Home – New Forums Starting your journey Help! – Where do I start

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  • #987451
    soph26
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    My fiance is shop fitter/cabinet maker. He makes custom made furniture for friends and family and us!. I love homewares and interior decorating. We would really love to start our own website (and one day open a shop) one that sells my partners furniture and takes requests for custom made furniture and sells modern, quirky, retro style home wares. As you see on sites like clicked on furniture. The thing is I have no idea where to get started. When I look at wholesale sites they ask for your web address, ABN etc we have not got anything like that started – so how are you ever able to buy products? I have tried to register for the home and giving fair but they want a letter from an accountant or bank manager – we haven’t seen anyone like that. Another issue at the moment is confidence, when I mention it to people they blow it off and say everyone wants to do that etc so I’m worried i will get the same response from an accountant or bank manager. Im not really sure how to get people to take me seriously. If you could offer any advice/assistance that would be amazing.

    Thanks

    #1162778
    MissSassy
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    Hi Soph

    So many questions – You just have to take a breath and do one thing at a time.

    Firstly get all your ideas on paper, this will help clarify your thoughts. It will also help you to get a picture of the business you are trying to create.

    I wrote a blog recently about completing a feasibility study for a business – the link http://www.mysassybusiness.com/blog/why-you-must-do-a-feasibility-test-today/

    Next I would recommend speaking to a business adviser who can help you to tick off all the things you need to get yourself started and not put the cart before the horse. I am happy to have a phone conversation with you and see how I can help straighten out your plan.

    #1162779
    Clean Thumb
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    Hello,

    Congratulations for getting stuck in! I know the feeling, having just started myself, of being overwhelmed by all the required info…

    As I said, I have just started as well, so feel free to take my advice with a bit of reservation. However, I have found government websites very helpful. I’d recommend having a look at http://www.business.gov.au – It’s a great starting place, they have links to the ATO, ASIC, etc. for business registration details. They also have business plan templates, etc. But keep in mind, this is a Commonwealth website, so the info is fairly generic so as to be applicable across the country.

    From there, I’d recommend having a look at your state government equivalent website. They have information on your local requirements, such as licensing, regulations, etc. For example, if you were living in QLD: http://www.business.qld.gov.au/business

    Furthermore, the State governments tend to have Small Business Advisory type organisations, to give free advice to small businesses, like yourself. I’d recommend you take advantage of your tax dollars and use the services!

    Hope this helps and all the best,

    Clean Thumb

    #1162780
    Prashant Murphy
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    Hey Soph

    I would recommend taking a step back and first assess the viability of the business. This means acting as a sponge and absorbing as much information as possible over the next few weeks or months. It doesn’t matter how long, but try to set a deadline. The websites mentioned above are a great starting point. I suppose from a personal perspective, the first thing you do is to make sure it’s financially viable. How will you and your fiance support yourselves while you spend money on the business?

    You want to get to a point where you can make an informed, confident decision about whether to start, and if so, what structure to start as (sole trader, partnership or company).

    From there it’s a matter of throwing yourself in the deep end. It’s all about taking action. It’s actually not that scary as you sort of realise “Ok, there’s no going back now!”. Then you just keep on pushing forward.

    As for confidence… well the more learn the better. Ignore what negative things people have to say. But you need to have conviction in your idea to succeed which is sounds like you have :)

    All the best!

    #1162781
    Tony Manto
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    Hi Soph, some very good advice already give. I would recommend you start with a business plan. A business plan will help you to answer the questions you may not have the answers for. There are plenty of templates on the web and even some of the banks have them on their websites. My advice, it plan, plan, research, research, ask and ask again. The more homework you do them more chance of success.

    You can apply for an ABN easily and that’s a good start. Ask other people in similar businesses. Get a coach or a mentor :)

    #1162782
    Stuart B
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    A business plan will help you identify all the issues and then calculate the ways to accomplish those goals…

    There were a few things you’ve raised which weren’t really big problems, but probably just seem like more things piling up that you have to deal with.

    1. If you don’ have an ABN, just go and apply for one. It doesn’t cost much, just some forms to fill out. DONE.

    2. If you don’t have a website, you can create one for free if it’s just a tick in the box you that need.

    3. If you need a letter from an accountant, just go and get yourself an accountant (if you don’t have one). These aren’t really big issues.

    A friend of mine started up a little boutique furniture thing in his backyard, sounds a lot like what you’re doing. Then he started posting pics of what he was doing on Instagram.

