Many people dream of owning their own skincare line. But creating a line of skincare products isn’t as simple as it seems, and the difficulties of starting a business in this field are even more complicated by the inadequacy of traditional business advice.
To make sure you don’t spend a lot of time and money on business advice that doesn’t work, I’m going to teach you how to start a skincare line in a cheaper, easier, and more efficient way using the lean startup method. This business startup method was first discussed by Eric Reis, who went on to explain it in detail in his 2011 book, The Lean Startup Method.
But before I dive into explaining the lean startup method to you, I’m going to explain the steps of the traditional business startup method, and tell you why it simply doesn’t work.
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The traditional flawed business startup process
Most often, the steps to the traditional business startup method are presented like this:
- Identify a passion or skill set you can cash in on (in this case, I’m guessing it’s quality skincare products).
- Write a skincare line business plan.
- Fund your business.
- Choose a location for your business.
- Choose a structure for your business.
- Decide on a business name.
- Form your business formally: register your business, get tax IDs for your business, apply for business licenses and permits, and open a business bank account.
- Ultimately fail because this method is flawed.
You can understand why many entrepreneurs look at these steps and think they’re a logical, effective way to start their business. (Well, except for the last step. That step is typically left off in most traditional business advice columns.) This method implies that if you have a good business plan for your skincare line, you just have to find a way to get the funding for it and choose a location for a brick-and-mortar store, and the money will pour in without additional work on your part.
But just because starting a skincare line would work this way in fantasyland doesn’t mean that it works this way in reality. Instead, four out of every five businesses that are started with the traditional business startup method will fail during their first year. This isn’t because the owners of these businesses didn’t try hard enough, or they didn’t sell quality products. These businesses fail because they were built on faulty business foundations and were doomed from the start.
Here are the three flawed assumptions that make the traditional business startup method ineffective.
Assumption 1: You have deep and intimate knowledge of your market.
If this is your first skincare line, it’s a good bet that you’ll need to do some market research and learn about the industry before you officially launch a line of popular, high-end skincare products.
If you’ve never launched a skincare line, you probably don’t have intimate knowledge of the market or how to develop skincare products that customers will love. Of course, you’ve probably worked for other companies that sell skincare products and have some knowledge and experience that other entrepreneurs seeking to create their own skincare line simply don’t have, but you’ll quickly find that it’s not the same as running your own business.
The traditional business startup method makes the assumption that you already have master-level experience and knowledge of the skincare and cosmetics industry. It takes most entrepreneurs decades to gain this experience, so it’s easy to see why this assumption is flawed. It’s like starting a video game you’ve never played on expert difficulty.
Using the lean startup method to start a skincare line affords you the opportunity to learn as you go and accumulate knowledge about the industry before you create products or develop your skincare line. This will give your skincare line a much higher chance to succeed.
Assumption 2: Your needs and wants are more important than your customers’ needs and wants.
It doesn’t matter which sort of business you run, the ultimate goal of said business is to make money. But if your business doesn’t acknowledge customer feedback, doesn’t seem to care about the wants and needs of its customers or develop brand loyalty, it won’t stay in business for long.
You’re encouraged to think of all the reasons that YOU want to start a skincare line under the traditional business startup method, instead of thinking about YOUR CUSTOMERS, their wants and needs, and why they would buy products from your skincare line.
If your only marketing strategy is “Please buy my skincare products and cosmetics,” you’re in trouble—that’s a poorly thought-out advertising campaign, to say the least.
When you use the lean startup method, you’ll get to know your potential clients as well as their skincare and beauty product needs. Do they want more anti-aging products? Would they like to see a skincare line with organic beauty products and cosmetics with zero-waste packaging? Or are they looking for a business that provides helpful advice, tips, and suggestions about the types of skincare products and cosmetics they should buy?
The traditional business startup method is flawed because it assumes that your wants and needs as the owner of the skincare line supersede those of the customers buying your products. In direct contrast to the traditional startup method, the lean startup method instructs you to conduct research to find out what your potential customers want before you start a skincare line. You can then use this information to provide your customers with products and services that are tailored to their needs, making them happier and giving you a better chance of owning a successful skincare line.
Assumption 3: You have unlimited cash to burn.
