Woohoo! Congrats! Starting a business is the best thing I have ever done, in spite of the fact that I barely knew anything when I started J&E in 2020.
I have learned a LOT over the last 23 months, and while I won't be able to cover everything you need to know in this blog, I hope I give you some good ideas and get you started on the right path.
First Things First
There are a couple of things you will want to do once you have figured out your business and niche.
File your forms to make an LLC! Laws regarding how to file and what you need in order to form an LLC vary from state to state, so make sure you check with your local government agency.
Once you get your EIN (Employer Identification Number) back from the IRS, you can do the rest of these items!
Open business checking and savings accounts (I use Chase and love their credit cards).
What about taxes?!
Taxes are scary! I waited too long to talk to someone about the tax side of a business, and I wish I had just done it sooner so I could have avoided the anxiety I went through. Find someone local who has experience with e-commerce, they will be able to answer your questions and explain the process a lot better than just reading about it on your state's department of revenue website.
*Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer or tax professional and advice in this blog should be taken as a suggestions, not professional legal or financial advice*
Establishing Your Social Presence
Having a strong brand presence on social media is a HUGE obstacle for new businesses. You can get a head start on this by defining your niche, your audience, and coming up with a solution to their "problem."
Find your niche!
Get specific. Don't say "I want to make jewelry." Be intentional about your brand.
Define your audience.
Who is your ideal customer? Where do they live? What do they do in their spare time?
Solve a problem.
What are the issues facing your niche market customers? How can you solve that problem?
After you have answered those questions, you can begin creating content for that ideal market segment. Canva will be your best friend when it comes to creating gorgeous, professional-level graphics.
What About the Website?
Everyone knows that your online presence can make or break your brand. But that extends beyond your Instagram page. Figuring out where you are going to sell your items is a big choice. Do you start on Etsy, then branch out into your own website in the future? Or do you go ahead and form your own website and drive traffic there yourself?
I started on Etsy in 2021, and this website launched in January 2022. As of the publication of this blog, I still have an "active" Etsy account, but I no longer pay for ads and have a message directing people to this site.
Etsy is a great place to start because you are searchable amongst a variety of sellers. They handle payment processing, have a seamless shipping process, and the back-end for sellers is easy to learn.
The downsides of my time on Etsy were the fees, competition, and the constant push to be available 24/7 - their Star Seller program, for example, has strict requirements and punishes you for not meeting them. I also felt the need to pay for ads in order to be heard above the noise of bigger sellers and competing poly clay makers on the platform.
Having your own site gives you a ton of flexibility to set your site up exactly how you want and there is not a fee for each individual listing you have (unlike Etsy). The downside of running your own site? You will end up paying a large lump sum (monthly or annually) to pay for the site, and driving traffic to your website can be difficult.
The Bottom Line
Every business is different because every entrepreneur is different. These are the basics I have learned over the past two years as I have made mistakes and achieved some goals!
I hope this blog was helpful - and if so, be sure to share it with your fellow entrepreneurs!