Step-By-Step Guide to Starting a Canning Business from Home


Jelly Selling Stand

As the family jelly maker recently retired from my day job, I found myself with too much time on my hands. And since I had been kicking around the idea of starting my own jelly business, I did just that.

A great reason to start a homemade canning business is to be able to offer the public a clean, green, and healthy alternative to commercial jams and jellies that are processed in bulk and are filled with preservatives. Why not share with anyone interested, a product that is made in small batches from all-natural ingredients just like I’ve been making for my own family for many years?

Since I had little experience as an entrepreneur, a good bit of research was required to find the best way to start a small business. The process of setting up a business to sell homemade goods is not in most cases difficult, but local laws and regulations vary from state to state, and even from county to county. I found that selling locally requires the least amount of regulation.

I’m going to give you a step-by-step list of the things I did in setting up my small jelly business. Your journey will not be exactly the same as mine, but the process should be similar.

1. Conduct Market Research to See If There Is a Market for Your Product

Market Research consists of two main sources, primary and secondary. Primary research collects information directly from your future customers. Secondary research collects information from government sources on market and population trends.

Conducting market research is not as complicated as you think. As a matter of fact, it can be accomplished very easily. You can either pay someone else to do the research for you or you can do it on your own. Here are some ways to do this research:

Primary Research

Take a few days and visit the local farmers’ markets to find out:

  • If there is anyone selling jelly
  • How many different jelly businesses are operating in your area
  • What are their prices
  • How many varieties do they offer
  • Which varieties are their best sellers
  • Which varieties do not sell at all
  • Whether their labels look homemade or professional
  • Whether they offer samples and to pick up any samples they have available

Secondary Research

Go to your local public library or chamber of commerce and locate population trends. These trends will give you an idea as to what type of inventory you should focus on.

For example, if the local population consists primarily of retirees, it would be a good idea to stock a variety of low sugar and sugar-free products. But, if the largest population group is families with young children, a variety of jelly you can sell a little cheaper as well as a line of products you can advertise as green and/or organic would fill the needs of this population group.

Why do I need to conduct market research?

The four main reasons for conducting market research are to:

  1. Determine how much competition you will have.
  2. Find out the price of their products.
  3. See what products are your competitions’ best sellers.
  4. Identify what population group or groups are attending the markets.

2. Decide What Product(s) You Want to Sell

After deciding that you want to start a small canning business, the first decision is to determine what product(s) you will sell. Here are a few considerations:

  • What home-canned foods are you good at making? The product(s) you plan to sell should be something that many other people really like and have given you rave reviews on. Over time, much of your business should be from repeat customers, and if your product isn’t something special, you cannot count on customers coming back for more.
  • Do you really enjoy canning? It would not be wise to start a canning business if you do not really love canning, because spending that much time in the kitchen could get old really fast if it is not your thing.
  • Can you make your products at home? Do you have space in your kitchen to prepare the products for your business? If not, you may have to rent kitchen space which could be inconvenient and expensive for you and could eat up a lot of your profit. You do have a few alternatives you could investigate. Some restaurants who close relatively early in the evening might be willing to allow you to rent their kitchen at night to make your jelly. Also, some churches, community centers, or club buildings might also allow you to use their facilities at times they are not otherwise in use.
  • Have you assembled the recipes you need to make all the products you will sell? Even though you have probably made so much of your jam and jelly that you don’t need a recipe, it is better to have a written copy of all recipes you will use so that all batches are the same and will not differ significantly. This is especially important for specialty items such as pepper jelly and combinations.
  • Do you have all the equipment you need to make multiple batches of your home-canned foods? To be efficient in making your canned goods, you might need extra equipment like larger pots or an additional freezer which would add to your startup costs.
  • Do you have access to a sufficient quantity of raw materials (fruit for jelly and jam; vegetables for salsa; etc.) for your product? If you are making jelly and jam, do you have a source for fruit that would be available when you need it and at a cost that would allow you to sell your products at a reasonable price? Maybe you have some fruit trees in your yard or your sister has a dozen Mayhaw trees on her property. These would be your basic stock items and you could add other types when you can get them at a good price. Trading a few jars of jelly for a gallon of fruit would be a wise move on your part. If you have to pay a retail price for your fruits and vegetables, you may not be able to make a profit from your products.
  • Do you have sufficient storage for your raw materials? For a jelly business, sufficient storage would include freezer space for extra fruit picked or purchased when the fruit is in season and cabinet or pantry space for canned fruit and juices.
  • Do you have sufficient storage for your supply of finished products? Maybe you have a large pantry, a basement, or an extra room you could put into service as a storage area for business-related items. Remember, to extend their shelf life, canned foods must be stored in a cool, dry space with no direct sunlight and no extreme temperatures.
  • Do you have access to all the supplies and materials (jars or other containers, fruit pectin, sugar, etc.) required to make a sufficient quantity of the product you decide to sell? You must be able to purchase all your supplies and materials at wholesale prices in order to be competitive when pricing your products. Check online for pricing, and in some larger areas, check whether there are restaurant and wholesale suppliers where you can purchase your supplies and materials in bulk and at wholesale prices after obtaining a business license.
  • Do you have either the capability of creating and printing labels and signs, or access to an affordable supplier? Creating and printing my own labels was much more cost-effective for me, and buying blank labels and card stock in bulk was the only way to go. This expense must also be added to the cost of your product(s).

3. Learn Your State Regulations

Before you can get started, you must find out which governing body regulates the activities of a small business selling homemade canned products and find out what those regulations are.

In most states, there are cottage industry laws that cover the retail sale of home-canned foods. In the State of Florida, these laws are governed by the Department of Agriculture and allow you to sell your home-canned food products without a license from the Department of Agriculture, without a licensed kitchen, and without inspections.

Requirements for selling your product(s) under the cottage industry laws:

  • Sales must be within the State of Florida and not across state lines.
  • Sales via a website are allowed, but mail delivery is prohibited.
  • Delivery must be in-person to consumer or consumer’s event (party, dinner, etc.).
  • Sales must be retail and not wholesale, and annual gross sales must not exceed $50,000 per year.
  • Products must be packaged and labeled properly, and samples must be prepackaged. The label on Cottage food products must include the name and address of the business, the name of the product, an ingredients list in descending order by weight, the net weight or net volume of the product, any allergen information, any nutritional claim, if made, and the statement, “Made in a cottage food operation that is not subject to Florida’s food safety regulations.”
  • Products must be stored on the premises of the Cottage Food operation.
  • Owner(s) must allow access to the Cottage Food operation by any employee or agent of the Department of Agriculture to perform an investigation as a result of any complaint that there has been a violation of Cottage Food Laws.
  • Compliance with all Federal, state, local and county requirements that regulate the “preparation, processing, storage, and sale of cottage food products.”

Check with your state’s Department of Agriculture for Cottage Industry Laws in your area.

4. Decide Where You Will Sell Your Products

Choosing a market for your product is one of the most important decisions you will make in this process. If you do not market your product(s) to the right target group, you may not have enough sales to keep your business afloat.
Also, where and how you will sell your product(s) will determine the type of licenses you must have and how much product and capital you need going forward. Since I live in the State of Florida, the production and sales of homemade food products are governed by the Cottage Industry Laws.