Unfortunately for everyone, money is a finite resource. Even the richest people on the planet can’t spend thousands or millions of dollars on a consistent basis because they’ll eventually run out of money if they do. There are always financial risks involved in owning a business, but blowing all your money recklessly isn’t advisable.
If you start a skincare line using the traditional startup method, you’ll start out with a brick-and-mortar store and hundreds of skin and beauty products, as well as cosmetics that you haven’t market-tested. The main reason for this is that the traditional startup method assumes you have the money to start a skincare line this way.
This really isn’t a reasonable assumption to make. It costs between $2,000–$20,000 on average to start a skincare line. This price varies depending on the type of products you choose, as well as packaging, manufacturing costs, and other factors. And most people can’t afford to lose $20,000 if they make a bad business decision.
If you use the lean startup method, you’ll start a skincare line more gradually, by selling homemade products or someone else’s skincare line before developing your own. Making smaller decisions like these costs less than it does to start a skincare line on your own. This incremental process also gives you the chance to test skincare and beauty products to see which products people like so you can learn about the beauty and cosmetics industry without being required to make any high-risk financial decisions.
So if you want to learn how to start a skincare line and avoid becoming one of the four out of five businesses that fail during their first year, you have to think outside the box and choose a startup method that is more effective: the lean startup method.
What is the lean startup method?
The lean startup method is a business startup technique that allows entrepreneurs to either create a new business from scratch or sell products that were manufactured by another business initially before moving on to develop their own products or line.
The three core ideas that make up the lean startup method are build, measure, and learn.
The goal of the lean startup process is to continually experiment with ideas and products that you feel confident about. You’ll jump right in and start developing your business immediately (but in smaller increments than the traditional startup method calls for), instead of creating and abiding by a business plan for a business that doesn’t exist. Another important component of the lean startup method is choosing sales tactics and ideas that are cost effective and easy to produce.
First is the build phase. During this phase you’ll identify a problem that people in your community have in common, then develop a solution to the problem. Are there no organic skincare or beauty businesses in your area? Would people like a more eco-friendly skincare option, with products that aren’t tested on animals and packaging that won’t hurt the environment?
The second phase is the measure phase. During this phase you test the solution you’ve developed to determine whether it’s a quantifiable success or utter failure. Do your anti-aging products actually work? Are people satisfied with both the quality and price of your skincare products?
The last phase is the learn phase. This is where you’ll receive priceless feedback from your customers that you can use to upgrade your skincare products and develop a more prosperous skincare line. Did your skincare products use ingredients that weren’t hypoallergenic? How do people feel about the way your products make their skin feel? If your product and marketing ideas aren’t working, that’s okay. The idea behind the learn phase is to determine which strategies and products work so that you’re not focusing time and money on something that isn’t working. You can simply start the process over again and find something that does work.
Why use the lean startup method?
If someone were trying to sell you a product and you found out that it had an 80% chance of failing within a year of purchasing it, would you still make that purchase? That seems like a silly question, but that’s the reality of the traditional startup method because four out of every five businesses that use it close their doors forever before they even reach their one-year milestone.
But you can circumvent most of these risks if you use the lean startup method instead. You’ll be able to reduce the startup cost of your skincare line and build a community for your line that is eager to try each new product you introduce.
Taking significant financial risks is something that’s expected of entrepreneurs who use the traditional startup method, and instead of doing market research to find out what potential customers want to see in a new skincare line, they just launch a line and hope that people like the products they introduce. But when you use the lean startup method, you’ll test each skincare product in your line as part of the process. By doing this you’ll give yourself an advantage over other businesses that were started using the traditional startup method because you’ll create a community that’s interested in your skincare products before you’ve even launched your skincare line.
If you use the lean startup method, you can cut down on the cost of starting a skincare line and thereby pay less than your competitors who used the traditional startup method. This is a direct result of the traditional startup method’s assumption that entrepreneurs have enough money to cover high startup costs, which many don’t. When you use the lean startup method, you’re afforded the opportunity to learn about the skincare industry while learning how to run your business and make money. Because you’re not forced to take on any outstanding financial risks right off the bat, your skincare line has a better chance of surviving beyond its first year than other competing businesses that were started with the traditional startup method.
Why am I so confident in the lean startup method’s ability to help you start a skincare line? I’ve personally used the lean startup method to start five different businesses over the course of eight years. I was able to successfully sell three of those businesses, and I still own and operate the remaining two to this day. I’ve helped thousands of people start the businesses of their dreams using the lean startup method, and I’m confident I can help you start a skincare line, as well.
