How to Start a Children's Boutique
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Owning a children's boutique can be a lucrative business, provided you do some careful planning. There are many ways you can set up your boutique and many different markets to which to cater. You can even sell your own unique designs. Here is a short look at how to get started.
Choose your niche, or specialization. It's smart business to target who you're going to sell to; trying to sell to any and everyone will result in wasted time, energy and money. For example, you can choose to sell clothes for certain ages (such as toddlers or tweens), exclusive to one gender, luxury brands only or have a discount children's clothing boutique.
Pick a name for your new business. Run a standard Internet search to see if there are any other boutiques with the name you want, and look through trademark registries to ensure the name doesn't have any restrictions. Make the name relevant to your niche, and be sure it isn't too broad. For example, "Children's Clothing Boutique" is not a good name because it's too generic and it gives no clue as to what kind of children's clothing is being sold.
Make a budget. Your budget is important and will help you decide how much money you have for things such as advertising, employees and rent. If you plan to have an online business, and you will do your own web design and marketing and will handle customer service, you can get started with only a few hundred dollars. If you want a brick and mortar, or physical, store location, you will spend tens of thousands of dollars. Be realistic; and once you set a budget, stick to it.
Develop business and marketing plans. They don't need to be fancy documents either--unless you plan to get financing from a bank or investors. In the business plan, outline what you're going to sell, your budget, what your niche (target market) is, your financial goals for the next few years and who your competitors are. If you don't want to write your own business plan, or aren't sure how to start, you can consult with a freelance writer who specializes in writing business plans.
For the marketing plan, write down how you will reach your target market. Where will you advertise? What specials and promotions can you offer your customers, if any at all? Are there any businesses you can partner with to reach more potential customers? These are some basic questions to get you started. If you have no marketing experience, you may want to hire a freelance marketing professional or small firm.
Decide on a location. If you plan to have an online children's boutique, you need to secure a domain name, hosting space and payment processor, and you need to design the site.
If you're going to have a physical storefront, keep your target market in mind. If you know your target customers tend to shop in a certain part of town, try to get retail space in that area. You can consult with a commercial real estate agent to help you find a good location for your boutique.
Source inventory. You can do this in a few ways: securing a dropshipper, purchasing products wholesale or going to auctions.
Dropshipping eliminates the need for you to carry inventory, but it can be limited in its selection. Also, since many people tend to use the same dropshippers, your selection may not be unique.
Purchasing items wholesale is what most boutiques do. You will need to contact the manufacturers of the individual brands you want to carry to get their wholesale pricing and terms.
If you want to have a resale, discount, secondhand or vintage children's boutique, estate sales, auctions, and even yard sales are great places to get inventory.
Here are a few extras things to consider getting and/or doing before opening your children's boutique: develop thorough customer service policies, purchase business insurance, and join a business association or local chamber of commerce.
Don't forget to file for the needed licenses in your state, and to pick a business structure (sole proprietor, corporation or partnership).
Melinda Gaines has been a freelance writer since 2006, with work appearing online for YellowPages and other websites. Her areas of expertise include business, beauty, fashion and sports. Gaines attended the University of Houston where she earned a Bachelor of Science in sport administration.