Where you can sell your products under Cottage Industry Laws:

Cottage industry laws only allow retail sales directly to the consumer, so here are your options as to where you can sell your products:

  • Local Farmers’ Markets. Most Farmers’ Markets open only one or two days a week, so find out where your local markets are and what day or days and hours are involved. You will need to find out how to register to sell at each one and what their fees and requirements are. Then, set up a schedule to try them out and see how your sales go. Some markets have space inside with tables included. For outside space, you will need to provide your own tent and table. This is an additional expense.
  • Special venues such as Fairs and Craft Shows. Here, again, you will need to make contact with the individual venues for information on space costs and requirements.
  • Directly from your home. This option, of course, would probably require the least investment but in many ways limits your exposure to prospective customers.
  • Open your own Fruit Stand. This could be very cost-effective if you live or have property on a major highway or thoroughfare.
  • Special orders from newspapers and local shopper guides. In many cases, the local newspapers and shopper guides will give you free advertising and possibly do a little story on your business. But, the ads would be a very affordable expense for you, especially if you want to keep your business relatively small.
  • Online via your own website. Cottage industry laws do not allow sales outside state lines nor do they allow your product to be mailed. Even if you sell via a website, you must deliver directly to your customers.
  • Online via a local Facebook marketplace. Here again, cottage industry laws do not allow sales outside state lines nor do they allow you to deliver your product by mail. If you do decide to advertise in a local Facebook marketplace, be sure you have a good, safe public area to meet your customers to deliver their purchases.

5. Name Your Business

You must give your business a name and logo. The name you choose can have a lot to do with whether it is a success. Ideally, the name and logo should in some way describe what your business is all about. Try to create a unique name and logo that will be easy for your customers to remember.

Do a Google search to make sure someone else isn’t already using the business name that you are considering.

You must report your business name to the Department of State in your state by filing a Fictitious Name advertisement in your local newspaper for three consecutive weeks and then sending your proof of advertising to the Department of State. Your Department of State will provide you with all the information you need to advertise and file your Fictitious Name Ad.

Be sure to include your name and logo on your business cards, stationery, and advertising.

6. Find out Which Tax Laws Will Affect You

How state tax laws will affect you depends on the state in which you live. I live in the State of Florida, and since food is tax-exempt statewide, I do not have to collect sales tax, but I was required to get a Local Business Tax Receipt from my county’s tax collector. This license must be renewed annually.

7. Find out What Licenses You Need

As mentioned above, the only license in Florida that a Cottage Industry is required to have is a Business Tax Receipt from their county tax collector. Be sure to check with your local tax collector’s office to see what the requirements are in your state.

8. Set up Your Price Schedule

There are a few things that will help you decide what you will charge for your products.

  1. Do a Google search for Mayhaw jelly or whatever your main product will probably be and check the prices for online shoppers.
  2. Visit some of the local farmers’ markets to see what the competitors in your area are charging for their products.
  3. Figure your costs and decide how much profit you need to make so that your efforts are worthwhile.
  4. Keep in mind that you can charge a little more for your specialty items.

The most common method is to double your costs for each jar for a profit margin of 100%, as long as that gives you prices that are competitive in your area. You can probably charge 125% to 150% for specialty items.

What are my costs?

Most of your costs are obvious such as the cost of fruit, sugar, pectin, lemon juice, and any other ingredients you put in your jelly, along with jars, lids, rings, and labels.

Let’s talk about some of those costs. For this example, we are using the standard Mayhaw Jelly recipe of 5 cups of juice, 7 cups of sugar, and one package of pectin.

Fruit

The cost for the fruit you use is all over the spectrum. If you or someone you know grows fruit, the cost will be negligible. Most of the fruit I buy is somewhere between $5 and $10 per gallon, and I’ve paid as much as $30 a bushel for peaches. Most of my jelly, however, is made from Mayhaws, which is a berry that looks like a small apple, that I buy from my sister for $10 per gallon, so we’ll use that for our example.

From a gallon of Mayhaws, you can expect to extract enough juice to make 3 batches of jelly or 15 cups. Each batch will produce 8 or 9, 8-oz jars of jelly, so you can expect to have at least 25 jars from the gallon of fruit. So, $10 divided by 25 means that the cost of the fruit for that particular batch of jelly is 40 cents.

