How to Start a Leather Business

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Leather never goes out of style. Its durable and looks great, so forming a business in leather is a great idea. Here are some tips for starting a leather business.

Decide what you're going to sell. Will you focus on leather bags or will you sell all types of leather goods? Will you have a theme, such as country-western or something more posh and upscale?

Determine who you're customers will be. A business is only successful if it has customers, so before you open your doors, determine who will be buying your leather items. What do they look like? Where do they live? What are their demographics?

Create your business. Choose a business name that is unique. Make sure it's not already in use and trademarked by visiting the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office (USPTO) website. Set up your business structure (e.g. LLC). Get permits and licenses as needed by your city or county. If your state charges sales tax, apply for a sales tax permit.

Create a business plan. Outline your goals and describe your business in detail. Include your financial information (assets, liabilities, expenses and income projections). Include information about your target market (identified in Step 2) and how you plan to market to them. This is also where you have information about your suppliers (where you get your leather goods).

Get financing. Use your business plan to apply for loans or find investors to help you fund your business. The Small Business Administration has lots of great information on financing your business start up.

Negotiate with leather suppliers. Unless you're making all your own leather goods, you'll need a wholesale resource for leather products to sell. Show your sales tax permit and you should be able to buy your leather products without paying sales tax (only on items you intend to resell).

Find a storefront. Research available store space in your area. Choose areas that have a lot of traffic from the types of people you described in Step 2. Read your lease contract carefully. In fact, have your attorney check it out for you first. You can create an online store as well or instead. Research web hosting services that provide features for online stores such as shopping carts and payment processing.

Begin marketing your business. Create marketing materials and get them in front of your target market. Strategies include a grand opening event, press releases and articles, advertising, and a website.