If you want to start a personalised items business, it would be a great way to profit from your skills and passion. You can become your own boss by turning your creativity into a rewarding adventure. 

But, small businesses require dedication and time to get going. So, if you wonder how to start a personalised items business and are unsure where to begin, we can help. 

This guide will cover how to start a personalised items business, including:

  • Developing a plan 
  • Setting up your business
  • Organising your operations 
  • Marketing yourself to find customers 

Developing a plan for your personalised items business

Knowing how to start a personalised items business requires plenty of forward planning. If you iron out your business idea beforehand, it’ll be much easier to customise it to your needs. 

Market research 

Start with some research to get an idea of the market you plan to enter. Market research will help you develop a well-rounded image of the personalised items market and the overall craft industry. 

By assessing the market size, sales statistics, you can understand the demand. Then, compare competitors and product listings to learn price points and which products are most popular. 

On top of learning the environment, research will help you uncover your target audience. These are the people most likely to be interested in your business. As you examine that audience, try to understand their habits and behaviour. 

For example, read the comments and reviews of similar relevant products to get an idea of who was most interested. By following that trail, you can find what social media they interact with and events they might attend. 

With personalised items, you might target more organised and individual-focused people. More specifically, you could notice that mothers often buy individualised products for their children, so they don’t get lost.   

Specialisation 

Extensive market research will help you leave your own mark. You can lean into what’s popular or take another path. Either way, consider how to specialise your business so it’ll stand out. 

Your specialisation will narrow down your target audience and show you what to focus on. You might choose to focus on kids products or luxury adult customised items. This decision will affect which products you sell. 

For example, you could sell bags, water bottles, and towels that you personalise with names and initials. Or you could take a fresh approach, such as creating personalised artworks or calendars. 

Key tip: Ask yourself, why would people want to buy my products? A clear answer and unique selling point will make your business more desirable.

Supplies and equipment 

Once you decide which products to sell, you’ll need supplies. Will you make them all by hand? In this case, you’ll need to source the raw materials to create products. Alternatively, you could buy wholesale products to personalise yourself. 

Here are some places to find wholesalers: 

What you need will vary depending on what you sell. For example, you might buy towels, sterling silver necklaces, or coffee mugs to personalise. 

Whichever products you stock, the right equipment will be essential to personalising them. You might need a sewing machine that works well for embroidery and monograms. On the other hand, you could personalise items by painting or printing a design on them.

Skills

To succeed in your business, you’ll also need the necessary skills. Generally speaking, you’ll need a flair for creativity. But, specific skills will vary with the items you make and the equipment you use. For instance, will you be embroidering fabric, plastic, or metal? 

To make items sellable in the craft business, they need to look appealing and professional. So, practice and learn by reading books and watching tutorials on YouTube. You might also seek a relevant course in your specialisation. Craft Courses offers some craft personalisation options. 

On top of this, you’ll need to be productive and efficient so you can meet demand. You’ll also benefit from personable skills and marketing knowledge.

Business format 

Next, how will you sell your products? Selling online might be convenient when starting a personalised items business since you likely make each one to order. You could set up a website shop or sell primarily through Amazon or Etsy

When considering your format, think about what turnaround you can offer. How quickly can you finish a project and ship it to a customer?

Business plan 

Once you determine what your business will look like, compile this information into a business plan. This document outlines the critical information of your business and your goals and objectives. 

This plan allows you to set up your company up with a clear path and purpose. Your business plan will also help you secure any necessary funding as it’s essential to show investors or lenders. 

Budget 

Your starting budget is another essential part of your business plan. This budget outlines your spending and earning goals. It shows the startup costs, and how much money you need to run it before you earn a profit. Closely following your budget will make it easier to maintain your finances and avoid going under. 

Find out more with: how to budget for starting a business 

Setting up your personalised items business

Having a plan prepares you for success, but starting a personalised items business also requires legal setup. Here’s a few essential steps to follow. 

Registration 

You’ll need to register as either a sole trader or a limited company to get started. As a sole trader, you’ll be personally and financially liable for your business. 

Alternatively, a limited company is a separate legal entity from its director. This separation could protect your personal finances from business debts, but it also means stricter regulations and more taxes. 

Key takeaway: Consider registering as a sole trader to start your personalised items business because your operational costs will be lower, making it less of a financial risk for you. 

Taxes 

You’ll also need to consider your taxes. People with variable incomes must track and report their earnings by submitting a Self Assessment tax return to the HMRC. 

If you register as a sole trader, you’ll also need to pay corporation tax. Then, VAT registered companies (companies that expect to earn over £85,000 annually) need to follow Making Tax Digital (MTD) processes. MTD is the government initiative to make tax reporting digital and straightforward. Soon, it will spread to become a requirement for most businesses. 

