Smartphones have become a key part of our lives, and most of us take our mobile phones with us wherever we go. Since these devices are very valuable, consumers need a way to protect their investment –– and add some personality to their phone. 

A phone case offers both these things, which is why it could be a fantastic business opportunity for creative entrepreneurs like yourself.

This guide will explore:

  • What you need to consider before starting a phone case business
  • How to start a phone case business from scratch
  • Simple tools to keep your business finances organised

What you need to consider before starting a phone case business

The first thing you need when starting a phone case business is a good plan of action. There are a number of case types you could design, so you need to think about which kind you want to focus on. You also need to think about how you’ll source your cases and who you want to sell them to. We’ll go over all these aspects in a later section. 

First, let’s take a look at the most common phone case types you could design and sell:

  • Gel or rubber cases: Bendy cases that are easy to customise and come with additional grip sections to make it easier to keep hold of your phone. Gel or rubber cases are affordable, durable and versatile, making them perfect for a range of designs. 
  • Bumper cases: Come with extra protection around the edges and sides of the phone and either have full gel sections covering the back or simply wrap around the phone to protect the edges. 
  • Wallet cases: Combines your wallet and phone with bank card and cash slots on the back or in a separate flip cover that folds over the front of the phone. Wallet cases are often made from leather, vinyl, and metal and can be designed in a number of colours.
  • Hard cases: Snap onto the phone and help protect them against damage. These cases are great for keeping your phone in good condition and last longer than gel or rubber options. Hard cases suit consumers who prefer a more expensive look and can also be customised in a range of designs.
  • Special cases: Have unique features ranging such as extra shock protection, built-in charging systems, hand-carved wood designs, and waterproof designs. These cases tend to cost a little more to make and buy but can be highly appealing to consumers.

Now that you know what case designs you can choose from, it’s time to explore the steps you need to take to start your own business in the field.

How to start a phone case business from scratch

First, you need to choose your business structure and whether you’ll be a sole trader or a limited company

Limited companies might be better if you want to grow your business, but they come with more paperwork. Sole trader businesses are simpler to run, but you have no protection in case something goes wrong since you and your business are seen as one legal entity.

You also need to notify HMRC that you will be managing your own tax and National Insurance contributions and submit a Self Assessment tax return yearly (if you make over £1,000 from your business income).

Once you’ve chosen a structure and registered your business, it’s time to start building it.

Identify a gap in the market

Since there are tons of phone case companies out there, you need to find and focus on a niche to help you build a memorable and competitive brand. The more focused your niche is, the fewer companies you’ll have to compete with to capture consumers’ attention.

Focusing on a niche can also help you rank higher on Google since you can target specific terms customers might search for. This is called search engine optimisation (SEO), which you can learn more about in our beginner’s guide to small business SEO.

Here’s how you find a niche to focus on:

  • Conduct competitor analysis: Research and analyse what other phone case companies are doing and who they’re trying to sell to. This will help you to identify a gap that you can fill. Learn more about conducting competitor analysis here.
  • Speak to potential customers: You could also speak to people you want to sell your cases to. Run surveys on forums and social media groups to collect information about your potential niche. Asking around what people want to see from phone case designers can help you find that gap your business can fill.
  • Check out influencers: Browse social media to see what kinds of designs are getting the most attention right now. Think about how your designs can fit into the trends and add value to your target customers.

Once you’ve decided what you want to focus on, it’s time to start planning how to launch your new business.

Write a business plan

A business plan is crucial to ensure you hit the ground running when starting your business. Writing a business plan will help you budget for startup costs, identify roadblocks, and understand what you’ll need in terms of resources. 

You need a business plan to determine the ultimate goal you have for your business. For example, do you want to become a global company or stick to local markets? Do you want your cases to be sold in shops or just online? 

Identify your business goals and set smaller milestones (called objectives) along the way to help you stay on track and measure your success. Learn more about business goals and objectives here.

You also need to consider who you want to target with your business. For example, do you want to sell to younger customers or older ones? Will you target high-paying customers or sell affordable cases to students?

Start designing your phone cases

Now comes the fun part, which is designing your cases. Here you get to experiment with different designs to find your style. You can either use programs like Photoshop to create your own mockups. 

You can also try mockup generators offered by print on demand (POD) companies like CaseApp and Printful. This way, you can see what your design will look like on different phone models. Make sure you double-check your options before printing your cases. Some companies only use certain print techniques or only cover a certain part of the case. 

