Starting a shoe business can be very profitable. With proper planning, execution and hard work, you can enjoy great success. Below you will learn the keys to launching a successful shoe business.
Importantly, a critical step in starting a shoe business is to complete your business plan. To help you out, you should download Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template here.
14 Steps To Start a Shoe Business:
- Choose the Name for Your Shoe Business
- Develop Your Shoe Business Plan
- Choose the Legal Structure for Your Shoe Business
- Secure Startup Funding for Your Shoe Business (If Needed)
- Secure a Location for Your Business
- Register Your Shoe Business with the IRS
- Open a Business Bank Account
- Get a Business Credit Card
- Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits
- Get Business Insurance for Your Shoe Business
- Buy or Lease the Right Shoe Business Equipment
- Develop Your Shoe Business Marketing Materials
- Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your Shoe Business
- Open for Business
1. Choose the Name for Your Shoe Business
The first step to starting a shoe business is to choose your business’ name.
This is a very important choice since your company name is your brand and will last for the lifetime of your business. Ideally you choose a name that is meaningful and memorable. Here are some tips for choosing a name for your own business:
- Make sure the name is available. Check your desired name against trademark databases and your state’s list of registered business names to see if it’s available. Also check to see if a suitable domain name is available.
- Keep it simple. The best names are usually ones that are easy to remember, pronounce and spell.
- Think about marketing. Come up with a name that reflects the desired brand and/or focus of your shoe business.
2. Develop Your Shoe Business Plan
One of the most important steps in starting a shoe business is to develop your business plan. The purpose of a business plan is to ensure that you fully understand your market and your business strategy. The plan also provides you with a roadmap to follow and if needed, to present to funding sources to raise money for your business.
Your shoe business plan should include the following sections:
- Executive Summary – this section should summarize your entire business plan so readers can quickly understand the key details of your shoe business.
- Company Overview – this section tells the reader about the history of your shoe business and what type of shoe business you operate. For example, are you a shoe retailer, shoe manufacturer, shoe importer, or shoe distributor?
- Industry Analysis – here you will document key information about the shoe industry. Conduct market research and document how big the industry is and what industry trends are affecting it.
- Customer Analysis – in this section, you will document who your ideal or target market are and their demographics. For example, how old are they? Where do they live? What do they find important when purchasing products like the ones you will offer?
- Competitive Analysis – here you will document the key direct and indirect competitors you will face and how you will build competitive advantage.
- Marketing Plan – your marketing plan should address the 4Ps: Product, Price, Promotions and Place.
- Product: Determine and document what products/services you will offer
- Prices: Document the prices of your products/services
- Place: Where will your business be located and how will that location help you increase sales?
- Promotions: What promotional methods will you use to attract new customers to your shoe business? For example, you might decide to use pay-per-click advertising, public relations, search engine optimization and/or social media marketing.
- Operations Plan – here you will determine the key processes you will need to run your day-to-day operations. You will also determine your staffing needs. Finally, in this section of your plan, you will create a projected growth timeline showing the milestones you hope to achieve in the coming years.
- Management Team – this section details the background of your company’s management team.
- Financial Plan – finally, the business plan’s financial plan answers questions including the following:
- What startup costs will you incur?
- How will your shoe business make money?
- What are your projected sales and expenses for the next five years?
- Do you need to raise funding to launch your business?
3. Choose the Legal Structure for Your Shoe Business
Next you need to choose a legal structure for your shoe business and register it and your business name with the Secretary of State in each state where you operate your business.
Below are the five most common legal structures:
1) Sole proprietorship
A sole proprietorship is a business entity in which the shoe store owner and the business are the same legal person. The business owner of a sole proprietorship is responsible for all debts and obligations of the business. There are no formalities required to establish a sole proprietorship, and it is easy to set up and operate. The main advantage of a sole proprietorship is that it is simple and inexpensive to establish. The main disadvantage is that the owner is liable for all debts and obligations of the business.
A partnership is a legal structure that is popular among small businesses. It is an agreement between two or more people who want to start a shoe business together. The partners share in the profits and losses of the business.