Insurance 

Next, consider what insurance you’ll need to protect your business from financial risk. For example, you might want to insure any expensive equipment you use. 

In addition, you might benefit from public liability insurance, which protects you from damage, loss, or injury that occurs due to your business. 

Organising your business for smooth operations 

The structure is another essential part of knowing how to start a personalised items business. Organising your daily operations and record-keeping will help you stay on top of operations and appear professional. 

Daily organisation 

Start by organising the daily workload and communications. You can easily track your contacts, calendar, and documents with a business management system like Google Workspace

A timetable will help you keep tabs on outstanding personalised projects to ensure you complete them promptly. Also, try creating a daily, weekly, and monthly calendar and task list. With a clear strategy, you’ll always know what to prioritise. 

Payment management 

You’ll need a way to accept payment from customers. If you primarily sell online, you might want to incorporate a payment method on your website. You could also use an online system like Paypal, which is convenient and secure. 

If you sell in person, you could promote cash payments to increase your cash flow. But accepting credit cards will make you more accessible to customers. To do this, you’ll need to open a merchant account and find the right payment system. For example, Sumup offers easy and convenient options for small businesses. 

Inventory 

You’ll also need to keep an inventory of your products. When stocking wholesale items, maintaining an inventory will show you know when to order more. If you make your products, you can track your productivity to meet demand. 

Either way, taking on the right inventory management will help you track your sales and stay in stock to meet customer needs. 

Financial organisation 

The HMRC expects all businesses to do financial accounting, or record transactions. These records are essential to tax reporting, but the HMRC expects you to store them for about six years. With that said,  financial management can be challenging and requires the right tools. 

Business current account 

The best way to organise your business finances is by separating them from your personal ones. With a clear divide, you won’t worry about missing important transactions in your records or getting them confused with personal ones. 

The best way to do this is by opening a business current account, a unique bank account for your business. 

Accounting software 

You’ll need more than just a separate bank account to manage your money. Modern accounting software allows you to record and analyse your finances. Even better, Countingup combines a business account with accounting software to offer the best of both worlds. 

The Countingup app lets you manage your business finances in one place and offers useful features like automatic expense categorisation. This tool instantly labels expenses with HMRC approved categories to help you find and record them. Plus, receipt capture reminds you to snap a picture of your receipt, so you don’t have to keep piles of receipts. 

On top of all this, Countingup simplifies your taxes with year-round tax estimates and MTD compliance. You can share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies.

Marketing your personalised items business to find customers 

Now that you know how to start a personalised items business, you’ll need to get your products in front of the right people. Marketing will help you grow your audience and reach customers. 

Branding 

The first step to strong marketing is to develop a brand identity. Your business’s brand or public image is a consistent tone and design that sets it apart and makes it memorable. For example, say you focus on a younger female audience. In that case, you could use language suggestive of fairy tales. 

The colour scheme you choose should reflect the mood of your business. If you create bright, colourful products, you might incorporate that into your marketing. 

Once you outline what you would like your brand to look like, you can design a logo for your business. Then, include these details in your website, which will also outline your contact information and pictures of your products. 

Key takeaway: Your brand is what makes people remember your business and come back for more. Make sure it’s consistent and distinct in your marketing. 

Social media marketing 

The next step to growing your audience is through social media marketing. With nearly four billion social media users worldwide, it’s a great place to access your target audience if you know what to do. 

For this business, you might want to focus on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest as they are image-based and have a sales element. You post pictures of your products, DIY tutorials, and start a shop on these platforms. Plus, join groups and include relevant hashtags to spread your content to more people. 

If you want to upload tutorial videos for your personalised items or create vlog content from your workshop, you could also try your hand at TikTok

Craft markets 

Craft shows or markets are also great ways to access potential customers. You can set up a booth with sample items and accept orders or even personalise items on the spot. Also, pass out business cards to market yourself. 

These events will give you a direct line to potential customers. All you have to do is win them over. 

Succeeding with your personalised items business

Knowing how to start a personalised items business can guide you towards success. With hard work and dedication, your customising skills can lead to rewarding profits. Just cover the key steps, and you’ll stitch your business together in no time. 

In summary, remember to: 

  • Plan out the important details of your business beforehand
  • Set up your business legally and prepare for taxes 
  • Organise to stay on top of your daily tasks and finances 
  • Get your business in front of the right eyes to earn customers 

Countingup is the business current account and accounting software in one app. It automates time-consuming bookkeeping admin for thousands of self-employed people across the UK. 

Save yourself hours of accounting admin so you can focus on growing your business. 

Start your three-month free trial today. 

Apply now.

Related Resources

Read more