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Author Topic: Starting a business  (Read 232 times)
missRPGirl
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« on: June 20, 2016, 03:52:28 PM »

So I thinking of starting a business selling herbal loose leaf tea and maybe some ceramics along the side like bowl, cups, teapots, etc. I want to start small like in a flea market and then maybe work my way up. The thought of this is really stressful but I hope I can manage. What do you guys think of the name Natures Gift?

Has anyone on here had their own business or currently own one? Any advice?
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Annubis
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« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2016, 04:02:42 PM »

I'd go with Nature's Gift instead.
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Tomara
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« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2016, 04:44:13 PM »

It sounds like my handicrafts club thingie does something similar to what you're planning on doing. We sell the stuff we make at animeconventions and fairs.

My advice:
-Don't expect it to be anything other than a hobby until you start to see results. And when you do get that far, try not to grow too dependent on it. There's a lot of hidden unemployment among small business owners, as in: many don't actually make a living.

-Read up on tax stuff before you start.

-Make sure you have back-up when going to fairs/flee markets/whatever. If you're all by yourself, it'll be very difficult to get bathroom breaks in. You might not be able to go at all, depending on how trustworthy (or not) your neighbours are. It's also super boring if you're on your own when it's slow.

-Have fun. You're not likely to make much if any money in the beginning, so the least you can do is enjoy yourself :)
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Aeolus
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« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2016, 05:24:20 PM »

Also, do some research on your competitor's prices and services, so that you'll have a baseline for what a fair price looks like.

And remember to consider all the costs. Stuff like potting soil and fertilizer for your herbs, gas driving to and from various destinations, renting retail space to operate in, crafting materials like clay and paint for your ceramics, electricity for any store lights, lamp lights you might be using for your herbs or ovens to bake your ceramics in, water for the plants or the tea, time and labor expenses, and future expenses like extra pots to grow additional varieties of herbs in, crafting material to practice making other ceramic objects like garden gnomes and such, or other tools/materials if you want to expand your business elsewhere, among other such expenses.
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Dincrest
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« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2016, 06:14:24 PM »

Have you registered this as an LLC yet?  Is the name still available, like on the LLC registry?  Did you create a second bank account for your LLC?  That's my summer project, turning my voiceovers into an LLC since I make some money with it, so everything is kosher come tax time.  Because with this you will have to fill out a 1066 form come tax time.  So definitely do the "legalzoom" LLC stuff.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2016, 06:22:54 AM by Dincrest » Logged

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Ranadiel
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« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2016, 06:09:21 AM »

If you plan on doing this seriously, you should make sure to do a trademark search on Natures Gift to see if it is in use by someone selling the same type of products (my gut without looking says yes).
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missRPGirl
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« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2016, 07:50:00 AM »

Have you registered this as an LLC yet?  Is the name still available, like on the LLC registry?  Did you create a second bank account for your LLC?  That's my summer project, turning my voiceovers into an LLC since I make some money with it, so everything is kosher come tax time.  Because with this you will have to fill out a 1066 form come tax time.  So definitely do the "legalzoom" LLC stuff.

Hmm I was originally just going to so a DBA.
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Logick
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« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2016, 01:12:52 AM »

I got a few tools on the Unity asset store.  People always assume you can make bank there, I make grocery money.  So yeah, my advice is just do it go in without any expectations, and see.
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« Reply #8 on: June 23, 2016, 02:30:15 PM »

Mainly do your research and decide how much you're work/resources/time you're willing to commit to this.

 I've always had this plan of eventually saving up and opening some kind of board game cafe. This is kind of off topic but in the past year one of the last arcades in California decided to move to a cheaper location for rent reasons and just ran into a series of nightmares. Decided to move to a smaller town and had to convince the town's zoning committee to give them the permit. They actually streamed this meeting and it was quite interesting, but got shut down in the end by this committee that was very clearly biased against them. Took a few more tries and got a permit for another location in the town. The building was way not up to code or whatever and now they've gotta spend about 100 grand to renovate. It's been like 2 years and the arcade's not open. Been following the journey and I'm like 'this is actually pretty inspiring but I don't have the fortitude for this.'

