Used for thousands of years for relaxation and spiritual purposes, incense is a popular product in many cultures. Starting your own incense company requires planning, financing and a lot of hard work. As part of the aromatherapy industry, making and selling incense is highly competitive. With motivation, you can start a successful small business in this field. Like starting any business, you must follow certain steps. Knowledge of the aromatherapy and incense industry will help you succeed in starting your own company.
Decide if you will make your own incense from scratch or will import ready-made incense to resell. This will determine what items you need from what supplier. In order to make the incense yourself, you will need fragrance or essential oils, unscented incense cones or sticks, resins, a binding ingredient, and, for combustible incense, a combustible ingredient such as makko powder. You will also need knowledge of incense making and your own original recipes. You may also want to sell or create incense burners and cones.
Locate suppliers for your business. The items you choose to sell and how you make them will determine the supply companies you need to contact. Buy in bulk to lower your investment costs and make a profit on your products. In addition, you must decide whether your company will specialize in selling organic and natural products. If so, this will impact your supply decision, reducing the number of places from which to choose.
Get your company licensed in your home state. According to the Small Business Association, or SBA, a state business license is the main document required for tax purposes and conducting other basic business functions. You also must register your company name with the state if you plan to do business locally. If planning to do business outside of your state, the SBA says you should register the name through state Secretary of State offices, and for wider marketplace protection, through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The license and your business name will enable you to obtain a sales tax license to do retail business or an employer identification number from your state Department of Revenue or Treasury Department, according to the SBA. You will not have to obtain a federal license for an incense business.
Obtain funding for your incense company by developing a business plan and contacting your local bank. Your local SBA office offers many programs to finance your business, especially for women and minority owners. According to their guidelines, the SBA considers an incense company a business eligible for financing. While the SBA itself does not offer small business loans, it guarantees these loans through your local bank. Contact your local SBA office to ask what financing your incense business may qualify for.
Determine your target buyers and how you will reach them. Many outlets exist for selling your incense, including eBay stores, your own online website, local flea markets, mall kiosks and brick-and-mortar stores. To sell via your website, purchase a domain name online and develop your site yourself or hire someone to do this for you. If you have the funding to do so, you can open your own brick-and-mortar store to sell your incense. Otherwise, target local aromatherapy, boutique and health-food stores, and inquire with them about selling your products. Have products available to demonstrate and give away as free samples. Make up business cards and brochures about your business to start marketing your products, says Internet Based Moms.
Join organizations related to an incense business. Organizations—including the American Herbalist Guild and the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy—may help you obtain further resources to grow your business and network with other professionals in the field. Visit your local Chamber of Commerce and attend chapter meetings to network and promote your company. Doing this will also expose you to other financing options for your business, including possible grant opportunities.
The SBA offers a list of resources for women-owned businesses, including WomenBiz.gov. For minority-owned businesses, look into the U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency. If you wish to market organic incense, ask about the origins of all your supplies and ensure they are certified organic by the United States Department of Agriculture. Check the Business.gov section on permits and licenses to see your state's requirements for a business license.
Separate your business finances from your personal finances. Open a checking account under your business name to avoid using small business funding for personal expenses. This is also beneficial for tax purposes.
- incense image by Tomasz Plawski from Fotolia.com