It’s all becoming so real this week. Building my website. Setting up PayPal and stripe. Buying licenses and tax permits. It’s really happening. I learned so much about business licenses in the state of Iowa and I am posting it all here so that I will be able to find the links again in the future.
Iowa does not have a general business license and I do have to pay taxes.
I am starting off as a proprietary or partnership, so I simply register my business name with the county recorders office and register for a sales tax permit. If I ever hire employees I will need to obtain and EIN.
County Recorders trade name registration – https://www.polkcountyiowa.gov/recorder/departments/real-estate-dept/trade-names/
Sales tax – https://tax.iowa.gov/iowa-sales-and-use-tax-guide
EIN – https://sa.www4.irs.gov/modiein/individual/index.jsp
However, I am considering starting an LLC sometime in the future… An LLC is required to register with the Iowa Secretary of State by submitting a Certificate of Organization. I also need to register for a sales tax permit and I must obtain an EIN.
Iowa Secretary of State/ certificate of organization – https://sos.iowa.gov/business/FormsAndFees.html#DLLC489
I was really hoping to have products up on my site by now, but there has been so much “behind the scenes” work that I haven’t had time to get product ready. I should be able to get some done this week and ready to place on the website.
I realized this week there is so much more to starting a business than I initially realized. For example this week we researched and discussed using PayPal for credit card payments. My initial questions were initial about my own pricing, shipping costs, and taxes. But as we discussed I began to realize there is so much more to it all. There are transaction fees to consider, what happens during a fraudulent purchase, the ease of use for the customer, ease of use for me, tax reporting, etc etc. And that’s just the details surrounding how the customer pays me for my products and one payment service. If I were to offer more than one payment service I need to do research into all those options. And this week we will start researching the legal side of a business including structure, licenses, and and taxes. I can see that I still have a lot to learn.
Although I am very excited to be creating my products and building my website. This part of it is lots of fun. I love designing and by starting this business I had an excuse to buy a few new toys too. I’ve also been doing lots of visual research to get ideas for both my website and my products. It’s fun!
This week we finished the web business decision matrix. I was surprised by the results of the matrix (assuming I did it all right). I chose to pursue a business creating hand-lettered/illustrated stationery. This was the second choice recommendation made by the decision matrix and the idea I liked the most from the beginning of this class anyway. The first recommendation was very close being simply to make hand-lettered/ calligraphy word art for home decor. The main reason I chose to do stationery was because I am more interested in it and I was concerned about storage space for large wall art pieces, but I think my shop could certainly include some small-scale decor pieces as well. I’m still trying to think up a name for the company, but I need to make a decision soon so I can buy the domain and begin building the site.
We also researched site builders and hosting this week. I already have experience with both these things. I will use the same hosting I have used in the past and am currently hosting other sites on and I will use WordPress as my site builder because I am familiar with it and hopefully can build a site fairly quickly. If I can build the site quickly then I can have a little more time to also build up my inventory.
First, I learned about Wholesalers, Manufacturers, and Brokers. We discussed the pros and cons of using an international broker vs. a US wholesaler. It is a tough call with pros and cons on each side, things such as overall goals, production and shipping times, and minimum order quantities all have to be taken into account during the decision process.
Second, we studied the affiliate model a little more closely and compared it to drop shipping. I had never heard of drop shipping before, or at least I hadn’t ever thought about it. As soon as I learned what it was I thought of a few examples where I know it happens. But mostly I had never realized it is a viable business option and I was very impressed by the research I did. I think that one’s overall business goals really need to be taken into account. But for someone who really wants to start a “real” aka more traditional web business this is an excellent way to at least get started with very low start-up costs and relatively quick turn around time.
As for myself I am not sure either of these models are really what I am looking for. I think I am leaning more toward something of a “handmade” business. Or perhaps a design services business. I really want to do something that will use my artistic/designing creativity.
As this week comes to a close, I am already learning so much about starting a business. We discussed business models and there are so many I never really knew about. At least I didn’t know they were actually thought of as business models and named. I realized that some of the business models could be used simultaneously too, such as advertising and affiliates.
Part of the lesson titles this week included “idea generation,” which I did not feel like was really covered all that well. I thought perhaps we would do an assignment that helped me start to brainstorm and find a path toward what my own business endeavor, perhaps a start here kind of guide, but I find that although studying business models was very informative and eye opening I still have no idea what kind of product or service I would like to offer people, perhaps more ideas will come as we continue to work on project #1.
We also discussed Demand and Competition this week. This was especially eye opening for me. Previous to this assignment and discussion I had no idea how to use google keywords to learn more about the demand and competition of a particular product idea. I also had no idea what any of it really meant and how demand and competition work together. But due to this assignment I really thought deeply about how demand and competition work together. I learned that the obvious choice or instinct is not always the best path (such as chess with low competition but also relatively low demand). I started to think about how the consumer will use the product and whether or not future purchases seemed likely. Most importantly I learned more about my thinking process, how the discussion and thoughts of other influences me, and the time I need to fully think out an idea.