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Everywhere I turn these days it seems that people are starting online businesses. This is amazing for those wanting location independence (aka, working from anywhere they choose), but there is a lot to be gained from businesses offering actual, tangible products. If you can provide outstanding customer service and high quality products to your customers, they will return for more and also recommend you to friends. A small business that focuses on local product delivery is also easier for those that are completely put off by the difficulties of online businesses, growing a following, the tech side of the business, etc.
Some of us just don’t know where to start learning all the tech stuff necessary in the online world or have no desire to!
So, in this side hustle series, possibly one of the simplest side hustles to get started with if you are looking to build a small business while still working a full-time job is the gift basket business. It’s also excellent in terms of start-up costs because it does not require a huge cash outlay – which most of us don’t have anyway if we are trying to start something on the side of our day jobs.
A gift basket business is:
- Quick to start
- Can easily grow by word of mouth
- Is simple to fit around work and family commitments – win!
Of course it will take work and dedication to get off the ground but if you’re even reading this post it means you have that in you 🙂
As I mentioned in my post, Start a Mobile Beauty Business Today, a gift basket business was the first side hustle I started years ago alongside my first day job. It’s been a popular one-woman-business for that many years – and still is today!
Think about how lovely it is to receive a personalized basket of goodies as a gift… but how many times have you thought about what could be better? What products would have made it that little bit more special? What colours could have been nicer? Could it have been tailor-made to your best friend’s tastes rather than choosing from a pre-selected basket of fruit and nuts with a random bottle of wine thrown in?
Well, this is the great part about deciding to start your own gift basket side hustle – you can create baskets for your customers according to exactly what they want and ones that you think will be best received because some customers will give you free reign with a set budget, trusting you as the expert gift basket entrepreneur – how fun is that?!
Unleash your creativity!
Are you ready to start your gift basket business? Ready to know the steps to take to get up and running? Let’s go for it…
You’ll need to start with a catchy business name. Brainstorm some business names and then check whether the domain is available. Ideally you need to choose a business name for which the .com is available, but also the TLD (top level domain) for your specific country since you’re going to be a local or national business.
For example, if you’re based in the United Kingdom, buy the .com and the .co.uk. I usually buy my domain names through 123-reg and then have my hosting with SiteGround. Alternatively, you can get a free domain with SiteGround when you purchase hosting. It’s completely up to personal preferences, this is just a suggestion.
Decide on your branding
Who is your target audience? Who is your avatar / ideal client? Where do you think you will find the majority of your clients? Do you already have a natural place to find clients? For example, you might work as a receptionist in a hospital with a large maternity ward and new baby gift baskets would be the ideal gift. Perhaps you work at a large corporate company and are in charge of the gift buying for certain clients. Depending on the client and what the company does, your quality gift baskets could be the perfect touch.
When deciding on your branding it’s important that that brand fits your ideal client/s. Are your ideal clients men? It’s probably better not to use pink in your branding then. This is just a really basic example in order to demonstrate. Your branding colours should be used throughout your website, marketing materials, social media posts, etc. The key is to have a cohesive overall brand. And even though you are a small one-woman business, this is still important. Below is a helpful colour psychology chart – bear these in mind when choosing your business colours.
Design your logo
For a gift basket business, something simple that portrays what the business does is probably the best option. Elaborate logos can often detract from the overall feel and you want to portray that your business is focused, has a high emphasis on quality and your customer service is second-to-none!
Pleeeaaase don’t use a font like Comic Sans in your logo if you can help it. These types of fonts scream “behind-the-times” and it’s unbelievable how many times you can still see small businesses using this font in their marketing materials. * Shudder * Cringe *
PicMonkey is a great tool to use to design your own logo without the expense of hiring a designer. If you can do it yourself and it looks good, definitely go for it. For an affordable video course which shows you exactly how to make your own logos with PicMonkey, and provides help to decide on branding, click here. I’ve created the course to walk you through creating a variety of different logos with PicMonkey, including logos with transparent background and with glitter fonts!
It will save you a ton of money on designers – a skill you can’t afford not to learn!
Confirm your products
Next is the time to decide what hampers and baskets you’ll be selling. How are you going to package them? What makes your offering unique and special to entice new customers? Are you going to be dividing your baskets into themes or occasions? Are you going to be doing solely tailor-made baskets or have set options with the ability to add additional items?
