If you ask any entrepreneur, starting a business comes with its fair share of challenges.
Becoming a ship chandler requires a great deal of effort, dedication and most importantly passion.
If you're willing to put in the effort to build your own business, you're going to want to follow the critical steps to creating a successful brand.
We've created a guide that covers each step of the process - from making key financial decisions, to launching and marketing your business the right way, and tips/strategies on how to grow your business effectively.
💡 Introduction To Becoming A Ship Chandler
Is Becoming A Ship Chandler Right For You?
There are many factors to consider when becoming a ship chandler.
We put together the main pros and cons for you here:
Pros of becoming a ship chandler
• Rewarding work
Starting a ship chandler can be really rewarding work. After all, you are solving an immediate issue for your customer and you're working on something you truly care about.
• High customer retention rates
Once a customer invests in your product, they've invested their time and energy to utilize your product/service which is highly valuable to them. Typically, your product or service becomes indispensable to your customer.
• Gain exposure and experience
This career allows you to gain experience working for multiple different businesses - which will benefit your resume and also keep things interesting for you!
• Daily physical activity
Ship Chandler's typically involve a much greater degree of movement than other lines of work. Most days, you will spend your day walking, running errands for your business, and performing a multitude of tasks. This can have a positive impact on energy levels and your overall health.
• Face to face interaction
If you are the type of individual that thrives on human interaction, then this is the business for you! With a ship chandler, you will be hands-on with customers and or employees every day.
• Strong Demand & Relatively Recession Proof
The demand for ship chandler is increasing year over year and the business is known to be relatively recession proof.
• Make money while you sleep
The advantage of starting a ship chandler is that you have the ability to have passive income and make money while you sleep. This is the dream for many entrepreneurs.
Cons of becoming a ship chandler
• Motivation of employees
If you plan to have a sales/content team on board, finding creative ways to motivate them can be a challenge. It's important that you're able to offer great incentives and a good work environment for your employees.
• Security Issues
With any Saas business, data loss and security issues may arise throughout your process of building your product. It's critical that you understand exactly what you're responsible for and how to avoid potential issues down the road.
• Low margins
The gross margins for your ship chandler are typically around 10%, which can make it more challenging to incur new expenses and maintain profitability.
• High employee turnover
In the ship chandler, employee turnover is often high, which can be quite costly and time consuming for your business. It's important to try and avoid this as much as possible by offering competitive pay, benefits, and a positive work environment.
• Lack of benefits
With a ship chandler, you are typically self-employed and responsible for finding your own insurance, which can be quite costly and time-consuming.
Often times, as a ship chandler, you typically work alone and do not have much face-to-face interaction with other team members.
As a ship chandler, you typically pay self-employment taxes which can be quite high. It's important to understand what you will be paying in taxes each year so you can determine if the work you're taking on is worth it.
• Stressful work
This line of work can be stressful for both you and your clients. This type of transaction is a significant financial decision for your client, so expectations are very high for you. Although this career path can be very rewarding, it also comes with its challenges and stressful moments.
• High overhead expenses
With becoming a ship chandler, there are overhead expenses that come with selling a physical product. You will want to make sure you strategically budget for these overhead costs. We discuss this more in the startup costs section below.
• You may need to charge sales tax
If you are selling your products in various states, you may be required to charge sales tax. Although this may not impact your financials specifically, it can be a headache to create a process and procedure for this. To learn more about sales tax, check out this article
• Difficult to build trust with your customer
With becoming a ship chandler, there can be minimal face-to-face interaction, which means it can be a lot more difficult to establish trust with your customers. You'll need to go the extra mile with your customer to grab their attention and business.
• Strict regulations
With any ship chandler, there are strict rules and regulations as it relates to processing your product. You must follow these regulations specifically, or significant legal issues could occur.
• Complex development process.
The development process for a ship chandler can be quite complex, which may cause delays and challenges when launching and growing your product.
• Complex maintenance
Your ship chandler will require a long-term investment due to the need for updates, bug fixes, and security vulnerabilities. It's important that you (or someone on your team) stays on top of this at all times.
• Impatient customers
You may offer an engaging user experience for your customer, but customers expect a lot and may be impatient if they aren't pleased with your product or service.
• Be prepared to get out of your comfort zone!
Although this is exciting for some entrepreneurs, it can be a big challenge for others! You may find yourself in uncomfortable social and business situations, jumping into tasks and responsibilities you aren't familiar with, and pushing yourself as far as you can go!
