How to Make a Product and Sell It.

Learn about our take on the product production pipeline

  1. About This Article
  2. Important and Helpful Things to Have / Know
  3. Write Down the Concept and Sketch a Drawing
  4. Research the Manufacturing Process and What You Need to Do It
  5. Decide on Packaging and Labeling Options
  6. Compare Vendor Prices for Equipment and Materials
  7. Order Small Batches to Make Test Products
  8. How to Sell Your Product
  9. Reevaluate Your Procedures and Costs
  10. Expanding Your Operation and When to Register as a Business
  11. Ending Thoughts
  12. Definitions

About This Article

This article is a general guideline on how to get a product made. This article won’t be for everyone but it’s a process we’ve followed many times ourselves. This is for people that are willing to put in the work to get ahead on what they are trying to do with as little investment as possible. Most online posts will start up with you having to have this license, this insurance and everything in between - when you really don’t. Those posts are either made by people that haven’t done it or have been exclusively bankrolled in everything they’ve done. This is a stripped down start to get you in the right direction geared towards things you can feasible make whether with affordable machinery or renting space.

Important and Helpful Things to Have / Know Before Starting

/in no particular order/

  • Ability to Use a Spreadsheet
    • Highly recommended vs pen and paper. Catalog all of your data. What materials are going into a project. When you make a batch of products, run a spreadsheet on what you use, how much it costs, and how long it takes to make. That way you can factor everything into the end cost.
      • Program Examples : Apache OpenOffice Calc, LibreOffice, Google Sheets
  • Ability to make Vector Graphics
    • An absolute must to cut down costs and have more control. It’s fine if you don’t become an absolute professional at it but you can become proficient enough with just online videos. You may not become good enough to design your logo yourself - but then again you might be. But at the very least you’ll be able to design your labels, packaging, and advertisements yourself that will look damned good. Making files for print is different from a normal paint program and ideally needs to be made in a vector format. Vector formats allow precise control of graphics and crisp lines that can scale to any size. 
    • Before designing your files make sure to look up different guides on color composition and easy to read colors and fonts. A fancy font is cool but if it's hard to read it defeats the purpose. 
      • Program Examples : Inkscape, Adobe Illustrator
  • Understanding Basic Accounting Principles
    • You’ll still probably need an accountant for filing your taxes or doing payroll (or

program) but you should work on being able to make and understand both a Profit and Loss Statement and a Balance Sheet. Keeping these updated from month to month can help you keep track of your business - whether or not you’re an actual registered business

  • It’s important to keep inventory records as well. Whether using an inventory program or a spreadsheet. Tracking how much material is being used to make a product, the wastage, and how much of a particular product or raw materials you have is integral to knowing when you need to restock and how much. Most projects fail due to a loss of cash flow and quite often that's from ordering too much product or too much of the wrong materials. Don’t get suckered by a sale and make sure to use your inventory logs to help judge how much to order.
  • One thing of note - if you’re making more than $600 in profit a year( you may need to verify the current number ) you will need to include your profits on your tax returns as taxable income. 
    • Program Examples for Accounting : GnuCash, Quickbooks
  • If you’re selling at retail to consumers, remember to collect sales tax and file it with your state agency and keep track of how much you're paying in your spreadsheet or accounting software.
    • Example state agencies are the Texas Comptroller and the California CDTFA. 
  • Learn to Use a Website Platform to Sell Your Products
    • Whether you learn to spin up your own Wordpress/Woocommerce website or use a pre-built platform you should make a website once you have product in hand to take pictures of. 
    • Unfortunately having a website does incur costs - domain name, server fees, and other monthly fees can add up if you don’t have any sales, though they should be less than $50 a month on the very high end so keep that in mind in your project's budget and also don’t make a website to early. Wait till you have at the very least a prototype product in hand to take pictures with. 
    • Though it’s not integral to launching your product, if you don’t have one you’re really missing out on extra marketing you’d get doing what you would already be working on to sell your product. Like if you had a booth at an event or festival - often you won’t see those people ever again in person but if they really like your product and you hand them a business card with your website that they can order from you could have a long term customer other than just the one off sale. 
    • Research a platform and learn how to make it look good - it isn’t too hard. If you don’t have the interest in learning some programming knowledge stick to a premade platform that will host and launch your site for you like Shopify. 
    • Keep in mind - making your own website through a host and program will save you money down the line. But if learning how is going to prevent you in getting your website up before you start marketing your product - just use a premade platform to get it up and running. The ins and outs of getting it done can be intimidating.
      • Platform/ Program Examples : Wordpress, Shopify, Bigcommerce
      • Payment Processor Examples : Stripe, Square, any Bank
  • Become an Actor ( not really )
    • Part of making a product successful is selling a product and to do that you usually have to be outgoing, personable, and confident. That isn’t everyone though so you have to learn to put on a mask when you’re trying to get your product sold - whether it's at an event, to a business, or behind a counter. Learning how to flip that switch and being comfortable in it is an integral part of getting your product into people's hands and the easiest way to do so in our opinion is leaning into the confidence side of things. The best way to portray confidence is to know what you’re talking about. Learn everything you can about your product and the things adjacent to it. It will help when you have to talk to customers and clients. 