The advantages of a partnership are that it is easy to set up, and the partners share in the profits and losses of the business. The disadvantages of a partnership are that the partners are jointly liable for the debts of the business, and disagreements between partners can be difficult to resolve.
3) Limited Liability Company (LLC)
A limited liability company, or LLC, is a type of business entity that provides limited liability to its owners. This means that the owners of an LLC are not personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the business. The advantages of an LLC for a shoe business include flexibility in management, pass-through taxation (avoids double taxation as explained below), and limited personal liability. The disadvantages of an LLC include lack of availability in some states and self-employment taxes.
4) C Corporation
A C Corporation is a business entity that is separate from its owners. It has its own tax ID and can have shareholders. The main advantage of a C Corporation for a shoe business is that it offers limited liability to its owners. This means that the owners are not personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the business. The disadvantage is that C Corporations are subject to double taxation. This means that the corporation pays taxes on its profits, and the shareholders also pay taxes on their dividends.
5) S Corporation
An S Corporation is a type of corporation that provides its owners with limited liability protection and allows them to pass their business income through to their personal income tax returns, thus avoiding double taxation. There are several limitations on S Corporations including the number of shareholders they can have among others.
Once you register your shoe business, your state will send you your official “Articles of Incorporation.” You will need this among other documentation when establishing your banking account (see below). We recommend that you consult an attorney in determining which legal structure is best suited for your company.
4. Secure Startup Funding for Your Shoe Business (If Needed)
In developing your shoe business plan, you might have determined that you need to raise funding to launch your business.
If so, the main sources of funding for a shoe business to consider are personal savings, family and friends, credit card financing, bank loans, crowdfunding and angel investors. Angel investors are individuals who provide capital to early-stage businesses. Angel investors typically will invest in a shoe business that they believe has high potential for growth.
5. Secure a Location for Your Business
To find a location for your shoe store business, you’ll want to research the best places to set up shop. You can look at demographic data to see where your target customers live, and you can also look at things like traffic patterns and store availability. You’ll also want to consider your budget and what size of space you need. Once you’ve narrowed down your options, it’s important to do a site visit and make sure the location is right for your business.
6. Register Your Shoe Business with the IRS
Next, you need to register your business with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which will result in the IRS issuing you an Employer Identification Number (EIN).
Most banks will require you to have an EIN in order to open up an account. In addition, in order to hire employees, you will need an EIN since that is how the IRS tracks your payroll tax payments.
Note that if you are a sole proprietor without employees, you generally do not need to get an EIN. Rather, you would use your social security number (instead of your EIN) as your taxpayer identification number.
7. Open a Business Bank Account
It is important to establish a bank account in your shoe business’ name. This process is fairly simple and involves the following steps:
- Identify and contact the bank you want to use
- Gather and present the required documents (generally include your company’s Articles of Incorporation, driver’s license or passport, and proof of address)
- Complete the bank’s application form and provide all relevant information
- Meet with a banker to discuss your business needs and establish a relationship with them
8. Get a Business Credit Card
You should get a business credit card for your shoe business to help you separate personal and business expenses.
You can either apply for a business credit card through your bank or apply for one through a credit card company.
When you’re applying for a business credit card, you’ll need to provide some information about your business. This includes the name of your business, the address of your business, and the type of business you’re running. You’ll also need to provide some information about yourself, including your name, Social Security number, and date of birth.
Once you’ve been approved for a business credit card, you’ll be able to use it to make purchases for your business. You can also use it to build your credit history which could be very important in securing loans and getting credit lines for your business in the future.
9. Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits
There are a few licenses and permits you will need to start a shoe business. To begin, you will need a business license from your local government. You may also need a sales tax permit depending on the state in which you will do business. Depending on the type of shoes you plan to sell, you may also need a manufacturing license or a trademark. Check with your state’s licensing board to find out what is required.
10. Get Business Insurance for Your Shoe Business
There are a multiple types of insurance that are necessary to operate a shoe business.
Some business insurance policies you should consider for your shoe business include:
- General liability insurance: This covers accidents and injuries that occur on your property. It also covers damages caused by your employees or products.
- Workers’ compensation insurance: If you have employees, this type of policy works with your general liability policy to protect against workplace injuries and accidents. It also covers medical expenses and lost wages.