• You might struggle financially (at first)!
If you bootstrap your business or choose not to pay yourself (or pay yourself less than you were making at your corporate job), this can be financially taxing. It's important to adjust your lifestyle and set a plan for yourself so you don't find yourself in a stressful situation.
• More of a challenge to run your business from home!
Running your business from the comfort of your own home is a big appeal for many entrepreneurs. With a ship chandler, you are more likely to run your business out of your office or storefront space.
• Minimal physical activity
A big part of starting a ship chandler is sitting at a desk for the majority of the day starting at your computer. Some may enjoy this, but others may struggle with sitting for the majority of your day without much physical activity.
• Difficult to scale
With a ship chandler, it can be challenging to find ways to scale. Check out this article that discusses scaling your business and the challenges that come with it.
• Work is not always glamorous
With starting a ship chandler, you may need to get your hands a little dirty. Although it may seem glamorous from the outside to start this business, the work can require a lot of physical activity and repetition.
• Learning Curve
When you start your own business, you no longer have upper management to provide you with a playbook for your roles and responsibilities. You should know the ins and outs of every aspect of your business, as every decision will come down to you.
• Easy target for criticism
Since your ship chandler has the ability to reach a large audience, you'll need to be able to handle criticism. The internet can be a cruel place, and regardless of your intentions, many people will disagree with you and even take their criticism too far. To survive in this industry, you'll need to have tough skin (or at least learn this along the way).
• The job can be demanding
This is one of the major disadvantages starting a ship chandler. It's important to understand that you may need to make yourself available on a 24/7 basis.
• You may need to relocate
There can be a lot of opportunities that come your way when starting a ship chandler. Although moving around can be fun and exciting, it can also be physically and emotionally taxing for you and loved ones.
• High liability
Running a ship chandler involves a lot of liability, which means the cost for insurance premiums may also be high.
• Equipment Breakdowns
Over the years, your equipment can get damaged, break down, and may need repairs which can be expensive. It's important you prepare for these expenses and try to avoid damages/wear & tear as much as possible.
• Answering Phones
The ship chandler is still considered a traditional business, which means answering phones is a big part of the job. If you or your team miss phone calls, you could be missing out on potential revenue opportunities. If you are unable to attend to your phone throughout the day, it would be in your best interest to hire a call center or an employee dedicated to this.
• The job can be dangerous
Your ship chandler can have its dangerous moments, which puts you and your employees at risk. It's important to consider all liability and put processes and procedures in place that will prepare you and your team.
• Takes time to see results & make money
Results and revenue do not come overnight with a ship chandler. Often times, it takes weeks, months or even years for your work to monetize.
• Technical issues can be frustrating
Technical issues are common in this business. If you struggle with the technical side of things, you may want to consider outsourcing this responsibility to save yourself the time and frustration.
• More challenging to earn passive income
It can be more of a challenge to make passive income in this business. Often times, the amount of revenue you bring in is limited by the amount of time you have in the day.
- Wilhelmsen (157K Alexa Ranking)
- Synergy Marine Group (208K Alexa Ranking)
- Wrist Ship Supply (330K Alexa Ranking)
- SHM Group (879K Alexa Ranking)
- Marine Chandlery (1.17M Alexa Ranking)
- MarineStore (9.03M Alexa Ranking)
- Ship Chandler Indonesia, shipserv, Ship Chandler Jakarta (8.46M Alexa Ranking)
- Central Ships (7.91M Alexa Ranking)
- MH Khoory Trading & Ship Chandlers LLC (7.78M Alexa Ranking)
- Market Day Local (7.31M Alexa Ranking)
Let's take a look at the search trends for ship chandler over the last year:
How To Name Your Ship Chandler
It's important to find a catchy name for your ship chandler so that you can stand out in your space.
Here are some general tips to consider when naming your ship chandler
- Avoid hard to spell names: you want something easy to remember and easy to spell for your customers
- Conduct a search to see if others in the space have the same name
- Try not to pick a name that limits growth opportunities for your business (ie. if you decide to expand into other product lines)
- As soon as you have an idea (or ideas) of a few names that you love, register the domain name(s) as soon as possible!
Why is naming your ship chandler so important?
The name of your business will forever play a role in:
- Your customers first impression
- Your businesses identity
- The power behind the type of customer your brand attracts
- If you're memorable or not
It's important to verify that the domain name is available for your ship chandler.
