Getting started.

 This is our After photo..... it took 5 years to get here...and we are still improving.  You just focus on your start photo. 

This is our After photo..... it took 5 years to get here...and we are still improving.  You just focus on your start photo. 

 
 

My little black book for starting a small batch business

 

This will be an ongoing list of resources, tools, and websites that you might find handy as you start a small batch business.  My particular small batch business is granola, but  you might be making bowls or art or candy.  Some of these may apply to you, some may not.  But hopefully you will find something useful.

I remember when I was first starting out.  My "to do" list was a mile long.  I read somewhere (sadly I forget where) that you just need to do the bare minimum.  Finalize a product, put it in packaging, sell it somewhere.  Business cards, full websites, cute t-shirts can wait.  Just start selling. 

Website - I use Shopify and strongly recommend it to anyone starting a business.  It has everything you need "baked in".  You will be able to accept credit card payments and sell online (obviously).  You can also sell at farmer's markets with their point of sale apps.  You can use one of their free templates and knock up a website in a weekend if you really need to.  And you can always tweak it (and trust me, you will.)

Packaging - There are so many resources for bags.  I used PBFY when I first started out along with labels.  (https://pbfy.com/shop/food-packaging/stand-up-pouches/)  Uline (uline.com) is also popular.  Google and see what you find and like.  Ask for samples. Don't buy huge amounts until you know the box/bag/pouch is going to work for you.  

Labels - I worked with Lauren at InTouch Labels in MA.  (intouchlabels.com)  They had in-house design which was so helpful and then they printed in small runs which was even more helpful.  I went through several designs and colors before we finalized the labels.  I first started selling the granola at the Charlottesville City Market and would ask customers which design they liked.  You can always start with a local printer if you can find one that does labels.  Or print your own at home.  Or use someone like Vistaprint if you can design the labels yourself (use canva.com for design help).

Printed bags - I didn't use printed bags until about 3-4 years in.  I wish I had switched earlier as they are less expensive than bag+ label...but you need to get your recipes and artwork finalized and your volume up.  We will talk about printed bags another day. 

Insurance - I used https://www.fliprogram.com/ when I first started out. I won't say much other than I had zero problems.  Check out their website and talk to your insurance agent.  You need insurance. 

Banking - I had a separate bank account for the business from day 1.  (or 2)  Go down to your local bank with all of your paperwork and see what they can do with you.  At the bare minimum you will need a checking account.  And a credit card.

Setting up your business structure - There are a hundred articles and books about this topic so I won't touch it here.  Google is your friend here.  Personally, I was too scared to set up my LLC myself so I paid an attorney to do it.  Do what you think is best for you. 

Accounting system - I can't recommend this strongly enough. Use Quickbooks Online (or Xero or some sort of proper accounting software) from the very beginning.   Go month to month if you need to and buy the cheapest package you can get.  Get someone to help you set it up or follow the app's instructions.  Keep your money separate from the "company's money."  Track your expenses, your revenue, etc.  

Boxes - A lot of folks use Uline.com for their boxes but I found the shipping costs made the boxes more expensive than I could find elsewhere (even though at first glance they look less expensive).  I used staples.com for my boxes at the beginning and still do for a few of the sizes. Sign up for their club or whatever it is called and you will get free shipping.  Don't order a huge amount until you know for sure the box will work.  I often bought boxes on Amazon or at my local "shipping place" just to try them out and then would order elsewhere once I knew what size I wanted.  If you are shipping via USPS, use their free Regional Rate boxes - you can ONLY order them online at USPS.com.  You cannot get them from the post office.  You would then buy your postage online, print it out and take the box to the post office or arrange for free pickup. 

More to come.....