In lockdown at the start of the year, I decided I needed to do something to keep my mind busy – I’d been looking for jobs on indeed for a while and I couldn’t find anything that would be suitable for me, given that I had two young children at home, was trying to home-school the 5 year old and my partner works alternate shifts. I remember writing a little list of business ideas in the 2020 lockdown and I saved them to the memo on my phone but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do and to be honest, it seemed so unrealistic at the time. After Christmas I decided to just go for it, I wrote pages of notes and talked for hours about it with my partner, he was my biggest cheerleader and so I spent weeks planning until I finally launched my business ‘Liss & Belle Gifts‘ on the 19th Jan. I’ve been asked a few times now how I started and so I thought I’d put together a little blog post about it.
‘What should I do first?’ The question we all ask ourselves when starting something new but the answer is…
If you’re thinking of starting up a small business, you’re in the right place as I have just done this myself. The first thing I did as I said above was plan plan plan. Get a notepad & pen and brainstorm all of your ideas. Firstly you’ll need to think about what you’re going to be selling. The next thing to do would be to think of a business name, write a big list of them and once you’ve narrowed it down to 3 – google it, search it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Etsy etc – make sure this name hasn’t already been taken by somebody else.
SET UP YOUR SOCIALS & ORDER YOUR STOCK
Once you’ve found your name – set up your social media accounts even if you’re not anywhere near launching yet. This way you can claim the name. Next, create a logo. I used Canva to create mine and it’s completely free to use which is a bonus. After you’ve done this, find a supplier and order your stock. If you’re making your products yourself, I would recommend making in advance so that you have enough to stock your shop therefore you’ll need to order your materials. Write a list before you do this.
WRITE AN INVENTORY & PRICE LIST
When your stock arrives / you have made your items – write an inventory in a notepad. This is basically just a big list of everything you will be stocking and how many of each item there will be. On the next page, write down how much they have cost you / cost you to make and then write down how much you’d like to charge for them – this is your price list.
Once your stock has arrived you’ll have an idea as to how big everything is, you can then order your packaging – will this be large letter envelopes or boxes? Do you need bubble wrap, tape, tissue paper, paper, a printer? There is a lot to think about. I get most of my packaging supplies from ebay. You may want to order some business cards – I created my own cards to start with and was printing and cutting them myself for the first month until things picked up and I have decided to invest in some more professional looking ones.
TAKE SOME STOCK IMAGES
Before you launch your business you’ll want to take some stock images – these are simply photos of your stock. When stocking your Etsy shop you’ll need to add images in order to save drafts so it’s always best to do this part first.
STOCK YOUR SHOP
You should now be ready to stock your shop. Click Add a Listing and fill out the form. It will ask you to write names and descriptions for your products, it will ask for your turnaround time (how long will it take you to get orders ready to dispatch? Mine are usually ready within 1-3 business days) it will ask you quantities, variations and it will also ask you to decide on delivery costs. If you haven’t thought about this, go on to the royal mail website to find out how much a product of that size will be to send. I send mostly large letters so they usually cost me between £1-£3 to send but it’s best to charge 25p more to cover costs of packaging. You will also want to decide whether you’d like to stick to UK only orders or whether you’d like to open your business up to international orders too.. On Etsy there isn’t a button for UK only so on each delivery profile you will need to delete the ‘Everywhere else’ option on each listing otherwise it will automatically publish your product as free delivery for internationals.
I learnt a lesson here, I thought I had done this on all of my listings until one morning I got an order to Australia. I panicked as I had never sent an international order before and was initially put off by all the forms. I didn’t know what to do and was contemplating refunding the customer explaining my mistake but I decided to do some more research. I looked on the royal mail website and tried to find out the costs of sending to different countries. The parcel I sent to Australia was a small photo frame and luckily fit in a large letter envelope, it cost me £6 to send. I paid it and sent it off anyway as of course it was my mistake – I did my research on customs declarations and Etsy allows you to print it like a normal label and so it was super easy to do. The only additional thing I had to do was add an extra label to my parcel and hand sign it myself. You do have to be careful as some countries cost more to send parcels to but its a learning curve and I think when starting something you have never done before, you are bound to make mistakes.
LAUNCH YOUR BUSINESS
Once you’ve stocked your shop, Etsy will deem your shop as open. You can then share your link across your social media platforms. Write an announcement post on your Facebook page and then share it to your personal profile, do the same on Instagram and see what happens. Invite all of your friends to like & follow your pages and ask family to share your posts, this will help you get the word out. Once you have done this, I’m sure it wont be long until you get your first customer and it may even be one of your friends. Getting your first sale is so very exciting, and even 70 sales later I still get the excited feeling in my tummy every time I get an order through. Even my girls give me a little cheer when they hear my Etsy app go off.
The sales will come in and then you’ll need to think about packing them. I wrap all of mine in tissue paper & send them myself. I recently invested in a printer and so I print my labels on integrated label paper and then simply post them in the postbox. If they are bigger parcels or if there was a request for tracked shipping, I’d then need to take them to the post office but sending them is generally quite easy. It may be a good idea to write a list of what you need to do each time you package a parcel so that you don’t forget anything but once you’ve been doing it for a while, you will get the hang of it.
If you are on the fence about starting your own business, I’d definitely say – go for it! What have you got to lose? Start small, start with just a few listings to test the waters and go from there. You’ll be amazing. While you’re here, why not check out the business I’ve been talking about throughout this whole post – Liss & Belle Gifts. If you have an Etsy account, I’d love for you to favourite my shop – it would mean the absolute world to me.. Since starting my own business, my love for small businesses has grown immensely. I appreciate how much hard work goes into them and I know first hand just how amazing it feels to get an order through so I will be supporting small businesses too where I can. If you can support a small business during these hard times, please do – even if its just by liking or sharing their posts.
Thank you so much for reading this post, I hope you enjoyed it and if you are starting a new business – good luck!! I am hoping to post more regularly from now on. 🤍