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A friend of mine makes B&B products and would like to start an online business; she does not make candles/tarts.

She has very little idea how to start, and I certainly cannot offer her much help besides emotional support:rolleyes2.

Does she need to register with any State/federal agency? Will she need to have any kind of liability insurance? Also she - like me - is not a whiz at techy stuff (computers and all their lingo), so she's looking for a place where she can build her website quite simply, with ready-made templates, one that will not cost her a fortune to maintain as she is a very, very small business - I think she carries fewer than 15 items.

I mentioned GoDaddy and DIYStore, the only 2 I could think of. Are they good quality/customer service/uptime,etc.?

If there are other questions I did not ask out of ignorance, let me know, and I appreciate all the advice.

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Well, I just started dabbling in B&B but I will give you what advice I can. In my state, Utah, to start a business you have to register your business name with the state. Then you would need to register with your state tax commission to get a tax ID number. If you choose to do something other than a DBA, you would have to have a federal ID number as well.

Then you will have to register your business in the city in which you live. That gives you a valid business license. The state only registers your business name so that it belongs to you.

With B&B, I would definately get some type of insurance. There are a lot more variables when working with something that the public applies to their skin and I know that there are a lot of federal regulations in that area as well.

I am sure that if you do a search on here regarding insurance or federal regulations, you will find something that can help you more.

I believe (not certain) that even if you just sell online, you still have to have these things as you are still a viable business. Your friend should do a consultation with a business accountant and/or attorney to get the laws that will apply to her state.

As for a website, there are places like Vistaprint and Yahoo that offer help in business services. I am just starting to look into a website and came across www.intuit.com. They are the makers of Quickbooks and offer web services. There are other servers but I know that they can get extremely pricey. I would start with a smaller service to start that can at least get her started. Then once things get busier, she can look at switching. You could also do a search on here for web servers and you might get some suggestions of who others use. If not, just go to some of there web sites and look at the bottom of the main page. A lot of times the webmaster will be listed there and that would give you some other places that you can look. But before she commits to any one, I would make sure you asks all the questions she can think of. Most important, if she chooses to change servers in the future, have her make sure that SHE is the one who owns the domain name she uses, not the server.

HTH :smiley2:

Edited by CandleMama6
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CandleMama6, thank you so much for the information!

She has been giving samples of her products to her friends, including me, but I know for a fact that she has no insurance whatsoever on these products :shocked2: What if someone ends up with an allergic reaction?! Think I'd better call her first thing in the morning.

Sheryl (my friend) is all excited, whereas I'm a bit apprehensive. I feel like it's the blind leading the blind; it's like Thelma & Louise here:laugh2:

I have one more question: If she starts her online business, could she also sell my tarts? Will she have to have liability insurance on my products or will I have to be the one carrying the insurance on the tarts (only tarts, no candles)? Thank you!:)

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She could sell your tarts but I am not sure if she or you would need anything for tarts only. With candles, then you should have some type of insurance but I really don't know about the other.

Maybe someone else with more experience would know if you would need insurance for just tarts. Sorry I couldn't help more. :(

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Thank you, CandleMama6

I think - and of course I could be totally wrong - that once we decide to sell tarts, neither one of us would need to buy liability insurance on the tarts.

As the melters go, I don't think I'd need it either because I'm not the one making them. I buy them from someone else and resell them.

On the other hand, products that go on the skin or candles are a different animal.

Spoke with her this morning. She sounded really surprised ("But these are people I know, some of them are friends...). As if people you know wouldn't turn on you if something happened!:rolleyes2

Shirley is a really nice person, just too trusting and plain gullible at times, but she is my good friend:)

Again, thank you, CandleMama6. I too hope someone will chime in!

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When I first started with candles and such, I thought the same thing. These are my friends and family members. But when I started doing more and more research, I decided that sadly, some of them would be the first to turn.

Now that I have started dabbling in B&B, I only use the products in my immediate family and my mom. I know it may be a surprise to your friend, but like I am sure you have heard, 'Better to be safe than sorry.'

If you do a search you may find more information regarding the issue of insurance.

