Everything you need to get started with your handmade biz!
Starting a small business can be a really daunting task. There are so many things to do: pick a name, register it, make sure you’re following the laws, sell your goods, dominate social media – it’s exhausting just thinking about it! I’ve tried to round up as many resources as I could think of to help make the task a bit easier for you, and I’ll be continuously updating this list as I come across new information.
If you’re having trouble finding something, or you have a great resource you think others would appreciate please leave a comment below!
Registering Your Business
CanadaBusiness.ca – The Government’s main hub of information of starting and operating a business in Canada. This is a great starting point, and most questions can be answered here. Provides checklists and guides for everything from choosing a name, registering your business, and applicable permits, licenses & regulations.
Business Registration Online – Register for a Business Number and CRA programs, including GST number and import-export license.
BizPal – A quick and easy way to find out what licenses and permits you might need to start and run your business in Canada.
If you’re looking for information about a specific province or territory, click here.
Where to Buy Supplies
Where to Sell your Handmade Goods
Shopify – I love Shopify and use it for my own e-commerce stores. Their support is amazing, and once you figure out where all the buttons and menus are, it’s really easy to use. There are tons of great apps that let you really customize the store to suit your needs. You can sign up for a two-week free trial, or if you’d rather have the setup work done for you, contact me for a package deal.
Etsy – a great place to begin your handmade business journey if you’re looking for something with low financial commitment and a ready-made audience of shoppers. You can see my Canadian guide to getting started on Etsy for more detailed information, or just go ahead and get started with 40 free listings.
Local BST (Buy, Sell, Trade) groups or Marketplace on Facebook can be good, no cost places to start, as well as Kijiji and VarageSale. I’m working on a more comprehensive list of places to sell handmade items in Canada and will update here when it’s finished.
Safety and Compliance
Recalls & Product Alerts from Health Canada – if you’re reselling products I highly recommend subscribing to their free alerts and keeping an eye on them, as there have been some recalls of blank bodysuits and Easter toys in 2018, amongst other items that crafters could potentially personalize.
Register for a CA Number – if you are sewing clothes or other textile items at home, there are regulations regarding the labelling and manufacturing of them. This page allows you to register for a CA number with the Canadian Competition Bureau and provides links to the Textile Labelling Act and other important information.
Manage Your Social Media
You absolutely do not need to sign up for an account on every single social media platform. If you know your dream client, find out what social media platform they’re hanging out on and if you don’t use it already, start learning! I’ve rounded up some of my favourite social media for crafters articles on Pinterest (my platform of choice for The Crafty Beaver.)
Tailwind offers scheduling and analytics for Pinterest and Instagram. I use Tailwind to schedule all my pins for the week, so it only takes me about an hour each weekend to get everything set up. I have the monthly plan, which includes up to 400 pins a month, so I automate about 14 pins a day, then manually pin a few extra on top of that. Tailwind Tribes are also a neat feature that allow you to share pins and cross-promote others’ pins, so your pins get repinned more often (I know it sounds confusing but I promise it’s not!) Tailwind also offer a free video course, webinar and FAQs about Pinterest strategy which are super helpful if you’re just starting out. You can get started today with 100 free pins or scheduled IG posts.
Boardbooster – similar to Tailwind in that it allows you to schedule pins, but you do it by pinning to secret boards on your account. They also have tribes, and a looping feature that allows you to repin older content, decreasing the number of new pins you need to source to stay active. Their Pin Doctor feature checks all your pins for broken links, duplications and other errors, at a penny per pin cost. You can try it out with 2000 free pins.
I’m no longer recommending them due to Pinterest’s recent disclaimer against them.
Swing Designs – if you’re going to upgrade Silhouette Studio to Designer Edition or Business Edition (which I 100% recommend you do; being able to open SVGs and use the glyph panel is a big timesaver!) it’s much less expensive to buy your upgrade code here than to do it via Silhouette.
CreativeLive – They have tons of On Demand, paid videos, (on every topic from social media, to Etsy, to Illustrator, to composing death metal), but they also have different free videos that play on repeat each day. Check Out CreativeLive’s Free On-Air Classes
Silhouette School Blog – A great resource for all level of crafters. Tons of great tutorials, project ideas, and information.