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How to Start a Soap Business
Starting your own business can be rewarding and also be easily started from your own home. There are a number of products you can make, including soap. Soap is a tried-and-true product that everyone uses and can provide a steady income to your household if made and marketed the right way. Of course, being a good starter product, the soap industry is full of various independent sellers and large companies. So, what will make your soap-making business a top pick for consumers?
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Pros and Cons of Running a Soap-making Business
Running your own business is both rewarding and exhausting. Once you have managed to get your business off the ground, it can become your whole life. Fortunately, with soap-making, there are more pros than cons in terms of running a business:
- Flexibility in your schedule: Working for yourself and being your own boss offers you the option of taking time for errands during the workday, and to pick your own hours. However, this pro can easily turn into a con if you are not disciplined.
- Work from home: You can make soap in your pajamas if you want! Great option to those with kids, pets, or other responsibilities/needs.
- Affordable start-up cost: You can start a soap-making business with very little money by only buying a small amount of products needed to create a small batch.
- Creative work: Making soap doesn’t have to be boring with the many fun molds, colors, and scents to experiment with.
- High competition: For the above pros, soap-making became trendy and nearly anyone can do it.
- Finding the supplier right for you: Finding the supplies you want for the price point you want can be tricky.
Every business has a pro and con list because business is always changing, regardless of the industry. Keep this in mind as you continue onward and remember to always stay up to date with business information and emerging trends when it comes to soap-making.
How To Start A Natural Soap Business From Home
There are several steps involved when creating a successful soap-making business from home:
Start by Planning
Developing a business plan is your first step in understanding your direction in your future business endeavors. Without a business plan, you might find yourself with many questions, overlooking important factors, and discovering errors along the way. Of course, making a mistake or two happens in every business; it’s part of the learning process when you’re first starting out!
You already have the industry you are going into soap-making. The next step is to determine how you are going to move forward as a start-up. Your business plan does not need to be an overly complex, detailed document to start out, but there are key factors that you should consider planning out, including:
- A summary of your business (story, brand, etc.)
- The product you intend to sell
- What your ideal customer might look like
- Your financial goals
- A visualization of your work process (how the product is made)
- Marketing and sales tools/methods
Planning your business isn’t necessarily the fun part, but it is necessary, especially if you intend on increasing your business scale in the coming years. If so, it is also recommended to draw up a five-year plan. Having a five-year plan is a great starting point where you can evaluate your goals, then break the big goals down into smaller checkpoints to revisit every year and every quarter.
Your ideal customer is key as it can define your niche. Having a niche makes marketing and advertising a bit easier, in the beginning, so think about the lifestyle your ideal customer has. Are they a gardener or landscaper, who often need nourishing soap for their hands? Or do they work in the spa and health resort field, where aromatherapy is useful? Defining your ideal customer will also provide a better understanding of where your prices should be.
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Create Your Branding
In addition to planning how you want to operate and create your business, you need to think about how you will present yourself and your products to the public. This is done by creating your brand, which is your business identity and appearance. Branding is a part of every aspect of your business, from the product and packaging to the social media posts you create.
Determining what your brand is and what you want it to be is easier than you might expect. Find a starting point; start with designing your business logo or picking colors that you want to be associated with your products. Factors to think about when creating your brand include:
- Name of the business
- Logo design
- Website design
- Brand story (what inspired you to make soap)
- Your ideal customer and their identity
Creating a cohesive brand expresses to the public and your customers that you dedicated time, effort, and resources to creating your business. In the beginning, your brand expression will most likely be quite limited to the product itself and the packaging you use. Business cards and having your logo on the packaging also make a good first impression; test out customized logo stickers or stamps that can be used to enhance your packaging. Make sure that the name of your business sticks out and can be easily found on the product.
With any packaging and physical items that be included with your soap, it is important to think about the materials they are made from and their quality. Think about the materials and niches your soap is tailored to and use these factors to select the best packaging. Supplies and materials to consider include:
- Eco-friendly/naturally sourced paper
- Twine, ribbon, or stickers
- Organza bags
- Fabric wrappings
- Plastic wrapping
Think about your target audience again when choosing packaging. If you want to achieve a luxury brand status, it is important to use sturdy and elaborate packaging. Eco-friendly and vegan brands opt for more ethically sourced materials, such as beeswax and recycled paper. Appropriate and attractive packaging is important in creating a great purchasing experience for the customer.
Having an online presence today is helpful for businesses that are just starting out. While it is important to build a network of customers in real life, having a business blog and social media accounts is an attractive way to show potential customers what you offer. Having an online presence is also a good portfolio piece for potential investors if you intend to create a company.
