This is an open letter to those of you who have dreamed of starting a gift basket business but never did anything about it. Even those of you who have started one that isn’t going anywhere may find some information here that will be beneficial to you.
This isn’t a short article. So grab your favorite beverage, sit down and start reading.
It has been said that “Dreams are Wings for the Soul.”
Dreams bring out our deepest desires and often we think of them as silly, foolish, and impossible. But until we “own them,” they will never happen. So if you’ve always had the dream of starting a gift basket business, pull out that dream and make it real. BUT before you do, keep reading so that you avoid many of the mistakes that abandoned businesses lying on the roadside have made.
While dreams bring out our deepest desires, they can also bring to the surface our deepest fears. Fears are the enemy of dreams. Fear wants us to live a safe life that is small and isolated. Fear tells us that we will fail. It can also tell us that we might be successful — too successful — so we use that fear of success to keep us from taking action.
I’m telling you to put that fear aside and follow your dreams.
But I’m also telling you to:
Dream Big But Start Small
I know this is the opposite of what many will tell you but this advice will save you lots of time and money and make it much more likely that you will succeed.
Is it going to be easy? Definitely not.
It is going to take work, time, and even a bit of money. You can spend the time and do the work or you can hire someone to do it for you. Building a business takes money — but it can be done on a shoestring if you know how. And I plan to help guide you through that part of it.
There are those in the industry who will tell you that the gift basket industry is booming. They’ll say to just jump in and start designing. Build your business and customers will be there waiting to buy.
I’m going to tell you that when I started my gift basket business 27 years ago, the industry was very different. Gift baskets were the gifts for people to buy. They were easy to sell. It was relatively easy to start and succeed with little experience and money. Without the Internet, selling was local and all we had to do was design fairly decent baskets and build relationships with potential customers. They even sold at holiday craft sales.
But like every good thing, that is no longer true. The industry has evolved. It’s true that gift baskets still sell, and always will, but they are competing with other gift ideas. And with the Internet, we now can expand beyond our local area and sell nationwide or even around the world. But, as a result, we are competing with the big boys who saw the potential profit and have deeper pockets to pay for marketing than you will ever have.
I’m not telling you this to discourage you but to make sure that you aren’t looking at starting a gift basket business with rose colored glasses. The industry is much different now than it was when I started my business BUT it is still possible to start and grow a successful business.
It just takes different tactics now. Building relationships is still, and always will be, important but the Internet has opened new and different methods of marketing. When I started, the Internet was in its infancy. Cell phones, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest were in the future. This makes marketing easier now but also increases the competition and makes the need for knowledge more important than ever. There is lots of knowledge to be found out there. Some is good and others are scams. And, as a beginner, you may not have the background and knowledge to determine which is which.
So let’s get started!
I’m your Entrepreneur friend who is here to answer your questions and guide you along the way but you learn from different people and many different sources.
Facebook groups are a good place to begin asking your questions and getting answers. But even then, be aware that your business and your area may be different than someone else’s. There are two Facebook groups that I recommend you join and participate in. The first is my own at GiftBasketNetwork Group.
You’ll find people just like you who are starting their business or even thinking about it as well as many of us who have been successful gift business owners for many years. Giving and sharing information with each other is the very best way to make friends in this industry that you are becoming a part of.
The second one is operated by Pam Newell, who also has many years of experience in the industry and a helpful group at Gift Basket Professionals.
Once you get your business started, another helpful group is the Gift Basket Resell Shop where company owners post merchandise that they no longer need for sale. You can sometimes find good bargains there.
Every business needs a good foundation. Built on an unstable one, it will surely fail. And like building a house, building a business requires a plan. This is the perfect time to build that plan.
My suggestions to you are this.
Regardless of where you look, there are gifts galore. In the stores. At craft sales. Online. Look at everything that is available. Look at what is selling. Look at gifts and the gift baskets that you find with new eyes. Look at what is missing. Look at what you can do different. Look at how you can be unique. Make notes and use them as you create your plan.
Remember that I said earlier: Dream Big but Start Small.
This is what I meant by that. Don’t start your business by planning to be everything for everybody. That is one of the quickest and most expensive ways to fail.
Start with One Specific Niche
Of course, food gift baskets are always popular and will most likely be a part of most niches that you choose. But think deeper than that. Choose a niche (or market) that you know something about or that you see a need for in your local community. This way, you will save money on inventory and marketing.