Don’t own a PC or laptop? No problem. Save up for a good sized USB Drive or two. 32gb or 64gb at least. Now get a library card and any free cloud service account to back up your work onto. Now most libraries won’t let you download things to their computers, understandably, but you can install every app/ program you would need to your USB drive and then open it up on any computer. One of the easiest ways to do this is to download from - they have a large assortment of prepackaged open source software that you can install to your usb. We aren’t partnered with them but I got by doing just this for years before I could afford a cheap netbook. They get by on donations just like wikipedia. 

Back up everything you do. Whether it's a spreadsheet, a label design, or product photos. Keep them on a cloud service too - Google Drive, iCloud, MEGA - it doesn’t matter. Back up your work! You never know what can happen.

Don’t be afraid to learn a new skill. It can be intimidating and time consuming but the more you can rely on yourself the easier it will be to get your project off the ground and any future project will be that much easier. Having a general knowledge also helps you down the line if your product does well - when you’re ready to hire another company or a team for yourself you’ll have an idea whether they’ll be a good suit for you if you understand the ins and outs of your processes. 

“A Jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one”

Write Down the Concept and Sketch a Drawing

The first step and the most important. Put your idea to paper or digital screen. Write down what it is - is it a candle, greeting card, poster, incense stick whatever it is. Make a simple sketch of it. It doesn’t have to be perfect - you’d be surprised how many extremely successful products and brands started as someone terrible sketch. Make sure to keep everything too. Whether it's a drawing or printed label, looking at everything you made can inspire you in the future. 

Write about or sketch different packaging ideas. Depending on what you're making, the easiest type of packaging to pursue is a bottle, jar, or other pre-made packaging with an attached label. It’s the most cost effective. Don’t even think about custom boxes or other packaging until you're ready to order at least 3 to 5000 boxes per product type. You can kind of cheese that minimum order by using the custom box plus a label to dictate the different product types though. Before that volume, in our experience they’re just far too expensive. You can flirt around the idea of custom packaging but don’t set it as your starting goal - requiring too much start-up capital is a great way to fail. 

Don’t be afraid of compromising on your original vision - cutting costs and being realistic is important to get your product to market.  

Research What You Need to Do It

One of the most important steps in making a product is really looking into what you need to make it - for both raw materials and equipment. It’s really key in identifying what you can do yourself and what you should contract out in order to save money - especially when starting out. 

It’s also important to weigh the time you spend vs that time's worth.If you can label your bottles while watching Netflix at night and save $1000 upfront on a labeling machine that may be worth it for you ( it’s definitely been worth to us a few times ). 

In your research you’re going to be trying to understand the needs of two main things - the raw materials going into your project and the things you need to get it done. Someone’s done something similar to what you’re working on doing - use them for inspiration and if you don’t find answers easily don't hesitate to post questions online. 

Try and fill out 3 Categories in your notes : 

1. What you need to make your product with the lowest starting cost Ex Manual Labor Vs Machines also try to catalog what indirect, non-monetary costs those can have such as some labels being crooked. Don’t shoot big - shoot reasonable. You don’t want to go bankrupt to bring your idea to life. First plan out the lowest start up cost you can that way you can really test the waters instead of going all in. Who knows - it could take off and your first batch could sell really well and it could pay for a big re-up.

Another economical thing to consider is buying labels vs printing them yourselves - there's definitely extra steps involved to making home printed labels look good such as laminating them but with stock paper designed for labels being available and you have a printer already it could be worth it.

Or you can start with a smaller variety of products to get started more cheaply. Like 5 types of hoodies designs vs 10 or 3 candle scents vs 5. It’s really important to catch ourselves in our passion for a new project and keep things down to earth.

