Start a greeting card business by following these 9 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 greeting card business. 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 a greeting card business?
Startup costs are low, sitting at between $2,000 and $10,000. A greeting card business can be operated part-time, and it can also be operated online.
Startup costs include business insurance, product sourcing, talent sourcing, initial rent costs and advertisement. You’ll need a computer, a scanner, a high-quality color printer and desktop publishing software. You may also need database software to maintain mailing lists. You’ll also need a resale license to buy cards at wholesale prices.
What are the ongoing expenses for a greeting card business?
Ongoing prices include raw paper materials, which amount to roughly $0.25 per card. You will, however, need to source artist prints. Depending on a card’s artistic complexity, a print commission can cost between $5 and $200. Designs, diversified as they are, widely vary in price.
Who is the target market?
Your target market will be expansive. Because greeting cards can be sold to many people, your main target markets will be shopkeepers, hair stylists, insurance agents, dentists, doctors, apartment managers, car salespeople and event operators. You can sell cards for individual occasions—like birthdays—but you’ll sell more if you’re targeting professional groups. Often, these groups buy greeting cards in bulk.
How does a greeting card business make money?
A greeting card business makes money by selling greeting cards. Cards can be sold via a shop, in mall kiosks, online or through partnered retailers. Often, greeting card businesses sell specialized envelopes. Some may sell pens, ink and similar writing accessories.
A lot of greeting card businesses make money by selling cards in bulk to different retail centers. Some, however, decide to provide high-quality artwork cards. These cards, due to either being hand-painted or written, are normally sold in fewer numbers.
How much can you charge customers?
Greeting cards can be sold at about $2.50 each. You can sell a pack of six cards for about $7.50, so as to be cost effective and offer competitive bulk prices.
How much profit can a greeting card business make?
A small greeting card business can make about $45,000 per year. Larger companies, like Hallmark, make as much as $19.7 billion on Valentine’s Day alone.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Your designs matter. Make sure your card designs are of high quality. Also, make sure you’re well-connected with specialist printing companies. These companies should offer more than simple printing services. Ideally, they should be a one-stop-shop for card finishing materials—like glitter and foiling. They should also offer cello wrap and envelopes.
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 Greeting Card Business 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 greeting card business 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.
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 greeting card 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.
For 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
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.
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How to promote & market a greeting card business
Promote yourself through different retail outlets. The country has over 1,800 small greeting card companies, and most market through different retail chains. Keep an eye on local events, and offer custom services to businesses which need large-scale projects.
How to keep customers coming back
You’ll attract customers by offering unique, funny or memorable cards. You’ll retain them, however, by having a solid network of buyers. Again, connect with businesses. Use good time-management skills, organizational skills and marketing skills to profit on retail design businesses. Take advantage of Mother’s Day, Halloween, Christmas and similar holidays.
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.
Start A Greeting Card Business 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?
The greeting card business is great for those with a taste for design, poetry, celebratory occasions and creative expression. It’s also a fantastic business choice for those who want to become printing specialists.
Ideally, a greeting card business owner will be good at marketing different cards. From “everyday” cards to special occasion cards, each will need to be trendy, relevant and memorable. For this reason, a greeting card business owner needs to be culturally aware, have a knack for humor and be a decent marketer.
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 a greeting card business?
Every day, a greeting card business sells various cards. This means it caters either directly to customers or to retail outlets. During the selling period, a greeting card business will stock, restock and sell products.
During its “off” hours, retail-wise, a greeting card business works on finding out what sells. A greeting card business’s line is an ever-expanding thing, and it needs a lot of consistent work. A greeting card business focuses on hiring production artists, visiting trade shows, researching trends and sourcing new art. While these processes aren’t necessarily daily processes, they’re important enough to be considered constantly.
Other daily tasks include financing, marketing, promotion, management, store cleaning, general maintenance and customer assistance.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful greeting card business?
Advertisement skills help a lot. Join Progressive Greetings Worldwide—which is today’s leading greeting card trade magazine. Also, go to trade shows. Connect with specialist greeting companies, and become incredibly knowledgeable about barcodes, identifying goods and handling products across distributors.
Market research is similarly important. A successful greeting card business operator will immerse themselves in the industry, find good suppliers and market their products effectively.
What is the growth potential for a greeting card business?
A greeting card business has a lot of growth potential. It can operate as a kiosk, as a small shop, as part of a larger shop or as a national distributor.
If a greeting card business is incredibly profitable, like Hallmark, it may extend its product line to cover other novelty items. In these cases, having an online selling outlet is advised. While incremental product costs are low—paper, ink, art sourcing—shipping costs are also low. For this reason, greeting cards mesh well with the ecommerce world.
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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.
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 a greeting card business?
Connect with distributors as soon as possible. Even if you’re creating your own cards, you should have a healthy supply network. Then, focus on advertisement. Keep overhead costs low, and use online seller portals to save on initial costs.
How and when to build a team
It’s possible to run a greeting card business alone. You can, however, hire two or three additional hands immediately to boost your output. Your team, as a greeting card business operator, will be more nebulous than most professional teams. Focus on building a loose network of artists, designers and print specialists.