Starting a business is hard - don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But it doesn’t have to take you many moons to finally get started. The saying “start the business now, make it perfect later” is 100% a thing!
Let’s start with a quick story on how I came up with the idea for my business: picture it, Charlotte, pre-pandemic (ha! Serious about the time frame, I had to add a Golden Girls reference). I was laid off from my job unexpectedly and was forced into my house with nothing to do, no way to support my family. Not even 3 weeks later, after going on many interviews, here came COVID. Ugh! Now not only was I home but so were my children and husband, all day, all the time.
So real quick, let’s just fast forward, I was going C R A Z Y in that house! Crazy isn’t even a strong enough word but I was losing it and eventually I let my self care dwindle extremely low, almost non-existent. So, one night, I poured some essential oils into the back of my shower and let the shower get super hot and steamy. The result was amazing - until I almost busted my whole behind. And as I was going down I thought “there has got to be a better way”. And hence, The AromaCarepy Co was born - in my mind.
Like most people, I ran over to Pinterest to look up how to start a business and found a lot of tips and tricks but had to keep in mind I was on a bit of budget since I wasn’t bringing in a steady income at that moment. I became overwhelmed and discouraged at seeing all of the packaging ideas, cute coupons and business cards some of the business owners were putting out into the universe. I had to come up with my own way to create these Tiffany Co dreams on a Burlington Coat Factory budget.
Here are the things that I took into my own hands as I was in the beginning stages of starting my business. This post is not going to get into my product making or the trial and error of that process. It will strictly be preparing your business to get started.
1. Picked the name: I brainstormed shop names with a few friends that already owned businesses. We narrowed down what types of products I was going to offer and what I wanted people to perceive the business ass without using the exact words.
My advice here is pick a name that falls in line with your business and you can build around.
2. Created a logo: could I have gotten some fancy graphic designer? Sure. Could I afford it? No. Instead I decided to use Canva. My style is pretty clean cut so it took me about 10 minutes designing AND IT WAS COMPLETELY FREE!
Canva does have a paid option as well that gives you access to a lot more designs and templates.
3. Created labels and marketing materials: this one was actually way easier than I thought. Once I had my logo it was easy to create everything around it. I created (and still create actually) my labels completely on Avery.com and got the label paper from Amazon. Avery has a template for every product they have and you can design everything you need on their site and then download it to your computer to print later - FOR FREE. And then you always have them to back to for whatever reason. I was also able to create a “Handle With Care” sticker that would go on the outside of my boxes.
My marketing material was done completely in Pages. At first, I started out with a Thank You card and a direction insert for the products I was offering when I first started. I printed these on card stock paper that I got from Target for about $5. The design was business card style so I was able to fit 8 cards per sheet.
4. Packaging: at the beginning I was using packaging from USPS, because it was free. This would include flat rate boxes, priority mail boxes and regional boxes - all of which you can order for free from USPS.com or pick up from your local post office.
The USPS boxes were not cute but they worked for the time being. I made sure to add my own branding pizazz with some black shredded paper filler and of course my package inserts and the Handle with Care sticker.
Let me offer a pro-tip here: you can get packaging supplies (boxes and envelopes) from Target, Amazon, Staples, Office Depot, Dollar General and the list goes on from there. USPS boxes are free to get but not cheap when it comes to buying postage - ask me how I know. If you are on a budget I would actually recommend ULINE.com as they offer a Net 30 payment option which might give you time to build up the funds to pay for whatever it is you ordered at a later date.
Now, I had an enormous amount of time on my hands during this time frame since after all, I was home all day and not working. But even if you are working (which I am now) you can still get these things done and it doesn’t have to take months.
You do not have to order a million business cards from a fancy distributor or get sparkly gold envelopes right out the gate. You have time to build these things. To date, I have upgraded my shipping packaging, my inserts and some of my product packaging as well. And it’s still not perfect. But I didn’t procrastinate, I made do with what was available and I am constantly growing from there.
Start that business, make it perfect later.