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Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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The Biz Question

currently, I'm a college student who would like to start a p/t business selling wedding accessories and favors for special occasions online. Though I think that I have a viable idea I'm having immense trouble finding wholesalers. The one wholesaler I did find will not send me a catalog without a sales id # or biz registration info. In NYC, this license is $150 and I'm trying to hold off until I get a lot more info together.

How can I make any sort of biz plan without vital info from suppliers on how much items will cost me and how much I can charge my customers? I'm not sure how to find a solution to deal w/ this dilemma and would really appreciate ANY suggestions or advice.

Thanks So Much For Your Time!

Bizgrl007

Answer from our Guest Expert Kent Capener of Capener Consulting

Well, Bizgirl #7, you've kind of gone to a five-star restaurant with McDonald's money in your pocket. The short answer is you can't make a good plan without this info, just as you can't eat pheasant under glass for $1.95.

For starters, the $150 isn't as big of a dilemma as it might seem to you right now. The reason the wholesaler you contacted asked for a sales tax ID number is because of a pesky, but very serious biz duty called sales tax reporting.

You, as the buyer, don't have to pay sales tax on your supplies because you're reselling them. To prove this to your vendors or wholesalers, you need a sales tax ID number, and apparently in NYC, that costs $150. So, if this is a major problem for your business, you might want to rethink it or relocate it. (Nevada and Delaware are two states that offer the opportunity to incorporate as if you reside there.)

The Hassle Supreme --You Gotta Deal With It!

The bottom line is a sales tax ID number is standard fare for other U.S. wholesalers as well. (Yes, you'll find them.) Some states are more stringent on their sales tax reporting and rougher with penalties and interest. Just to let you know, wholesalers are often audited by the local sales taxing entity. If it finds that sales tax should've been collected but wasn't, that translates into a "Hassle Supreme" for the wholesalers. They either have to go back to the customer and try to collect it. (Fat chance!) Or, they pay the tax, the penalty and the interest, and wish they'd requested the proper info from the customer in the first place! You got it: a sales tax ID number!

Party Favors! Who's Got 'Em?

Okay, assuming you're willing to step up to the table and can buy into "The Hassle Supreme," let's talk about how to find suppliers for party favors.

Start with what specific products you want to offer. You mentioned favors for special occasions. Who, or rather what kind of businesses, would make these products? And are some located near you so you could talk with them one-on-one?

Sweet Chocolates. One source could be a local confectioner, which is more likely visible as a local chocolate company. These people are often as much artisans as they are business people, and they may already have products developed that you could sell.

Check with the Candy Man. Candy makers are another resource. As an example, in a very small community tucked away in a mountain valley about forty miles from where I live, is a company called Kencraft. They make decorations of all kinds and a never-ending choice of candies. The point is, when you look in the Yellow Pages, Kencraft is listed as a candy manufacturer. Their contact information is Mr. David Taiclet, President, 800-377-4368, email davetaic@aol.com. They're located in Alpine, Utah. Now, I know that's about as far away from NYC as you can get. But so what?

How Can You Find Others? The same way. Let your fingers do the walking through the Yellow Pages on the Internet. Another source would be information sites such as 411.com. And then there's the ole‚ reliable Thomasregister.com. You can do a simple search for confectioners. If you're looking for specialty gifts, try supplierfinder.com.

You can also post your request for suppliers over in Idea Cafe's Biz Ingredients, a CyberSchmooz forum where all sorts of cyber connecting gets whipped up.

Ways to Wow the Wedding Accessories

Approach the wedding accessories the same way. Consider offering a menu of marriage accessories different from the local tuxedo rental shop. How about "Groom and Best Man" accessory kits and "Bride and Bridesmaid" accessory kits? It's tradition for the groom to give a gift to the best man and the bride to the bridesmaids. These kits could make that easy, personal, and unique. This might give you a market niche and separate you from the competition. You'd likely have to design what goes into the kit yourself and find the suppliers, but once you become adept at connecting products to suppliers, it'll be easy. If it works, you could package it and wholesale it to the competition!

If you're looking for wedding books, photography books and so on, look for a local "bindery." They'll likely either be able to make something special for you and or offer you wholesale pricing on a wide selection of products.

So Bizgirl#7, don't be down the dilemma tube so easily. The answers are out there. Do the footwork on the Web, in the library, on the phone. Starting your biz isn't always a bowl of cherries -- but hang in there!

Hope this Helps!

Kent Capener of Capener Consulting

Have a biz question of your own? Go post it in CyberSchmooz

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