Article by: Steven Mayhew, CBA
Setting Up Your Balloon Business
Starting a business in balloons can be profitable and extremely rewarding. For decades, balloon decorators around the world have been successful in growing an maintaining a business; giving beginners hope and assurance that a career in balloons CAN succeed!
Creating a Road Map
Begin with creating a checklist to help you prioritize what you need to accomplish to officially open your company. Many of these steps can be found in the next section “Following the Rules”.
You’ll also need to decide on your mission and goals by developing a business plan. This is not only so you know what your objectives are but it is also an important tool if you are planning to approach investors or financial institutions to receive a loan. Click here to learn more about how to write an effective business plan, provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Know Your Market
Who are you trying to sell balloons to? It’s important to know because you can’t be all things to all people and do a good job. So, when your business is getting started, narrow your focus initially and concentrate on a smaller market. Be the best you can be to one specific type of client (e.g. brides, hotels, or sales agents). Once you have mastered that market, expand into another.
What balloon equipment do I need?
Conwin’s line of balloon inflators vary from basic regulators to automatic sizers. We also offer safety equipment, balloon accessories, special effects and educational materials to help increase your efficiency and productivity.
For a beginner, the two facets you’ll need to consider first are helium inflators and air inflators. Both are crucial aspects to a balloon decorator to be able to offer a variety of decor.
As most decorators begin with a low budget to start their business, the most economical, yet most efficient options were selected to the right. To view all of Conwin’s Inflators, click here.
Skills are Required
Before you begin to market yourself like a pro, you’ll need to learn how to create professional and profitable balloon décor. Fortunately, the balloon industry offers a wide variety of educational opportunities. A great place to start is to sign-up for a balloon seminar. Visit Conwin’s Educational Calendar to find a seminar near you.
In addition to attending a seminar, a convenient and efficient way to learn the latest balloon techniques is to the Balloon Décor Master Series DVD set. This comprehensive (3 disc) program features step-by-step instructions for 15 designs. Each design is complete with material lists and balloon size settings. As an added bonus, the series includes 23 high quality 8.5” x 11” images of the designs to include in your portfolio.
Another great resource is Qualatex’s QBN Bundle (3-part DVD series) which covers all the basics and business concepts.
Where Do I Buy My Materials
Luckily you are starting a business in an industry with a very strong balloon distributor base. Whether you are located on the east coast, mid west, west coast or even internationally, there are distributors near by you can purchase your balloons, equipment, and accessories from. Find a distributor near you through Conwin’s Distributor Network.
Install a Dedicated Phone Line
You may need to use your home phone initially, but invest in a separate business line as soon as possible. When clients call they are looking for a professional response. Be sure anyone who answers the phone is trained to answer questions or take a message. Also, by having a dedicated phone line, it allows you to install an answering machine to intercept any calls you are unable to answer. Keep your outgoing message short, upbeat and professional.
When you install a business line you may be provided a 2-line yellow page listing at little or no cost. The first line is intended for your business name and the second for an address. If you are a home-based business you may want to avoid listing your home address and use this second line as a great form of advertising. It could read, “Specializing in corporate events” or “Balloons for all occasions.”
Keep Good Records and Receipts
There are many advantages to owning your own business. Consult with an accountant regarding any specific regulations for your region.
Set Specific Business Hours
Your business hours don’t have to be from 9 to 5, but set aside a specific time of the day you devote to your business on a consistent basis. It may be used for design time, paperwork and bookkeeping, or prospecting new clients. And on the flip side, take a break from business after hours. Burnout comes quickly if all you ever do is work, work, work! Taking time to relax and enjoy life feeds your creativity.