Sugar

The best price for sugar in my area is $4.99 for a 10-pound bag, and there are approximately 18 cups in a 10-pound bag for a cost of .28 per cup. Since there are 7 cups of sugar in a batch of Mayhaw jelly at .28 per cup, the cost of sugar for one batch is $1.96. Since we are using a gallon of Mayhaws in our example, or 3 batches of jelly, the cost is $1.96 x 3 = $5.88. Then divide the number of jars we expect to get from the 3 batches, or 25, into $5.88, we get the cost for sugar of 24 cents for one jar of Mayhaw jelly.

So the trick here to determine the cost of the sugar in any kind of jelly is to:

  1. Divide the price of the bag of sugar by the number of cups of sugar in the bag to get the cost of one cup of sugar
  2. Multiply the cost of one cup of sugar by the number of cups used in the batch of jelly to get the cost of the sugar in the entire batch of jelly
  3. Divide the total cost of sugar in the entire batch by the number of jars of jelly that the batch produces

*Note: You can use these same calculations and apply it to alternative sweeteners.

Pectin

If you are starting a jelly business, you must find a source for pectin that is cheaper than the retail price for the one batch pre-packaged pectin such as Sure-Gel or Ball Fruit Pectin, each box of which sells for approximately $2.25. The most cost-effective way to buy pectin in bulk from one of the online companies such as Amazon.com. I’ve been using their pectin for many years now and really like their product. While prices can fluctuate over time, an example price might be $3.99 per pound plus 5.99 for shipping for a total of 9.98 which makes approximately 8 batches by using 4 tablespoons per batch (my recommendation). That means you are paying $1.25 per batch, or 15 cents per jar ($1.25 x 3 batches = $3.75 divided by 25 jars = 15 cents).

Lemon Juice

Jars

This is probably the largest expense when making jelly. The cheapest I’ve been able to buy 8-ounce jelly jars is from a restaurant supply business for $6.00 per dozen, or 50 cents per jar. Many times, however, I’ve had to pay as much as $9.00 per dozen or 75 cents per jar. But, we will assume for these purposes that you find a wholesale business that will sell you the jars for $6.00 per dozen, or 50 cents per jar.

Lids and Rings

When you buy the jars from a wholesale business, quite often you will have to pay extra for the lids and rings. The ones I bought from the restaurant supply business charged an extra 60 cents for the dozen lids and rings, which adds an additional 5 cents to the cost of each jar of jelly. When you buy the jars at retail, the lids and rings will be included in the price of the jars.

Labels

I tried several different methods for obtaining the labels for my jars, from printing my own to ordering them pre-printed, and all of those methods resulted in an average cost of approximately 15 cents per jar.

How much does a jar of Mayhaw jelly cost (Note that no lemon juice is needed for Mayhaw jelly)?

Fruit + sugar + pectin + jar + lids & rings + labels = 40 + 24 + 15 + 50 + 5 + 15 = $1.49.

9. Keep Complete Records of All Costs and Sales

Decide whether you will do your own bookkeeping or will employ the help of someone else to keep your records and prepare the necessary reports and filings. Whichever way you go, please be sure to keep track of all income and expenses. KEEP ALL RECEIPTS!

Most sources recommend that you set up a separate bank account for your business. SET UP EXCEL SPREADSHEET

10. Keep Complete Inventory Records and Set up a Physical Inventory Schedule

Not only is it important to keep complete records of all inventory as you make it as well as all sales as they occur, but it is also imperative that you do regular physical inventory checks for several reasons:

  • To verify that your record-keeping is accurate. Your bookkeeping records should record not only that you sold 24 jars of jelly on March 3rd at the Lady Lake Farmers’ Market, but your records should indicate that those sales were as follows: 14 Mayhaw, 7 Blackberry, 3 Peach, and 1 sugar-free Blueberry. Because mistakes do happen, especially if you are extremely busy at the market, a physical inventory will verify that your records are correct and that you need to make more Mayhaw jelly right away.
  • To make sure you have sufficient product for your sales events.
  • To be sure you are selling your oldest jam/jelly/preserves first since your product has a shelf life and is perishable.
  • To ensure your records are correct for tax season.

