- Starting a hemp business is easier than you think. It takes time, but is well worth the investment.
- There are 9 comprehensive steps you can take to make sure all your bases are covered.
- Find a vendor that makes purchasing easy, with high quality, compliant products.
Starting your own business is an exciting time, and while many startup processes look the same, the hemp business is a special “hemp-”ire to be dealt with. That’s not to say it’s particularly difficult, it just takes careful oversight. Here’s how to start your own business from home in 9 simple steps.
1. What’s Your Why?
A common phrase in direct sales or network marketing is “find a why that makes you cry.” While the sentiment is a little gauche and manipulative, the root cause is well intended. There’s a reason people start businesses, and the best businesses stay true to those roots.
The first testimonial will always be the most crucial keystone in a company’s growth and development–and that cornerstone is you!
Think about it:
- Why did you start?
- Did hemp affect you in some way that changed your life?
- Did the benefits open opportunities to you that weren’t there previously?
- Did it give you the opportunity to take control of aspects of who you are that weren’t possible before?
- Maybe it’s not even about you, but someone dear to you–a parent, a friend, a family member, someone gone who inspired you.
Digging into the essence of why you want to start this company not only helps you discover your positioning, your brand, your mission statement, and your vision, but will be key in keeping you locked on your goals when the going gets tough. And in the world of entrepreneurs–it gets tough.
“The starting point of all achievement is desire” – Napoleon Hill. Now that you have your desire, convert it to drive, and use that drive to commit to success–like a marriage–through sickness, health, success, failure, and everything in between.
2. Market Research – Who Are You Selling To?
You can’t please everyone, and you can’t sell everyone on everything. But people who are ready and eager to buy are out there–how do you tap into that specific demographic?
Everything you do and say affects that. Your packaging, your logo, your content, your product design, your claims, benefits, features, shipping costs, overhead, and even “about us.”
It’s a buyers market today, and buyers are smarter than ever. Not only do they want to buy a product, they want to support a cause–and everything from the pictures you take, to the things you support will determine who buys, and why they buy it.
A simple quick audit into some of your competition is a great starting point.
- Look at their products and services?
- What’s trending right now?
- What’s their tone and style?
- Who are they reaching out to, and how are they reaching out to them?
- Are they pinning down a very niche market and building brand loyalty, or casting a wide net and churning turnover?
All of these questions matter–don’t be afraid to get knit-picky and specific. The more specific you are about the questions you ask, the better off your company will be. Then take those questions and turn them into actions:
“What-” (as grossly specific as you can be) “-do you want your customers to say or do-” (in actual verbs) “-when they interact with your product?”
Take yourself out of business mode and put yourself in their shoes.
- What problems are you solving for them?
- What are you providing for them?
- What is the typical household income?
- How are they purchasing your product, and
- How are your customers going to receive it?
- Why choose you over “the other guys?”
Whether you hit roadblocks or not, you should think about using some tools like Google Analytics, Statistica, or even Facebook Audience Insights. They’ll help you ask deeper, more specific questions, and actually delve into the evidence of your online buyers habits and traffic.
Be harsh, be specific, and be bold. Your company, your future, and your wallet will thank you.
3. How Will You Market Your Business?
You’ve got the hard questions out of the way. You know why you want to start and run this business–now comes the actual work. To make money, you have to invest money.
That doesn’t mean you have to have $1 Million in capital out of the gate–it means a little more that time is money, and you have to invest time in your business.
If you have backing, awesome! Congratulations! If you don’t, start planning and mocking up your marketing and sales practices.
Are you planning on entering the retail space? If so, what will your display boxes look like? Will all of your hemp products be federally and locally compliant in their display and sale?
Or maybe you’re taking to the e-commerce space–then you have to think about ads, SEO optimization, social media, shopping cart and web purchasing hosts, etc.
Leave no stone unturned. There’s pro’s and con’s to both, and some even delve into both markets. Make sure you know what you’re passionate about and can handle before you commit to either. There’s no right answer here–do what you know you can handle, and revert back to step one when in doubt. Why did you start this company, and what makes the most sense when you honor its origins?
4. Select Your Domain Name
Whether you’re a storefront or online retailer–you’re going to need a name and a brand (unless you’re the secret pizza place at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, but that’s a different story).
If you’re selling online head to GoDaddy.com and find out what’s available. If you’re selling storefront, check with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to make sure you’re not stepping on anyone’s toes. Reserving either or both spaces will save you a lot of headache in the long run when dealing with imitators and competition.
Make it appealing to your target market
Do not use trendy/catchy words if your demographic is older. Don’t use stale, old rhetoric if your demographic is new and young. Don’t be generic either, “Hemp Business Products” may bump you up on Google SEO, but it’ll tank your brand likeability.
Use the help of a marketing or ad agency if you need–it could well be worth the investment.
Make it easy to spell
Whether they’re trying to leave you a review on yelp, or search you on Google, nothing is a faster turnoff than not being able to find you at all. It takes a very loyal customer to commit to long titles, difficult spellings, and unorthodox words.
Make it easy to remember
Same thing–cut out the confusion and walk on down to easy street. Even if your idea is really good, you might have to make some sacrifices to keep up traffic and access. Think of some of the best companies around:
Keep it short, keep it simple, keep it profitable.
- Try your best to end your website .com
There’s a lot of scammers out in the world. People might be turned off by the “illegitimate” feel of .net, .co, or .us. Even .org might send the wrong message about the product or service you’re selling–and it could ultimately affect your bottom line.
5. Create Your Brand
Colors, kerning (it’s a thing), typography, spelling, language, accents, pronunciation–it all matters.