- Commercial property insurance: This covers damage to your property caused by fire, theft, or vandalism.
- Business interruption insurance: This covers lost income and expenses if your business is forced to close due to a covered event.
- Professional liability insurance: This protects your business against claims of professional negligence.
Find an insurance agent, tell them about your business and its needs, and they will recommend policies that fit those needs.
11. Buy or Lease the Right Shoe Business Equipment
In order to start a shoe business, you will need some basic equipment. This includes a shoe rack, shelves, boxes, and labels. If you plan to operate a manufacturing show business, you’ll need to invest in special machinery to make the shoes. High-quality machinery is necessary to make specific styles of shoes and produce them in bulk, which means heavy machinery like the 20 ton press machine or a computerized carving machine for laser cutting. You will also need cutting tools, glue to assemble the shoes, quality control equipment to check for mistakes during assembly, and a way to heat-press your shoe labels onto the shoe. A computer with a printer is also needed to design your labels, as well as a phone or internet connection to order your materials from suppliers.
12. Develop Your Shoe Business Marketing Materials
Marketing materials will be required to attract and retain customers to your own shoe line.
The key marketing materials you will need are as follows:
- Logo: Spend some time developing a good logo for your shoe business. Your logo will be printed on company stationery, business cards, marketing materials and so forth. The right logo can increase customer trust and awareness of your shoe brand.
- Website: Likewise, a professional shoe business website provides potential customers with information about the products you offer, your company’s history, and contact information. Importantly, remember that the look and feel of your website will affect how customers perceive you.
- Social Media Accounts: establish social media accounts in your company’s name. Accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and/or other social media platforms will help customers and others find and interact with your shoe business.
13. Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your Shoe Business
The software you need to run a shoe business depends on the type of shoe business you want to start. If you want to sell shoes online, you’ll need a shopping cart software and a website builder. Additionally, you can sell through sites like Amazon, Shopify, or Etsy. If you want to start a physical store, you’ll need point of sale (POS) software, customer relationship management (CRM) software, and an inventory management system.
14. Open for Business
You are now ready to open your shoe business. If you followed the steps above, you should be in a great position to build a successful business. Below are answers to frequently asked questions that might further help you.
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How to Start a Shoe Business FAQs
No, it is easy to start a shoe business because there is a low barrier to entry. This means that it does not require a lot of money or technical expertise to get started. There is a large market for shoes, so there is potential for a lot of revenue.
There are a few things you can do to start a shoe business with no experience. You can research the industry and learn as much as you can about shoes and the shoe business. You can also look for opportunities to network with people in the industry, and attend events and trade shows where shoe manufacturers and retailers gather.
There is no definitive answer to this question as it largely depends on the specific type of shoe business in question and the market conditions therein. However, in general, the most successful shoe stores are those that produce and sell high-end designer shoes. They are more profitable than those that sell lower-priced options. This is likely due to the fact that consumers are willing to pay more for better quality products.
A shoe store’s startup costs can vary depending on the size and scope of the business. However, on average, it costs between $10,000 and $50,000 to get started. This includes the cost of materials, labor, and other related expenses.
There are a few key ongoing expenses for a shoe business. One of the most important is the cost of materials and labor. You'll also need to factor in things like rent, utilities, and marketing. It's important to have a solid business plan in place so you can anticipate these costs and stay within your budget.
A shoe business can make money by selling shoes to consumers, and also by selling shoes to businesses. Consumers may buy shoes in a brick-and-mortar store, or through an online store. Businesses may buy shoes for their employees, or for resale.
Yes, owning a shoe business can be profitable. There are a few things to keep in mind when starting a shoe business, such as choosing the right location and ensuring you have a good supplier. However, with the right planning and execution, owning a shoe business can be a lucrative endeavor.
Shoe businesses fail because they do not have a unique shoe selling proposition. They may try to compete on price, when there are already many other businesses doing the same. They may also have a faulty business model, such as not making enough of a profit on each shoe sold, or not being able to produce shoes quickly and cheaply enough to stay competitive. Additionally, many shoe stores do not understand the importance of marketing and sales, and do not put in the effort necessary to reach consumers.