11. Get to Know Your Customers

In order to optimize your profits, it helps to adjust flavors according to the flavor preferences of your customers, and advertise alternative uses.

Once you start selling your product(s), if you have a variety of products and/or flavors, you will begin to see which are selling and which are not. This will let you know which inventory should be increased and which to consider eliminating. More than likely, your customers will begin to request flavors that you don’t have. In some cases, you could add those flavors, but not if the requested flavors are made from fruits that are not available to you.

Create a sign for your booth that advertises alternative uses for your products. Some examples are:

  • Toppings for ice cream and other desserts,
  • Ingredients in sauces for meat and vegetables,
  • Syrups for pancakes and French toast, and
  • Ingredients in baked goods such as blackberry jam in fruitcakes.

Display recipes for your customers indicating alternative uses for your products.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which states have Cottage Food Industry laws?

At the present time, it seems that every state in the United States has some sort of cottage food laws with the single exception of the state of New Jersey. However, the laws vary greatly from state to state. The best way to find the current laws that govern the cottage food industry in your state is to check out the website or call the office of the Department of Agriculture or the Department of Health to find out who oversees the Cottage Food Industry in your state.

Do I have to register with the FDA?

If you plan to operate a canning business under Cottage Food Industry regulations which only allow you to sell your products retail, you are not required to register with the FDA.

But, if you decide to operate a food business that sells your products wholesale to other businesses, then you must register with the FDA and renew that registration annually between October 1st and December 31st.

Will you have any employees?

This is something else you will have to decide before you open your business. Will you be able to operate the business on your own, or will you require some help? Can you produce enough product by yourself to stay ahead of your sales, do all the marketing, handle sales, and do the heavy stuff like setting up your tent and tables at the Farmers’ Markets and delivering your product if you have an online business or advertise some distance from your home base? If not, do you have family who will help you with your business or will you have to hire someone?

Plus, if you do hire someone to help, how much will you pay them, will you pay hourly or by the job, do you know how to handle the bookkeeping as far as employee withholding taxes or will you hire a bookkeeper?

How much start-up money do you need?

This will be determined by your particular situation, but you will need enough to:

  • Purchase enough raw materials to make your product(s) for at least a year while you build your business.
  • Purchase all supplies you need for approximately one year including containers, labels, sugar, pectin.
  • Purchase any equipment you must have to get started such as a boiling water bath canner, a tent, a table, and display cases and decorations.
  • Start-up costs such as licenses and fees.
  • Booth fees for at least six months.

How much product do you need to start with? 

It depends on how fast your sales take off as to how much product you will need to start with, but for a product like jelly which does have a shelf life, I would plan to have at least 20 to 25 dozen jars or containers ready to begin selling.

However, if you have limited time to devote to your business, you will need more in advance. For example, if your first venue is a county or state fair, you could possibly sell 100 jars per day, so take stock of where you intend to set up and guestimate how much you need. After your first few days of selling, you will have a better idea of what you will need.

Also, if you are making several varieties of jelly, the amount you need of each will become obvious according to your sales and contact with potential customers.

Do you have the time required to devote to a business?

Unless you have help with making the jelly and setting up for selling, you probably will not have time to devote to your jelly business if you are already working full time. Of course, you can always limit your time selling, but if you are going to sell, it is important that you be regular at a certain venue or venues so your customers can find you.

Once you begin selling, it will be important to show up regularly for at least one market per week and advertise that location so your customers will know where and when you will be there.

What if I want to wholesale my products and ship out of state?

