How to Start a Gift Basket Business

You’ve seen them in department stores, boutiques and gift shops… or possibly sent and received them yourself. They are beautiful and brimming with unique gifts and tasty treats. They are a more personalized gift than balloons, and more practical than sending flowers.

Of course we’re talking about gift baskets, a hot trend in gift-giving these days. And behind the scenes, another major trend is emerging – people who choose to start a gift basket business are launching one of the fastest-growing types of businesses today.

Gift basket businesses are starting up all over the country, and with good reason. Not only is the work fun and creative, but you can also start a gift basket business easily from home, by setting up a small space where you design and build your gift baskets.

You also have unlimited potential to grow when you start a gift basket business. “I launched my [gift basket] business selling $20,000 in baskets that first holiday season. The business doubled year after year, and has continued to grow substantially,” says gift basket business owner Cherie Reagor, twice named Designer of the Year by the gift basket industry.

The process for starting a gift basket business is not complicated, but you do have some important steps to follow. Here’s some advice from the FabJob Guide to Become a Gift Basket Owner to help you take your idea of starting a gift basket business from concept to reality.

1. Plan and Prepare

To start a gift basket business, you first need to learn about the gift basket industry. Study other gift basket businesses, and see what they have to offer. How many types of gift baskets do they have for sale? What items are included in them? When you know what other gift basket businesses are offering, then you can plan how your business will be similar, and what you will do differently to be unique.

To build your gift basket making skills, you can take some classes at a local craft store, buy some good how-to books, and practice making as many baskets as you can for friends and family.

2. Buy Supplies and Equipment

You don’t need a large amount of supplies and equipment to start a gift basket business, but you will need some basics. A few pairs of sharp scissors will be essential, and you may also need a glue gun and wire cutters. You’ll also need to purchase some cello or shrink wrap, baskets or other containers, ribbon, bows, and some decorative shred, and you’ll be ready to start filling your gift baskets with goodies. Don’t forget to buy shipping supplies (i.e. boxes and tape) if you will be sending your gift baskets by courier.

3. Set up Your Work Space

Decide where you will create your gift baskets, and ensure that you have adequate lighting, as well as storage for the supplies and inventory required to start a gift basket business. You’ll also want to invest in a workbench or table when you can spread out supplies and make gift baskets at a comfortable height.

If you will include food items in your gift baskets, they should be stored in airtight containers with the expiration dates marked. Depending on where you live, local laws may also regulate how food items for your gift baskets must be handled and stored.

4. Buy Gift Basket Items

You’ll want to purchase a nice variety of gift items to start a gift basket business. Keep your purchases versatile if you can, meaning that they can be used in more than one style of gift basket. When you first start a gift basket business, stay away from buying too many gift items that won’t sell after a certain season (e.g., candy Santas), or whose shelf life may expire before you can use them up. You can order wholesale gift items at a deep discount.

Gift basket business insiders know that there are reputable businesses that will make and ship gift baskets on your behalf. All you have to do is land the orders! If your time or start-up money is limited, this can help you start a gift basket business easily and economically.

5. Market Your Gift Basket Business

When you are ready to start selling gift baskets, you’ll want to let the public know. You can advertise your gift basket business, although ads may be too expensive when you first start a gift basket business. Instead, consider press releases and other low-cost marketing strategies such as referrals. Online directories and a website for your gift basket business will also help generate and increase sales. In fact, many gift basket businesses allow their clients to browse and buy gift baskets directly online.

First Things First – New Business Startup Basics

To start up a new business takes several things like great skill, motivation, research, planning, discipline and hard work to get right. In the beginning, mistakes will be made, most are not fatal and can be corrected. First, you need to take time to explore and evaluate your business goals, then use this information to build a comprehensive and thoughtful business plan that will help you to reach those goals.

Developing a business plan will force you to think through some important issues that you may not otherwise consider. Your plan will become a valuable tool as you set out to raise money for your business and it will provide milestones to gauge your success. Your answers will change as you develop & grow your business.