You can search domain availability here:
Find a domain starting at $0.88
powered by Namecheap
Although .com names are the most common and easiest to remember, there are other options if your .com domain name is not available. Depending on your audience, it may not matter as much as you think.
It's also important to thoroughly check if social media handles are available.
As soon as you resonate with a name (or names), secure the domain and SM handles as soon as possible to ensure they don't get taken.
Here's some inspiration for naming your ship chandler:
- The Portuguese check availability
- The Small Frigate check availability
- BuiltShip check availability
- Strange Sailing check availability
- Frigate Group check availability
- Ib Ship check availability
- The Dutch check availability
- The English Warship check availability
- Largest Boat check availability
- Swift Sailing check availability
- Whole Freighter check availability
- Battle Battleship check availability
- Whale check availability
- The Rigged check availability
- Noble check availability
- Four Trawler check availability
- Whole Freighter Collective check availability
- Light check availability
- Trawler Trading Co check availability
- Spanish Shipment check availability
- Boat Place check availability
- FineShip check availability
- Four Warship check availability
- Frigate Collective check availability
- Rigged check availability
- Whole check availability
- Flag Trawler Collective check availability
- Wooden Battleship Spot check availability
- Anti check availability
- The Tall Send check availability
- Tight Trawler Co check availability
- The Whale Frigate check availability
- The Ton Vessel check availability
- SwedishShip check availability
- Stout Speedboat check availability
- Famous Freighter check availability
- Alien check availability
- Smaller Send check availability
- Whale Vessels Collective check availability
- Fast Frigate check availability
- Spanish Yacht check availability
- The Swift Yacht check availability
- Armed Battleship check availability
- The Russian check availability
- The Greek Transport check availability
- Biggest Warship Pro check availability
- The Russian Freighter check availability
- Smaller Shipboard check availability
- The Little check availability
- Crib Ship check availability
- FlagShip check availability
- Light Yacht Trading Co check availability
- Biggest Transport Pro check availability
- Single Warship Group check availability
- Large Yacht Trading Co check availability
- Russian Trawler Collective check availability
- Ad lib Ship check availability
- Lib Ship check availability
- Yacht Group check availability
- Freighter Place check availability
- The Norwegian check availability
- Masted Frigate check availability
- Vessels Trading Co check availability
- Send Spot check availability
- The Small check availability
- Battleship Pro check availability
- Single Sailboat check availability
- Danish Transport Collective check availability
- The Fine Vessels check availability
- Strange Spaceship check availability
- PortugueseShip check availability
- Stranded Sailboat check availability
- Naval Warship Place check availability
- Laden check availability
- Wooden Trawler Collective check availability
How To Create A Slogan For Your Ship Chandler:
Slogans are a critical piece of your marketing and advertising strategy.
The role of your slogan is to help your customer understand the benefits of your product/service - so it's important to find a catchy and effective slogan name.
Often times, your slogan can even be more important than the name of your brand.
Here are 6 tips for creating a catchy slogan for your ship chandler:
1. Keep it short, simple and avoid difficult words
A great rule of thumb is that your slogan should be under 10 words. This will make it easy for your customer to understand and remember.
2. Tell what you do and focus on what makes you different
There are a few different ways you can incorporate what makes your business special in your slogan:
- Explain the target customer you are catering your services towards
- What problem do you solve?
- How do you make other people, clients, or your employer look good?
- Do you make people more successful? How?
3. Be consistent
Chances are, if you're coming up with a slogan, you may already have your business name, logo, mission, branding etc.
It's important to create a slogan that is consistent with all of the above.
4. Ensure the longevity of your slogan
Times are changing quickly, and so are businesses.
When coming up with your slogan, you may want to consider creating something that is timeless and won't just fade with new trends.
5. Consider your audience
When finding a catchy slogan name, you'll want to make sure that this resonates across your entire audience.
It's possible that your slogan could make complete sense to your audience in Europe, but may not resonate with your US audience.
6. Get feedback!
This is one of the easiest ways to know if your slogan will be perceived well, and a step that a lot of brands drop the ball on.
Ask friends, family, strangers, and most importantly, those that are considered to be in your target market.
Here's some inspiration for coming up with a slogan for your ship chandler:
- Ship - Enjoy The Difference.
- We All Adore A Ship.
- Come Fly The Friendly Ship.
- Ribbed For Her Ship.
- Ship-Lickin' Good.
- Big Vessels, First Vessels
- For That Deep Down Body Ship.