2. What parts of your process can or need to be contracted out? Just because you’re not an artist doesn’t mean you can’t bring your great ideas to life. There’s talented people everywhere trying to make a buck.

On a side note for art or intellectual property like it - just make sure to keep the commercial license in whatever deal you get. If it’s completely your idea that they’re making for you it should be a one time fee. If it’s their idea you’re selling you should consider offering them a per-sale license plus a fee. Though that's up to you. No matter what you should always attribute your artists. If not on the product packaging then on a product listing on your website or on social media posts. 

 Or maybe you’re making a lotion or shampoo - larger companies sell “bases” of these things that you can buy in bulk for a reasonable amount and save on larger mixing equipment and just finish it off with your own recipe.

3. What is the most efficient possible set up you can have? What can you do to streamline every single part of your manufacturing process, no expense spared. It is really important to keep this in mind so you can pick and choose what parts of your operation to improve as you grow.

Maybe it's a fully automatic bottler, an in-house industrial printer, or a small warehouse. It might be crazy to even imagine at first but you never know where a product may go and it keeps you ahead if you already have a path of improvement in mind as you go.

Don’t be afraid to take advice online. Like we said people have been there and done that. Just take what they say with a grain of salt and keep up your own research. Learn from their process, success, and mistakes. But keep in mind they may have different ideology or standards than you want to keep yourself to.

Decide on Packaging and Labeling Options

​Don’t be afraid to take packaging ideas from your future competition. Don’t copy their whole set up but take inspiration and expand on what they’ve already done. A great place to take from others - especially larger companies - is to double check your own legal information. Putting something on your packaging whether it's not entirely true claims or marketing for an illegal use is a big no no. 

​Also don’t be afraid to remix packaging from other product types to your own. I’ve seen people take stock tennis ball tube packaging with their own label and sell chocolates in them. It was incredibly cost effective for them to do too vs a traditional boxed chocolate.

​Great internet searches to find ideas are “stock product packaging” and “wholesale jars” try to stick to companies that offer a checkout process right then and there. If it’s a company that only has a “request a quote” option they typically aren’t the best prices unless you're doing crazy high volumes and often have ridiculous lead times. They usually have those options also because either A. they want a sales rep to get a hold of you to try and sell you more or B. don’t actually carry stock and instead use a catalog to order from their own suppliers what you request - which can sometimes save you money but has an additional lead time

If you can afford it try and order multiple potential packaging types as well. It’s much easier to decide what looks good in person and often packaging sellers will allow you to do a “sample order” where you pay the 100pc price or whatever their minimum quantity is but for only 1 unit of multiple different product types. 

​Before you make your final packaging decision there’s a few considerations to take into account. 

  • How are you selling your product? 
    • If it’s primarily shipping directly to consumers, light plastic or paper packaging would be more ideal vs glass. Shipping costs add up and glass is fragile leading to potential product damages and having to compensate your customers. 
    • On the other hand if it’s more in person sales or wholesale deals to storefronts it would be better to have a product that is larger and more visible and more heavy duty packaging would help you with that without making customers feel cheated. Though it could just be a tall skinny bottle being more visible vs a short fat one. In in-person sales where you can’t lean on product photos or videos online showcasing your product it is really important to be seen - the more you can make your product sell yourself the better. 

​When you’re getting ready to make your labels - don’t get intimidated by it and try to design them yourself. It will give you much more granular control on making changes. If you aren’t confident in that you can always commission it out to designers on websites like fiverr or freelancer. Just make sure you’re paying for a commercial license and have the master files - not flattened ones. That way you or someone else you can hire can easily work on them.

​ A couple things that are must for any type of product label - a barcode and your contact information. 

​Some sources online will insist that you have to pay and register your product with websites like gs1 when that isn’t even close to the truth and most of these companies are just predatory towards people new to these things. There’s only a few times it becomes a necessity : 1. if you’re trying to sell your product to a big box store and if so you want to double check which registry they use and only use that one. Or 2. to list your product on an online retailer like Amazon or Newegg in which case you need specifically a UPC/GTIN-12 type barcode though you can sometimes also apply for exemption of that with the marketplace you’re selling on.  

