How to Start a Greeting Card Business
A greeting card business sells greeting cards to customers. These greeting cards can be for a number of occasions, including birthdays, holidays, reunions and even funerals. Cards can either be sold directly to customers or to retail dealers. If they’re sold to a retail dealer, the dealer then sells the cards to customers. Some greeting card businesses operate online, selling cards to shoppers and shipping them.
Learn how to start your own Greeting Card Business and whether it is the right fit for you.
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Start a greeting card business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Greeting Card Business
- Form your Greeting Card Business into a Legal Entity
- Register your Greeting Card Business for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Greeting Card Business
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Greeting Card Business
- Get Greeting Card Business Insurance
- Define your Greeting Card Business Brand
- Create your Greeting Card Business Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
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.
Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.
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 will you name your business?
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
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
If you operate a sole proprietorship, you might want to operate under a business name other than your own name. Visit our DBA guide to learn more.
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.
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.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
The most common business structure types are the sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation.
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
You can form an LLC yourself and pay only the minimal state LLC costs or hire one of the Best LLC Services for a small, additional fee.
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 through the IRS website. If you would like to learn more about EINs, read our article, What is an EIN?
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.
Open a business bank account
Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.
Get a business credit card
Getting a business credit card helps you:
- Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.
Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from Divvy and build your business credit quickly.
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.
Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.
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.
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.
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.
FInd out what types of insurance your Greeting Card Business needs and how much it will cost you by reading our guide Business Insurance for Greeting Card Business.
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.
Recommended: Get a logo using Truic's free logo Generator no email or sign up required, or use a Premium Logo Maker.
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
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.
Recommended: Get started today using our recommended website builder or check out our review of the Best Website Builders.
Other popular website builders are: WordPress, WIX, Weebly, Squarespace, and Shopify.
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. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
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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.
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 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.