- Old Ship, Satisfaction Guaranteed
- Stealth Is What We Do
- Ship, Good.
- Little Vessels, Small Trawler
- Office Of The Freighter
- Ship, The Original.
- Property Of The Frigate
- Cleans A Big, Big Ship For Less Than Half A Crown.
- Ship - Australian For Beer.
- Little And Simple
- Direct Of The Warship
- Old Sailboat, Small Vessel
- Space Of The Vessel
- Own Forwardings Are What We Do
- Swing Your Ship.
- Small Boats Are What We Do
- You'll Look A Little Lovelier Each Day With Fabulous Pink Ship.
- Work Hard, Sailing Harder
- Little Ship, Better Results
- Board Is What We Do
- And On The Eighth Day, God Created Ship.
- The Joy Of Ship.
- Commit Of The Freighter
- Ship, Since 1845.
- Share Moments, Share Ship.
- English And Finnish
- Ship Keeps Them Coming Back
- The Ideal Ship.
- Work Hard, Send Harder
- Large Ship, Take A Seat
- Own Battleships Are What We Do
- Little Steamer, Small Boat
- Ship Brings Out The Best.
- Ship - Now!
- Beware Of Expensive Ship.
- Small Vessels, Small Vessel
- From Little To Magnanimous
- See The USA In Your Ship.
- British Choppers Are What We Do
- Everyone's Favourite Ship.
- Commit Of The Transport
- Station Of The Vessel
- Large Cruisers Are What We Do
🎬 How To Become A Ship Chandler
How Much Does It Cost To Become A Ship Chandler
If you are planning to become a ship chandler, the costs are relatively low. This, of course, depends on if you decide to start the business with lean expenses or bringing in a large team and spending more money.
We’ve outlined two common scenarios for “pre-opening” costs of becoming a ship chandler and outline the costs you should expect for each:
- The estimated minimum starting cost = $2,154
- The estimated maximum starting cost = $43,232
|Startup Expenses: Average expenses incurred when starting a ship chandler.||Min Startup Costs: You plan to execute on your own. You’re able to work from home with minimal costs.||Max Startup Costs: You have started with 1+ other team members.|
|Office Space Expenses|
|Rent: This refers to the office space you use for your business and give money to the landlord. To minimize costs, you may want to consider starting your business from home or renting an office in a coworking space.||$500||$5,750|
|Utility Costs For Office Space: Utility costs are the expense for all the services you use in your office, including electricity, gas, fuels, telephone, water, sewerage, etc.||$200||$1,150|
|WiFi & Internet: Whether you work from home or in an office space, WiFi is essential. Although the cost is minimal in most cases, it should be appropriately budgeted for each month!||$50||$100|
|Total Office Space Expenses||$750 (min)||$7,000 (max)|
|Employee & Freelancer Expenses|
|Payroll Costs & Fees: Payroll cost means the expense of paying your employees, which includes salaries, wages, and other benefits. This number depends on if you decide to pay yourself a salary upfront and how many employees you have on payroll. At first, many founders take on all responsibilities until the business is up and running. You can always hire down the road when you understand where you need help. Keep in mind, if you do plan to pay yourself, the average salary founders make is $50K.||$150||$250|
|Employee Hiring Expenses: Apart from payroll and benefits, there are other hiring employees costs. This includes the cost to advertise the job, the time it takes to interview candidates, and any other turnover that may result from hiring the wrong candidate.||$1||$2|
|Total Employee & Freelancer Expenses||$151 (min)||$252 (max)|
|Equipment & Supply Expenses|
|Technology Office Equipment: This includes (but is not limited to) physical items such as: laptops, cameras, monitors, microphones, speakers, headsets. Technology needs grow as your company evolves, so to minimize costs, try and only purchase what is needed for you to run your business at the time.||$500||$5,000|
|Cleaning Supplies: Cleaning supplies are essential products we used daily at home and in almost all places worldwide. These items are used to effectively and safely remove dirt and germs to control allergens and prevent the spreading of contagious diseases, helping us stay healthy.||$63||$200|
|Uniforms: In this business, it's common to wear uniforms. The cost will depend on the number of employees you have and the quality of uniform you buy.||$0||$500|
|Total Equipment & Supply Expenses||$563 (min)||$5,700 (max)|
|Business Formation Fees|
|Small Business Insurance: Depending on which state you live in and the business you're operating, the costs and requirements for small business insurance vary. You can learn more here.||$500||$2,000|
|Permit and License Fees: Depending on your industry, there are certain licenses and permits you may need in order to comply with state, local, and federal regulations. Here is an article that goes over all the permits and licenses you may need for your ship chandler.||$50||$700|
|Trademarking: Filing trademark registration will protect your brand and prevent other businesses from copying your name or product. USPTO has several different types of trademarks, so the cost to apply can vary (typically anywhere from $400-$700).||$0||$700|
|Lawyer Fees: Although you may want to avoid attorney fees, it's important that your business (and you) are covered at all costs. This comes into play when creating founder agreements, setting up your business legal structure, and of course, any unforeseen circumstances that may happen when dealing with customers or other businesses.||$0||$1,500|
