Start Your Own Interesting Soap Making Business

Soap making is a fun-filled activity. Handmade soaps are beautiful and very safe to use. They are also as different as possible from commercial soaps available in the market. These can also serve as gift items. So, in case you are interested in making homemade soaps, then be assured that this is a very satisfying activity. With some efforts, you can transform your hobby into a full-fledged business opportunity too. The reason why it can turn into a profitable venture is, it requires only a small initial investment.

When you manufacture soaps as a part of hobby, you often do not focus much on the finesse of the product. You simply add your favorite oils and make them into your favorite fragrance and colors. However, when you think of selling them, you ought to cater to what people like, and not what you like. Besides, your product should have a look and touch of something professional.

Devise a Business Plan
A sound business plan is of prime importance for the success of any venture. Devise a good business plan by taking into account the various aspects of your business. Conduct a thorough market research and know what is likely to work with your potential buyers. Will you introduce your products in competition with other commercial manufacturers, or you intend to target niche buyers? Do you have any plans to launch a line of other personal care items such as hand wash, liquid soap, etc.? Devise a business strategy as per your requirements and capabilities.

Complete Legal Formalities
The next step is to obtain a license for making soaps on a commercial basis. Even if you plan to sell your soaps in the neighborhood or at a very small level, it is still mandatory to obtain a valid business permit. Also, you will need to get an insurance coverage to protect your production. No matter if you make your soaps at home or rent a place, you will need an insurance coverage against theft, natural disaster, fire, etc. Your home insurance won’t provide coverage for your manufacturing activities.

Find Your USP
You may find that there are several other people who deal in the homemade soap business. When you enter the market, you will face stiff competition from commercial as well as other small-scale soap makers. For sustaining in such a competitive market, you will need a product that will set you apart from the others. Experiment with your ingredients to come up with an exotic fragrance. Shea butter, oils, perfumes, and coloring agents are some basic ingredients that can be used. See if you can introduce some other unique ingredients that may become your selling point. Do not hesitate to use wild colors or opt for unusually shaped molds.

Name Your Product
Now, choose a catchy name for your product, which can be based on the ingredients you have used in it, or its fragrance, or something that you think will easily be associated in the minds of consumers with your product.

Market Aggressively
Make sure you publicize your product on a large scale. Sell your product at local craft fairs or flea markets or gift shops. One of the inexpensive way of marketing your soaps is to advertise them on social networking websites. Some of these let you do so for no charge at all, and the information reaches a large number of prospective buyers. Distribute informative brochures explaining the uniqueness of your soap. Do not overlook the importance of good packaging, as it is the first thing that people will notice about your product.

Last but not the least, price your soap appropriately. Always use good quality ingredients, so that it is even safe for children. With proper efforts, your hobby will turn into a money-making venture in no time.

Tips to Start a Home-based Jewelry Making Business

Tip
Try to hire a professional photographer to take pictures of your jewelry for posting on your website, Etsy and eBay profiles, and social media pages. This investment is worth the money because attractive images will quickly attract the attention of prospective customers.

If you are creative, have an eye for fashion, and want to start something of your own from your home, then nothing will quite rock like a home-based jewelry making business. Not only is it highly lucrative, but it will also allow you to get an income from your hobby. Who knows, your small-time jewelry making business may turn into a high-end jewelry line someday. However, to do so, you must know certain things before you start your business. For example, you must conduct market research to understand the material cost, vendor management, manufacturing cost, registration cost, etc. Also, you must know about your target market. Even though it is a home-based venture, it is recommended that you have a foolproof business plan in place to avoid any kind of mistakes.

Get a Name

♦ Get a nice fancy name for your business. Don’t choose a dull or common name.
♦ You will have to register your business and also get a domain name for your website. Hence, ensure that the name is not already taken and has a domain name available for the same.
♦ Choose a name that will make your jewelry sound exquisite and unique.

Legal Formalities

♦ After registering your business name, you will have to check with your local and county authorities for various kinds of work permits and licenses that you will require.
♦ It is advisable that you get a separate bank account to distinguish your personal expenses from the business ones.
♦ Get a resale tax number, and complete the formalities with the IRS. If you are hiring an employee, you will have to get the EIN.

Get Training

♦ If you are an amateur jewelry designer, it is highly recommended that you take professional training for honing your skills. Join a workshop, community college, or private classes to know more details about jewelry making.
♦ At these workshops, you will learn about the different types of materials, and the type of wire and findings to use with them.
♦ If you are interested in bead jewelry, some bead showrooms also take beading workshops. So, try to attend them to get better knowledge. It will also make you aware about the various tools and their usage.
♦ Not only will it provide you with a focus for your venture, but it will also expand the horizons of your knowledge and let you know about new designs.

