Start an educational toy store by following these 10 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your educational toy store. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Check out our How to Start a Business page.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening an educational toy store?
What you spend depends on where you are, and how you choose to sell your toys. If you choose to start a franchise, such as Learning Express Toys, then your investment will be considerable. The high-end estimate of the initial costs you’ll need is $384,000. The low end estimate is $194,500. If you choose to develop your own toys and sell them online, then you will only spend the cost of the materials to build them, plus any advertising costs you may have.
What are the ongoing expenses for an educational toy store?
Toy stores may face the following expenses over the years:
- Cost of materials to develop toys
- Wholesale costs of other toy makers
- Market research to determine where toys are headed
- Employee wages
- Office supplies (including computers, etc.)
- Mortgage/rent in a physical store
- Shipping costs for an online business
Who is the target market?
The best client will be one who wants a fun way to challenge themselves, or who wants to promote learning to their child in a stress-free way.
How does an educational toy store make money?
Money is made by charging a premium on all toys purchased. Regardless of whether or not an owner makes their own toys or sells the toys of others, the profit margin will need to be determined for each item based on supply and demand.
How much can you charge customers?
People are willing to pay money to strengthen their mind — up to $1,200 depending on the toy. However, the market does face somewhat stiff competition from educational apps for smartphones, so it’s important to set your margin at a reasonable rate based on market demand. If you develop a particularly popular game though that no one else has a version of, you can potentially set your own profit margin at whatever you want it to be.
How much profit can an educational toy store make?
Profits may be slim for the first year or so. If you franchise a toy store at the low end of the business model, you would need to make around $16,000 a month in sales simply to break even. Anything after this can be used as profit or reinvested into the company. Depending on the demand in your area, you could stand to make between $15,000 to $30,000 in profit a month.
How can you make your business more profitable?
If you develop your own popular toys, you can profit by offering your toys to other toy shops. You may also be hired by a large toy maker to design and create additional products for their line.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Educational Toy Store Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your educational toy store is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.
Open net-30 accounts
When it comes to establishing your business credit, net-30 vendors are considered the way to go. The term "net-30," which is popular among vendors, refers to a business credit arrangement where the company pays the vendor within 30 days of receiving goods or services.
Net-30 credit terms are often used for businesses that need to obtain inventory quickly but do not have the cash on hand.
Besides establishing business relationships with vendors, net-30 credit accounts get reported to the major business credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business Credit). This is how businesses build business credit so they can qualify for credit cards and other lines of credit.
Recommended: Read our guide on the best net-30 vendors so you can start building business credit now, so you never have to worry about cash flow in the future. Keep in mind that poor cash flow is the #1 reason businesses fail!
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate an educational toy store. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
Toy stores may also wish to look into applying for a resale certificate, as a resale certificate allows retailers to purchase goods intended for resale without paying sales tax.
In addition, certain local licensing or regulatory requirements may apply. For more information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources
Certificate of Occupancy
An educational toy store is generally run out of a storefront. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.
- If you plan to lease a location:
- It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
- Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a educational toy store.
- After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
- If you plan to purchase or build a location:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your educational toy store will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
How to promote & market an educational toy store
Most educational toy stores don’t need large billboards or television ads. The best way to market will likely be optimizing your search engine visibility. You’ll need to have a great website that is easy to navigate, and easy to find when people search for educational toy in their area. In addition, because so many people already shop online, you may not necessarily need a store location. Store locations are best for people who want to capitalize on heavy traffic, such as an extremely busy mall or shopping plaza.
How to keep customers coming back
The best way to attract customers is to show them just how fun it can be to play these games! People aren’t looking for a toy that they’ll only play for a few days and then put away. Owners need to find games that stay fresh year after year. The games will need to be difficult enough to be challenging in a variety of ways, but not so difficult as to frustrate the user. This is a hard combination to hit, but one that will keep customers coming back again and again.
Still unsure about what kind of business you want to start? Check out the latest Small Business Trends to help inspire you.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use.
Recommended: Find the best phone system for your business; check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2021.
Start An Educational Toy Store In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
This business is great for someone who understands and is passionate about educational toys. Every potential customer has a different skill set they want to exercise when buying these toys. For example, a more verbal person will gravitate towards certain games over others. You will also need people skills to work with customers and employees on a regular basis.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at an educational toy store?
A typical owner’s agenda may look include the following:
- Researching available educational toys
- Developing a line of toys to sell
- Selling to customers
- Managing employees
- Preparing sales reports
- Maintaining a physical store
- Marketing to different types of people
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful educational toy store?
An owner should have a good idea of how the brain works, so they can market their toys to the people who need them the most. Also, an owner should have a good understanding of what holds people’s interests. A 12-year-old who is struggling with numbers may not want to play anything that even resembles a math problem, so a toy maker or distributor will need to look for toys that address the deficiency without upsetting the recipient.
What is the growth potential for an educational toy store?
Growth is partially determined by the amount of people in any given city. In some places across the country, there may be little use for educational toys. People may think they’re too expensive, or not interesting enough to play. In other parts of the country though, the market may be oversaturated in certain major cities. Owners may want to sell online to reduce overhead and to reach a wider audience.
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting an educational toy store?
The best thing you can do is be passionate about what you do by working to bring value into the lives of those who play the games and use the toys. Sell toys online, in a store, or both. There are so many fun ways for people to pass the time that also make them smarter!
Find out what websites your ideal customers are on (e.g., educational or news sites), and consider marketing your business on those pages. Choosing to franchise instead may also be a good idea if you’re looking for a tested business model that works. You also get the benefit of a trusted, recognizable name from the first day you open. If you don’t have very much experience as an entrepreneur, this will may be a good option for you.
How and when to build a team
Unless you have a large store with a constant stream of customers, you likely only need a few employees (or none at all.) This is not necessarily the most demanding job, so you can likely hire college students or even high school students to assist you. However, employees should have the people and sales skills to show and tell customers the best games for them.