LET’S GET STARTED

1. LIST YOUR REASONS FOR WANTING TO GO INTO BUSINESS

Some common reasons for starting a business are:

SELF MANAGEMENT

FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE

CREATIVE FREEDOM

MAKE FULL USE OF PERSONAL SKILLS & KNOWLEDGE

2.DETERMINE WHAT TYPE OF BUSINESS IS RIGHT FOR YOU

You can start by asking these questions & write down the answers:

What Do I Like To Do With My Time ?

What Technical Skills Have I Learned Or Developed ?

What Do Others Say That I’m Good At ?

Will I Have The Support Of My Family ?

How Much Time Do I Have To Start Up A Business ?

How Much Time Do I Have To Run A Business ?

Do I Have Any Hobbies Or Interests That Are Marketable ?

3. RESEARCH & IDENTIFY YOUR BUSINESS NICHE

Ask yourself these questions and write down the answers:

What Business Am I Interested In Starting ?

What Services Or Products Will I Sell ?

Is My Idea Practical And Will It Fill A Need ?

What Is My Competition ?

What’s My Business’ Advantage Over Existing Companies ?

Can I Deliver A Better Quality Service ?

Can I Create A Demand For My Business ?

4. BEFORE DEVELOPING A PLAN, THE FINAL STEP IS YOUR PRE-BUSINESS CHECKLIST

Answer these questions & write down the answers:

What Skills & Experience Do I Bring To The Business ?

What Legal Structure Will I Use ?

How Will My Companys’ Records Be Maintained?

What Insurance Coverage Will Be Needed?

What Equipment Or Supplies Will I Need?

How Will I Compensate Myself?

What Are My Resources?

What Financing Will I Need?

Where Will My Business Be Located?

What Will I Name My Business?

Once you write down your answers to these questions, you will find that, your answers will help you to create a focused, well-researched business plan that will serve as a blueprint for business operations, management and capitalization. Once you have completed your business plan, review it with a friend or associate.

When you feel comfortable with your plan,discuss it with your banker. A business plan is a flexible document and it should change as your business grows.

Changeability – Can You Drive Your Business Without it?

“…a systematic and institutional capacity forchange may now be a company’s single most valuable asset.” Michael Hammer, Beyond Reengineering

You may be in charge of your company but are you in control of it? How many times have you tried to manoeuvre your company in a particular direction to find that it is incapable of responding in either the right timescales or manner? Make no mistake, your ability to steer and move your company is only as good as its inherent ability to respond to the need to change, its business change capability. Would you accept a car that had a rubber steering column and did 0-60 in whatever time it felt like? Of course not, so why accept the equivalent in terms of business change management?

Take a good look at your own company. Operationally you may be doing a good job of servicing the customers. Management wise you’ve probably got a good team doing your planning and overseeing the day-to-day operations but how well are you coping with your changes? How many IT projects do you have on the go? How many reorganisations or office moves? What’s the impact? What’s the cost? What’s the benefit? Who’s doing what to whom and when? How do you know? Is it within your means to change the direction and momentum of that reengineering programme? Is change a necessary evil or an opportunity to succeed? It’s probably a bit of both but one thing is for sure, it’s not going to go away.

The Change Imperative

All businesses must change over time or else they will fail. The commercial landscape is constantly changing due to the interplay between the market, legislation, technology and competitors. Two things are needed to navigate that landscape: headlights and a responsive vehicle. New and small businesses tend to have the latter by default. They don’t have the massive cultural, technical and customer legacy of larger, older companies to hold them back. The smarter of these businesses will have also invested in a good set of headlights. As they succeed they too accrue a legacy to slow them down, unless of course they have developed a business change capability in line with their growth.

When is a Change Not a Change?