You have one glance to get everything about your company into the brains of your buyers. If you can’t do it in one glance, you’ve probably lost that sale. Go back to your target audience and find out what appeals to them.
Are they looking for flashy colors or pastels? Do they want regal typeset or whimsical brushstrokes? Do they want to be reminded of nostalgic classics or enticed by the idea of the new? Do you need them to absorb the name in one look or are you baiting for the double take?
Don’t reinvent the wheel–this isn’t your hill to die on. Use your audience to your advantage. Run tests, ask questions, give them options–brand accordingly. Again, learn from your competitors and pick up their slack–really pick their strategies, colors, ideas, standards, logos, and marketing apart. Be brutal. Be better.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a storefront property or online entity, you need to grab the attention of a window shopper just as much as you need to keep a drifting browser.
6. Design Your Logo
Here’s the kicker–you don’t have to be an artist.
Not only are there adless end agencies- wait- endless ad agencies (it’s a long blog, just making sure you were paying attention), but there are some companies that have built their reputation on “image thinking,” “remixing,” and even, “unbranding.” Don’t be afraid to be unique and bold–leaps of faith are often rewarded if you commit to them.
When it comes to the cannabis hemp business however, there are some boundaries that you have to play inside of–you probably can’t use a marijuana leaf (the cannabis plant itself) in your design (Facebook will probably reject it in adroll), and you probably want to avoid explicit images and offensive language or rhetoric. Be bold, but keep it simple, inclusive, and exciting.
Be sure to look up ad rules on social media, Google, Bing, Yahoo (if it even still exists), to make sure you’re compliant–you may be a brilliant company with unparalleled products and unmatchable service, but you also have to be seen.
7. Build Your Website
This might be another step that scares prospective entrepreneurs away–don’t let it scare you! Even if you’re going with a storefront property, it’s still probably smart to have a website that allows people to see your inventory, what the store looks like, where to find it, what it’s about, and hours of operation etc.
There are companies that make it extremely easy to build your site, regardless of artistic ability. WordPress, SquareSpace, Wix, Shopify, and many others are built to be accessible and user friendly for all skill levels. Their subscriptions are often tiered (could save you a lot of money), and often quite affordable–some even have free subscriptions.
If that still feels daunting, there are people that can help. UX/UI designers can help you figure out the flow and traffic of your site–to help lead people to buying your product more easily.
Hopefully they’ll help you optimize for SEO as well. Google is king on the web, and the higher the rank, the more traffic you’ll get–which ultimately means more money back in your pocket.
Regardless of the options you choose, you want to ensure that you have a high functioning site that’s easy to navigate and looks good. Text on screen with pictures won’t cut it–if you’re not providing high fidelity photography, integrating text, and welcoming branding, prospective buyers are happy to go to someone that will.
8. Apply For Your Hemp Merchant Account
You made it! We’re here! You’re almost ready to open shop.
A simple oversight that can shut down many hemp sellers is their merchant account. Hemp is a booming industry, and many are trying to get in on the game as fast as possible–and often, a little too quickly.
A hemp merchant account is simply a merchant account that allows you to accept credit card payments, but has been approved by your provider for selling hemp-derived products.
You want to make sure that every step you’re playing nice with your federal and local laws and guidelines. And just because Hemp is legal in all 50 states, doesn’t mean there aren’t measures that must be followed.
Due to the inherently higher risk associated with hemp products, hemp merchant accounts almost always come with higher prices and more restrictive policies than low-risk accounts. Be ready to add that in your overhead and accept that as a cost of doing business.
A few things you can do to make finding a merchant processor easier:
Substantiate your claims.
Either cite studies, or make sure the things you say are FDA compliant. It takes a lot of unnecessary risk off the merchant, and they’ll be much more likely to do business with you.
Include Chargeback Rates In Your Overhead
High chargeback rates can bite business owners right in the bud. Literally their hemp bud. Make sure that you’re accounting for returns, shipping, handling, product deficiencies, and specifically even business insurance for hemp in your overhead–you don’t want to be surprised by funds that you can’t cover, and neither does your merchant.
Stay FDA Compliant
We just need to touch on this again because it’s so important. Nothing causes more headache than dealing with the FDA over iffy or faulty claims. Stick to structure/function statements, and talk about the features and benefits of your product more than you dive into the claims. You’re better off staying on the FDA’s good side.
9. Select Your Hemp Partner
Now that everything is in place–you need a supplier. It’s best to work with white labeling companies because they have mass produced products that you simply slap your marketing on and sell.
Since the product is already made, you don’t have to worry about processing, royalties, market share, or contracts. You simply pay private white label companies, they ship your product in bulk, and you disperse it to your audience.
The best company for private labeling is 5 Day Private Label. With their 5 day turnaround, their high quality hemp, grown in-house, in their organic FDA registered facility–there’s just no question as to why you’d do business with anyone else.
Such quick turn around time also provides you with the ability to hold virtually no inventory. Whenever you’re running low on product, simply order more within the week, and you can almost instantly redirect your incoming bulk to your current buyers.
That means no contractual obligations, upfront manufacturing costs, or over the top inventory warehouse storage fees. You cut out the middle man, and put all the savings back in your bank account–a win for everyone!
- Use Your Origin
- Lock Down Your Target Audience
- Establish Your Marketing Strategy
- Decide Your Domain
- Create A Brand
- Accompany That With Your Logo
- Build A Website
- Apply For A Merchant Account
- Select Your Hemp Partner
Start Your Business Today! Call 5 Day Private Label for a consultation.