As an alternative, you can also check out design communities like Dribbble or Fiverr to shop around for designers that can design your cases. 

Test your designs

Once you’ve come up with a few designs, it’s good to get feedback on them as early as you can to see if they’re worth pursuing. Start by asking friends and family for their input. You can also post your designs on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc., and use the number of likes, shares, and comments as indicators of interest. 

Reddit is a great place to find feedback for your specific niche. Post your designs in a relevant subreddit (like unicorns if you’re selling unicorn designs). Reddit has an anonymity level that’ll allow you to get honest opinions.

Source your phone cases

Once you’ve gathered feedback on your cases and settled on designs you feel comfortable with, it’s time to bring your vision to life. On a budget, you have three main options for getting your cases made.

  • Find a manufacturer: Finding a manufacturer to work with is probably the best option to make a higher profit since you can create hundreds of the same designs. Alibaba offers a list of China-based manufacturers that make most case designs and types. You can also work with a local manufacturer to appeal to consumers who want to support businesses in their own area.
  • Use print on demand (POD): Companies like Printful or Printify are perfect if you want an easy way to add your designs onto phone cases and send them directly to your customers. A supplier of your choice will add your designs to your chosen phone cases and create the pieces for you. 
  • Dropshipping: This is one of the most affordable options for sourcing your phone cases, where you choose a manufacturer who makes the product you want and ships your phone cases directly to your customers for you. Dropshipping tools like Oberlo have countless product designs to choose from, meaning you don’t have to keep any stock yourself.

Build your brand

Your brand needs to reflect the identity or personality of your business, from your logo and colour scheme to your packaging strategy and customer service. Branding makes your company stand out and allows you to create something customers will remember. The more unique your brand, the more likely it is you’ll make an impression.

As a start, make sure you have:

  • A unique logo to help you stand out
  • A colour scheme that represents your business identity
  • A memorable brand name and mission statement
  • A set of values to help you target customers

Competitor research comes in handy when you need inspiration. Take a look at what other brands are doing and make notes of what you like and don’t like to help you build your brand.

Set your prices

Next, you need to decide how much you’ll charge for your phone cases. After all, your prices affect every area of your business, from cash flow (the balance of money entering and leaving your business) to profit margins to how many expenses you can afford.

Bear in mind that you’ll need to make sure your prices also fit with your niche and the types of phone cases you sell. If you sell high-quality special cases, you can set higher prices. On the other hand, you won’t be able to charge as much for simple gel cases, but these will cost less to produce.

Choose a price range that will allow you to cover manufacturing costs and other expenses while still being reasonable enough that customers will pay them.

Design your online store

You need a place to promote your phone cases and to let customers order them. Sites like Shopify are easy to use and have a ton of templates to choose from to design your online store.

Make sure your site has all the elements that impact how people see your business. Upload beautiful photos of your designs and match them with engaging product descriptions that highlight the benefits. 

Also include an About page where you share information about your products and business, focusing on benefits and how you provide value to customers. 

Promote your business 

Now it’s time to find customers to buy your fabulous phone cases. Use search engine marketing to reach people who search for phone cases you provide. Understanding the intent behind the searcher will help you get more traffic to your website and hopefully sell more cases. You can either use SEO or pay for Google Ads to promote your business.

You can also use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest to share images and videos of your designs. Use social media advertising to spread the word about your business with paid and unpaid campaigns to help you reach specific audiences.

Be as specific as possible in your messaging and consider what the biggest selling points are for your phone cases. The key is to believe in your product and spread the word about why your phone cases are the ones to buy. Now that you understand how to start a phone case business, it’s time to take the plunge and realise your dream. Good luck!

Keep organised business finances with a simple app

When you’re starting your own business, it’s important to keep your personal and business finances separate, as well as keeping organised records for bookkeeping purposes. Starting a business takes a lot of time, focus, and hard work. The last thing you need is to waste hours dealing with a bunch of financial admin. 

That’s why thousands of business owners use the Countingup app to save time on their financial management and focus on growing their business. Countingup is the business current account and accounting software in one app. It automates time-consuming bookkeeping admin for self-employed people across the UK.

With automatic expense categorisation, receipt capture tools and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances and save yourself hours of accounting admin, so you can focus on starting growing your makeup business. Find out more here.