If you decide to wholesale your products, the State of Florida, for example, requires that you have commercial licensing under which more restrictions apply than for the cottage industry license. If you wish to go this route, contact your state’s Department of Revenue for information on the requirements for starting a wholesale food business. This license will give you the capability of marketing your products wholesale to other businesses including:

  • Boutique consignment shops – In my area, there are many small businesses that take consignments of products owned by other small business owners. This usually means that you get paid as your products sell.
  • Produce stands owned by others – Most produce stands I have seen market canned products for small business owners.
  • Local grocery stores – Many grocery stores market local products, and in most cases, the products must be prepared under commercial licensing requirements.

Commercial licensing will also allow you to ship your product, so you could then market online and ship to your customers, no matter where they are.

How Can I Advertise My Products As Green?

You can advertise your business as “green” if you use green or recycled packaging and have a line of organic products. In the case of jam, jelly, and other fruit products, you could purchase organic fruits for a line of environmentally friendly organic products and use recycled jars, labels made of recycled paper, and any packaging made of recycled paper.

How Can I Advertise My Products As Organic?

There are fruit growers who can, through government inspections, verify that they are growing organic fruit. An organic certification program has been established by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) which regulates how certain foods are grown, handled and processed. By using those organic fruits, you can advertise a line of organic products.

Should I Carry A Line Of Reduced Sugar And Sugar-free Products?

My experience has been that there are quite a few calls for either reduced sugar products for people who are either dieting or just trying to eat a healthier diet and sugar-free products for those on a strict diet or with health issues such as diabetes.

Many people like the reduced sugar products because they have decided to reduce their sugar intake and the taste of the reduced sugar version of jam and jelly is more pleasing than the high sugar version, but here are a few drawbacks:

  • The reduced sugar and sugar-free jam and jelly is more difficult to get to jell properly.
  • The shelf life of these products is shorter.
  • The jam/jelly begins to darken after about 9 or 10 months. Even though it is still good for at least a year, the color change renders the product(s) visually unappealing.

What Kind Of Canopy Or Tent Should I Buy For My Sales Area?

The kind of canopy or tent you should acquire to define your sales area at farmers’ markets, fairs, and other events depend on the kind of events you plan to participate in. Most farmers’ markets spaces are 10 by 10 and do not require any particular type of setup.

However, the more prestigious events such as art shows and fairs require a 10 x 10 white canopy, like this one found on Amazon, or tent so that all business setups have a consistent look. So if you would like to have the flexibility to take your business setup to any venue you choose, it would be better to go ahead and get a 10 x 10 canopy in white so that your equipment will work anywhere you would like to go.

It is better to get a canopy that has at least one side panel so you can block bright sun, wind, and rain, and it is important to add anchors any time you set up to avoid your canopy blowing over if a strong wind comes up quickly.

Are There Any Pitfalls or Downside to a Canning Business?

Actually, there are quite a few items that can be considered pitfalls to a canning business. Here are a few:

Hard Work:

  • Making multiple batches of jelly and other canned foods involve lifting heavy pots and spending a lot of time on your feet in front of a hot stove.
  • There is a lot of heavy lifting involved in setting up a display at an event or farmers’ market. Quite often, you cannot park really close to your assigned booth and cases of canned food such as jelly and salsa are quite heavy as are the tent and tables you will use in your display.

Will Your Product Sell?

  • As you make your product(s) for selling, you cannot be sure which of your products will sell and which will not. As you get to know your customers, you will have a better idea of what kind of product(s) will sell and can avoid making the products or flavors that do not sell well.
  • Sales are uncertain and there is always a chance that you will spend all day at an event and your sales will not even cover the price of your booth fee.

Your Products Have a Shelf Life.

  • You must be careful in managing your inventory to avoid having products that are past their shelf life.
  • Care must be taken to store your inventory properly.
  • You must avoid allowing your product to be damaged while at an event by prolonged exposure to hot sun or freezing temperatures.

Sales Are Limited.

The State of Florida Cottage Industry Laws limits total sales to $50,000 per year.

Checklist For Starting A Small Canning Business

To help you make sure all your bases are covered, I created this handy checklist for you to follow. Enjoy!

