! It will take lots of time, lots of work, and extreme dedication. But you can do it! You’ll be surprised at how God will use you in your business and guide you in journeys you never thought possible.
There are many pieces to the puzzle of producing a successful creative business and you don’t have to do all of these steps to see growth and you don’t need to do them in order. With each new step is more opportunity.
- Come up with a business name.
- You can choose to get a Tax ID number for your business (EIN number) at www.irs.gov. You will use this number when completing all other forms for your business as well as some wholesalers. This is much safer than using your Social Security Number.
- You’ll also need to get a state tax ID number and sales tax registration. These can be found through your state’s Department of Revenue. Keep in mind that some states offer a smaller home based business license or craft booth only license.
- If you make more than $2000 per month with your business, it is strongly recommended you register as an LLC, Sole Proprietor by going to the Secretary of State of your State. You should talk to a legal or tax advisor to determine whether you should be a sole proprietorship, LLC, S-Corporation or something else. For me, I didn’t form an S-Corp until 2019 and the reason I did, was to get a tax break. If you add this later in your business, just know you’ll also have to get a new tax ID number as well as new checking accounts established, but that’s no problem and could be a couple of years down the road.
- Get your business licenses, occupational licenses, sales tax registration and other necessary permits required by your city, county, and state depending on your specific industry. Go HERE and click on your State to find out more about your requirements.
- Once you get your business license with your state, you are an official business and should have a separate checking account in order to keep your personal money separate from your handmade business money. Keep track of ALL income and expenses. I used to use bookeeping.godaddy.com but you can also just use a spreadsheet until it becomes too tedious. There is also Quickbooks, which I use now. Depending on your state, once a month, once a quarter or once a year, you will have to report all your income for the period and then pay any sales tax collected from in-state purchases to your state. It’s important to keep good records and report on time. Again, check with your state, they are always more than happy to help you or pay to sit with an accountant to help get you set up. I have training on setting up budgets and managing money
- With a resale license, you can then register to buy from wholesalers. See my list of wholesalers here. Keep in mind that most of the companies have a minimum order and require you to purchase by the case. You can partner with other wreath makers you trust to go in together with orders and then divide up the orders when they come in.
- Open an Etsy shop! You don’t need a business license to sell on Etsy and you only need ONE item in order to open a shop. In fact, we all started with just one listing! If you want to start an ecommerce business, I suggest getting on Etsy. Etsy is not easy but I will teach you how. It’s all about keywords, great photos, pricing, marketing, and having a good quantity in your shop at all times. Your goal is to build up to 50 items, and then 200 items. The more you offer, the more sales you’ll have. You can get more money for your items when you sell online vs selling locally. You can watch all of our Etsy training videos here inside the portal.
- Maybe selling at a Craft Show is for you. I have ways you can find craft shows in your area and also 30 tips for beginners and tips for making your craft booth the one everyone wants to shop at including my famous wreath storage towers.
- You can purchase a domain name (i.e., YOURCOMPANYNAME.COM) when you set up your Etsy shop. Have it redirect to your Etsy shop until you have a website. Do not purchase a pattern site from Etsy or have anyone else purchase your domain but you. This way you know that YOU own it. This includes WIX.
- Start social media marketing to drive traffic back to your Etsy shop or website and to market yourself and your products. This helps to build confidence with buyers.
I would start with a BUSINESS Pinterest, BUSINESS Facebook or BUSINESS Instagram. DO NOT SELL ON YOUR PERSONAL SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS. And to avoid overwhelm, choose one platform until you learn the ropes and master it, then add the next, then the next, etc. Typically, we only have time for 2 social media accounts unless you hire someone to manage the others. I personally recommend a Facebook and Pinterest. Those are the two that have helped grow my business the fastest.
- Create an email list with mailchimp (free) using a freebie to maximize the emails you collect. Then you can get people from your social media accounts to join your mailing list as well as potential customers or past customers. More training for building and growing your email list can be found here.
- Get a website. I seriously recommend outsourcing the setup of a website/blog. It will cost anywhere from $500-$3000 upfront depending on who you go with and then approximately $50 per month to maintain. Having a website is something you own. I do not recommend WIX unless you know you will only sell premade items and you don’t want to include passive income streams. If you know you eventually want to incorporate passive income, I would recommend a self-hosted wordpress site.
- Up your social media marketing game. You’re goal is to grow your dedicated followers and to get them to know, like and trust you. The more the like you, the more comfortable they are from buying from you. You can also get to know your audience better and then you’ll know what to offer them in the way of products. I’ve come up with a social media posting recommended schedule here.
- Start a blog. A blog is where you write about your products and services you offer and where you should try to establish yourself as a leader in your niche. You can also direct people to your Etsy shop from your blog as well as also capture more emails from your blog to continue to grow your email list.
- Create informational product such as ebook or produce a video, showing everyone your great, God-Given talent to help pay it forward as well as bring in income to your family. You will start to become a ‘leader’ in the industry which will just propel your sales. Note, if you don’t have a decent size email list, this might not be as successful. So always be working on growing your social media and email lists.
