How to Start a Sports Trading Card Business

A sports trading card business focuses on the buying and selling of sports cards and memorabilia. Some card businesses will also feature non-sports trading cards, such as Pokémon, Magic, or comic book cards.

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Learn how to start your own Sports Trading Card Business and whether it is the right fit for you.

Start a Sports Trading Card Business 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 Sports Trading Card Business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.

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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:

Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.

What are the costs involved in opening a Sports Trading Card Business?

A sports trading card business can require relatively low overhead to get started, especially if you already have a substantial collection of cards to begin with.

You’ll need

  • Business licensing and insurance. You’ll more than likely create an LLC, as well. Seek legal advice from an attorney or other small business owner to make sure you’ve completed all necessary paperwork to get started.
  • Cards and merchandise. You’ll want to order a decent amount of stock to start your business. Offer a selection of items, but don’t overbuy initially. You can always order more.
  • Internet and phone service and a website. You’ll have to be able to advertise and communicate with potential buyers and sellers. You’ll also want to advertise what you offer with an informative business website. Some businesses can even get started doing all their business through internet sales and shipping if you don’t want to pay rent on a storefront.

Business location. If you do open a storefront, you’ll also factor in rent and utilities for your space, as well as a store build-out to include display cases, racks, tables, a cash register, and a counter space for transactions and customer interactions.

What are the ongoing expenses for a Sports Trading Card Business?

Most ongoing expenses will focus on stocking inventory, rent and utilities for a storefront, business insurance, travel costs for attending trade shows and events, internet, phone, and website services.

Who is the target market?

Sports card trading has traditionally been most popular with younger men. More recently, collectors have become more diverse and a bit older, as popularity and market resale prices have both increased.

How does a Sports Trading Card Business make money?

A sports trading card business generates revenue through the sales of cards and memorabilia.

How much can you charge customers?

Card and merchandise prices fluctuate, but pricing guides do exist and are often updated. A 30% markup is an acceptable margin for retail pricing.

How much profit can a Sports Trading Card Business make?

Sports trading card businesses can generate profits in the $30,000 to $50,000 range for a successful card dealer. With card demands increasing, greater earnings may soon be available.

How can you make your business more profitable?

Once you’re established, look into hosting smaller trade events and collector shows in your store. You’ll be building your community and generating sales in no time.

What will you name your business?

Choosing the right name is very important. Read our detailed guide on how to name your business. 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.

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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 Sports Trading Card Business is sued.

Form Your LLC

Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC

Have a Professional Service Form your LLC for You

Two such reliable services:

You can start 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!

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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?.

Learn how to get an EIN in our What is an EIN guide or find your existing EIN using our EIN lookup guide.

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.
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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.

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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.

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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Recommended: Get a logo using Truic's free logo Generator no email or sign up required, or use a Premium Logo Maker.

How to promote & market a Sports Trading Card Business

Sports card trading has been popular for many years, and card enthusiasts are often very knowledgeable. Since most sports card trading occurs between individuals and businesses who have done research on what they have and want, your advertising needs to focus on what rare cards and memorabilia you currently offer. Online card trading forums can allow you to directly target buyers and sellers. Stay active in the chats, or consider buying internet ad space on certain forums. Card trade publications also offer direct marketing to your target audience.

You should also have a website for your business. You can communicate which specific fields of interest you have for buying, selling, and trading. A website allows you to post multiple pictures of your stock and communicate with customers about what you have. Your website can also be a commerce site for buyers who aren’t local.

How to keep customers coming back

As we mentioned before, many of your customers will already be avid collectors. Even beginners will have their specific fields of interest. You need to appeal to these customers by showing you’re equally as passionate. Create an email list for return customers and send out a monthly newsletter. Offer your regulars deals or store points, and alert certain customers when you have something they might want. Interaction with your customer base is key.

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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.

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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.

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Recommended: Find the best phone system for your business; check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2021.

Start A Sports Trading Card Business In Your State

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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?

Sports trading card businesses often appeal most to card collectors or sports fans. Having an existing interest and knowledge of the sports card industry is important but not always necessary. If you are also passionate about buying, selling, and trading material goods, you may also excel in this business. Overall, you’ll need to remain diligent about following the trends in the sports card and memorabilia markets.

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Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?

Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!

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What happens during a typical day at a Sports Trading Card Business?

Sports trading card businesses rely on customers for success. Most days, you’ll be interacting with customers to guide them in buying, selling, or trading various collectible cards and merchandise. You’ll also be communicating with your card and merchandise vendors to order more stock and discuss upcoming special card releases. Other tasks can include updating your website and posting to social media, organizing and displaying inventory, scheduling for trade shows and special events, and communicating with other card shop owners.

What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful Sports Trading Card Business?

Since sports and collectible card trading focuses on pricing and identifying rare or valuable cards, you should be a person who often concerns yourself with details. You should be a fan of sports, to an extent. You should also have experience collecting, selling, and trading cards and memorabilia yourself. Your passion in these pastimes is necessary to remain competitive and relevant in trading communities.

You should also be somewhat of an extrovert, not afraid to talk to and interact with people, and ready to discuss your knowledge of cards regularly. Knowing and remaining familiar with customers and card traders is how you’ll grow your brand and reputation and is often how you’ll find the rare cards you need.

What is the growth potential for a Sports Trading Card Business?

Recently, there has been a significant surge in the popularity of sports cards. Older collectors and their families are beginning to cash in their collections, which puts rare cards back into circulation. New cards also offer collectors more exclusive and unique cards. Player signatures, holographic imaging, and special card backgrounds, as well as less mass production, make new cards instantly collectible. With the right kind of collecting networking and business connections, card trading could become a profitable business.

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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:

  • Funding
  • Events
  • Guides
  • Support

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 Sports Trading Card Business?

Connecting with other buyers, sellers, and traders is important for the success of your business. You need to cultivate these professional relationships and build a new customer base of varying experience and knowledge. One of the better methods for expanding your network is to attend trade shows and events. Going to shows as a business or just as a card collector and enthusiast is important for keeping your business current and competitive.

You can also focus on developing a strong social media presence and online following. Online interactions can be extremely engaging for customers, and they help your overall reputation as a business and serious collector.

How and when to build a team

A sports card trading business can often run as a single-person operation, if you want a brick and morter store you may wish to hire help to allow your store to be open while you have days off. You'll need someone knowledgable though which could be difficult.

Next Steps

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