How do you use the lean startup method to start your skincare line?
Every time I start a new business venture, I use the build, measure, and learn strategies of the lean startup method.This method will cost less than the startup costs of the traditional startup method, and will provide you with all the tools and experience necessary to provide your skincare or beauty company with solid business foundations to ensure success.
The first of the lean startup method’s core ideals is build. During this phase of the process, you’ll start developing ideas about your line and build your business up. This is accomplished by identifying a problem that local people have involving skin and beauty products, other local skincare businesses, and the industry as a whole, creating a community for your skincare line, recognizing an opportunity to present a solution to the problem you identified, and finally developing a solution to the problem.
Completing this phase verifies that you have good ideas for products and that your ideas will meet the needs of your community, which is why it’s such an important step. Essentially, this phase will build your business from scratch and also ensure that you have everything you need to make it succeed.
Step 1: Identify a problem
The first task you need to complete is to find a problem a lot of people share, one that you feel like you can provide a solution for.
As nice as it would be, you can’t jump right into selling skin and hair care products without knowing whether people want to buy them. Lots of new businesses on the market sell skincare products, and consumers can’t afford to buy from each one. So, a better marketing strategy is to give people a convincing reason to buy your products.
The real trick is identifying this convincing reason.
Through careful observation you should be able to find a “pain point,” which is a business term that refers to a problem many people have that causes them pain or annoyance so much that they look for a solution to it. This often results in one of two outcomes: people will either find a solution themselves, or they will pay someone to provide a solution to the problem. Ideally, your skincare line will become the solution.
Of course, when you want to start a skincare line, you don’t want to sell the same skin products or use the same marketing tactics as other skincare businesses. To avoid this, you should find a problem that you can solve specifically with your skincare line. Are there no skincare businesses in the area? Do other local businesses in the beauty industry not offer organic products or hypoallergenic ingredients?
You should seriously consider the concerns that people in your community express about the local beauty and skincare industry. Consumer concerns raised by people in your community will massively help your line in the beginning. Do other beauty and skincare companies in the area use ingredients that leave your skin feeling greasy? Do people have trouble finding a skincare line that uses organic ingredients and eco-friendly packaging? Do people want anti-aging products that are both good for their skin and cost effective? Are there not enough beauty and skincare companies on the market in your area?
After you’ve talked to a handful of people you’ll notice a few problems that they all have in common and once you’ve identified them you can ask about them on future surveys. Ask each consumer that talks to you how greatly these problems affect them. When you ask about other beauty and skincare lines, you’ll learn about the industry and market in the area, what people think about other companies, the products that people are buying in the area, how people are using skin, beauty, and hair care products, and the types of services that other skincare companies provide and what level of service they’ve come to expect. You can begin to choose a problem from this consumer feedback.
How do you choose which problem to focus on?
The lean startup method doesn’t dictate how you go about choosing a problem to solve while learning how to start a skincare line. But these helpful tips should make it easier to choose which problem to focus on:
- Choose a problem that affects a large number of people. Is there a decided lack of such companies in your area? Are local businesses not carrying the types of products that people want? Do people want more green options with eco-friendly packaging and organic natural ingredients?
- Choose a “pain point.” It won’t do any good to solve a problem that no one has. If you’re learning how to start a skincare line, it's important to note that the more the problem bothers people, the more it’s a good fit for you. Do people want products made from quality ingredients that don’t cost an arm and a leg? Would they like more of a variety of skin and hair care products?
- Choose a problem that you can solve. It doesn’t matter how great of a problem you’ve identified if you can’t find a way you feasibly solve it. If people want a line that features only gourmet organic products, that may not be a thing you can realistically do, at least initially. But what you can do is offer a different top-shelf skin or hair care product each month to fill the demand for high-quality products.
The key factors behind this step are to choose a problem that many people are affected by, which causes them a lot of pain or inconvenience, and that they’re so desperate to find a solution to the problem that they would pay for it.