As an example, when I started my business, I was a Realtor. My customers loved the closing gift baskets that I made for them. Looking back at them now, they were pretty pathetic compared with what I can create now. But I decided that making gift baskets was much more fun than the grind of showing homes and closing sales. And, best of all, I had a husband who made a good income so I wasn’t dependent on the money I made even though I was a multi-million-dollar producer. So, I started a side gig — selling closing gift baskets to the other Realtors that I knew. The business evolved from that to what it is today.
I have no idea why you are considering starting a gift basket business. Perhaps you are a mom who wants to do something to make some money while staying home with the kids. Or you may just love designing and being creative. Perhaps you’ve made a few baskets and others have told you that you should start a business and sell them. Maybe you’re tired of the 9 to 5, and want a side gig that will possibly grow enough to allow you to quit your day job and have a full-time business.
Whatever your reason, I suggest that you look deeply inside yourself. Take the time to sit down and brainstorm. Write your thoughts down or you are sure to forget them. Think about what you know, what you are good at, and what you see a need for. Look at different niches and decide which one appeals to you the most. Think about things such as whether you are really interested in that area of the industry and whether it is evergreen — when means that the gifts will sell throughout the year and not just at one time of year. Think about who your potential customers will be and how you will reach them.
Who will be your competition? Of course, florists is the first we think of. But any company that sells any kinds of gifts — and not just gift baskets — will be competing with you for that customer’s dollars.
So what do I mean by niches. There are many of them out there. If you are a mom with young kids, gifts for babies or kids is a niche to consider. Look at the gift basket websites and scroll through the “categories” of gifts and you will find many, many ideas. There are gifts for men, for women, college students and even for grandparents and/or senior citizens. You could focus on special occasion gifts or be even more specific by choosing birthday gifts, get well gifts, sympathy gifts, etc.
You may want to specialize in corporate and business gifts. This is where the money is in this industry. I began with Realtors which is still a good market. But there are others as well. How about Financial (planners, mortgage brokers, banks, etc)? Or medical or property managers? Look around your local area and see where there may be a need. If you know people in the industry area that you are considering, talk to them. Take one of them to lunch or coffee and find out what they need, what price ranges, and the types of gifts that would help them market their own business.
I’m not going to suggest that you spend any money right now and when I do, it will be what I have found to be the most economical ways to build your business. However, if you have the desire to dig in and start learning right now, the best thing you can do is to subscribe to our magazine — GiftBasketBusinessINSIDER. Each issue is sent to our subscriber’s email boxes on the 1st day of every month. if this interests you, I am offering you a limited-time discount (from $34.95 per year to $29.95) per year) here.
To help push you over the edge and get moving on laying that foundation, I have two free e-books for you. The first one is called What I Wish I Had Known When Starting my Gift Business. You can download it here
To help you start your planning process, here is a link to one of my e-books called Construct Your Business with a One-Page Business Plan. It’s my gift to you and you can download it here.
It is very basic and is more to help you get your thoughts in order. As you go through this first step of choosing your niche, if you feel you need some feedback, feel free to ask questions in the comments below and I will answer them. Or if you don’t want to share what you are thinking about, you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I will be taking you through the various steps and things that you need to consider and do as you start your business in future articles here. Sign up for my newsletter,which is free as well, at the bottom of this article. This way you will be kept up to date as I add more detailed information about what you need to know to start and run a successful business.
My advice to you is to Read, Read, Read. When you join the Facebook group, scan down and read through the old posts that have been made. You’ll find that others have asked many of the same questions that you have and have shared information and comments that you have never thought of.
I have added links at the bottom of this page to some articles in our Success Express blog that will help you get started. Read them. Make notes. And create the plan for your dream.
Remember that It Is Never Too Late to Be What You Want to Be! So get started today.
Your friend and mentor,
Articles to Get You Started on Your Way to Success:
Starting a Gift Basket Business – In the Beginning
Turning Business Ideas Into Results
Financial Steps When Starting a Business
Does Your Business Need a Website?
What is Marketing – How to Use it to Start Your Business
Why You Should Have a Marketing Calendar
The Zero Cost Business Startup Myth
Read the Latest Articles HERE and check back often