Here are some great resources you can use to help start or grow your business. These are in addition to those mentioned during the weekly show. So be sure to check out both the links from each show and this page to find everything you need to get your business up and running!
- IRS Apply for EIN - If you are a sole proprietor and have no employees you don't really need a Federal Employer Identification Number but as your business grows you may need to apply for one or if you are planning to go retail with employees to run the shop you need one.
- A-Z index for Business from the IRS - This resource has everything you need for all types of businesses from Sole Proprietor to Corporations and more. The documents and resources can help you find everything you need to make your business legal.
- SCORE – Connects entrepreneurs with mentors to help you build your business with free business advice.
Other Business Resources
Website hosting/E-commerce recommendations Shopify is great for small businesses who need e-commerce but are just starting out with a first time website. It works with templates and makes it easy for someone with just a small amount of internet experience to build an impressive and professional website that also works on mobile phones. Be sure to look for the word “Responsive” when looking at templates. Shopify is more powerful than other offerings like WIX.com, but come with more upgrade options and additional add in apps that can make your website seem like a huge company while the bill is still manageable. They even can provide your payment processing if you do not already have it. Note: We do not recommend Shopify for large businesses that already have an accounting and inventory system like FlagandBanner.com, we do not use Shopify for our hosting because of our legacy database needs but we know people using it and have had terrific feedback on the platform. There are other choices similar to Shopify such as BigCommerce.com and Volusion.com too which all have benefits as well – do a little research between them to see what suits your needs and budget. Sometimes budget is what ends up being the driving factor when you are just starting a business. Blue Host is who we use for some of our hosting services. You can host an entire ecommerce site or just a blog. They rarely have downtime and are constantly upgrading their services. We use Blue Host for this website, Kerry’s Bannerisms Blog, the FlagandBanner.com Press Center, Brave Magazine and Dreamland Ballroom. All are able to be hosted under the same account, saving us money and from having to keep up with so many accounts and passwords. If you have multiple ventures or locations this might be the perfect solution for you. The price is low and the service is great. They have been hosting websites for around 20 years. iProv Online: Digital marketing and IT solutions for business (one of our recent guests) Where to sell online Your own website – spend the few dollars to get your own domain, don’t use a subdomain – i.e. use mybusiness.com instead of www.somehost.com/mybuisness or mybuisness/somehost.com – SEO will be much easier with your own domain name. Handmade items can be listed on
- Etsy (which is the most popular, the Amazon of handcrafted if you will)
- Artfire (hasn’t been around as long as Etsy but is catching up to Etsy in popularity - our marketing director is friends with the woman who started Artfire and witnessed its rapid growth in the industry)
And many others. Just do a Google search for where to sell handmade products. That brings us to online marketplaces. There are tons of them but these are the ones we have experience with
- Sears.com – the famous retail giant offers an online marketplace where you can list your products for sale.
- Newegg.com – the second largest online only retailer in the U.S. now has its own marketplace.
- Bonanza.com – a sales commission based online marketplace with a social community theme.
- Zibbet.com – a fixed price marketplace for handmade goods, fine art, vintage items and crafting supplies.
- Xoole.com – a marketplace focusing on independent sellers.
- eBay – who doesn't know this name? You can sell practically anything on here but ratings and longevity mean a lot to eBay buyers so it may take time to build up a good reputation.
- Amazon – another in the heading of who doesn't know this name? You can even get started free if you aren't selling clothing or other products they have limits on
- Google Shopping – the hardest part is getting all the Google taxonomies right for your products if yours aren't standard faire. The link will take you directly to their merchant sign up page.
- Shop.com – comparison shopping but still a great tool, especially for unique products or if you have great pricing
- Rakuten – comparison shopping but a great tool. We use them at FlagandBanner.com, they aren't as busy as our other partnerships but they do a decent amount in sales.
- Jet.com – Wal-Mart just bought these guys and they are so new so...we don't have much advice on these guys. Try them out with caution.
There are many more out there. You can curate them yourself by hand or you can work with a feed developer. Keep looking below to see more on feed developers. Social Shopping Sites These are a little different and take a bit more work on the business side as you have to curate some of these by hand. The definition of social shopping is that it impacts an individual's buying process by using social networks to share, recommend, suggest and comment on products or services. Sort of a modern "keeping up with the Jones'." Some of these are hand curated while others can be done from feeds. If you use Shopify, you can automatically send your feed directly to Wanelo, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for free. I'm sure other companies like BigCommerce and Volusion have similar options as well.
- Wanelo – short for Want, Need, Love and absolutely one of the best places for those selling clothing, especially unique boutique styles
- Bonanza – another free marketplace to get set up with, we have little experience with them but have read good things about them
- Ssense - requires a bit of work but for boutique, unique, mostly trendy products and clothing this site can be a great way to promote your business
- Pinterest - Pinterest is popular for pins, we get hundreds of pins a week on our products but very few customers even with "buyable Pins" so use it yes, but don't depend on it to drive a lot of customers your way
- Facebook - yep, you can shop direct from Facebook now but it is not growing sales the way the mega Social Media giant would like it to, use but don't depend on it to drive a lot of sales. You'll likely need to run ads to get much action on here and it takes more than a $5 a day investment.
- Fab.com - this one we had to do some digging to find out how to get your products on the site, but the link goes directly to their merchant sign up form.
- OpenSky - is a gamified social shopping site with a variety of products. They have an Open A Store link right at the top of their menu.
- Fancy.com - like the name says most of this is high end luxury shopping. If you sell or create for the high end market this is a great place to get your site listed on. Link goes directly to their sign up page for merchants.
Feed developers for easy uploads to marketplaces like Amazon, Google, Shop.com etc.,
- Channel Advisor is great and we have worked with them at FlagandBanner.com but they require a high dollar of monthly sales to even have an account with them. So if you are small or just starting out, this isn’t a great option for you.
- Smart Feed is a blend of DIY and supported automated feed dissemination, we use them for FlagandBanner.com and have been very pleased with their service.
There are lots of others out there online. Do a Google search for Product Feed Management Software Email marketing – who should you use? There are a lot of options out there. We can tell you who we’ve used and had good luck with.
- iContact handled our main mail list for a long time. They are not cheap if you have a lot of contacts. AFB has been in business 40+ years so…we have a huge email list. Over 55,000 contacts. They also offer additional services like press release distribution which can make their service very valuable.
- Send in Blue – they are located in France actually but for Dreamland Ballroom which has a small budget due to being a non-profit and not sending weekly or monthly emails except during fundraising season, this pay as you go service has worked well for us.
- Send Grid – also is a good company we’ve had some experience with.
- MailChimp - companies with a small mail list to start out (under 1,000 emails) will really love MailChimp. We have gone back to MailChimp but not without some hiccups. Formatting emails can be tricky unless you know how to code.
Up In Your Business is a Radio Show by FlagandBanner.com
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