​If selling on online platforms or to large companies isn’t your current goal however you can cut the expense off right away and instead just generate a barcode online with a simple google search. For large barcodes search UPC-A Generator and for smaller barcodes UPC-E Generator. Type a random number following whichever type you need’s format and then copy and search that number online - if no products come up chances are it's safe to use. Doing a barcode serves both the purpose of making your product look more professional and also allows small retailers to sell your product. The easier your product is to logistically sell the better. Even if you're just going to be selling for yourself at a booth, being able to scan in different product variants is a huge time saver and helps track both your inventory and profits. Point of Sale software is more affordable than ever, available on mobile devices, and often free if you don’t mind missing out on extra features.

​On the contact information side of things try and fit anything you're comfortable with on there. If you were proactive and got a domain - even if your website isn’t done - put that on there. You should definitely have a separate email made for this product ( or company ), that should be on there. Don’t worry if it's just a standard email. Emails like look great but at the end of the day you’re not going to get judged for having a standard one. You can always get more branded later. If you have a work phone that’s great to put on there and mark it as texting only on the label. You’ll be surprised how many customers you can make happy with a quick 30 second text message back. 

​Before ordering labels, print them on both matte and gloss paper so you can decide what finish you like. If you don’t have a printer that’s fine. Go to your local library and print them. The 0.20 or 0.30 per copy will be worth it. It is invaluable to spot check your design and you can also show this to friends and family to get their opinion. Show as many people as you can. They may say something that you didn’t think of for the organization of the label or may note some things are hard to read. Keep your test prints. Start a binder or file but keep them. They’re great to reference to months or years down the line. 

Compare Vendor Prices for Equipment & Materials

Now that you know what materials you need to make and what equipment or things you need to contract out it’s time to compare prices between vendors. Go item by item and make a list - whether its labels you need, wax for a candle, bottles for beard oil, or boxes for cookies. Preferable in a spreadsheet, it’s really best to keep things organized and easy to reference. With everything you need to order listed out, look for vendors using your favorite search engine. If you’re having trouble finding something, leave a comment and we’ll try to point you in the right direction. Try to fill out 3 columns for each thing - Cheapest Starting Order, Cheapest Price by Volume, and Closest Vendor to You ( Geographically ).

​Cheapest Starting Order - what vendor you can buy from that has the lowest minimum starting order at the most reasonable price. It may not be the best cost per unit but the lowest dollar amount of pocket to get products to you so you can get started.

​ Cheapest Price by Volume - the vendor that can offer you the bottom price. For example you have to order 500 lbs of paper but it’s the cheapest per unit possible which will increase your profit margin.

​ Closest Vendor to You - a company that offers what you need physically as close to you as possible. They may not be the best price or offer the best service but they’re nearby. Sometimes you can’t forecast how much or how little you will need of something and you run out. If you have access to a vendor near to you, quick shipping is exponentially cheap or if they’re close enough you can drive to them and get your materials. 

​ When you’re pricing out your orders though make sure to get a shipping quote in your cart. Some companies have a low selling price but exorbitant shipping and handling charges you don’t see till you add in your zip code. 

​ While filling out your sheet try to break everything down by unit price and total price. EX the total cost for your box order is $500 but the bottle cost is $0.40 - do you best to learn spreadsheet equations. The simple ones are really easy to learn and are  just a quick search away otherwise. It helps with how fast your organize your data - letting the sheet update itself instead of manually changing every value just because you needed to add in more shipping for example.

​Here's some examples where you need to keep multiple suppliers in mind :
​Vendor A has Paper Stacks available at 0.30 Each with a Minimum Order of 1000 Stacks. Vendor B has Paper Stacks available at 0.50 Each with a Minimum Order of 200 Stacks. You can get started much cheaper using vendor B but your profit margin will be less. Starting out though it's often more important to get going as cheaply as possible and work on increasing your profit margins later.

Order Small Batches to Make Test Products

​One thing people often get trapped in when pursuing a project is going too big at first. It’s okay to be minimal. Start with 50 instead of 5000. 50 is typically a good number because it's enough to keep for yourself, give away samples if needed and sell some too in order to get all or part of your investment back. .

​Another important reason to start small is it lets you make changes whether major or minor. Don’t like the color of your label? No problem. Get through the 50 you while you start redesigning. Or worst case scenario - you mess something up. You forgot preservatives in your lotion or didn’t get the right size of prints for your posters. It’s much easier to swallow the loss or fix the mistake at lower volumes. 