|Set up business: LLC & Corporations: The first step in setting up your business is deciding whether your business is an LLC, S Corp or C Corp. The cost for this depends on which state you form your business and which structure you decide on. We put together an article that goes over the 10 Steps To Setting Up A Business.||$50||$500|
|Total Business Formation Fees||$600 (min)||$5,400 (max)|
|Mode of Transporation: For your ship chandler you'll need to rent or purchase an operating vehicle such as a van, vessel, RV, or enclosed trailer.||$0||$10,000|
|Commute cost: Commute expense is the cost that results from traveling back and forth from their place to their employment. Commute costs can include public car expenses and bike expenses. This expense will also consume a huge portion of your business’s budget.||$2||$4|
|Total Vehicle Expenses||$2 (min)||$10,004 (max)|
|Retail Business Expenses|
|Utilities (storefront business): This refers to the cost of monthly utilities for your storefront location, which is typically based on a per-square-footage rate.||$0||$1,000|
|Building improvements and remodeling: If you plan to operate a physical location, you may find yourself dealing with building improvements and remodeling costs. Even if these costs are minimal, this is something to consider when renting/buying a physical location.||$0||$950|
|POS System: Gone are the days of cash registers! Many businesses now use point-of-sale systems for their checkout needs and to track sales and inventory. Here is a list of the best POS systems for small businesses!||$0||$1,200|
|Total Retail Business Expenses||$0 (min)||$3,150 (max)|
|Inventory Storage: If you decide to have a physical space for your ship chandler, whether it be used for inventory or as a showroom, you may have monthly rent payment or a large down payment associated with renting/buying the space.||$0||$5,000|
|Total Inventory Expenses||$0 (min)||$5,000 (max)|
|Training & Education Expenses|
|Online Learning Sites: With a ship chandler, you and your team may not know all the steps for starting and growing a business. There are plenty of resources out there to help you, such as online courses or learning platforms, but they aren't always free! Starter Story is a great resource for case studies, guides and courses for starting your business.||$0||$1,000|
|Consulting fees: You may find yourself needing to hire a consultant for different aspects of your ship chandler. The cost for this varies depending on the scope of work and length of contract.||$0||$1,000|
|Total Training & Education Expenses||$0 (min)||$2,000 (max)|
|Travel: Often times, ship chandler entrepreneurs travel. In addition to visiting suppliers and product manufacturers, you may need to travel to attend tradeshows and visit potential customers.||$0||$1,500|
|Credit Card Processing Fees: If you process credit cards then you will need to deal with interchange fees - which is usually around 3% of total charges. These fees are often forgotten about and can hurt cash flow if not taken into account.||$0||$300|
|Total Other Expenses||$0 (min)||$1,800 (max)|
|A Domain Name: Your domain name is the URL and name of your website - this is how internet users find you and your website.Domain names are extremely important and should match your company name and brand. This makes it easier for customers to remember you and return to your website.||$12||$200|
|Business Email Hosting Service: An email hosting runs a dedicated email server. Once you have your domain name, you can set up email accounts for each user on your team. The most common email hosts are G Suite and Microsoft 365 Suite. The number of email accounts you set up will determine the monthly cost breakdown.||$1||$15|
|Total Website Costs||$13 (min)||$215 (max)|
|Advertising & Marketing Costs|
|Business Signage: Business signs let people know they're in the right place and are one of the first impressions your customer will have of your business.The cost for signage depends on a variety of elements:- material- size- number of colors- durability- installation and laborThere are plenty of design tools and software to create your own signs, or you can hire a sign business to do this for you.||$75||$2,486|
|Total Advertising & Marketing Costs||$75 (min)||$2,486 (max)|
|Project Management Software: You may want to consider using a project management and collaboration tool to organize your day-to-day. This can also be very beneficial if you have a larger team and want to keep track of everyones tasks and productivity. For a full list of project management tools, check out this full list here.||$0||$25|
|Payroll Software: The main purpose of payroll software is to help you pay your team and track each of those payments (so that you don't have to do it manually). If you do not have any employees or have a very small team, payroll software may not be necessary at this stage. Here are the 11 best payroll tools for small businesses!||$0||$200|
|Total Software Expenses||$0 (min)||$225 (max)|
|Total Starting Costs||$2,154 (min)||$43,232 (max)|
Raising Money For Your Ship Chandler
Here are the most common ways to raise money for your ship chandler:
You may not need funding for your ship chandler.