- Start making money with affiliate marketing once you’ve established yourself as an influencer or once your social media accounts have a large dedicated following.
- Set up a membership site for recurring income.
- Get sponsors to pay you to do Facebook live videos, write blog posts or post on your social media accounts.
- Speaking Gigs, get paid to speak in your area or around the country on your niche.
- At any time when you can’t do it all, outsource to others for help with website, blog posts, setting up email list, sales pages, formatting ebooks, graphic design, answering emails, etc. I have a list of people I’ve used here.
You can see there are multiple pieces to the puzzle in order to build a creative business. Each month I teach you ways to accomplish all of these steps. Some months are full training of one topic, some months it’s a little bit of training on multiple topics.
Yes, it’s overwhelming but take it one step at a time and day by day. With each new step gives you more knowledge, more confidence, less fear, and increased income!!!
Thank you Julie for breaking this down in steps. I’ m in the beginning stages and out of the the 8 steps I just need to set up my Etzy shop so I’m not doing bad. Thank you for the guidance as this is very helpful to follow what you need to do and what stages your at ! I have some questions in regards to Etzy…… I’ve noticed lots of business for the wreaths don’t ship to Canada. Can you give me insights as to why?
You’re doing GREAT! You are off to the races but still have a journey ahead and I can’t wait to walk you through it. Shipping internationally is expensive and a bit of a hassle. I wouldn’t say all are not shipping to Canada but it could be due to the fact it’s more time consuming.
Hi Julie. Can I use Legal Zoom to get all the licenses I need? I work full time so it would be easier for me if I let them do all of that initial paperwork. Thank you!
No, you need to get the licenses with your state. You can do it by going online to your states dept of revenue.
Also if I have a business name and d/b/a name, can I use either one?
Use the business name
I have six of the eight beginning steps done. Setting up the Etsy shop has been a little intimidating also I am getting help for a website setup from my son in law.
Also what is your opinion on Shopify?
Shopify is great once you’re established but Etsy is better for beginners since Etsy pays to promote our shops to their buyers. Shopify is where you set up your own website and you drive traffic to it.
Hi Julie. Let me start by saying it is an honor to finally get to be in your group. You are for me my life line. I admire you and what you have accomplished for you and your family. I already have my company and have my State and Federal I’d number. My business name is Krafty Ladys Korner. I am registered as a sole proprietor. LLC. I have made about 20 different designs of wreaths as well as grapevine designs and table arrangements. My problem is how to set up my webcam and ringlight and get my laptop all working together. I need your help please with that so I can start my FB lives and than I want to branch out to YouTube. Also want to sell other products and possibly do wreath kits. I hope to speak with you soon. I am proud to say you are my mentor. Cyndee
Where do people checkout and buy from you? First you need this like Etsy. And then build your designs to approximately 80-100 and have everything optimized.
Once that’s done, start on Pinterest marketing and then email. Only after those are done would I worry about Facebook lives on your business page.
I’ve got a domain name from Go Daddy. But now I’m lost on what to do with it. I’m sure I will learn. I have the first 8 stps ompleted. Much hard word ahead. I’m very determined to grow my business.
WOW! WOW!, thank you for all this information, I wish I had known this a few years ago. I would not feel so overwhelmed and stuck with a garage and storage full of inventory not knowing how to market and make my money back, not to mention making a profit. Now its time to do the work and understand the various social media platforms.
That is alot of great information. You are very professional.. but down to earth..i been trying to figure out a business name and start checking into the tax is etc..thank u so much..
Thank you for all the information and help in every aspect of this business. I spoke with my accountant and she wants me to count every single stem of flowers, rolls of ribbon, wreath attachments etc. that I bought and subtract every stem I used in a wreath!
I remember you saying you don’t do that and your form shows the date and amount. I don’t understand why a receipt isn’t good enough. Can you please tell
me what the norm is to calculate inventory? Thank you. I appreciate your help.
Donna, I do not count inventory of my supplies. They are counted as an expense on the total amount. The inventory comes from the premade wreath themselves. So at the end of the year, I count how many premade wreaths I have in inventory and provide my CPA with a COST of these premade wreaths. I’m not sure what to tell you and encourage you to see accounting advice for your situation. I can only tell you what I’ve been doing for 12 years and 3 CPAs. My business does not meet the threshold for counting inventory yet. Julie
Hi Julie, I am a beginner, even though I have been doing a lot research over the past 2 yrs, still a lot I don’t know. I do have a domaine name, which I just recently did through Shopify, my question is, do I get a federal tax id and a state tax id number, and do I need an LLC as well, I am just making notes right now of what steps I need to take, hence the reason I am excited to take this course through you!
Hey Morenia – I recommend reading through this information Julie has available in the Success Circle portal:
If you have any questions, I recommend posting them for Julie in the Success Circle Facebook group.