Owning a sweet business is every child’s dream. Unfortunately, the reality involves some planning and hard work. 

In this guide, we’ll cover all the things you need to think about before starting a sweet business. We’ll be covering these important steps:

  • Register your business
  • Make a business plan
  • Insurance 
  • Find suppliers
  • Marketing
  • Record your business expenses
  • Build a tech stack
  • Licenses
  • Food safety 

Register your business

In order to pay the right tax for your business, you’ll have to register with HMRC. The process will be slightly different depending on how you decide to set up your business. 

You can register as:

The structure you choose will also affect the amount of tax you pay on the income you earn. If you’re self-employed or a sole trader, you’ll have to pay the standard rates of income tax with a self-assessment tax return. Your tax rate will increase as you get more income, like this:

  • Personal Allowance: Up to £12,570 – 0% 
  • Basic rate: £12,570 to £50,270 – 20% 
  • Higher rate: £50,271 to £150,000 – 40%
  • Additional rate: Over £150,000 – 45%

If you decide to set up a limited company, you’ll instead have to pay corporation tax. It’s just a flat rate of 19% for any profits you earn after you’ve deducted business expenses. 

The flat rate is more forgiving when you start to see some serious income, but it’s usually not worth it for new business owners. 

Make a business plan

Every business should begin with a detailed business plan. It’ll clearly outline all your main goals while giving you step by step guidance on how to achieve those goals. 

Not only that, your business plan will be useful if you’re trying to secure investors. Whether you’re applying for a bank loan or working with a private individual, a business with a well-made plan is going to be a much safer bet for them.

At the very basic level, every business should be made up of:

  • Market research
  • A SWOT analysis
  • A budget

There’s a lot to unpack in those three steps, so check out our article, How to write a business plan, for a more detailed explanation. 

Insurance

Most insurance brokers will offer tailored insurance policies depending on your industry, but generally, these are the most common insurance policies you’ll need:

  • Public liability insurance – if your business comes into contact with members of the public.
  • Employers’ liability insurance – if your business employs staff.
  • Business buildings insurance 
  • Business contents insurance – protects the contents of your business premises, your business equipment, and tools.
  • Stock insurance – if you hold any stock, whether on your premises or in storage.
  • Product liability insurance – protects you should a customer of yours suffer damage as a result of a faulty product you provide.
  • Personal accident insurance 
  • Business interruption insurance – if your business is disrupted by material damage caused by an event such as a flood or fire.
  • Business legal protection insurance – covers your commercial legal expenses and protects against the potential costs of legal action brought by or against your business.

Find suppliers

Selling good products starts with a good supplier. There are a lot of options out there for sweet wholesalers, but the main things you should be looking for are:

  • Reliability – You can’t sell sweets that aren’t there. Read the reviews of different suppliers to find out which ones have issues with their reliability. 
  • Selection – Maybe you’ll be selling more niche products, like imported American candy, or you’d just like the option to rotate certain items to include more variety. Either way, check out each supplier’s selection to see what they can offer and find out if they’d be willing to find specialised items just for you. 

Here are a few popular wholesale sweet suppliers in the UK, to get you started:

Marketing

Digital marketing

The first port of call for any marketing strategy should be building a strong online presence.

Build a website

Your website is the face of your business. Most people will find you online, so it’s crucial that it makes a good first impression. At the very least, your website should include contact information, products, prices, and location. 

As a rule of thumb, ask yourself how quickly and easily a new visitor could figure out what your business is all about, what they can buy, and how they can buy it. 

Building a website isn’t as difficult as it used to be. You can ask a professional service to do it for you, but a cheaper option would be to use a website builder (CMS software). There are loads on the market that are beginner-friendly and can guide you through the whole process to help you make a professional website. 

A good website will make sure you appear when people search for sweet shops on search engines like Google. You can improve your search engines rankings by:

  • paying for Google ads.
  • making your site SEO (search engine optimisation) friendly.
  • asking your customers to leave a Google review.

Social media

Sites like Facebook and Instagram put a real emphasis on images, so it’s the perfect place to show off all the sweet treats you have to offer. 

Sites like Youtube, on the other hand, are great places to post more engaging, long-form content. You could do sweet reviews, behind-the-scenes stuff, or silly competitions like the Ladbible series, Snack Wars.

Youtube is also the world’s seconds largest search engine, so it’ll have a positive impact on your Google search rankings, and you might end up making some extra money just from monetising your channel.