Step 2: Build a community
Once you’ve identified a problem you want to focus on, the next step in learning how to start a skincare line is to create a community for the people who are affected by this problem. Our current technology-based culture makes it easy to create a community for your brand using social media. Create a Reddit forum, Facebook group, or Instagram page. Completing this step will ensure that you have a community made up of people who are affected by the problem you’ve identified and who are interested in finding solutions to it, which means they will eventually become your clients. Throughout this community-building phase, you’ll also develop your company’s brand and marketing tactics, while conducting important market research on each new product you introduce. If you were using the traditional startup method, it would take you three steps to complete all this important research, but you can get it all done in one step using the lean startup method.
Diversifying your community with offline options is a great idea, as well. Create some offline clubs or meetup groups. Meeting with your community in offline settings gives you a chance to interact more intimately with them face-to-face, which will make your customers feel a deeper connection with you and your brand. It’s also helpful to receive consumer feedback in real time, rather than waiting around for online comments to roll in.
Another element to consider is local business groups, like the Chamber of Commerce, which provide a variety of benefits that you can take advantage of while you’re learning how to start a skincare line.
Reasons to build a community:
- It provides you with an opportunity to learn more about the problem you identified in the first step and the impact it has on your community, as you learn how to start a skincare line.
- It helps with the development of your brand as well as marketing for your company.
- Once you officially launch your skincare line, you’ll have a market and customer base that create demand for your products. They’ve also already been primed to buy your products, which is marketing gold.
- It will be easy to gain both funding to cover the cost of launching your line and support for your line.
How to build a community:
- Start a Facebook group that you can help expand by discussing various skin and hair concerns, trends related to beauty and skincare, the wants and needs of your community, and any skincare and beauty topics they want to know more about. When you consistently post about skincare and beauty products, create status updates, and start discussions about new products and natural ingredients, interactions with members of your community will lead to the community’s growth.
- Use Twitter to create polls. People love viral media that they can interact with, and polls make them feel like their voices are heard so they’re a great way to interact with people while obtaining consumer feedback and learning about the demand for various products.
- Post photos on Instagram of new products, organic natural ingredients, yourself creating homemade products, and other aspects of the business that people want to know about. This will not only build a community on this platform, but also create buzz about your company, which is important when learning how to start a skincare line.
- Use social media to network. You can reach out to other entrepreneurs in the skincare and beauty industry, local business owners in other industries, as well as finding people involved in private label manufacturing. Talking to other business owners, entrepreneurs in the same industry, and private label manufacturers will provide you with a wealth of information about how to start a skincare line. You’ll get tips about the market, the benefits of using private label manufacturers, various insurance considerations, taxes you may need to pay, and how to launch your line.
By creating an online community this way you will not only get lots of valuable consumer feedback, but also garner support for your line. Consumers who have a way to tell businesses how they feel about their products and services will freely do so, meaning that you won’t have to dig hard to get this information. Consumers will tell you which products they like, what sort of ingredients they like, how they feel about eco-friendly packaging and natural ingredients, what they like and dislike about other skincare and beauty businesses in the area, and much more. Having all this information on tap is why it’s important to complete this step and create a community before launching your line.
Creating an online presence for your company will also create advertisement for it. As customers start commenting on your posts, interacting with you, and leaving positive online reviews for your products, and they realize that you will make changes to your skin and hair care products based on consumer feedback, the more visible your website or page will become and the bigger your community will grow.
Step 3: Identify a solution opportunity
Unfortunately, once you’ve completed the first two steps, the problem you’ve identified still exists. Identifying a problem isn’t enough to solve it entirely.
While you’re learning how to start a skincare line, conducting important market research and growing a community related to your brand, you should ask questions about the types of skincare products that people are currently using. Use your community to learn about other local skincare companies and how your community feels about their products and services, including what they like and dislike about them. You can ask about other companies’ lines, anti-aging products, various oils and serums, packaging, whether they use natural ingredients, their brands, and how much customers pay for their products. Is it hard to find a particular product in the area? Do people like the marketing tactics and brands of other companies? Do other companies offer a website where clients can buy products online?
It’s important to learn about the sales and marketing tactics of other companies in the skincare and beauty industry, the most popular product that people buy from them, the types of natural ingredients people love, and the ideas people have about the ideal skincare brand. You can use this information to start thinking about a solution to the problem you’ve identified.
Step 4: Develop a solution
The next step is to develop a solution that your skincare line can provide your community. Development of a solution should take time because you need to find one that not only satisfies the needs of your community, but also creates a demand for your products and is something that your community will pay for.
