Setting Up a Business Frugally

When we decided to go for gold and set up our own business we knew we had to do it frugally. We sold our second car and then did online searches for everything we needed: sourcing a manufacturer for the product, registering a business name, getting UPC codes, finding a lawyer, putting our site together etc. We have saved thousands by taking a little extra time to DIY (do it yourself) and it paid off beautifully.


By princessgrace from Austin, TX

February 6, 20060 found this helpful

What kind of business have you started?

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February 6, 20060 found this helpful

My sister, an animator in Ireland, had designed phonic letter magnets for her daughter - so she could learn her letters and sounds, and when she sent me a set I knew I wanted to sell them in the States. In answer to your question, I now have a wholesale business selling preschool educational items. I also sell them retail on the site just to boost my business income.

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February 7, 20060 found this helpful

I'm in the process of producing a product for sale. I had no idea you could search on-line for a manufacturer and bar codes. Would you share some of the web-sites with us?

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February 7, 20060 found this helpful


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February 7, 20060 found this helpful

I did a google search on manufacturers in the US, and decided that to be competetive I would need to manufacture overseas. I found a site called, and they list various countries, and have gold seals on the businesses that have proven to be honest and make good quality merchandise. I talked to one company that were not able to make the packaging, only the product, so then I found one in Taiwan that does everything for me. They charged around $260 for each case (lower and upper) to tool the machines for printing, made the magnets according to our specs., printed the packaging (another $260 for each kind), packaged them, and shipped them to an import company in Houston. I had to pay a lawyer $1,000 to draw up an agreement that they would not print them for any other company. She was the most costly. I found her through a lawyer referral service online. The import company cost about $250 to sign off the goods and send them on their way to my house, and the freight charge was approx. $100.

The website set-up took a while as I had to get one that offered shopping carts. They charge around $60 per month for me to be able to let customers use credit cards.

The graphics and logo were free as my sister does them, and the website html was free too as my husband does that. He's also a photographer, so he did my product shoot, and the models did the work TFCD, (time for CD). We found them on a kids' modelling site.

The UPC codes cost about $360, and it's another $75 a year to stay registered.

I applied for my trademark through

for $335

I made my company an LLC for $200 online through the Secretary of State's articles of organization for TX. Thhis means that if the business fails the business debts wil not be covered by the sale of our personal items, only business office items and inventory.

I had to go out once :) to file the business name with the county clerk.

The marketing is the hardest part of all. To get people to your site you have to let them know you exist. I pay Toy Directory $100 a month to let retailers see me and my product. Magazine ads cost a fortune.

I think I would have been better off letting a large distributor sell the product, but then I would have only gotten 5% of gross sales, which is what my sister gets for being the designer, and I still owe her for all her graphics work on the site.

All in all, I think I paid about $8,000 to get it up and running.

BTW, I've heard that there is now patent software available to help you patent your invention for a few hundered, compared to the $6k to do it through a lawyer.

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