Other Ways
♦ There are several tutorials on Internet. You can watch those and try out various designs at your home itself.
♦ Also, there are several DVDs available; you can also refer to them to learn more.
♦ Apart from that, subscribe to magazines, newsletters, and books. These will help you immensely to keep abreast with the latest trends and will also guide you for sourcing the materials.

Get Hands-on Experience
♦ It is highly advisable that you do an internship or apprenticeship with a jewelry making business. This will help you to understand about the sourcing of raw materials, inventory management, budgeting, sales, etc., in a better way.
♦ Also, it will help you understand about the tax formalities and permits required for starting the business.

Know Your Target Market
♦ Understand what will be your customer composition based on your products, price range, and preferences.
♦ If you are going for high-end fine or estate jewelry, professionals will be interested in your jewelry.
♦ If you are going for quirky jewelry pieces which cater to a younger generation, most of your target market will comprise teenagers and women up to 30 years of age.
♦ You may also design special wedding jewelry.
♦ Based on a similar rationale, understand what kind of target market you are planning to impress, and focus all your efforts in that particular direction.

Know the Trends

♦ Like clothing, you will have to keep up with the changing trends in the jewelry industry, especially, if you are catering to a younger target market. For example, currently neon-themed jewelry is in vogue, while a few days ago, it was all about owls, eye glasses, little birdies, etc.
♦ You will have to browse through fashion websites and latest magazines to know what will sell like hot cakes, and include the designs in your jewelry line. Trying to sell something outdated that has no demand will not work well for your business.

Innovate

♦ Apart from being a trend-follower, try to be a trend-setter. Experiment with various materials to get new and innovative designs. Bring two diverse materials together to create stunning pieces of jewelry. For example, you can try to experiment with beads and feathers.
♦ Whatever you do, ensure it will look attractive and will be liked by the fashion-conscious crowd.

Make a List of Inventory

♦ Based on the type of jewelry, you will have to source various materials and tools. You will require gold, silver, or copper findings, clasps, and wires.
♦ If you are selling hypoallergenic jewelry, you will have to buy the inventory in this material. You will also need beads in various shapes, sizes, and materials.
♦ Apart from this, you can also use sea glass, semi-precious stones, cubic zircon stones, shells, Swarovski crystals, shrinkable plastic, wood, etc.
♦ You will also need various jewelry making tools. You can also source a ready-made jewelry making kit; however, it may restrict your creativity.

Sourcing Inventory

♦ Instead of sourcing your inventory from a retail outlet, try to get it from a wholesale store.
♦ You can also source it from stock clearance sales and Etsy stores. Enjoy the benefits of bulk buying.
♦ Ensure that you do not exceed your budget in buying these things, as you may run into losses.
♦ Don’t hoard too much inventory as it may run out of fashion.

Software

♦ Try to get the help of software which will assist you in the smooth functioning of your business. There are many inventory management software which will tell you how and when you need to buy more stock.
♦ Also, there are several beading software which will help you create various designs with beads.
♦ You could also use a designing software to create jewelry graphics before you actually proceed to make them. This will save you a lot of time and effort.

Promote Your Business

♦ As your business will be home-based, it is even more important that you promote it to get the attention of people. Word-of-mouth works wonders for this business.
♦ Apart from setting up accounts on Etsy, eBay, etc., try to take orders through your website and social media pages. Print your name and contact details on your social media websites along with the designs so that people will be able to reach you. Also, keep updating the pages with new designs as this will help you engage with the audience in a better way.
♦ One of the best ways to sell home-based jewelry is to organize jewelry parties, where you can call your family and friends, and display your designs. You may then sell them at a discounted rate. You may even ask them to host a similar party next time.
♦ You should also opt for the traditional way of marketing, like giving ads in magazines, putting up posters, distributing flyers, brochures, and business cards etc.

Work Up the Cost

♦ Before putting a final price tag on a jewelry piece, ensure that you have covered all the costs. Calculate the cost of raw materials, and add your designing and manufacturing charges.
♦ If you are going to deliver the product to them, don’t forget to add the delivery charges. If it is a gift and needs special wrapping, you must add the cost of packaging as well. Ensure that you make a profit with every piece of jewelry that you sell.

