Nicole Mahler, owner of Etsy shop Bangerang Bake Shop was interviewed in Money Magazine about how she got her business started right ingredients legally and financially.
To protect her personal assets, she incorporated and insured the business. She also wanted to safeguard her ideas, so she turned to James Hultquist, a partner in the Chicago office of the law firm Reed Smith. He protects intellectual property for both corporate and small-business clients.
James Hultquist: “When startup companies have new or very unique ideas, protecting their intellectual property should be high on the list. A lot of times, entrepreneurs don’t do that early on, and it costs them money later if someone tries to copy their ideas.”
Hultquist’s first step was to find ways to protect one of Mahler’s ideas: shipping the cupcakes in Mason jars.
Nicole Mahler: “I wanted to mail them without spending an arm and a leg on shipping. I saw some Mason jars and the idea just clicked. No one else is doing it.”
Hultquist also suggested that she conduct a trademark search to protect the brand identity of her company.
Here are 10 ingredients (other than eggs, flour, sugar, milk) that I think are necessary for a successful cupcake business:
- Do some research both online and offline. Check business sites like Inc and All Business for small business advice. Visit cupcake businesses to get a handle of how much rental space you need, how many employees and what kind of equipment.
- Create a business plan. This is so intimidating for many but you have create a visual representation of what you want your business to be. Draw a picture of your storefront. Create of wish list of what you want to sell. Then support your dreams with solid numbers like monthly overhead expenses, food costs and marketing.
- Money. How are you going to finance this? A lot of women don’t borrow money from banks to fund their businesses, but they should. Many banks can offer small businesses a good line of credit that can help you get things ramped up. Borrowing from family or friends is not the best idea because even if your business does well, family and friends may mistake their loan as an investment which may lead them to meddle in your business.
- Come up with a name, but do a trademark search first. Nicole Mahler learned the hard way since she had to change her business to Bangerang Bake Shop after threat of litigation by another company.
- Cross all the t’s and dot the i’s! Set up a company structure (LLC, S-Corp). Insure your business. Trademark your name and logo. Have a separate business checking account.
- Get the word out about your business cheaply by telling people both offline and online. Blog your business. Twitter your business. Send samples. Offer to sponsor dessert at a local business conference. Get business cards.
- Make friends with your local competitors. I truly believe that everything that rises must converge.
- Find a few passionate people to work for you.
- Build your brand everyday with excellent product and customer service.
- Learn to delegate (eventually).