In fact, many entrepreneurs take this approach when starting their own business, whether they have a little amount of cash or a substantial amount to get started.
So what exactly does the term "bootstrapping" mean?
This method essentially refers to self-funding your businesswithout external help or capital and reinvesting your earnings back into the business**
Bootstrapping means building your company from the ground up with your own, or your loved ones, personal savings and reinvesting all earnings back into the business
Here are some tips to consider when bootstrapping your business:
- Use your savings as your capital - one of the best ways to bootstrap your business is to collect your savings and use them as startup capital. This will also help you avoid using your personal or business credit cards when getting started.
- Determine exactly how much capital you need and how much capital you have to get your business off the ground. Generally, when bootstrapping your business, you may want to consider starting a business that involves less startup capital.
- Consider starting a business that will generate immediate returns so you can put money back into the business
- Be as lean as possible - this refers to cutting down expenses as much as possible, such as payroll, fancy software tools, unnecessary travel, renting an office, etc
- Consider outsourcing instead of hiring - in the beginning, you may not need to hire someone permanently to help run your business. It tends to be much less expensive to outsource work to a freelancer and hire someone permanently down the road!
Want to learn more about bootstrapping your business? Check out this article
Accelerators are organizations that offer a range of support and funding opportunities for startups.
Typically, this means they help enroll startups in programs that offer mentorship, office space, and resources to grow the business.
These programs are typically 3-4 months and involve intense education and mentorship - most importantly, the startups also offered capital and investment in return for equity.
Here are some of the most popular and well-known startup accelerators in the U.S:
Here are some tips on how to get into an accelerator program:
- Have an MVP (Minimal Viable Product) in place
- Make sure you have actual customers and an overview of how your business is doing (revenue, site traffic, growth metrics)
- Build a team
- Crush your interview - this is a critical piece in the process. Know your business and metrics inside out and most importantly, be able to portray what makes it so unique.
VC funding is a traditional and long process, but an effective way to raise money for your business.
The term "VC funding" refers to venture capital firms investing in businesses in exchange for equity.
The VC's (venture capitalists) are an individual or small group investing in your business and typically require substantial ownership of the business, with the hope of seeing a return on their investment.
VC's are typically the best approach for businesses with high startup costs - where it would be very difficult to raise the money on your own or through a loan.
When deciding whether to take this approach, it's important that you have a few things in place first, and know what you're getting yourself into:
Determine if your business is ready
Having an idea is not enough to get VC funding.
Typically, VC's will check to make sure you have these things in place prior to closing any deal:
- An MVP (Minimal Viable Product)
- A founding team with all proper documents in place (articles of organization, business formation)
- A validated idea with actual customers buying your product/service
Get everything in place and build a pitch deck
A VC individual or firm will be expecting a fine-tuned presentation that gives an overview of your business.
Here's what you should consider including in your pitch deck:
- Management team, their previous experience + current roles in the business
- Market challenge and solution
- Company financials - including a P&L statement, cash flow statement, and projections
- Company progress
- Investment amount - how much do you need and why?
Research the right VC to fund your business
Research the types of VC investors out there and what niche they focus on.
Then, put together a list of target VC's you want to approach and your strategy around setting up meetings.
Be sure you have everything in place (as discussed above) before setting up any meeting!
Make sure the terms and expectations are right for your business
Committing to VC funding is a big deal and a decision that should not be made lightly.
Although the money and experience from VC's can help your business quickly grow, you are also giving away a stake in the company, and the money comes with strings attached.
Be sure you do your due diligence in finding the right investor - one that truly believes in the growth and success of your business.
What Skills Do I Need To Succeed In Becoming A Ship Chandler?
As a ship chandler, there are several essential skills and characteristics that are important to identify prior to starting your business.