What mark up are you going to add to your products? Where are you going to source your products? It’s good business practice to use a handful of suppliers and negotiate discounts with them since they will be one of your only suppliers and the aim is for you to bring them a lot of business!
Don’t forget to also confirm your delivery options. Offering same day or next day delivery is a must otherwise you could risk losing out on customers who need a quick gift option. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at the payment stage of an order and had to find another business to use for gifts when my bosses or clients have wanted to send them to arrive ASAP. It’s a shame when you can’t use your usual supplier. You could even become someone’s usual supplier by providing super-fast delivery options.
Set up your website
Now that you have decided on your business name, branding colours, created your logo and purchased your domain, it’s time to decide what provider you will use to host your website and get it set up and ready for business. Will you use WordPress with a snazzy theme and self-host with a company like SiteGround? (I use WordPress and SiteGround – love their customer service and I’m not tech-y so they have helped me A LOT.) Or will you use Squarespace which is mostly drag and drop design?
If using Squarespace, your site is hosted by them, and I believe they include a free web domain for a year. Both are good options, although WordPress may be a little more difficult for beginners. However, it does have the advantage of being completely customizable. I always suggest to people that are not running blogs and just want to have a good-looking website for their business that provides all the relevant information to the reader, to consider Squarespace. It is more pricey but you get your website done and dusted much sooner usually.
If you want to have the ability to sell gift baskets via your website, if with Squarespace, you would need to connect and set up an account with Stripe – but it’s a really easy process. Along the way if you have any questions, it’s straightforward and easy to contact the Squarespace customer help. If your site is with WordPress there are a number of payment plugins available, but from my research it appears WooCommerce is one of the most popular.
Of course if you’re selling your baskets via your site, you’ll need to photograph the products and hampers, allow basket customization options, etc. If you don’t have the budget to hire a photographer, get yourself a white backdrop / infinity curve and use your phone. Some phones have amazing picture quality! If the picture quality with your phone, isn’t ideal, you can edit and adjust the images in PicMonkey simply and easily.
If you need help with the basics of Picmonkey for images and other graphics for your business and social media marketing, this is a super-helpful free course by Suzi Whitford of Start a Mom Blog.
Now that you’ve completed all the above steps, it’s time to get the word out and start getting customers! Putting together a marketing plan can help guide you along in the first few months of your business.
Here is a helpful gift basket business marketing plan to provide lots of ideas to market your new side hustle: https://www.mplans.com/gift_basket_marketing_plan/executive_summary_fc.php
Sit down and start by brainstorming all the free and affordable ways you could get the word out. Just a few ideas to get the cogs moving are:
- PR piece in your local community magazine or newspaper
- Join relevant Facebook groups
- Contact personal assistants of large companies and request to be a preferred supplier for niche gift baskets
- Quality flyers or discount vouchers in the mailboxes within your neighbourhood
- Partnering up with local florists and cross-promoting each other
- Advertising within baby and new mother stores
- Putting small posters in local doctors’ offices
- Putting small posters in the maternity and other wards at hospitals nearby
- Leaving discount vouchers or brochures in the hospital waiting rooms and coffee shops
- Attend networking events to hand out business cards and talk about your business
These are just a few of many options. Think are where your customers ARE. Ask your friends and you’re likely to come up with loads more!
To make your gift basket side hustle a success, you really do need to stand apart in some way.
To make your gift basket side hustle a success, you really do need to stand apart in some way. Click To Tweet
Check out the competition and consider concentrating on a niche if there is what you feel could be too much competition in your local area. Just one example is completely organic gift baskets. Could you perhaps include home-baked natural goods as an add-on? The opportunities are pretty much endless but depending on where you are, city or rural, your niche and customer base to target will be already somewhat dictated.
The advantage you have in starting this type of business as a side hustle is that you will be able to grow it organically without the pressure of having taken out a business loan that you have to repay or pay for business premises and rely on customer footfall.
Now put your networking hat on and get the word out, offer high quality baskets, amazing customer service, fast delivery, under promise and over deliver, and you are more than halfway there!
If you’ve decided you want to give this side hustle a go, this FabJob guide to starting your gift basket business will be immensely helpful to you. It’s affordable and packed with actionable information.