A fellow soapmaker, Amanda, asked me a question over on my Soapmaking Teacher Facebook page that I thought a lot of people are probably wondering about:
Hi Ruth, There seems to be a lot involved in getting certified to sell handmade soap. Registering your business, product information files, etc etc… Where is the first place I should start? The whole affair seems quite complicated to me…
Know Your Products
Generally speaking, no matter what country you are selling in, I would start with working on your recipes and products, making sure that you are happy with their performance in the long run. Do they perform well now, and 6 months from now? If you are using a preservative in your products, is it really protecting your products?
Get A Name
While that testing is going on, decide on a business name and be sure that it’s available for trademark registration. You may not register it right away, but you don’t want to start building a business only to find that someone else is already using the same business name. I got my business, Sirona Springs, trademarked recently and wrote in my blog about what I learned in that process. It wasn’t hard, and I managed it on my own, but there are some things to look out for. So check out the post if you’re thinking of trademarking soon.
Claim Your Stake
Once you’ve decided on a business name, you’ll want to claim it as a web domain, as well as on all the social media: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest… Even if you don’t think you’ll use them right away, be sure to claim your territory! Then start looking into the business legalities that are specific for your area: licenses, sales tax numbers, registration…
I found Nolo Press very helpful for the legal stuff in the US. Their website has lots of articles on the rules and logistics of setting up a small business. And they have books that spell everything out for you in plain English. I found The Small Business Start-up Kit very useful. And my public library has lots of their books, so don’t forget to check yours, too. Borrowing is always cheaper than buying!
Make Your Business Work
And for some first-hand insight, you can’t beat the Business Boot Camp taught by Marla Bosworth of Back Porch Soap Company at The Nova Studio. The next session is in August, and in 3 (very) full days of classes, Marla explains what it takes to make your business a success. I’ve been through Marla’s Business Boot Camp and found it invaluable. Marla has it all: the experience of running a profitable business matched with the willingness and ability to share all she knows. I wouldn’t miss it if at all possible.
So that’s the advice I gave Amanda. Did I forget anything? What advice would you give?
By the way, do you have a soap question, too? Head over to my Facebook page and just ask. I’m happy to help!