The Business Side of Craft Shows

Starting a craft show business when you’re really an artist at

heart may be a rude awakening for you. Nevertheless, if you

decide to turn your hobby into a business, you need to switch

hats from time to time. You wear your artist hat when creating

and producing your crafts, and you put on your businessperson’s

hat when you’re running the business end. Begin successful on

the craft show circuit doesn’t just mean you have a great

product; it also means you have a decent head for business.

Planning your craft show business

It’s not absolutely essential to write a craft show business

plan if you’re not seeking a loan or partner, however, it can

help you focus your business goals from the start. There are

numerous books and Web sites on how to write a business plan,

and most will fit with craft shows just fine. The most crucial

elements are the financial projections–which include your

estimated income and expense for the next several years–and the

marketing plan. The marketing plan helps you identify your

target audience and how you can best find and serve them. This

is essential as you develop your craft show product and find the

right shows at which to sell. If you are seeking capital or a

partner, you will probably need a complete business plan. If

doing this overwhelms you, contact your local Small Business

Administration, Small Business Development Center, Chamber of

Commerce or local universities to find help with developing a

professional business plan for your craft show company. At this

point, you may also seek the advice of an attorney to decide

what business entity yours will be–a sole proprietorship, a

partnership, a limited liability company or a corporation. You

can always grow into corporate status later on, though it’s

advisable to at least know your options up front.

Licensing your craft show business

Most cities require any business, home-based or otherwise, to

register and purchase a business license. These range in cost

from $15 to $100 depending on the size of your city and are

obtained from the city clerk’s office in most cases. It makes

your craft show company official and enables you to conduct

business legally. Find out if your city requires any special-use

permits for operating a home-based business. The rules may

differ if you have customers, supply trucks or employees coming

to your location.

You may also need to file a fictitious name statement with your

county offices if you call yourself anything other than your

name, such as Posh Pottery. This guarantees that nobody else in

your county is using the same business name. From here your file

the name with a newspaper, and then you can open your business

checking account. It’s highly advisable to keep craft show

business income and expenses separate from personal if you are

serious about being in business. Then on a regular basis, you

can “pay” yourself from your business account. You can also now

file your taxes as a business entity and take advantage of the

many tax exemptions for businesses. Car expenses or mileage,

supplies, overhead costs and more are all deductible. Find a

copy of a schedule C ( to see some of the expenses

you can write off.

Now you have officially moved out of the hobby status and in to

the serious craft show business. Actually the IRS considers your

enterprise a hobby if you haven’t made a profit in two out of

five years that you file as a business. If that happens, it’s

time to rethink taking your goods to craft shows as a business


You will probably need to get a resale (sales tax) license. This

allows you to buy wholesale anything you will be reselling and

not pay taxes, however, you need to charge tax on your crafts

and then submit it to the tax board either monthly, quarterly or

annually. Check with your local state board of equalization or

state office of taxation to find out what their rules are. It

doesn’t cost anything to get a resale license.

It’s helpful when starting out to set aside a savings account

for your sales tax to be sure you have it when it comes due.

Also check with your sales tax office if you are required to

collect tax when you’re selling in other states. Some show

promoters collect tax from you at the end of the show, so you

need to keep accurate records, which you can do by issuing a

receipt with every customer purchase. Make sure you find out the

amount of tax you need to charge at the show as it varies by

city, county and state. Also, it’s a good idea to carry your

sales tax permit everywhere–you may need to pick up some

supplies, and you can avoid having to pay taxes on them.

Each city, county and state has different regulations regarding

licensing, so make some phone calls to find out what’s required,

and do this well before your first craft show.

Source by Natalie Goyette

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