Make a Google business profile 

As we mentioned above, paying for Google ads is a great way to get your website at the top of search engine results. 

But you should also register on Google maps. It’s easy to do and will make it much easier for people to find you. To register, just go to Google My Business and follow the instructions. 

Traditional marketing

Alongside digital marketing, some more traditional forms of marketing can also be effective. You should consider:

  • making business cards to hand out.
  • printing flyers and posting them locally.
  • teaming up with other local businesses to refer each other’s businesses.
  • encouraging customers to spread the word.
  • encouraging friends and family to recommend your business.

Branding

Finally, you’ll want to think about your business name and logo. 

Both should be unique to help you stand out from the competition. You’ll need to register your logo as a trademark with HMRC to prevent others from using it and to make sure you’re not using one that already exists. 

You don’t have to register your name unless you’re a limited company, but it’s a good idea to check it’s not already being used to prevent confusion. 

Trademarking can be an expensive process and involves a few steps, so read our guide for more information. 

Record your business expenses

One of the easiest ways to lose out on money is by forgetting to record business expenses. Business expenses are defined as any money you’ve spent that’s “wholly and exclusively” for the purpose of running your business.

When the time comes to pay income tax, you can deduct any business expenses you’ve made throughout the year from your total to decrease your taxable income. 

Some common business expenses include:

  • office costs: for example, stationery, or phone bills.
  • travel costs: for example fuel, parking, train, or bus fares.
  • clothing expenses: for example uniforms.
  • staff costs: for example salaries or subcontractor costs.
  • things you buy to sell on: for example, stock, or raw materials.
  • financial costs: for example, insurance, or bank charges.
  • costs of your business premises: for example, heating, lighting, business rates.
  • advertising or marketing: for example, website costs.
  • training courses related to your business.

Alongside business expenses, you can claim capital allowances too. They work in pretty much the same way but they’re for one-off expenses like:

  • equipment
  • machinery
  • business vehicles

It sounds simple enough, the tricky part is keeping a detailed note of all your business expenses throughout the year. You should consider downloading accounting software like Countingup. It’ll automatically save and categorise all your transactions so you’ll never miss a beat. 

Build a tech stack

A tech stack is a collective term we use to talk about a bunch of different apps used together. Any kind of software or application your business uses on a daily basis is all part of your tech stack.

Things like Teams, a group chat and collaboration platform, would be part of your tech stack. They’re often called software solutions or platforms but it really just means any fancy technology you use to run your business.

The best way to decide on the things to include in your tech stack is by thinking about these key ideas:

  • Your business needs
  • Integration and scaling
  • Building your stack slowly

You may not think you need all that much tech as a sweet business, but there’s plenty of software out there that’s useful for any business. You might want to consider:

  • CRM software
  • Accounting Software
  • Collaboration Platforms
  • Automation Software
  • Integration Software

There are loads of software solutions out there promising incredible things, so it can be quite confusing. But don’t worry, just take your time and eventually you’ll have the perfect tech stack for your small business. 

Licenses 

Whatever method you choose in setting up your business, you’ll need to register with your local authority for a food business licence as a new food provider. 

This step is vital as you’ll need to meet the requirements for food hygiene. Registering is free but make sure to register at least 28 days before opening to avoid legal trouble from operating an unregistered food business.

You may also need a home business licence if customers come to your home to pick up orders or make purchases. Similarly, if you plan on adapting parts of your home for things like storage, you may also need planning permission.

Food safety

If you’re making your own sweet products, you’ll have to consider food safety regulations. 

In general, you’ll need to make sure all your ingredients have gone through the necessary safety checks and are stored appropriately once they arrive. Major ingredients to consider are eggs that have been tested for salmonella and dairy products that have been kept chilled. 

Even dry ingredients like flour can have infestation problems. Air-tight or sealed containers are easy ways to keep food stock sanitary and safe. 

Allergies to eggs, nuts, gluten, and certain fruits can be a significant danger to some customers. As you’re preparing food, you’ll need to make sure that surfaces and allergen ingredients are kept separate.

For products with certain allergens, you’ll need to label them as such in order to keep customers safe. Similar courtesies for vegan or vegetarian customers should also be followed in order to give your new business a good reputation.

The Food Standards Agency has advice and training on allergens for new food businesses available online.

Manage your finances with a simple app

Financial management can be stressful and time-consuming when you’re self-employed. That’s why thousands of business owners use the Countingup app to make their financial admin easier. 

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! 

Find out more here.