About a year ago I had this idea to start a blog, which then transformed into an idea to not only have a blog with hopefully useful information but to also start my own business to go along with it. But what business? What I could I do or make that might do well? I ran through many ideas in my head. Should I teach on Outschool? Or maybe VIP Kids? No, I really am not sure that will yield the money I would like nor the satisfaction I was looking for. So what else could I do, dog training? Maybe I was always good at it but wait, no, insurance is insane. Then I had an idea. What if I made sugar scrubs and bath bombs? That seemed like a good idea to me since I made some various scrubs for myself and enjoyed the products, not to mention making bath bombs in different shapes seemed like a lot of fun.
Now I had the idea, but I also needed a way forward. How does one start a business? Step one for me was to get an LLC. I applied for and got my LLC months before I launched my company. At this point, I also bought my website and began to learn how to design the store portion of the site (after 4 months I am still learning this part.) Then it was time to make and test products. I made a variety of products both scrubs and bath bombs and just gave them out. Yes, gave them out for free and asked for feedback. I took that feedback and adjusted the products until I was happy with what I had. Once I was satisfied I uploaded products on my site, added prices, pictures and had it go live with my fingers crossed that I would get at least a few orders. I had some friends and family order right away which I was thrilled about because I knew they ordered to help support me and I appreciated each purchase.
That my friends are the cliff notes version of what I did in those first few months however the story is much more in-depth. Before I could even start selling my products I had to do research on how to market my product and what the rules were for selling things like scrubs, bath bombs, and soaps. The key that I found both in my research on the FDA website and from books and articles I had read is that I had to be sure my descriptions did not make claim to curing anything medical. For instance, I could not sell a cream that I claimed cured acne because that would fall under the category of a drug and not as a cosmetic. I had to be sure that all my descriptions met that qualification or I would have to change the way I had my business set up. I also had to figure out how to calculate the cost of making each product and what a good price point was for everything that I would be selling. I not only followed a few videos on how to make these calculations (learning even more about how to use excel in the process), but I also looked at the market, both in person and on sites like Etsy, so that I could price my products competitively.
Lastly, I also started following procedures that were outlined in the book “Good Manufacturing Practices for Soap and Cosmetic Handcrafters.” I have not gotten through all the suggestions they have since there is a lot to record and many procedures to put in place. The one thing I did try to follow from the book was to work on things a little at a time so as not to feel overwhelmed. This is the longest part of the process because it requires hours of computer work to record everything you need to have an appropriate record of things.
It has now been 4.5 months since I have started my business, and I am sure you may be wondering how things are going so far. Firstly, I have made at least one sale every month since I started. That may not seem like much but it is, I think, a great accomplishment for a brand new business. Second, I have already met a ton of new people that also have great businesses they have started. This is probably the most important part of my journey as it is these newfound friends and fellow entrepreneurs that will help my business grow. Meeting these people has driven me to speak out often on my social media about the importance of shopping local, and even helping to promote small businesses in my area. When we all support one another I feel like we will all succeed.
I know that I have a long journey ahead to figure out everything and make my business profitable, but I feel that my first few months have gone well. The next few things that I have to tackle include things like learning how to do the quarterly taxes, getting better at advertising, and of course continuing to work on my product development.
Fellow small business people leave me a comment about what you have found the most challenging and most rewarding part of your journey.
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