Business Expansion

♦ While you will work primarily from your home, you can also go out occasionally to promote your business. Participate in trade shows, craft fairs, exhibitions, flea markets, outdoor markets, jazz festivals, etc. Apart from retail, you can also work on a wholesale basis.
♦ You may even hire a helping hand to meet up with the deadlines. Try to partner with a boutique to offer complementary jewelry with clothes.
♦ During the gift-giving seasons, try to offer discounts or free jewelry to promote the business in the right way.
After your start-up begins earning you a considerable amount of profit and becomes popular among the customers, you can even think about coming up with a storefront outlet. As renting or buying a storefront can work out to be very expensive for you, it is advisable that you create a loyal customer base before venturing into it. Ensure that you come up with exquisite designs and good quality jewelry to gain more and more customers.

Business Etiquette Ideas

Business has ceased to be a simple affair. It is not merely limited to the making and breaking of a trade or a deal anymore like it used to be in the earlier times. It has gone way beyond that. Along with the basics of trade, it now includes the whole nine yards – How you talk, walk, present yourself, what you wear, what to speak, how to speak, even to the point of how you eat. All these factors will have an impact on your business. In fact they could very well be the deciding factors of whether you get a deal or lose it. The basics of business etiquette have come to play and stay on. And if surviving in this competitive world is important to you, you need to know the basics of this practice and what it involves.

Business etiquette teaches you a set of ways on how to behave and how to present yourself. This not only helps with your business, but also helps in preparing you to cope with trying situations and preventing your crumbling under pressure. In this following article we will give you certain important business etiquette tips that will help you create a strong foothold in the business world and charm your way through deals, backed with your skills.

Basic Etiquette Ideas

Many times, business deals fall through because of an action that might have been unintentional, but which was perceived as a breach of the expected or proper behavior. Which is what we look to prevent by understanding the basics of these rules. In this following section we will concentrate on the important rules of proper business etiquette that need to be followed and will give you the basics of how to make these work in different scenarios.

The Co-workers and your Boss
With so many people working around you, you have to understand one thing – these are the elements you need to care for. Never underestimate, bad mouth or insult anyone. Be respectful and courteous and ready to apologize for any mistake that you make. Be diplomatic where required and try not to let personal biases influence your decisions. Be respectful of your boss and make sure that you always inform him/her of any changes in your project. Never surprise your boss.

Be Social and Polite
This one goes without saying, but it is an important factor that needs to be reiterated at all times. You don’t have to make friends with people and invite them over for drinks, but building a cordial relation goes a long way in the business world. Make it a point to interact and ask about them and their families. Greet people and talk with people who you share your working space with. Also, develop a firm handshake. A firm handshake goes a long way.

The Attire and Language
Make sure that you adhere to the rules of dressing according to the norms set at your workplace. One must dress keeping in mind the position, the work manner and the work culture that is present. The way in which you dress will work towards building an image of you and thereby your workplace, which matters in the business world. As far as the language is concerned, never ever swear or use such language that is considered crass. For the world to view you as professionals, you need to ensure that you use formal language that does not insult or cross the territory into being too personal.

Time as a Factor
Always be on time, never late. In case it’s a meeting or a conference, be sure to be there 5 minutes early. Being tardy and late, makes for a very bad impression and can affect the image that colleagues and bosses might have of you.

Cell Phone Usage
In a professional setup, the usage of cell phones should be strictly monitored. The phone should be on the silent mode so that the noise does not disturb others. Do not take calls at your desk, make use of the area that has been provided for the same. Never receive calls when you’re in the company of others. This is considered extremely rude behavior and an insult to the person in front of you because you aren’t giving them the full attention they deserve.

Of Emails and Calls
There are certain rules that need to be followed as far as emails and calls are concerned. Make sure that you answer all the mails and call back with the answers. Return the calls with answers or information about who might have them. When calling someone else for information, identify yourself and be clear and concise. Leave the important details with them so that they can call you back. Always be courteous and polite when you answer the phone.

As far as mails are concerned, keep the mails as clear and short as possible. Answer the question in clarity and do not use references that will confuse the reader.

Meetings and Behavior
Meetings are an important part of any professional organization. Make sure that you arrive on time, have everything in order and are fully prepared for what is to follow. The objective of the meeting and the plan of action has to be duly discussed and provided for.

These are some of the basic business etiquette tips that need to be inculcated in your professional life. Following these with sincerity will help in making you a true professional, capable of handling any situation perfectly.

Ways to Start your Own Music Teaching Business

If you can play a musical instrument such as the guitar, piano, or any other, or if you sing well, you may consider starting your very own music-teaching business. It is a lucrative business option and can be done from the comfort of your home. You can take classes at home and also train students over the Internet, thus reaching a large number of students. This business requires less initial investment and can prove to be a profitable venture. There are some music teachers I know, who are earning pretty well through a music-teaching business. Knowing how to start this business can help you begin on the ‘right note’.

