On the surface, starting a successful greeting card business should be an easy process. The necessary elements are sufficient capital, a viable and distinctive product line, a dynamic marketing plan, sales, and packing and shipping. But, as with any startup business, serious problems will present themselves if there is insufficient startup capital, a weak knowledge of the cost of goods, or an incomplete understanding of the greeting card industry itself. Step one in starting a greeting card business is a lot of research.
The most knowledgeable source of information, sales opportunities, and industry trends is the Greeting Card Association (GCA). The staff is knowledgeable, helpful, and up-to-date on all elements of what is needed to start a greeting card business and to keep it vital; the GCA also sponsors the large trade and award shows which are closed to non-member businesses.
Several decisions must be made about the product itself, and these decisions will have to be made based on available capital and owner expertise. Will the cards be available only online? Will they be paper products? How complicated and costly is the production of the card? Which is the growth market? For an online greeting card business, a substantial item in the budget will be web design and efficient programming. A paper card company will have to know the costs of printing, storage and shipping. The initial product introduction and marketing will also be significant budget items for either online greeting cards or paper greeting cards. Cost estimates must be available from reliable people, and financial planning must grow from a lot of research into different types of online direct marketing.
The GCA requires a submission of sample work before granting membership. This submission should be made before printing the cards in bulk. The value here for a greeting card startup business is that the GCA will check the cards very closely and offer advice on necessary details that may be missing from the cards. For example, retail stores want bar codes. The absence of a barcode will hurt sales.
Contingent with all the above information gathering and product decisions, starting a greeting card company should involve the assistance of an accountant and lawyer, preferably people who know the greeting card industry. These professionals will assist with budgeting and be aware of all the applications and filings that are needed for any business to function within the law. The business will need a minimum of a Federal ID number and a sales tax resale certificate. You can learn other legalities involved in running a business if you take online courses in business law.
And, of course, the artwork should be copyrighted when the final products are ready.