​We highly recommend starting small. Get three or four small batches made and sold under your belt and then start forecasting sales and the inventory required. We find it best for us to shoot for a 60 or 90 days stock on many things but only 30 days on others. Evaluate your sales and how quickly you can get a restock in. If you consistently sold 50 units in 30 days maybe start doing 100 in a batch instead. It’s always good to have padding in case sales go very well.

How to Sell Your Product

​There’s a million and a half different marketing ideas on getting people to want or see your product but the first thing before that is making it available for them to buy. Most products aren’t able to support a brick and mortar retail location on their own so we’ll avoid talking about that for now. We’ll try and write an in-depth article later on what we think is the best way to go about that. 

​As far as actually selling your product as an individual starting out ( and you can definitely survive just off of any of these with a mix of effort and luck ) you have online marketplaces, events, and local markets to name a few.

​Online Marketplaces. You should ideally be listing on as many platforms as you can, in particular ones that don’t have a fee or too high of a fee for having your products listed. But keep in mind which ones you do and what your goal is on them. If you’re listing on Etsy or Storenvy people will often find your products while already searching for something similar on there. But if you’re listing on a platform like Amazon or Ebay you’re not as likely to get sales. There’s much more competition on those platforms and you really have to have a strong marketing campaign going to drive sales there. You can also list on Facebook, Instagram, or even Tik Tok Shop. Many social media platforms have an integrated shop or marketplace now.

​Keep in mind there’s different marketing strategies for each platform as well. Each website may be different as far as what you need to do as far as naming your product listing or tags in order to be found by searching customers.

​Events. These can be the most expensive thing to do but it can really get your product out there. Often you’ll just break even or be slightly profitable depending on the event you do. If it’s in your hometown you’re more likely to make something than not but if you have to travel, after expenses and fees it can be tough. But it can be an avenue to get your product in peoples hands and maybe to buy more in the future if you have a website or are listed on a marketplace somewhere. 

​Don’t get discouraged by them though. Events near to you can definitely be worth it though. Just make sure to break down the costs of your booth, what you need to make it look decent ( you really don’t have to do anything special to get people to check it out. Oftentimes they want to see everything anyways and most will give you the time of day even if you just have a picnic table with a tablecloth ), and get your total expense going out through the day or days of the event. Make sure to include food or gas and anything at all that will go into you or your people working the event. Then find out how many sales you need to make it profitable. If your total cost of doing the event all included with fees and everything in between is $600 for two days and you make $10 on a sale you need at least 30 sales a day to break even. If there’s going to be an estimated 20000 people at the event that could definitely be worth it. Just weigh the pros and cons and be prepared for any eventuality. 

Local Markets. These can be your real bread and butter if you aren’t ready to have a brick and mortar store. Often they operate on the weekends but depending on your locale they could be everyday. In-person sales are the easiest thing to do when you start out compared to anything else just because they can get you quick exposure. Don’t be shy - check out farmers markets and anything else like that. Stop by when they’re open before you commit to renting a booth and see if they’re busy. It’s okay if the product you’re offering is completely different from what’s there - people will still stop by your booth to see what you have. Just like the events though you’re going to have to pay a fee. Typically it's a monthly charge around $25 to $50 per day depending on your booth size but it may be cheaper or more depending on how busy the market is. Breakdown how many sales you’ll need to get a day to make money and set a goal to be able to meet your expenses and make money.

​ Payments. You also have to be ready to take payments if you’re selling your stuff in person. We’d highly recommend looking into accepting credit cards. Many companies like Square and Stripe can get you going really easily with that - just make sure to include their monthly fees and transaction fees into your bottom line. The cost of paying their 3 or 4% for offering the customers the convenience of using a debit or credit card will get you way more profit against the cost vs only accepting cash. Just get ready to shop around once you get busier. You’ll need to register your business and get an EIN but then you can shop around with different vendors or banks on their card fees. Quite often you’ll only pay 2 or 2.5% if you shop with banks or credit unions. I wouldn’t worry about saving a few percent though vs the convenience and reliability of getting started until you're making enough money that it will make a big difference.

Reevaluate Your Procedures and Costs

​Now that you’ve both made and hopefully sold some of your products - go back over your process. Does anything waste time or is it more cost effective to do it another way? Even if we plan out every bit of minutia we’re going to miss something and that's fine. Part of getting things made and sold is a learning process. Even if you’ve already done it before with something else, you’re bound to learn something new.

