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How to Start a Teacher Store?

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Gone are the days in which school systems supply all the items teachers and students need for a quality education. As a result, teachers spend much of their own money for classroom decorations, workbooks, student rewards and more. But before opening a teacher store, you want to make sure to write a business plan and secure adequate financing.

Do market research to find out if you have enough teachers in your area to support a teacher supply store. Talk with teachers and educators in your area to find out what supplies they need, where they usually buy them and what they'd like in a teacher supply store.

Choose a name for your teacher store business. Your business name should reflect your business goals and tone. For example, if your store targets elementary school teachers, you can have a whimsical name, but if your prime customers are involved in higher education you'll want a more professional name. Check with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office online that your teacher store name isn't trademarked. Also check your state office that regulates corporations and your local business office to make sure your business name isn't already in use.

Design a business plan for your teacher store. If you'll be asking for financing, the business plan is what banks and other funding sources will use to determine if your teacher store idea a good risk. Your business plan outlines every aspect of your teacher store including your mission, information about potential teacher customers, marketing strategies to reach teachers, financial situation and goals, competition and operating plans.

Secure financing for your teacher store. Use your business plan to present your teacher store idea to banks, angel investors, potential partners and other sources of financing.

Set up the structure of your teacher store business. Although you can open as a sole proprietor, you should set up your teacher store as a limited liability company or corporation to reduce the risk to your personal assets. If a teacher falls in your store or for some other reason decides to sue you, she'd only have access to your business assets and not your personal ones, such as your home.

Obtain needed licenses and permits to operate your teacher store. The city or county where the store will be located is where you get a business license. If your state charges sales tax, obtain a sales tax permit from your state's taxation or comptroller's office. File a fictitious name statement with your local county clerk's office if your business name is not your given name. Apply for an employer identification number through the Internal Revenue Service.

Secure a storefront location. Choose a spot that is easy for teachers to find and get to.

Find wholesale teacher supply warehouses to obtain items to sell in your teacher store. Order the basics such as pencils, grading books and flash cards, but also get items teachers can use to decorate their class and provide fun rewards, such a stickers for their students.

Hire needed staff and business support. Consider hiring retired teachers who'll have an understanding of the challenges and needs of teachers. Other support resources include a bookkeeper and inventory specialist.

Market your teacher store. Determine the best way to reach teachers in your area and deliver your marketing message to them. Options include teacher association newsletters, education fairs and networking with educators. Build a website to make it easy for teachers to order what they need.


Leslie Truex has been telecommuting and freelancing since 1994. She wrote the "The Work-At-Home Success Bible" and is a career/business and writing instructor at Piedmont Virginia Community College. Truex has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Willamette University and a Master of Social Work from California State University-Sacramento. She has been an Aerobics and Fitness Association of America certified fitness instructor since 2001.

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