Let’s look at these skills in more detail so you can identify what you need to succeed in your day-to-day business operations:
Whether you are the one designing the product or the decision-maker for the product, an eye for design is critical when becoming a ship chandler. Here's what this looks like:
- Creative Thinking - the ability to develop or design different products or ideas
- Visualization - being able to imagine or visualize how the product will look
- Articulation - the ability to communicate what the design will look like and how it will be executed
- Detail-oriented - paying close attention to all of the small pieces when designing or working on a project
- Some technical skills - knowledge of the design software you are using to create the product or build prototypes.
Other skills that may be valuable to have when becoming a ship chandler include digital marketing skills, branding experience, and basic business knowledge.
Business Savvy Skills
When becoming a ship chandler, there are a few fundamental business skills you will want to learn in order to be successful:
- Leadership and training skills: A great team starts with YOU. Make sure you have all company policies and training procedures in place prior to hiring your team
- Decisive and self-confident: Over the course of your career, you will need decisions that could impact your business significantly. It's important you are able to think clearly and rationally about these decisions.
- Ability to understand the financials: You don't need to be an accountant, but it is important that you are able to clearly understand and define metrics such as expenses, revenue, profit, margins, COGS, etc.
- Strategic Thinking: Setting clear goals and benchmarks, identifying opportunities, risks. Ability to effectively communicate these insights to your team.
These are a few of many business savvy skills you should have (or work on) when becoming a ship chandler.
For a full list, check out this article here.
Self Motivation Skills
Self motivation and discipline skills are critical in order to become successful in this field.
It's likely that you will find yourself starting and running your ship chandler from home, which could mean there are more distractions for you.
Here are the basic skills needed for self motivation & discipline:
- Becoming a self starter: It's important that you are capable of independently completing a task without the help or direction of anyone else
- Listening and following directions: When you are given direction by others, it's critical that you are able to follow directions and ask the right questions in order to get your job done
- Taking the initiative in problem solving: Instead of taking the easy route, you'll need to learn to troubleshoot issues on your own as much as possible.
The ability to negotiate on behalf of your client will be an essential part of your every day job.
This is one of the most important qualities you can have when starting a ship chandler, so it's important you practice and perfect these skills.
Here's what this looks like:
- Ability to analyze all parts of the deal: your biggest power is to understand and analyze all parts of the deal for your client, choose when to walk away, and know to what lengths you can negotiate a deal.
- Building rapport: This is key in the ship chandler. You are much likely to reach an agreement and favorable terms if you spend just a few moments getting to know each other before talking about the deal at stake.
- Be diplomatic: Being in control of any situation presented and showing intention with your words are key qualities for someone in this line of work. This includes asking good questions and listening actively.
Becoming a good negotiator does not happen overnight, but as long as you are persistent with practicing these skills and putting them into action, you will see growth day by day!
Advice For Becoming A Ship Chandler
We've interviewed thousands of successful founders at Starter Story and asked what advice they would give to entrepreneurs who are just getting started.
Here's the best advice we discovered for becoming a ship chandler:
Evan Marshall, founder of Plain Jane ($275K/month):
When a customer wants to meet you in a Safeway parking lot to get their product faster, you know you have something,
Read the full interview ➜
David Lombardo, founder of ATC Memes ($34.5K/month):
I would say the most important thing is to start small and conquer a small niche before expanding; set realistic goals.
Read the full interview ➜
KC Holiday, founder of QALO ($2M/month):
Neither of us had any background in manufacturing or building eCommerce websites, but that wasn’t going to stop us.
Read the full interview ➜
Travis Peterson, founder of Joker Greeting ($/month):
Make a product people want to buy not one you want to sell. If you are pushing too hard to make a sale it’s probably wrong.
Read the full interview ➜
Write a Business Plan
Writing a business plan from the start is critical for the success of your ship chandler.
Because this allows you to roadmap exactly what you do, what your overall structure will look like, and where you want to be in the future.
For many entrepreneurs, writing out the business plan helps validate their idea and decide whether or not they should move forward with starting the business.
You may want to consider expanding upon these sections in your business plan:
- Executive Summary: Brief outline of your product, the market, and growth opportunities
- Overviews and Objectives: Overview of your business, target customers, and what you need to run your business
- Products and Services: Specifics on the products and services your business will provide
- Market Opportunities: Analysis of customer demographics, buyer habits and if your product is in demand
- Marketing: Outline of your marketing plan and how you plan to differentiate yourself from other customers
- Competitive analysis: Analysis of your competition and the strengths and weaknesses therein
- Operations: Hierarchal structure of the company and what it will take to run the business on the day-to-day
- Leadership Team: Detailing roles and responsibilities of each manager based on their specific skill-set
- Financial Analysis Understanding of all expenses, operating budgets, and projections for the future.