​Maybe it’s already time to get better equipment or you need to cut back on your freebies. Look at the different marketing you’re doing and if it’s generated either views or sales on your products. Just be open to change because if you’re too rigid and not willing to adapt you may fail - sometimes the market group you’re going for isn’t interested at all but you end up attracting another.

Expanding Your Operation and When to Register as a Business

​Everything here isn’t legal advice - just an excerpt from our own personal experience. Some information may be outdated ( maybe not ) or incorrect depending on where you live. 

​Do you have to register as a business to start making a product and selling it? Absolutely not. You do still have to report any income on your taxes though - currently if it’s more than 600 a year. Tons of online guides will say the first step of getting started is forming a corporation and getting a ton of paperwork done - but that is simply not true. Get your product going first. You can open a card processor account to accept as an individual, you can use your personal bank account and tie everything to your ssn to get started - you can even list on most marketplaces as an individual. 

​When you do need to form a business for sure though is before you start hiring other people to work for you. You need to register with the IRS and often with your state's government also. You get an ein with the IRS and then can start paying people and filing their taxes. Just keep in mind when you’re ready for this step there are more costs involved then just paying your employees. There’s also payroll taxes you’ll be responsible for paying as well as theirs. In addition to this you’ll definitely either want accounting software or an actual accountant. We personally recommend just the software - find one that will : do your payroll for you when you give employees their hours, offer direct deposit to those who want it, and also pay the applicable taxes to the government. All three of those are really a hassle to do properly on your own and you can shop around to find software that is both affordable and easy to use.

​Forming a business also helps you create a brand - you can name your business whatever you want.If you don’t have a business you can sell your product named as anything at all but it will always be displayed as sold to them by you - for instance if they use a debit card it will say your name on their statement. If you don’t have a business in most areas you can only market yourself as your last name - whatever name you pick has to have your last name in it. It can have your first name too but at the very least your last name. Ex. Cuts by Hardy, Davis’ Tool Supply. This may not be true for every municipality so double check but it most likely will be along these lines. Having a business lets you register a Fictitious Name Statement - which lets you name your business whatever you want to. It tells the government that you’re John Doe but you’re operating as Quality Posters.

​Opening a business fully also allows you to open bank accounts and get easier to utilize tax benefits. There are many types of business structures you can open and there’s been such a big push for opening an LLC, or Limited Liability Company but for most people it is a waste of time and money. Starting out you should really consider a Sole Proprietorship if it's just you or a Partnership if there’s multiple individuals with equal ownership. There’s multiple aspects to both but they are far more slimmed and streamlined versus the different types of corporations. They are also by far the cheapest to start and it’s not like you’re locked in to what you initially for your company as. You can always incorporate or reclassify later doing nearly the same paperwork you would do otherwise. Before you do though make sure you understand everything involved in which business structure you pick - once again sole proprietors are by far the easiest to do - there’s very few things added versus running your operations as you were before official forming your company.

​So what are the bare minimums to forming a business? If your state collects sales tax, in which most do, you’re going to need a state tax permit or state Seller's Permit. Many counties will also require you to have both a Business License and Business Operations Tax Certificate. If you’re naming your business something that doesn’t include your last name in it, chances are you’ll need a Fictitious Name Statement too. You’ll need an EIN in order to file payroll taxes or open a business bank account. Some states may require you to have a State Tax ID as well in order to pay state taxes due.

  1. Seller's Permit filed with your state - to file sales tax payments
  2. Business Operations Tax Certificate -  to legally collect sales tax
  3. Business License - to legally operate as a business where you are located
  4. Fictitious Name Statement - filed to do business as something other than your own name
  5. EIN / Employer Identification Number - in order to hire and pay workers / payroll taxes
  6. State Tax ID - to be register in the state to pay applicable state taxes

​Don’t take this list as an end all be all though this is mostly for a sole proprietor and depending on what you’re doing or selling you may require different permits or licenses. 

​Don’t worry about wasting money on trademarks or patents - pursue those if you become overwhelmingly successful. Often you can still defend yourself if someone tries to copy your name if you can prove you were established first. 

Ending Thoughts

​Thank you for reading! If there’s anything you have questions about or if you’d like us to make a more detailed article about a particular product type or if you have any questions at all - let us know! We’ve probably already done the research if we haven’t actually produced it and we’d be happy to share. 

​On that note - we aren’t perfect and this isn’t an end all be all guide. If we missed something or there's a typo please let us know and we’d love to fix it. 