How to develop your solution:
- Brainstorm possible solutions that your skincare business could provide. If people are having problems finding a particular product or product type, that’s the first product you should stock. If they want to interact with friendly employees that are knowledgeable about various skin and hair conditions and can provide recommendations based on clients’ needs, incorporate that into your brand.
- Get feedback from your community about the ideas you come up with for your skincare company and brand. Because you rely heavily on your clients, you need to make sure there’s demand for your line. The best choice for your solution will be one that your community likes, and it needs to be something that most of your community agrees will solve their problem. This is also a point to raise with other skincare brands to get tips about whether your ideas are feasible.
- Create and develop your Minimum Viable Product or MVP. This is also called a “hero product” in the skincare and beauty industry. Your MVP or hero product is the service or product that will cost the least to produce, is the easiest to produce, and will provide you with the most profit.
You’ll know you’ve found the best possible solution when you choose one that solves your community's problems adequately, has the least production costs, and is easily provided to your customers. Development of an MVP or hero product will reduce the manufacturing costs of each product, which will make your skincare brand more likely to succeed because it won’t be held back by the unnecessary financial strain created when using the traditional startup method.
Next is the measure phase. When I use the word “measure,” I mean it in the scientific sense of the word, so you can think of it as a “test” or “experiment” rather than grabbing a ruler. You'll perform a series of tests to determine whether your solution is a viable option during this phase.
Step 5: Test your MVP
Now that you've developed a solution, checked with your community to make sure that they like it, and then developed your MVP, it's time to test your business’s performance. Testing and experimentation are the cornerstones of the lean startup method, so this step is an important one, and you will find yourself testing various aspects of your skincare line over the years.
There are many things to consider when developing your MVP or hero product, such as choosing a private label manufacturer, the packaging for your products, which natural ingredients to use, and many more things that you will discover while learning how to start a skincare line. But the best part about the lean startup method is that by testing your ideas, if something doesn't work you can simply start the process again and focus on a successful MVP or hero product instead.
To many people who have studied the traditional business startup method, it probably seems backward to test your MVP or hero product before seeking funding for your line. But it actually makes sense for learning how to start a skincare line. If you were the owner of a financial institution, would you rather provide funding to an entrepreneur with an untested business idea who simply hopes that their business will succeed, or give the funding to an entrepreneur who has already done substantial market research and testing to prove that their business will succeed? It's a no-brainer. Typically, financial institutions will choose the latter example.
Testing your MVP or hero product may seem scary to you, but it's quite easy and can serve as advertisement for your new business, and it's absolutely a necessary part of the process.
You have a few options whenever it comes to testing out your MVP or hero product. Among the easiest of these is to hand out free samples of your products for community members to sample. Set up a table at a local farmer's market, flea market, or shopping mall, at a local clothing store’s sale, or at local events such as festivals and fairs. You can also set up a stand if you have found a good location to do so, and periodically hand out free samples to see what customers think of them.
You should come prepared with several different products and a variety of scents and formulas. There should be an array of options with natural ingredients for consumers to choose from. And you should bring with you various lotions, butters, oils, and serums to provide as free samples for potential clients.
Be sure to ask questions about the samples. Do they like the scents of your products? Do they like the consistency of your oils and serums? How do they feel about the natural ingredients that you use or the packaging that your products come in? Do they like your demeanor and your brand? Is there anything that they want to know about the products that you haven't already told them?
You can tell that this experiment was successful if people are raving about the free samples and want to know more about how they can purchase the products in the future. If many people say they would buy the products, then your solution is a viable option. If people aren’t impressed with your free samples or if you have a lot of leftover free samples at the end of the event, this probably didn't go well. People will typically flock to free products, so if they don't it’s a good indication that they're not enthusiastic about your product and it's time to go back to the drawing board and conduct some more testing.
Step 6: Sell your MVP
After you've tested your MVP and become acquainted with your market, it's time to actually sell your products. It's worth noting however that when you start to sell your MVP using the lean startup method it's a lot less glamorous than initially selling your MVP using the traditional startup method. You're likely not going to be selling an entire high-dollar skincare line right off the bat.
Because this is the last step that you need to complete before you obtain feedback and then funding for your business, it's crucial that you get this right. When you complete this step, your skincare brand will have an automatic advantage over others that were created using the traditional business startup method. This step will prove that you can sell your products, that you can run your business successfully and that your business has enough momentum behind it to be worthy of funding for expansion.
