Start-Up Challenges

Have you ever had a good idea that took a while to shape? That’s what has been happening with Elle is for Elephant. My husband needed to relocate for a job, my daughter who isn’t even two yet is already starting her defiant stage, and of course I wanted to be fully mentally prepared for the challenges of opening a business.

I decided I needed to take some time to fully plan what I am doing, so I took a break. A break that I needed for both my sanity and to make smart choices. I am officially seriously committed, for the past week I have been planning fabrics for my prototypes, clothing tags, promotions and additional materials. That is all the stuff that you automatically think of when planning a handmade business.

The things I have been working on in order to guarantee my personal success include: costing all materials and prices, fully writing my business plan (as if I were going to take it to investors), and reading up on tax laws and business laws in my area. In February I had imagined starting a business would be simple: collect taxes and send in your check, and count income during annual tax time. Well there are a lot of additional implications that have conditions that are quite confusing, and of course it’s best to contact a professional before I start up, that way I will be doing it properly from the beginning.

I also wanted it written down in black and white, the way I am running my business. I plan to take some preorders as well as ordering fabric that I will sell made to order items. My goal is also to donate at least $1.00 per item sold to First Book, a children’s literacy foundation. I would eventually love to continue to be a stay-at-home mom and help support my family with some of the proceeds to this business, but for the first year I am definitely putting every penny back into Elle is for Elephant.

The main trouble I have found with starting this business is having the capital to start it up. Initially I thought maybe a Kickstarter would help, and I have definitely not ruled out the idea, but I do need finances to get started, even with that. As a one income family, all of our money goes to bills and living expenses, so I started using Swagbucks as a way to earn some money on the side. I always cash out my SBs with Paypal deposits and have recently started investing that into Elle is for Elephant (I would have started sooner, but baby needed to size up her cloth diapers). I was able to buy 2 yards of fabric plus fabric clothing tags with my Paypal that I earned in the last month. I am continuing to use my Swagbucks every day and earn about $50 a month (though it’s possible to earn more, I only use it an hour or so a day). My next purchase will be a serger so I can finish my garments, and things like business cards, stickers, and other promotional materials.

Once I get all the basics, Elle is for Elephant will be open for business!

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