​Keep in mind before you pursue a project of making a product to sell that it is always a gamble. It’s one that we can influence the odds of through our hard work and effort but it is always a risk. Do your best to only spend what you can safely lose. But at the same time don’t be afraid to take a risk. We’ve all had to skip meals and nothing ventured is nothing gained.

Balance Sheet
a statement of the assets, liabilities, and capital of a business or other organization at a particular point in time, detailing the balance of income and expenditure over the preceding period.

Bottom Line

the final total of an account, balance sheet, or other financial document. What you have left over after all expenses are paid and costs taken into account.


​the promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design. It lets people both more easily identify your product, company, or service and talk about it effectively. If something generic that they’re referencing it’s really hard to know what someone’s talking about but if you have a ​distinct name for your product.

Break Even

the point in your venture where your profit is equal to your cost - there’s no loss and there’s no gain.

Business Structure

a category of organization of your business that is legally recognized with a legal definition, distinct rules, ​and requirements.

Commercial License
- in regards to intellectual property such as a design
a license that provides a limited or unlimited right to sell the intellectual property generated by someone ​else. Whether that is through their own unique design or through specification you gave them that they used to create it.


a person who purchases goods and services for personal use.

EIN - Employee Identification Number

refers to a unique identifier that is assigned to a business entity so that it can easily be identified by the Internal Revenue Service

Farmer’s Market

a food market at which local farmers sell fruit and vegetables and often meat, cheese, and bakery products ​directly to consumers. Many have grown to include a wider variety of products such as homemade crafts also.

Fictitious Name Statement

a public record intended to make available to the public the identities of persons doing business under the ​filed name on the statement


a type of barcode with the data encoded in UPC barcodes for products from the United States and consists ​of twelve numeric characters.

Inventory Records

​often internal records showing how much inventory is in stock, what sold when, and for how much. Used to keep valuation of your inventory and track sale data of your inventory - typically broken down to each ​individual product variation.

Limited Liability Company / LLC

​a business structure that can combine the pass-through taxation of a partnership or sole proprietorship ​with the limited liability of a corporation.


​the activity or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and ​advertising.

Master Files
- in regards to digital media
​the original, uncompressed, still editable files of something.

Minimum Order Quantity / MOQ

​the minimum amount a company is willing to take an order of. Ex. a MOQ of 10 means that they won’t take ​your order unless you buy 10 of that item or more.


​a city or town that has corporate status and local government.

Open Source Software

​software that is distributed with its source code, making it available for use, modification, and distribution ​with its original rights


​a legal arrangement that allows two or more people to share responsibility for a business. 

Point of Sale Software

oftware whether on a computer, phone, or tablet that lets you ring up products for sale and charge ​applicable tax and give you a total to charge to the customer. The also often help you track your inventory, ​sales data, make custom discounts, and other useful features.

Product Variant

​the options of a 'master' product with different attributes, such as different scents, colors, pricing, materials, or any other specific features.

Profit and Loss Statement - also known as an income statement.

​one of the financial statements of a company and shows the company's revenues and expenses during a particular period. It indicates how the revenues are turned into a profit or loss.

Profit Margin

​a financial ratio that measures the percentage of profit earned by a company in relation to its revenue. Or the percentage of profit of a product in relation to its cost vs sale price. The formula is Revenue Minus Cost Divided by Revenue ( Revenue - Cost / Revenue ) or Sale Price - Cost / Sale Price

Retail Sale

​The sale of a product or service to a consumer.

Sales Tax

​a tax on sales or on the receipts from sales.

Seller's Permit

​a Permit that allows you to purchase products tax free with the purpose of reselling those products and ​collecting tax to file with the government.

Sole Proprietorship

​a type of enterprise owned and run by one person and in which there is no legal distinction between the owner and the business entity. You can still employ people to work for you though.

State Tax ID

​the number that will be assigned to your company in California to identify your company for tax purposes in ​the state.

Tax Returns

​a form on which a taxpayer makes an annual statement of income and personal circumstances, used by the tax authorities to assess liability for tax.

Taxable Income

​your total income minus any available deductions


​a barcode symbology that is widely used worldwide for tracking trade items in stores.


​a type of UPC containing 12 digits


​a type of UPC containing 6 to 8 digits

Vector Graphics

​a form of computer graphics in which visual images are created directly from geometric shapes defined on a Cartesian plane, such as points, lines, curves and polygons.
​Due to their nature they can efficiently be used in different forms of product design and advertising.


​a person or company offering something for sale.

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