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How I Started My Business

By: Cheryl Small Coy
           

       Like most businesses out there, CC Small Creations started on a dream and a vision.  Even though it just started as an online store this year, it actually started with a passion a long time ago.  The best kind of business to have is one that you believe in, because if you don’t, it will never work!  It has not been as easy as I thought it would be to start, but I have definitely learned some very valuable lessons along the way.

            This started with a passion that I have had for a long time.  I've had the crafting bug for as long as I can remember, even as a child I would make clothes for my barbies.  My mom was also into crafts, so it was only natural that I followed in her footsteps.  I had always been interested in art, but I was never very good at it.  I learned with crafts it was still artistic, but did not require being perfect and that it was the uniqueness of the items that made them special.  Crafting was a free style art form and it allowed me to express myself, there was no right or wrong way to do it.  I have made clothing from patterns, and done embroidery and cross stitch.  I have even helped friends with crafts for the home which included brooch pins, place mats,  potpourri jars & many other things.

            I've always loved shopping at craft stores, but one day about 7 years ago I found my way to the bead aisle.  I picked some up and figured I would try to make some earrings since I could never find any I ever really liked in stores.  I found a few fliers on how to do them and went from there.  I've always like things that were bright, funky, and loud but everything sold in stores were always simple and boring or made like a million other items out there.  I started making things that were unique and one of a kind. 

            Soon my friends & family were asking me to make them things since they always loved the originality of my pieces. I have even used Christmas bulb ornaments as earrings for a friend that loved big & bright earrings!  Making earrings I was able to do whatever I wanted and was never limited to just beads, if I saw something in the store and it “talked” to me like the beads do, then I got it and let the creativity flow.  With that I have created some amazing pieces and will continue to do so!

            I started the new venture making bracelets about 3 years ago.  People loved my earrings so much, they wanted something to accessorize with them.  This was a whole new field for me, but after some practice, I got the hang pretty quick.  I have expanded my collection from simple stretch bracelets to classier pieces and even children bracelets.  My next venture is making bracelets and items for men.

         After years of giving things away and all of  my excessive inventory piling up, a conversation had came up a few times as to why I was not selling my amazing creations. *Light-bulb lights up* That got me thinking, why not?  With a little research I decided to go ahead and find out about opening up a bank account and go from there (I learned quickly though there is a lot more involved in starting a business).

            Once I opened a bank account things went really quick!  I opened up the account under my name as a Sole Proprietor and left the DBA (Doing Business As) as my name (BIG MISTAKE-make sure you already have a Fictitious name, otherwise you will have to close that account like me and open a new one, an unneeded head ache and hassle to have to switch everything!).  When I opened the account I was not sure of a name yet.  After the account was opened I knew the next step would be to get a website or something where I could sell my items.  I found that most sites like Etsy, Ebay, Amazon, etc. charged some kind of a listing fee plus other fees and limited the amount of items you can have at one time.  I knew that was not what I wanted. I wanted to be able to put up whatever I wanted and not have any limits.  Knowing this, I realized that I would need my own website.

            Thankfully I knew someone who did websites so I decided to see if it was something he would be willing to do (www.cybermagesllc.com).  Within a few weeks I had a full website.  Even with a discount it was not a cheap route to go, but in the long run will be more worth it then paying endless fees.  Websites can get very expensive, but if you have the funds, I would recommend it since your boundaries are limitless and you have no added fees, commissions, etc. to deal with like other sites.  You will have to register a domain name and also get a web host to support your web store; I used Host Gator (www.hostgator.com), which allowed us to do both.  Depending on what your needs are, they offer other services as well.

            When I started doing the website setup, I did a lot of research online on what I needed to do.  I found a lot of great information on the SBA (U.S. Small Business Administration) website (http://www.sba.gov/content/start-online-business) and on the IRS website (http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Small-Business-and-Self-Employed-Tax-Center-1).  I registered for my EIN (Employer Identification Number) and my Sale and Use Tax.  I also had to get a tax program for the website (www.avalara.com) with a plug in that worked with my website.  Another plug-in that we got was a USPS plug-in (www.woothemes.com) that worked with my website to determine shipping (These 2 plug-ins will save you a ton of time!).
           
            After I got the website done, I needed to get my company advertised more.  I decided I wanted to sell at flea markets and craft shows to get my items out there and to start getting more business.  This is where I ran into my next hurdle.  Come to find out you need A LOT of things before you even start a business officially (which I learned the hard way).  I found out one of the most important things I had failed to get were my local tax receipts (these allow you to sell things in your county/city).  You will have to check with your county/city to see which ones you will need since it varies.  Since my business was being run out of Orange County, FL, I needed not only a city but also a county tax receipt (these are very important) and a home occupation license since the business was being run out of my home.  The city will also require you to get a notarized letter from your landlord if you do not own your home (make sure you have everything you need before going to get these).  When getting my city tax receipt, I realized they had given me my landlord’s by accident, so I had to go back and get mine since the county will not issue yours without the correct paperwork.  Once you do all of this, you will also need to run an ad in your local paper to state that you are a business, which will make everything official.
 
   With this being a social media age it is important to also be involved in social sites to advertise and also to promote your items.  I started with just a Facebook page to share with family & friends ( https://www.facebook.com/CcSmallCreations).  Then I added a Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/ccsmallcreation) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/CCSmallCreation).  Then I found the best social site of all that has been the most beneficial to my business, Google+ (https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/117277291803598395503/117277291803598395503/posts).  With Google+, I have made a lot of contacts in the Small Business world that have not only been helpful but have also helped to guide me in this world that is so new to me.  Every day I go on there I learn something new that helps me to make my business better and stronger.  The support you receive from your followers is amazing!

            Hopefully this will help to guide you if you want to start your own business, and will help you avoid making the same mistakes I made.  Every business is going to be different, so with any business, you will have to do research.  The best part is learning as you go!  It will not always be easy, but don't give up! If I can do it, then anyone can!



2 comments:

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