Are you an environmentally-conscious individual who wants to help the planet? While having this passion you may also be an entrepreneur who wants to fill gaps in the market with your own products.

With these goals, you may want to create a company based around an environmentally friendly product. There may be a demand as according to the BBC, 400 million tonnes of plastic is produced each year, and 40% is single-use (used only once). This plastic is filling the ocean and harming wildlife.

This is your ultimate guide to how to start a biodegradable product business, including:

  • Developing your product 
  • Branding
  • Marketing
  • Pricing
  • Finding suppliers and manufacturers
  • Funding
  • Registering your company 
  • Insuring your company
  • Organising your finances and taxes 

Developing your product

There is a method you can follow for forming ideas, it involves finding your insight, suggesting an idea and planning the execution. This is a process you can keep doing until you find one that you can feel passionate about.

Insight

Research is the first step to finding your insights. It’ll help you discover all you need to know about your topic. So if you research all of the current problems with plastic or the essential products that cause the problems, that is an excellent place to start.

Eventually, you may stumble upon a more specific problem. For example, according to the environmental organisation, 5 Gyres polystyrene is one of the worst plastics for our environment. So for this, the example insight could be:

People don’t want broken products (so they package parcels with protective polystyrene), but don’t want a broken planet either (they want to do what they can for the environment and use less harmful plastic).

Idea

After finding insights from your research, you can start finding solutions. This process may involve mind-mapping, where you write out as many ideas as possible.

Don’t be disheartened if you can’t think of something straight away. You have done the research for it, so the knowledge for a solution is there. Sometimes it’s useful to take a break from your brainstorming. More likely than not, an idea will eventually pop into your mind. Give yourself time. 

For example, an idea could be to:

Create biodegradable balls to go in packaging, with seeds inside so customers can use them to plant trees.

Execution

Now that you have thoughtful insights and your unique idea, it’s time to start developing your product. If you don’t have any experience creating a product, you may want to research the process.

Eventually, say what you would like to do with your idea, by starting to think about your production and launch. You could start to consider the costs of producing your product (more on production and costs later in the article).

An example of your execution could be:

Get every significant courier to use the biodegradable seed balls in their packaging. So we need to keep production costs down and use the savings to market the product.

Branding

To get your product out there, you need to start thinking about how you want to promote it. A big part of having a successful product is strong branding.

Brand story

To create a brand, try writing a story about what your business stands for and its goals. It should be an inspiring representation of how you are starting and where you plan to go. Once you have written this, you should get a sense of other elements of the brand.

Name and logo

The most critical elements you will need for the brand are a name representing who you are and a logo that makes you recognisable. The logo should tell your brand’s story subtly and visually. Meanwhile, your name should verbally describe the story, it should also sound good to the ear.

For example, a name for the biodegradable seed balls could be:

Treedom — a cross of trees and freedom. Then, you could brand it as a campaign to free the trees and plant millions quickly.

Tone of voice

Another vital element of your branding should be how you communicate with your customers.  Choose how you want your brand to sound and the language you would like to use. For example, would it be friendly and casual or professional and corporate-focused? To choose your tone of voice, you may want to do market research.

Marketing

When it comes to researching your market, you have to understand who they are. Think about who is most likely to purchase or benefit from your product to define your target audience.

Customer profiles (also known as customer avatars) is one technique to help you find your audience. These are profiles of hypothetical customers. For example, they could include a name for the person and physical features like age or gender. The most crucial element of this is to think about their lifestyle.

Having an idea about where your customers go and what they do in their lives means you can know where to sell and advertise your product. For example, if they shop in certain stores, that might be where you need your product to be. Ultimately, you want to make your product accessible and available to your audience.

An example for the Treedom balls could be:

Need to put pressure on the courier companies, so target their customers through social media. Create a petition perhaps and encourage them to share it with their friends.

Pricing

Having your product in the right places is just the beginning. There is another critical thing to consider. How you decide to price the outcome could significantly impact how it sells. You will likely need to understand how much your audience will pay.

You will have your own costs you need to consider, so your product needs to have enough value to charge enough to make a profit on top of that. If you are selling an effect similar to another one, you have pricing options.

You could charge a higher price and demonstrate that you have a premium product, which will be worth paying more. 

