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 step guide to starting your gift wrapping business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
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 long it will take you to break even?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a gift wrapping business?
If you are planning on working primarily out of pop-up cart locations, you will need a point-of-sale system and an initial supply of your gift wrapping essentials. You may wish to invest in a portable wrapping station/table as well as marketing materials that you can hand out to potential customers. You will need reliable transportation that will fit all your equipment. For this seasonal approach to this business, you should expect to invest $5,000 to $10,000 dollars up front. If you are opening up a permanent location inside another store, you may need $20,000 in order to include proper furniture and displays for your retail space.
What are the ongoing expenses for a gift wrapping business?
Your supplies of paper, scissors, tape, etc. will need to be replenished on a regular basis. If you are operating an actual storefront, there will be lease, utility, and other maintenance costs involved. Your van should also be considered as part of your business expenses.
Who is the target market?
As a low-cost service, you need to develop volume in order to turn a real profit. Corporate clients may purchase the same object in bulk as gifts for all their clients, offering you a lucrative source for income as you save them time. If you are operating a gift-wrapping pop-up cart at the mall, your customers will include all age ranges and income levels. It is your skill for which they will pay.
How does a gift wrapping business make money?
Individuals or businesses will pay by the piece for you to wrap gifts they have purchased. You will purchase your wrapping supplies at wholesale rates and charge a premium for your service, resulting in a income for your company. Success is achieved when you ensure you are wrapping beautiful boxes and spending less on the supplies than you are charging.
How much can you charge customers?
You can charge as much as $30 to $50 for extra large gifts destined to become the centerpiece of a gift table for a holiday or wedding as a personalized service at a customer's home. When wrapping the mounds of gifts at the mall, expect to earn between $3 and $10 per package, depending on its shape, size, and extra decoration.
How much profit can a gift wrapping business make?
For a professional gift wrapper providing full-time services for weddings and corporate clients, you can build a business that brings in $40,000 per year. If this is a seasonal enterprise at a shopping center expect to clear $100 to $200 per day in profit
How can you make your business more profitable?
Your wrapping paper will be your major expense. Seek out wholesalers offering quality papers at the lowest possible price to reap the highest profit.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is very important. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your gift wrapping business is sued. There are many business structures to choose from including: Corporations, LLC's, and DBA's.
You should also consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.
For most small businesses forming an LLC is a great option, but if you still want to weigh all your options check our our article, What Structure Should I Choose for My Business?
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?.
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.
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.
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 a gift wrapping business. 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.
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.
STEP 7: Get Business Insurance
Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
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.
How to promote & market a gift wrapping business
Timing is essential when you are ready to launch. If you start promoting your services in August, not as many customers will be looking for your help and by October you will have wasted your start-up advertising dollars. Start releasing your marketing material near the end of October before the holiday wrapping season begins. Use direct mail and billboards to build awareness of your brand. Reach out to local businesses personally offering to help them out of that massive wrapping task at the beginning of November. Ensure your business cards are colorful and clearly represent the look and design of your wrapping services.
Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.
How to keep customers coming back
Location and pricing will determine your ability to attract your new customers. While you may be using expensive papers, most mall shoppers are not going to want to pay too much to get Dad's T-shirt wrapped. Price your services reasonably and offer add-ons such as danglers, balloons, embossed greeting cards, or foil wrapping for an added cost. You will see return business in the spring when you deliver a box or basket that generates excitement and praise.
STEP 9: Establish your Web Presence
A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Start A Gift Wrapping Business In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
If you are always creating eye-popping packages by combining colorful and creative papers, ribbons, flowers, baskets, and bags, you may enjoy applying your gift wrapping skills to a business. It's a great add-on service for existing gift stores or as a seasonal service when everybody could use a little help making their holiday gifting easier.
What happens during a typical day at a gift wrapping business?
When you operate a gift wrapping business, you might be expected to:
- Create perfectly wrapped gifts in a wide variety of shapes and sizes
- Seek out suppliers who will provide unique wrapping supplies to you at a wholesale price
- Restock your supply of gift boxes, bags, and baskets
- Create new ideas on how to display a gift beyond a simple box and ribbon
- Work with local malls and department stores to reserve your gift wrapping space for the holiday season
- Promote your services through direct mail, print ads, targeted online ads, and social media interaction
- Build your visibility through fund raising activities with schools and other non-profit organizations
- Complete basic accounting procedures tracking your income and expenses
- Apply your creative flair to your marketing machine
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful gift wrapping business?
Yes, you will need to know how to wrap boxes, bags, and oddly shaped items so that they appear professionally wrapped. You may wish to take a wrapping design class to further hone your skills. Besides that, you should have basic accounting knowledge, an eye for combining colors and patterns, and a desire to expand your customer base through personal contact. You will need to develop your knowledge and use of online and traditional marketing outlets.
What is the growth potential for a gift wrapping business?
If you develop a unique and recognizable wrapping design, you can build a brand for your gift wrapping business that can then be turned into a franchise. Your franchises can be positioned inside a chain of flower shops, gift shops, and popular wedding registries. However, it is also a great business that can maintain its small scale as the perfect source of extra income during popular gift-giving holiday periods.
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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.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a gift wrapping business?
Everybody sells gift wrap. When starting out on your own, you'll need to offer a final product that can't be found anywhere else, such as a trademark bow, snack, or mini-stuffed toy. High-traffic areas at malls provide the most exposure and opportunities to attract your next customer. Make sure that you always have a flyer or business card on hand to give out to interested parties. Seek out different gift wraps and work with small companies looking to expand their market in order to give your gifts that extra special touch that can't be found at the local bargain store.
How and when to build a team
If you are wrapping gifts for a single client, you won't be needing an extra pair of hands. However, when you're running that center table at the mall, you may need to train a few helpers to duplicate your designs a desirable boxes.