We might be a little biased, but a major benefit of candle making compared to other hobbies is that you can easily turn it into a part- or full-time business. Many creative crafters love the perks of the entrepreneurial life. You can:
Handmade crafts, like candles, are some of the fastest growing small businesses in the country. According to the National Candle Association, candle sales in the U.S. are estimated at $3.2 billion per year. Here are a few more reasons why candles are a fantastic business opportunity:
No matter the size of your enterprise, creating a business plan is essential. It helps you think about the future, establish the foundation of your brand, and build a framework for success. In this section, we’ll highlight 8 steps to build a terrific plan.
“Business plan” can sound intimidating, but don’t worry. We suggest keeping it short and simple. Don’t stress about getting all the details together perfectly.
Your objectives and business structure are likely to change and adapt over time, especially in the early months, so view this as a flexible blueprint to get started. To help out, check out these two downloadable templates.
STEP 1. Develop your “pitch”
Write one sentence that describes the core of your business (“the who”) and the value you bring to customers (“the what”). Think of it as an elevator pitch. An example: “Puppy Love Candles Inc. makes unique scented candles with unusual, memorable names targeted to dog lovers.”
STEP 2. Define your target market
The first step in building your brand is deciding where your business fits in the broader candle marketplace. Consider developing your candle line around one of these three target markets:
To help identify which market to target, think about who will buy your candles, how they’ll buy your candles, and how much they’re willing to pay. Then you’ll have a better idea of what materials to use and how to craft your packaging and brand.
It’s important to start with a target in mind, but be willing to pivot and adapt over time. Successful businesses constantly adjust to better fit their market.
STEP 3. Find your niche
Now you know where your candles fit in the marketplace, so it’s time to identify your brand’s individual “niche”—what makes your candles unique and separates them from the competition. Here are a few common ways we’ve seen candle makers find the perfect niche:
In the end, your goal should be to sell candles so distinctive and unique that customers can’t get them anywhere else.
STEP 4. Create a clever brand name and identity
Decide what to call your business and design a logo, color scheme, and brand identity. Once you’ve landed on something catchy and memorable, double check that a domain is available for a website (a .com URL is particularly important) and run a trademark search. You don’t have to register a trademark right away, but you’ll want to have the option available as your business grows.
When brainstorming names, focus on what makes your brand unique, what you’re passionate about, and what resonates with customers. Don’t get too elaborate with your branding. Instead, focus on being personal and authentic.
STEP 5. Set a basic startup budget
We suggest creating a budget for your first two months in business. Estimate the cost of supplies, equipment, and overhead. Don’t forget to pay yourself an hourly wage for your time and effort as a business owner, too. Here’s a downloadable template to help out:
STEP 6. Develop an initial product line and prices
It’s best to keep your product line small and manageable. Think about which candles are most popular with your friends and family, and if they fit your target market. You’ll also want to determine how much each item costs to produce (in supplies and time), and what a reasonable price might be. Don’t be afraid to price your candles based on your time and effort. We’ve seen many candle entrepreneurs price their candles anywhere from $5 up to $30 (or more), depending on their target market.
STEP 7. Decide where to sell
Finding ways to sell your candles isn’t hard. Here are three markets to consider up front:
Also consider letting your personal network know that you’re now selling candles. Early on, your family, friends, and co-workers can provide invaluable feedback on your product line and can be some of your best brand ambassadors.
STEP 8. Incorporate, get insurance, and explore permits and licensure
Much of this depends on your location and individual business needs. You should contact an attorney, accountant, and insurance professional for guidance on incorporating and liability insurance. You also need to explore state and local permit and licensure requirements for small businesses. You have lots of options for business structures, including sole proprietorships, general partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), S corporations, and C corporations. Here’s a helpful IRS checklist for starting your own business and an article from Etsy on business structures popular with crafters. (*None of these materials are offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice.)
We’ve covered a lot in this article, so you might be experiencing info overload right now. We get it. Starting a business can seem like a daunting task, and there is no perfect time to get started. But we’ve seen thousands of crafters—just like you—succeed at it time and time again. If you’re passionate about making things by hand, are a motivated self-starter, and are ready to learn, grow, and adapt, you’re ahead of the game.