  1. Perform market research to see if there is a chance your business will be successful. Visit local farmers’ markets and other venues where homemade products are sold to check out other vendors. Visit the local library and chamber of commerce for market and population statistics.
  2. Decide what product(s) you will sell.
  3. Contact the State Department of Agriculture for business requirements.
  4. Research the Cottage Industry Laws.
  5. Set up any required funding for start-up costs.
  6. Find sources for your raw materials and obtain price lists. Determine the best sources and begin gathering the things you will need.
  7. Find sources for your supplies and materials, obtain price information, and begin purchasing or ordering everything you will have to have.
  8. Check to see whether you have all the equipment you need to make multiple batches of your product(s).
  9. Purchase or gather the equipment you need to set up a booth to sell your product, including tent, tables, chairs, and displays.
  10. Name your business.
  11. Advertise the name of your business in compliance with the Fictitious Name Act and file the proof of advertising with the office of the Secretary of State.
  12. Contact your local Tax Collector’s Office for required licenses.
  13. Contact your state’s Department of Revenue or whoever is the taxing authority in your state to determine whether you must collect sales tax from your customers and ask them to guide you through the process.
  14. Make a list of all farmers’ markets in your area. You can obtain this information from online sources, local telephone directories, and the Chamber of Commerce. Contact them for the information you need, such as the day(s) of the week their market is open, hours of the market, what kind of space they have to rent, how much they charge for rent, when you will need to set up your booth, whether you will need to bring your own table, tent, chair, etc., and ask them for an appointment to give you a tour of their facility.
  15. Check newspapers and shoppers’ guides, do Internet searches, and ask your friends for a list of special events such as fairs and arts and craft shows and give the contact person a call for information on setting up a table at their show.
  16. Decide whether you need to hire a helper. You will need time to find the right person.
  17. Once you have obtained all the required licenses, set up a schedule of markets and events you want to try.
  18. Open a business bank account.
  19. Decide how much product to start with and begin making your product.
  20. Set up your bookkeeping or hire a bookkeeper.
  21. Make a list of expenses and figure your costs per jar.
  22. Set up a price schedule and either label your products or prepare a price list to post prominently on your table.
  23. Order or print labels for your product(s).
  24. Order or print business cards.
  25. Order or prepare any signs you will need for your booth, the name of your business, price lists, etc.
  26. Decide what kind of advertising you are going to try and set it up. A little ad in the newspaper announcing your business and where you can be found would help. Distributing flyers is another way to announce your business or perhaps notices displayed on bulletin boards in local businesses.
  27. Decide whether you are going to have samples available for prospective customers to try. Remember, under the Cottage Industry Laws, samples must be prepackaged.
  28. You will need a cash box, like this one found on Amazon, and change. It is hard to get change at the markets and other venues, so it’s better to go prepared with at least a couple hundred dollars in change, $50 in ones, $50 in quarters, a couple of rolls each of dimes, nickels, and pennies, and the rest in $5s, $10s, and a couple $20s.
  29. On the day of the sale, be sure to take some food and drinks with you as you may not have an opportunity to buy something to eat.
  30. The first thing to do when you get to a new venue is to find out where the restrooms are located and get to know your booth neighbor so you can watch each other’s booths while you take a short break.

Final Thoughts

If you have the time and patience and are not depending on income from your small business for support right away, you can over time become known in your area and build up a clientele that will give you a decent side income. Word of mouth and repeat customers will be important as you build your business.

But, under the Florida Cottage Industry Laws, the maximum annual gross sales cannot exceed $50,000, so unless you step up to commercial licensing and create a product that will sell nationally and maybe even internationally that you can market online, your profits with your small business will be limited, but who knows? You just might be the small business that hits the big time!

Worst case scenario, you have a cost-effective way to give great gifts throughout the year.

Anne James

Hi, I'm Anne but my grandchildren call me Jelly Grandma. I hope your visit here has been a sweet one.

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