    THEN he posted a picture of an AMAZING custom made bed and said he was going to give it away to one of his followers in 4 weeks (or something like that) and he went from having a small group of insta-followers to well over 7000 in the blink of an eye, and getting orders from overseas for his creations.

    So just make a list of the things you need to do, put them in order and knock them off one by one.

    Something like this though is PERFECT for social media so start posting and sharing it, and i would suggest starting with instagram first.

    #1162783
    sgk
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    Asking for advice is a first great step – I am sure that wasn’t all that easy.

    There are some great answers already – so I will try to provide a different perspective:

    1: nothing stops you from starting to sell custom made furniture right now. Just set up a Facebook account for example and get started. All it takes is a few buy now buttons which you can add to your Facebook site. You’ll find a solution for this in my profile – that’s my specialty. Then you can ask friends to recommend you so you can grow that site.

    People like to read about the story of a custom made item – so maybe you can write something about the items as well to make them more interesting – it really depends on the kinds of items your fiancé makes.

    A good way to test the waters beyond the friendship group would be to go to a craft market with some custom pieces and see what kind of response you get there.

    Will people who don’t know either of you like the type and quality of the work? How do they respond to the custom furniture and what are their thoughts?

    Friends aren’t always honest – especially if it is for free – you’ll need to find out if people are actually willing to pay for the furniture.

    Don’t be disheartened if you don’t sell anything straight away. Try to pick a market where others offer some furniture already, so you know that some visitors are actually looking for furniture.

    This is a learning curve and helps you find out what people want and what kind of quality they expect when they have to put money on the table.

    This in itself can already be quite a big project – irrespective of your plans to sell homewares.

    Some steps along the way to running your own business are extremely simple and described in other comments – but they require that you work on your confidence.

    Almost 20 years ago I told some friends and colleagues at work that I wanted to create an eCommerce solution to make selling online easy. Most of them laughed, dismissed the concept or talked badly about it behind my back. That’s normal – don’t be concerned by it.

    Many people feel threatened by someone who doesn’t just dream but actually starts acting on it, because it makes them question themselves. Some later applied for jobs with me.

    However some will give you good advice – make sure you don’t dismiss it just because it does not fit your idea of how things should happen.

    To increase your confidence take some of the answers from this thread and start acting on them.

    Once you have some of the information, you will also feel more confident about your whole project. Right now you are floundering, because you have more questions than answers. When that changes, your confidence goes up.

    And when you then talk to an accountant or a bank manager and you demonstrate that you have done your homework, that you know what you are talking about and that you have a plan on how to proceed, then they will automatically take you seriously.

    After all – by learning the basics your are demonstrating you are serious about the whole thing in the first place.

    Otherwise they are much less likely to. Why? Simply because there are far more dreamers than people who act – and running any small business needs more than just dreams.

    So your job now is to get answers – and this forum but also the Internet as well as some market research by selling on markets will help you plenty.

    For example do a search for “how to get an ABN number” on Google to find
    https://abr.gov.au/For-Business,-Super-funds—Charities/Applying-for-an-ABN/. There you will also find out, if you are eligible.

    However this will only solve a technical problem – not whether you have enough funds to buy products to sell, or how much to buy, or how and where to sell and at what profit margin.

    Those are the more important questions you need to think about as part of planning your business. Should you start may be only with the custom furniture now and move into Homewares later? How would you feel most comfortable selling and where? Online? A market? Would you need a store? Can you afford one yet? Where would you have a store (remember the cheap rental stores can be cheap because there is little traffic and therefore few customers which in turn can make them very expensive when you compare costs versus income).
    How much does it cost to exhibit on a market? How often should you go?

    Remember that there are lots of websites selling very little or nothing, as they don’t manage to attract enough traffic. How would you solve that?

    Or may be online AND market are the best options to get started because people who see you on the market will then also visit your website if they are interested?

    A business plan does not have to be a work of art – but it should help you nail down how to go about things and if you can make the financials work.

    How much does it cost to buy the materials to make custom furniture – how much time is spent to create it – how much should you charge for it if you would want to live from it in the future – can you compete with others on price or make more artistic pieces for which you might be able to charge more …

    Don’t get caught out by the many questions you should deal with – take one step then the next. For example your business plan could be to start selling custom furniture and to then expand into homewares, once you have one leg firmly on the ground.

    You are better off starting small.

    Ideally use your existing income or existing funds to prove that your concept works – to find out that customers will pay you enough to make the business concept viable. That way you can easily change course without going into the red. Once you have a concept that works, and people start buying from you, then it’s time to look at growing it bigger.

    Good luck,

    Steffan

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