So what is a business change capability? Let’s start by defining a business change. All businesses can naturally cope with a limited amount of variation in the cases they handle. Shops can handle different basket sizes and mixes, manufacturers can produce customised products and hospitals can treat a variety of illnesses and injuries. The twin daily operational goals of efficiency and effectiveness produce a compromise position. Increases in efficiency tend to result in specialisation that in turn reduces the ability to handle variation whilst the drive to be effective requires an ability to handle all the variation being thrown at it by the chosen market. It’s fast food versus a la carte service. At the end of the day a particular operational model is implemented. Any change to this operational model is a business change. A business change capability is the means to efficiently and effectively (there they are again) perform a business change.

House of Cards

That’s OK then, all you need to do is improve the way you reorganise, implement systems or move office. If only it were that simple. Businesses are incredibly complex and sensitive organisms. They can swallow directorial dicta without blinking but change the coffee in the finance department and your invoices take three times as long to process. The operational model mentioned above is not as simple as an organisation chart or a flow diagram. It is multidimensional. Move location and you affect processes, roles, infrastructure and communications. Change a department’s structure and you can impact jobs, systems, facilities, information flow and loyalties. Implementing a new system will change processes, skill-sets, responsibilities and data. Any potential change needs to be considered holistically to increase the chance of success (or for those whose cup is half empty, to reduce the risk of failure).

The Whole and Nothing but the Whole

Taking a holistic perspective of change brings with it a whole new mindset compared to some of the more traditional change efforts. No longer do you have ‘system implementation’ projects, you have ‘process improvement through faster access to information and the removal of organisational boundaries’ projects. No longer do you have ‘reorganisation’ initiatives, you have ‘the clarification of roles and responsibilities through the clear ownership of processes and the implementation of supporting systems’ initiatives. The days of dropping a new system or organisational structure from a great height into the operational business without making sure it fits must come to an end.

Turning on the Lights

Now that we have a holistic view of a business change we start to notice something. There appears to be more interference between the various change initiatives taking place in the company. Joe’s new customer care processes rely on roles that Fred is removing in his web interface project. Helen’s team-working initiative is being impacted by Sue’s relocation project. The holistic viewpoint has not created these overlaps it has simply made them more visible. To complete the picture we need a common language across all the initiatives that enables these overlaps to be seen. That language comes in the form of business models.

Super Models

Business models provide a pictorial and textual description of a business. They act as a set of maps onto which change activity can be plotted. Only by using a common set of models across the business and for all change initiatives can we determine who is doing what to whom and where effort is duplicated or lacking. Without this, time, money and energy will be wasted regardless of the skill and best intentions of the participants. These models must cover the various perspectives required by the holistic view. This includes process, organisation, systems, data and location. ‘That’s all well and good’ I hear you say ‘but these models will always be out of date’. ‘Not if you build their maintenance into your change processes’, I reply. Which brings us nicely to the next topic: method.

Process Rules

Whether they like it or not all businesses have method or, if you prefer, processes. How good they are is another matter but all businesses have a way of working. They know what to do when certain events happen such as a customer placing an order. Similarly, in order to conduct business change we need a method or a set of processes. What do we do when a potential change is identified? What do we do when a change project needs to change scope or fails to deliver? How do we handle a new corporate vision? How do we handle a simple process improvement? How do we allocate resources across dozens of competing changes? A permanent business change capability needs to be able to answer these questions by providing a set of processes, roles and supporting systems capable of dealing with all of these situations. Such a capability has the added bonus of being self-improving. It is just another set of business processes etc that can be modeled and changed.

So What…..?

So what does all of this mean? It means that, with a set of repeatable processes that help define potential changes holistically, assess their impact and interdependencies, determine the optimum mix of integrated change initiatives across the company and maintain an accurate set of business models, you have some hope of driving your company through that mixture of mine-field and oil-field, the corporate landscape. Without it you’d better get used to that rubbery steering and sponge-like response …but then again maybe it is time for a service.