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Kathy Mehl

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Hello everyone. This is my first time texting on this forum. I’m new to the business and still in the learning curve. Getting a business off the ground requires so much. How did you do it? I’m so overwhelmed at times with learning Craftybase and QuickBooks and photoshop or Maestro for making my own labels through online labels and taking photos. My favorite part is making the products. All the background parts I’m intimidated by. It involves so much starting a business and acquiring all that’s needed. How did you do it, and how long did it take you to get off the ground and soar?
KathyM
 

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DeeAnna

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I am the owner of a small business. Although my biz has nothing to do with soap, I think I can offer some perspective.

Many small biz owners start out like you -- they like to make soap (or other B&B products) and then they decide to turn that hobby or sideline into a business. Many of those people soon learn that a fun hobby isn't nearly as much fun when turned into a business.

I don't live in Florida but what I've learned from Floridians on this forum is Fla has stricter regulations for soap makers than most states. You will need to know your state's regulations if you haven't researched that already. You'll also want to know if Florida requires a state tax ID. And if it does, you'll want to learn how to collect, report and pay the correct local and state sales taxes.

Also consider how you want to legally structure your business. At first it might be fine to be a sole proprietor and report the biz income as personal income, but as you grow, you'll probably want to structure your business differently.

Researching how you intend to market your products is also important. For example, some craft fairs and farmer's markets are saturated with soap makers or require being on a waiting list for a spot. Carolyn (@cmzaha) says farmer's markets in her area have been struggling in recent years, which is another issue to consider.

Online selling is also an option, but it also has challenges. Many people say selling is tough on Etsy for example because there are soooo many soap makers on Etsy so it's hard to get enough visibility to get sales.

A brick-and-mortar shop or wholesaling to someone else's shop are options, but then you have to consider the cost of maintaining and operating a physical store or factor in the costs of selling at consignment or at wholesale.

Another issue Carolyn has brought up recently is the sharp increase in raw material costs over the past year or so. You'll want to keep a close eye on material prices, tailor the fats you use in your selling recipes to keep the per-bar cost as low as is reasonable, and consider buying fat and lye in bulk to control these costs.

Most small businesses fail within 3 years because the learning curve is so steep and not everyone is good at running a business. You will want to have enough outside income to support the business for several years while you develop your presence in the market place and begin to earn enough for the business to support itself. Once you get through that initial learning curve and the business is viable, things get a bit easier, but a person still has to keep a sharp eye on attracting and keeping customers, good customer service, controlling costs, etc. etc.

Making the product is important, but I'd say I spend at least as much time on the tasks of simply running my business as I do making product. I know I sound like a Debbie Downer, but the fact is running a business is a lot of hard work and a fair bit of stress. It's not for everyone. There are days when I'm not sure running my small biz is right for me, but I'm on my 20th year so I know the ropes pretty well by now and can muddle through the bad times tolerably well.
 
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Kathy Mehl

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Pace, FL
I’m so learning everything you’ve just said. Your advice is on point. Thank you for taking the time to help small owners like me. Everything you said I’ve been experiencing but like every new business owner, we learn as we go by experience. I love hearing that I’m not the only one.
 
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