So you have spent a ton of time designing your own greeting cards for the people you love. Your family and friends have all said they are better than Hallmark and you should go into business for yourself selling greeting cards. That sounds good to you because then you could be your own boss, be doing something you enjoy doing and share your talent with the world. The question is how do you start a greeting card business when you are a beginner and you don't know what steps to take after designing your cards?
I would definitely start your business online. This is the best way to test your products and find your market without the massive upfront costs associated with opening a store. Just recently one of the largest greeting card stores in Delaware, Coccia is shutting its doors after 35 years in the business.
Back in February 2010, market research firm Mintel reported that the $11 billion greeting card business was being bombarded by new online competition. It's been staving off threats by introducing creative new cards -- think of the ones with music built-in, or others that allow purchasers to record a personal greeting. But the industry has been merely treading water for a couple of years now after strong growth earlier this decade, the report said.
Today it is not viable to open an offline greeting card business it is certain death. The great thing about an online business is you can sell your greeting cards worldwide, you are not limited to a suburb or city and your overheads are nowhere near the costs of running a bricks and mortar business.
Starting a Greeting Card Business on the Internet still takes planning, so the best way to start to is to write a business plan. A business plan will help you organize your thoughts and better prepare you for selling greeting cards and making it a success. A great place to start is by researching other online greeting card businesses on the internet and start writing down some ideas.
A good business plan should include information on:
A description of your business - what type of cards will your business offer? Who will want your product and how will you market your cards to potential clients? Think about what type of cards you will make in your business; are they romantic cards? Cards for special occasions? Cards directed at businesses? Do they have a theme like "Cards for Golfers and Gardeners?"
Equipment and inventory needed - What equipment will be required to run your business? What type of inventory will you need to start? Where will you get the supplies and equipment you need to make your business operational and what will the cost of these materials be? Will you make the cards by hand or computer? Will you print all of your cards at home or send them to a printer to be done? Do you need any new software or equipment like printers? What kinds of paper and decorations will your cards use and how much will the equipment cost that you need to start out?
Competition and Demand for Product - Who are your competitors? What do you offer that your competitors do not? How will you make your product unique so that you offer something that is not available now to potential clients? Are you planning on marketing to businesses? Are you planning on marketing with a website and running your business completely online or will you be marketing to companies and stores with your product on shelves? Who already sells products like yours and can you compete with those who are already selling similar products?
Operation procedures - How will you run your business? Who do you need to help in the process? What are your creation plans and how will you develop your product? Are you going to do all the work yourself? Will you advertise through a catalog or through a website? Will you have an inventory on hand or make cards as they are ordered? Is this going to be a part-time business or your full-time income?
Long-term and short-term goals - Where do you see your business being in a year, two years, three years and five years? Write a detailed monthly action plan for the next year and a quarterly detailed plan for each of the years after that. Set your goals and plan how you intend to reach those business goals.
Financing- Do you have the capital needed to start your own business without financial help? How much money do you plan to invest? Do you need other investors? Do you plan to have a partner, ask family and friends for investment capital or apply for a business loan or grant? Applying for a business grant or loan will require a detailed business plan to be submitted showing that you have thought out and planned everything necessary to start your business. This will also require financial information from you for the past three years, projected costs and income, resumes of those involved in the business, overhead expenses, competitors in area, and how you plan to compete.
In order to start your own greeting card business and write your business plan there is some information that will help you along during the process. You should consider the following:
What kind of income can you generate with this?
Greeting cards can range in price from $0.50 to $8.50 a card. More than $7.5 billion is generated in retail sales of greeting cards and more than seven billion cards are sold each year.
What are the actual steps that you need to take in order to start your own Greeting Card Business?
The first thing you need to do is your research and planning. Then put your research and planning on paper into a business plan for your business.
Once you have a plan you can execute it by starting with creating your designs, creating a marketing plan and executing it. You will also need to build a blog/website so if you don't know how to do this yourself then you will need to find a web designer to do it for you.
What type of printer makes professional looking greeting cards?
Any good quality color printer will work to print off your greeting card. You may find that a multi function printer is the best way to go so that you can scan your designs, print your cards, fax and communicate with clients and more efficiently run your business with one machine. The top five multi function printers are considered to be
1.Brother MFC- 7820N Printer
2.Canon Pixma MP600
3.HP Officejet 9120 multifunction printer
4.Samsung SCX 4200
5.Epson AcuLaser CX11NF
How do I get them in stores?
To get your greeting cards into stores you will need to do a great deal of cold calling and legwork. Design a portfolio of your cards, a price list of costs and contact the buyer for each store. Small stores may be the way to start and then when you go to larger established or national chains you can show them the success that you have had in other stores.
What does the printing cost?
When going to a print shop or having them printed by an online printing company you get a cheaper cost per card with larger orders. It depends on where you go and how many cards you want printed. You can also get a discounted price if you are not in a hurry for your order. Cards can cost approximately $200 for 250 cards at a printing shop. Printing cards at home can work out to be quite expensive due to costs of ink for the printer you have, though again if you buy in bulk you can get a reasonable price. Don't be afraid to shop around.
What is the standard size of a greeting card and where can I find a template?
A sheet of 8 1/2" by 11" cardstock will create two greeting cards of 4 1/4" by 5 1/2". These cards will fit in a standard 4 3/8" by 5 3/4" envelope. This way you do not need to special order envelopes.5 1/4 x 7 1/4 fits a 5x7 are also commonly used.
What type of camera should I buy for taking photos for printing on greeting cards?
Any high quality digital camera will work for creating photos for your card. Digital cameras take out the extra step of having to get pictures developed or printed and scanned onto disc. It can cut down on your overall costs of your card business if you can do it yourself.
How do I get financing for a greeting card business?
There are some business grants and loans out there for start-up businesses but you may not need to go into debt with a financial institution. If you already own a computer, printer and camera then your start-up costs for starting a Greeting Card Business may be minimal. You could start your company for less than $500.
What equipment do I need for a home greeting card business?
You will need a computer, printer, camera or scanner, paper stock and envelopes, inventory and business software to run the company, invoice stores or clients, make business cards and promotional material
What are some of the legal issues I need to be aware of when starting a greeting card business?
Depending on where you live and what the laws are for your area, you may need to register your business and copyright your products and names used. You should contact your local government business office or do some research online to ensure that you know the necessary legal steps required in your area.
What are some good card designing software applications?
There are many great greeting card creation programs for your greeting card business on the market right now. Hallmark has several software packages out there The Print Shop and Broderbund are both respected names in printing software and have some great packages for printing greeting cards.
David W. Allen is an online business consultant and Internet marketer helping business owners build and expand their greeting card business on the Internet. David W. Allen offers a free 10 part mini course revealing "10 Proven Ways To Sell Your Greeting Cards" so if you're are thinking of starting a greeting card business then take the free course today and get started.
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