TLDR=Owning and running a business is hard
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einthesuperdog
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« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2016, 03:44:07 PM »

I run a business (law practice) and work primarily with small businesses and start-ups in the entertainment space. First off, I'll preface that this is only general information and should not be construed as legal advice. Individual results will differ based on your specific situation and needs.

For something like selling handicrafts, it makes perfect sense to treat it as a hobby to test the waters. You will want to identify your target market, because once you get serious, your ability to market yourself will probably be the biggest factor in your success. It doesn't matter how good your stuff is if no one knows about you. MIT has several good MOOCs about entrepreneurship and marketing, so take a look at those.

At the early stages, the most important thing you can do is write a business plan. Go to the Small Business Administration's website and look at their sample plans and materials. Ask yourself some hard questions. Where will your capital come from? Savings? Loans? Family support? Most businesses take years before they turn a reliable profit. Will you want to take on investors? It seems like that's far off for the moment, but do some research on the benefits of LLCs vs. corporations. In fact, read this thing that I wrote for the basics: https://jessewoolawblog.wordpress.com/tag/solo-entrepreneur/

In terms of forming an business entity, the main benefit is the liability shield, i.e. if someone sues you and wins, they only get the LLC's money, not your own. As a seller of foodstuff, product liability (making people sick) will be a concern for you, whereas in Neil's case as a voice actor, probably not so much. However, as a small scale hobby operation you may find that the risk mitigation isn't worth the cost of maintaining an LLC. Only you can make that decision.

Regarding a name, a DBA is fine, but don't bother with state trademark registration, it's basically worthless with a few rare exceptions. If you start to do well enough to warrant the cost, you will want to register a federal trademark. Legalzoom can help you with this and with LLC formation, although of course I recommend getting a good lawyer. I've seen a lot of crappy legal zoom documents go bad because people don't really understand what's in them or how to use them. Either way, the federal trademark registration fee is around $750, plus attorneys fees or whatever you pay to Legalzoom. The process takes about 6 months.

I'm sure this all sounds very overwhelming, but if you prepare yourself systematically you'll have a much better time than just jumping in blind. Good luck.
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einthesuperdog
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« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2016, 03:52:45 PM »

Have you registered this as an LLC yet?  Is the name still available, like on the LLC registry?  Did you create a second bank account for your LLC?  That's my summer project, turning my voiceovers into an LLC since I make some money with it, so everything is kosher come tax time.  Because with this you will have to fill out a 1066 form come tax time.  So definitely do the "legalzoom" LLC stuff.

If you're the sole member of an LLC, you're actually going to be treated as a disregarded entity by the IRS, meaning there isn't a tax benefit to having one. All income and deductions will be passed through to you the member, and you can account for your income and pay your self-employment tax without issuing yourself a 1099-misc, provided you maintain good accounting. An LLC might be just an extraneous cost for your. But again not legal advice and you should make your own decisions.
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Dincrest
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« Reply #11 on: June 23, 2016, 05:44:04 PM »

The lion's share of my VO is through ACX/Audible (whose parent company is Amazon), so come tax season they sent me a 1099 thinger.  So I did have to fill one out this year.  The whole liability shield is a big reason why I want to LLC myself. 
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einthesuperdog
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« Reply #12 on: June 23, 2016, 07:32:15 PM »

The lion's share of my VO is through ACX/Audible (whose parent company is Amazon), so come tax season they sent me a 1099 thinger.  So I did have to fill one out this year.  The whole liability shield is a big reason why I want to LLC myself. 

Well my point was that you don't need an LLC to receive a 1099, you can do that as a sole prop. But if you want the liability protection then there's certainly no harm in that. I suppose it would lower your risk of an audit too. You could also look into E&O insurance, might be cheaper.
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