Of course, because you haven't bought a brick-and-mortar location yet and you’re still learning how to start a skincare line, how you sell your products initially will be different. From the previous step you should have learned what your most popular product is. Now all you need to do is to find a good location to sell your products. This could involve purchasing a table at a flea market, a stand at a local farmers market, a vendor's booth at local craft fairs, or even a more permanent, stationary stand. Selling your product at an event table or stand is a good way to run a one-off experiment to see how well it sells. A stationary stand in a good location is a great way to obtain repeat business and loyal clients. And once you've gained loyal clients, consumer word of mouth will lead new clients to you thanks to your stationary location.
When you're learning how to start a skincare line, selling your MVP is an important step. It allows you to learn about the market for your products, determine your most popular product, begin developing your brand, and gain some clients.
The last of the core ideals that make up the lean startup method process is learn. You've already completed the build stage to develop an idea about your business, and the measure phase where you determined if the solution you developed was a viable business idea. Now you must obtain feedback from consumers about your business and your brand so that you can grow your business, further please your clients, and ultimately achieve a more successful enterprise.
Step 7: Get feedback on your product idea
The goal of each of the steps is to learn how to start a skincare line. So far you have created a community related to your skincare line, identified a problem that affects most of your community, developed a solution to that problem, created and tested your MVP or Minimum Viable Product, and sold your MVP. Using this process to learn how to start a skincare line may seem tedious, but all along the way you've been learning various marketing strategies for your business and developed your brand. By now you should also have a good idea of how much money your business can potentially make, which is helpful when you decide to seek financial aid for your business. The next step is to seek out feedback about your product and your business. Here are some tips about how to obtain feedback from customers about your product line and use it to grow your brand:
- Ask members of your community which product they like the best, what they like about your products, how they compare to competing products, what they think about your brand, how they feel about the price of your products, and if there is a particular product that they would like to see on your shelves.
- Handle this feedback with attentiveness and care. What do people think about your brand and the customer experience with your business? Do they dislike the packaging of a particular product even if it is eco-friendly? What scents do your customers like? What is your most popular product?
- Use the feedback the customers have provided to grow and improve your business. By using this feedback frequently over time, the finished product will be a business that sells skincare products that are tailor-made to suit the needs of your clients. Because the products you sell, your brand, and your business overall are designed to meet the desires of your clients, they will be more satisfied, which will ultimately lead to better success for you.
Because you created an online community while you were learning how to start a skincare line, you can easily turn to social media to gain much of this feedback. Create polls on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, or Reddit, or design a survey for your website or landing page. Search online reviews about your business. They may be critical, but they're often full of information that you can use to improve a specific product or your business practices in general.
Gather up all this feedback and read through it. Once you understand what your customers want from you, you can start making some changes inspired by the feedback you've received. When you make changes based on customer feedback, they will be happier and happy customers are good for business.
Pay attention to the sales and marketing strategies of your competitors. Every sale and new marketing strategy that you see a competitor using is an attempt by them to provide your community with a solution to their problems, which you can use as tips to improve your own tactics. If you notice that these attempts are failing, you can sidestep them rather than spend needless time and effort on something that will work. However, if you notice that a competitor is using a very successful marketing tactic or that they have a sale that is going really well, consider using it for your own business. It may mean that a new product is in demand. You should think about the problem that they have solved with this tactic so that you can provide your own solution to it.
The information and feedback that your community provides you with will help your line expand and grow. It will also help you to understand your competitors and compete with them, which will drive up the success of your business.
You’ve now proven you know how to successfully run a business and you've done important market research, as well as obtaining customer feedback about your line and ways to improve it. All of this will make your business more successful, and it's now time to consider expanding. This means it's time to upgrade to a brick-and-mortar store, obtain necessary licenses and permits to do business in your state, and check out FDA guidelines regarding the ingredients in your products so that you can finally launch the skincare line you've been dreaming about. Fortunately, by using the lean startup method you have obtained a lot of experience and knowledge that will make drafting a business plan and obtaining funding for your dream much easier than if you had used the traditional business startup method.
There is still a lot of work to be done on your part before you open a brick-and-mortar location to sell your skincare line.
One thing that many inexperienced entrepreneurs overlook is the need to obtain an EIN, or Employer Identification Number, from the IRS. You should also open a business bank account for your skincare business at this time.