You could also set a psychological price (setting lower than a whole number, so the customer’s see it as cheaper), the competitor may be charging £15, but yours is £14.99. Customers would still be likely to go for the option which seems less while you still are setting nearly the same price. 

The most popular choice to use is penetration pricing. This is where you initially charge a much lower price to break into a market and gradually raise it over time.

Finding suppliers and manufacturers

During your pricing decisions, one crucial factor may come up. For example, how do you manufacture the product and its cost? Also, what are you going to need to produce the products?

Suppliers

After your product has been developed, you will know what materials you need to use. So from there, you must search for a way to get them, which requires some vetting.

You need to ensure that a supplier is genuine, reliable and reputable. If they can’t deliver your supplies while you are up and running, then your business is going to be in trouble.

Vetting suppliers means researching previous work they have done in the past and reaching out to their clients for a reference. You can also check the business’s finances if they are a public limited company. They will have their accounts available to view through Companies House.

Manufacturers

​​Suppose you are unable to manufacture the product yourself. In that case, you will have to do the same vetting process as your suppliers. When you have found a trusted manufacturer, make sure to form a close relationship with them and seek transparency in the production of your product.

Registering your company

Before you start trading, you must register with Companies House. You can do this through their online portal or by post. It is cheaper when you register online, and you get a quicker response.

Check that another business hasn’t claimed your name by using the Companies House name availability checker. If the name you want is available, you can register, though if it is too similar to another, you may be contacted and asked to change it.

When you register your company, you have to provide the relevant information, depending on the type of ownership you have.

For more details, see this article: how to register a company.

Funding

You’ll need funds to pay for the initial launch of your business, as well as continuous manufacturing, promotion and placement of your products. There are a few funding options, and some might suit your business better than others.

Loans

It is common for a new venture to build a solid business plan. It should describe what you would like to do and what you would do with funding. A business plan can allow you to approach lenders like a bank and ask for a business loan. Your likelihood to be accepted will depend on how well-produced the plan is and if you have a good credit score.

Angel investors

Another use of having a business plan is to approach angel investors. They would invest in your business the funding you need. Although, in exchange, you would be giving them a percentage of the venture’s ownership, you would still be responsible for the business and keep control.

Crowdfunding

Another way to source funding for your business is to see if the public would help. Crowdfunding comes in a few different forms:

  • Donation-based — individuals donate to your business, nothing is provided in return, but it usually suits charitable causes.
  • Reward-based — individuals donate to your business. They do expect a reward for a good or service later.
  • Profit-sharing — individuals contribute towards your business. You then share the revenue with these people. 

Suppose your product aims to help the environment. In that case, donation or reward-based crowdfunding could be successful for you as many people are passionate about this cause.

Insuring your company

After securing your funding, ensure that you find the right insurance before launching. There are many possible types of insurance you might want to consider, but if you are running the business by yourself and producing products here are two that are relevant:

Product liability insurance

When you bring a new product to the market, some areas still need ironing. For example, although you would have to make sure your product reaches the UK Safety Standards before launch, someone or property could still be damaged by it. Product liability insurance provides you with cover for legal costs or compensation if someone claims against the product you sell.

Product liability is a cover that is available from Countingup’s partner Superscript here

Business equipment insurance

If you can manufacture the goods you produce yourself or use any other forms of equipment, you should take out this cover. In addition, business equipment insurance allows you to fix or replace lost, broken, or stolen equipment.

Business equipment is a cover that is available from Countingup’s partner Superscript here

Organising your finances and taxes

Financial management

Once you have launched your business, the challenge is managing it all. Once you secure funding, you can start advertising your product. As demand begins to increase, you will need to ensure that your suppliers and manufacturers can meet it.

Taxes

After starting your business, you legally are going to be responsible for paying the correct taxes, these are going to depend on the type of business ownership you have. For more information about this see the article: when do you start paying taxes?

Different taxes you may need to pay include:

  • Income tax (salaries above £12,570)
  • National insurance
  • Corporation tax
  • VAT

Tax and finances made easier with Countingup

Financial management and taxes can be time-consuming and challenging for a new business. Still, you will have to get into the habit of managing your payments and keeping a record of everything. The best way for you to do this is to have a separate account for your business and use a tool that will help guide your finances. 

Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. With features like automatic expense categorisation, invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools, tax estimates, and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances wherever you are. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward! 

Start your three-month free trial today. 

Find out more here.

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