Conduct Background Research
Conducting a background research is of utmost importance before starting any business. In case of a business in teaching music, do some online research to understand the number of music teachers in your area, what they teach, how much they charge, and the response they get. The answers to these questions will help you gauge the viability of your business idea and tell you whether investing in this business would be profitable. If there are quite a few music classes in your locality, consider starting your business in some other area. Choose the location wisely.

Find a Mentor
Try to speak to a person who has worked in the field or someone who owns a similar venture. Talking to him will help you understand the nitty-gritty of the business. However, if he is from the same city/locality as yours, he may not divulge too much information with the fear of competition. Look up on the Internet for someone who has achieved success with a music business. Consulting him will help you know about all the aspects of starting this business. Maintain good relations with him. Sharing a good rapport with a successful music business entrepreneur is sure to benefit you.

Have a Business Plan Ready
Before you start the business, you need to have fool-proof plan ready. Start by deciding a name for your music class or academy. It should be striking and inviting. Other things to be planned include, whether to conduct one-on-one lessons or take group lessons, how much to charge as fees, and which musical instruments (or any other equipment) to use. It is also important to decide the target audience and devise ways to reach them. Pertaining to the financial aspect of your business, ways to raise funds for the initial investment, salaries of the people you may need to hire, expenditure on the infrastructure and equipment, and the record-keeping system to use, are among the important things to consider. It is important to think about ways to expand your business, and also have an exit strategy ready, in case your business is not a success.

Find a Good Location
You can either rent a facility or use a part of your house. Renting a facility will be costly. It is good to start small. To start with, use a spare room in your apartment or the basement. See that it has a separate entrance so that movement is easy, and ensure that this arrangement does not disturb other residents of the apartment. If time and distance are not your constraints, going to each student’s place to teach him, is also a good option.

Source Instruments and Course Material
Decide the number of students to be accommodated in a single batch. Accordingly, decide the number of instruments (and accessories, if any) that need to be sourced. After a few months of training (once the basics are taught), the students can be asked to get their own instruments. Prepare the course material and source books and song sheets accordingly. Make lesson plans for beginner level as well as expert level students. Arrange for the course material to be printed and given to every student who enrolls to your class. You can also make instructional DVDs for the same. This will save you a lot of time and effort.

Complete the Formalities
You will have to get the license to teach and buy insurance for your business. Look into the zoning and land use rules of your community. Also, don’t forget to get a business liability insurance. You can browse through the government’s Small Business Administration website to understand the formalities that need to be taken care of. You may have to register your business name as ‘Doing Business As’. Complete the necessary paperwork as per your state’s requirements. You will also need to register your business with the IRS. Take professional advice for accounting and taxation.

Do Good Networking
Visit local music shops and leave your visiting card, resume, and fliers/brochures there. Meet the managers personally and explain your business to them. Visit school teachers and ask them if they can give your reference to students who want private lessons. Firstly, this will help you get students. In addition to that, it might get you work as a sub-contractor for a marching or jazz band. Contact local band directors. Even they may help you get students. If you have a college degree, or if you have received formal education in music, you may get hired on an adjunct position in a community college or university. Word-of-mouth promotions work wonders for a music-teaching business.

Use the Media for Promotion
It is important that you promote your business strategically. Use attractive visiting cards, brochures, and fliers, and circulate them in music stores and cafes. Advertise through local community newspapers and specialty magazines. For any business to succeed today, a strong social media presence is important. Make Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles for your business. Keep updating them with interesting photos and information. Try to have a Fan page on Facebook. People tend to visit these pages to see how many people Like them before deciding whether to join the classes. You will benefit immensely if you start a YouTube channel and display your musical talent in weekly video updates. Create a separate email account and website for your business. Advertise your business effectively.

Watch Your Conduct
Leave your flip-flops and that rugged t-shirt at home when you go for networking or invite students for a musical demonstration. Dress smartly and neatly to make a positive impression on the people you interact with. When communicating with them, be polite. Be approachable.

Make the Classes Interesting
Fun activities, educational games, and contests make learning a fun experience. Feature the best students on your website and/or social media pages. Once in a month or two, host a musical night so that your students get a chance to perform. Such events help promote the business. Even the students and their parents feel motivated to continue with you. Introduce discount schemes, lucrative offers, and/or allow the students to pay in installments. Schemes like these help attract more business.

It is said that group lessons cost students $10 to $20 per hour, while personal lessons fetch about $40 per hour for one student. Thus, if planned well, teaching music can turn out to be a very lucrative business.