Another important aspect of business ownership is choosing a business structure. You could establish a partnership, sole trader, corporation, or LLC. If you would like to learn more about LLCs, check out my article about how to form an LLC here.
You are going to need to acquire what is known as a “registered agent.” This is a person or business who will accept mail, legal documents, and service of process on behalf of you and your business. To learn more about what a registered agent can do for you, check out my article about the best registered agent here.
When it comes to expanding to a brick-and-mortar store it's important to remember that the most important factor is location, location, location! You want to choose a popular location with a lot of foot traffic, where there aren't competing beauty and skincare establishments in your immediate vicinity. It would be ideal to situate your store next to stores in similar industries, such as fashion, healthcare, nutrition, and fitness.
Here's a list of tips on the things that you will need to do to maintain a successful skincare business:
- Hire employees: It's important to choose a team of employees that you can trust. Some of the jobs that you will need to hire for include cashier or sales associate, management, inventory specialist, a chemist and a skincare specialist.
- Follow state requirements: Depending on where you live your state may require you to obtain business licenses, permits, or even certain types of insurance for your business to remain in compliance with their regulations. Check with your local and state government to find out what sort of business requirements you need to meet.
- Follow FDA regulations: One of the first things that you should do is become familiar with the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act. The FDA refers to this act to ensure that all American skincare products maintain the same level of quality and safety. This means regulations on the type of ingredients you can put in any skincare product. There are also regulations about how you are allowed to label your products. If all the ingredients in your anti-aging product are not organic, then you aren't allowed to label your products as using “100% organic ingredients,” for example.
- Find the right private label manufacturers: A private label manufacturer will manufacture each product on your line according to your specifications and use the packaging that you specify, and some will even ship the products to your customers on your behalf. Of course, if you've been making each product yourself from your own home and you expand your business, you'll eventually need to hire a private label manufacturer to take on the workload. Finding a good private label manufacturer means that each product will be produced in bulk, they will be produced quickly, and they will use the packaging associated with your brand. It's hard to produce bulk orders of a product and maintain the quality and packaging standards of your brand from your own home, which is why it's so important to find a good private label manufacturer.
- Obtain insurance: Because you are dealing with a product that is regulated by the FDA, obtaining the right insurance is just as important as choosing your brand and packaging. Some of the types of insurance that you may consider are product liability insurance and professional liability insurance. For added peace of mind that you are qualified to sell each product in your inventory, consider skincare and cosmetic licensing as well as various health and safety certifications.
- Switch on the utilities: Now that you've expanded to a brick-and-mortar location it's time to turn the lights on. Some of the things you’ll need include: water, gas, electricity, wifi, and a good security system.
- Business software: Another good idea once you’ve settled into a brick-and-mortar location is business software. The right business software can help keep track of sales and inventory, and manage payroll, as well as assisting with taxes. For more information about business software, check out my article about the Best Business Software.
- Get legal advice: When dealing with any government agency, it’s a good idea to make sure that everything from your product offerings, to your packaging and manufacturing are legal. This can be tricky, but luckily there are online legal services to help you navigate through legal hassles conveniently. To find out more about how online legal services can help your business, check out my article on the Best Online Legal Services.
Congratulations! There’s a lot of hard work involved with starting a skincare line. And if you’re just learning how to start a skincare line, it can be scary to know that four out of every five businesses that are started using the traditional startup method fail within a year of opening their doors. Using the lean startup method, your business has a better chance of success compared to businesses started with the traditional startup method. Here are the steps to start your skincare line with the lean startup method:
- Identify a problem.
- Build a community.
- Identify a solution opportunity.
- Develop a solution.
- Test your Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
- Sell your MVP.
- Get feedback on your product idea.
The lean startup method is a continual process that isn’t finished once you’ve completed the last step. Rather, after completing the last step you begin again, and you’ll complete the build, measure, learn process numerous times throughout the life of your business, which will contribute to its continued success.
Launching a skincare line is difficult no matter which startup method you use. But if you dream of owning a wildly popular line that people love, then you’ll have the drive it takes to succeed in the industry. And the lean startup method, along with the tips provided in this article, will provide your budding business with a safety net that will help its chances of success.
Again, congratulations on your decision to start a skincare line, and good luck with your business endeavors!
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