Budget the Start-up Costs
What makes a soap-making business an appealing industry to break into is that making soap is affordable, and a craft that is relatively easier to master. You will first need to invest in your tools and soap-making supplies, which can average around $500, depending on the quality and types of supplies you choose. For the average amount, you can begin learning the different processes used to make soap and experiment with colors, scents, and molds.
The key tools you will want to invest in include:
- Slow cooker
- Measuring containers
- Heavy duty containers for mixing
- A measuring scale (digital is often more precise)
- Silicone spatulas and molds (heat resistant and easier to remove solidified soap from)
- Immersion blender (helps with mixing colors and scents evenly)
If you want a low investment beginner’s run, there are many kits on the market today for soap-making, as making soap became a trendy side hustle in recent years. Keep in mind that the ingredients might be lacking in quality, however. The basic ingredients you will want to invest in include:
- Coconut or olive oil
- Distilled water
- 100% pure lye
- Scents, essential oils
- Colorants (optional, but attractive to most customers)
When you begin to purchase ingredients, you will notice that there are more luxurious options, such as grapeseed oil and specialty blend scents. Depending on the brand you are aiming to create the choices you make with your ingredients will alter how your customers react to your product and who will be your target audience. In order to start stocking up on supplies, you will also want to look into the best suppliers for your business.
There are multiple bulk suppliers today that provide soap-making materials, but the key is to find a supplier that offers the best value for you. Do not start purchasing products from the first supplier you find, rather, test multiple suppliers out and find out who offers the best quality product for the best price. This will take time but will be worth it for both your wallet and your customers, especially if you choose to work with more luxurious materials.
As mentioned in the previous section, you will also want to find a supplier for packaging materials. Customizable stickers, bags, and wrapping paper can be purchased in bulk from a variety of stores, the most popular one being the eCommerce platform, Amazon. Having customizable packaging makes it easier for you to add personal touches and designs to make your product stand out.
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Marketing, Pricing, and Budgeting
Aside from the investment you will need to make for your tools and supplies, you will also need to budget how you intend to promote, market, and advertise your products to potential customers. The larger your business grows, the more you will need to think about insurance providers, web domains, and storefront hosting. But before any of that can happen, you need to start small.
Market research is an important step, whether you are new to business or have been in operation for ten years. It is important to stay up to date with your market outlook, as researching your market allows you to see what your competitors are doing. Look at what products they offer, what scents and materials they use, what their prices are, and so on. Take notes on what other soap companies and sellers are doing to get a better understanding of techniques you could also try.
Samples are a great way to invite new customers to try your product and can increase your likelihood of displaying the product in brick-and-mortar stores. Samples are also great for testing new scents and processes. It is important to test new products regularly to avoid stagnant sales and to always keep your customers interested.
But samples cost money to make, so the next step is to know how to price your product. When determining your pricing, make sure to include:
- The cost of materials
- The cost of your tools and their maintenance
- Your target demographic
- The amount of time spent on production
As the saying goes, time is money and the amount of time you spend on creating and maintaining your business should not be underestimated. However, make sure to not stray too far out of reach for your target audience. Unless your vanilla hand soap is certified organic and ethically sourced, a mass-market audience most likely will not pay $20 per bar.
Marketing should also be included in your budget. Marketing your business can be done for little cost but can take up a lot of your time when you are not making products. Social media can be a free option for start-ups, but it is recommended that you spend some time learning about how to optimize your reach. Advertising is the first option people think about when they hear marketing, which can range greatly in cost. You can pay for advertising slots on social media platforms, websites, and printed media, such as magazines and newspapers.
However, marketing doesn’t stop at advertising and social media. It is important to market consistently to your customers and potential customers. Having an email newsletter is a great way to keep customers updated on your current and new products. Running a blog for your business is also a personal way of keeping your customers up to date, while also adding to your brand’s story.
Parting Thoughts: Moving Forward with your Soap-Making Business
All businesses change and will experience bumps in the road, new challenges, and improvements. Once you have successfully launched your business, the next phase is to determine how much you wish your business to grow and other markets you might want to expand into. You can aim to create your own product line that is featured in storefronts or create product lines that are specific to industries including hotels and resorts. Soap is a flexible product that can be created with any occasion and business in mind, including weddings, baby showers, gardening, and so on.
With new products and new goals comes a new set of planning to attend to. However, once you’ve done the preparations once, you will be better equipped to do it again, and the process will be faster the second time around.
Thank you for reading about how to start a soap business.