How to Start a Shoe Business

The processes involved in starting a shoe business have a lot of crossover with the processes involved in starting any other kind of business. To start any type of new business, you need an understanding of your target market, a realistic business plan, startup capital and the resources to effectively operate your business. If you plan to open a brick-and-mortar business, this includes a physical space out of which to operate the business.

Not all shoe businesses are the same. A dropshipping business has different needs than a shoe-repair shop, and a shoe-consignment store involves different types of resources and business savvy than a traditional shoe store.

Starting a Shoe Business

Before starting a shoe business, you need to develop a business plan for selling shoes. There are many different ways to operate a shoe business, such as:

  • Dropshipping
  • Operating a traditional brick-and-mortar shoe store
  • Consigning shoes
  • Reselling limited-edition shoes
  • Shoe repair and cleaning

A business plan outlines everything about a business. By creating one, you can see your business strengths, where you need solutions and how you can shape your business to suit your market and your personal strengths as an entrepreneur. Subjects to cover in a business plan include:

  • Where the business will operate
  • How the business will be funded
  • The target market the business will serve
  • How the business will be marketed
  • The business’s leadership team
  • The products and services the business will sell
  • How the business will be incorporated
  • The business’s expenses and budgets

Getting Licenses and Permits for a Shoe Business

The necessary licenses and permits for a shoe business depend on where you plan on operating your business and whether you plan to operate in a physical location or purely online. In every state except New Hampshire, Alaska, Delaware, Oregon and Montana, you need a sales tax permit. This is the permit that allows your business to collect sales tax and to purchase wholesale items for resale without having to pay sales tax. It is granted by your state’s department of revenue.

Additionally, you will need to register your business with the IRS and in most cases, with your state. The state agency with which you must register your business depends on the state where you are operating; this agency may be the secretary of state’s office or the business bureau.

If you plan on operating your shoe business within a shared vendor space, another one of the licenses and permits for a shoe business that you’ll likely need is a general vendor license. This type of permit is granted by the city or state where you will be operating if you are required to obtain one.

Implementing your Business Plan for Selling Shoes

Once you have all the necessary permits and licenses for operating a shoe business, you can start implementing your business plan. One of the first steps to take is creating the space where you will conduct your business, which could mean renting a storefront, purchasing commercial property and/or setting up an e-commerce website.

If you need to purchase inventory for the business, find a wholesaler that sells the shoes and accessories you plan to sell at a rate that fits your operating budget. Similarly, if employees are part of your business plan, hire and train a team that can help you be successful.

You also need to make the necessary purchases to start your business. If you’re operating a brick-and-mortar store, this includes furniture, displays and fixtures. With any business, it typically includes accounting software, marketing and an online presence.

Marketing the Shoe Business

Like all other parts of your business plan for selling shoes, marketing is an ongoing process rather than a one-off effort. Marketing your shoe business is perhaps the most time consuming of ongoing business processes. Marketing should start before the business opens and continue for as long as the business is operational.