Glad I could help!! (at least a little)

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Definately tell your friend to get insurance! In today's litigous society, you can't be too careful.

How long has your friend been making products? It sounds as if she's sort of, for lack of a better word, clueless (and I don't mean that to sound ugly--just don't know another word to use). Has she done any craft shows or farmer's markets? Any other venue to get her products out to the public?

I made soaps etc. for over a year before I started doing local markets and such. Getting out in the public is crucial in learning what works and what doesn't.

Maybe your friend could start an Etsy or Artfire shop instead of a full blown website. I used to have a DIYeStore but gave it up to do Etsy/Artfire. I'm very busy with nursing school and being a mom to 4 kids and a decent wife (lol), so I love that I can only list 1 thing for sale if I want. Doing that on a website would look ridiculous. :cheesy2:


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Julia, my friend Shirley is the first one to say she is clueless, and what I find amusing is that she asks me (!) to help her, and I'm just as clueless as she is. That's why in an earlier post I wrote "the blind leading the blind" :laugh2:

And no, she has not sold any her products at craft sales, farmers' markets, etc. ; only to a few friends.... scary, I know.

she enjoys making bubble baths, shower gels, hand lotions, bath bombs, etc. She hoped I'd get interested in what she does, but frankly I neither have the time nor the patience (working as a night shift ICU nurse leaves me pretty much pooped out by the time I'm done working there)

Making scented tarts is all I do, and enjoy it; the stuff she makes, forget it, too much hassle for my taste. I use the tarts I make in my home, give to friends and relatives, and they love them. Perhaps I will consider the farmers' market next year (too late now).

Do you know if I will need liability insurance when I decide to start selling my tarts? And if I were to sell the warmers/melters, who would be responsible in case of malfunction, me or the manufacturer?

I spoke with Shirley this morning; hope I did not kill the wind in her sails but - like you said - she IS rather clueless:rolleyes2

Thank you both for the advice, and if anyone else would care to offer further suggestions, please do!

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Ring of Fire, yup, she is clueless and realizes that. But that is in regards to the business side of things, I don't believe she is clueless about making lotions, etc. She does test the products ad nauseatum and keeps detailed info. on every step of the process. Of course I'm not in the position to know IF she is testing correctly, 'cause I don't share her interest in making lotions, bath bombs, etc.

I will not be rude and tell her to scrap the whole idea of selling, but I did tell her she must get all her ducks in a row, talk with people in the business, seek the advice of experienced people so she can learn what she needs in regards to the business.

If every time we tried to start something and have another person tell us "You're clueless", we'd never take the first step. Support her, not beat her over the head for her enthusiasm, that's what I'm trying to do.

She does realize that at this point she'll have to wait before I even consider selling tarts in her store. But when she attains a good grasp of the business side of things - perhaps contacting the SBA? that would be a start - then I will definately consider it. I am her friend , I will support her, but will not deceive or sugar-coat anything, that's not my style. Thanks! :)

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Ok, excuse me, it is Shirley and I do call her Sheryl or Sherry to her face at times, really don't know why except senility, but there are some names I always mix up, no matter what. My daughter's boyfriend, for example, his name is Jared, always call him Gerald! :embarasse

It has nothing to do with not being friends, she just smiles and sometimes corrects me.

I don't mean anything offensive when I say "clueless". We all are clueless about certain things; in this forum I'm clueless about making candles and would never even think of selling candles without a strong foundation and possibly years of testing.

Therefore, we all start clueless (yup, even the pros here started from scratch) and learn from there, if we want to learn badly enough. And I guess at this point I don't want to learn about making candles, I'm just experimenting with different waxes and fragrances, and I'm happy with that. And perhaps Shirley isn't that serious about starting a business after all.... at least that's the impression I get.

I would not have any problem if Shirley read my comments on this forum (about her being "clueless"). She admits it, I told her, and I do not say it with any malice. Someone may take it that way, but that's not my intentioon. And yes, I did suggest she join the candle and B&B forums, I mentioned it twice, and I'm not going to bring it up again. Just a few days ago she told me that if she decides to join the forum she would use the name "Clueless"!! :cheesy2:

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