Learn more about how to write a business plan here
Determine Which Business Bank Account You Need
There are hundreds of banks out there, and it can be overwhelming to find one that's right for your business.
Here are some factors you may want to consider:
- Location - Is your bank close enough that you can easily make deposits or get cash?
- Low Fees - Make sure to understand any and all fees associated with setting up and maintaining your bank account. Ask for a list - banks usually try to keep this hidden and in the fine print.
- Online Banking Services - Make sure you can easily navigate through your online portal and you have easy access to everything you need.
- Line of Credit - What do your options look like (even if you don't need this now, you may need this down the road).
- Every bank has something that differentiates them from the rest, so make sure whatever that is applied to your needs and values.
Check out this list of the 13 Best Banks for Small Business in 2020 and what makes them so unique.
Setting Up Your Ship Chandler (Formation and Legal)
When it comes to setting up your business, you may find yourself in a place where you have to make some financial and legal decisions.
The first thing you'll want to decide on is whether you want to be an LLC, S-Corp, or C-Corp.
These three options are found to be the most common when starting a small business, and all serve to protect your personal assets and also provide you with certain tax benefits.
- LLC: All income and expenses from the business are reported on the LLC personal income tax return.
- S corp: Owners pay themselves salaries + receive dividends from profits.
- C Corp: C Corps are separately taxable entities that file a corporate tax return (Form 1120). No income tax is paid at the corporate level and any tax due is paid at the owners individual expense.
Depending on where you're conducting business, you'll also want to consider securing the proper permits, licenses and liability insurance.
Need to start an LLC? Create an LLC in minutes with ZenBusiness.
How Do I Pay Myself As A Small Business Owner?
Most entrepreneurs start a business to do something they love- but at the end of the day, you still have bills to pay (maybe now more than ever).
But it's important to strike the right balance - if you pay yourself too much, you could be putting your business at risk.
There are two common ways to pay yourself as a business owner:
1. Owner's Draw
Many entrepreneurs pay themselves through an owner's draw. This means that you are technically sean as "self-employed" through the eyes of the IRS and are not paid through regular wages.
At the point that you collect money from the draw, taxes typically are not taken out - so make sure you are prepared to pay these taxes once you file your individual return.
As an owner who takes a draw, you can legally take out as much as you want from your equity.
This type of compensation is suited for Sole props, LLCs, and partnerships. If you’re an S corp, you can pay yourself through both a salary and draw if you choose.
If you decide to pay yourself a salary, you will receive a set and recurring amount. This will be taxed by the federal government and the state you reside in.
The reality is that it can be really complicated to set your own salary, so we have some tips for you to consider:
- Take out a reasonable amount that allows you to live comfortably but also sets your business up for success
- Consider the number of hours you are working weekly + the type of duties you are performing.
- Set your salary based on your industry-standard, location, and profits (or projected profits)
- Look at your P&L statement: Deduct your own pay from that amount. This is important so you can first tackle important business expenses, and then pay yourself from the amount leftover.
- Pick a payroll schedule (and stick to it)! In the US, it's most common to pay yourself and employees twice a month.
To learn more about how to pay yourself and what is a reasonable amount, check out this article.
How To Price Your Ship Chandler
One of the most challenging aspects to becoming a ship chandler is determining how much to charge for your ship chandler.
When businesses under-price their product, this can be extremely detrimental to their bottom line and reputation.
Often times, businesses under-price their products to drive demand and volume, but that last thing you want is for customers to view your product/service as "cheap." Additionally, this can have a big impact on the type of customer you attract, which can be difficult to recover from.
On the other hand, when businesses over-price, this tends to be just as damaging to the business.
When customers buy, it's likely that they will explore the internet and look at other competitors to ensure they're getting the best value + deal. This is why it's so important that you research your competition and understand where you land in the marketplace.
Here are some factors to consider when pricing your product:
Understand your customer
It's important that out of the gates, you identify the type of customer you want to attract and how much they're willing to pay for your service. One great way to do this is by surveying your customers. Here are some important items you'll want to takeaway:
- Customer demographic: Age, gender, location, etc.
- Buying habits of your customer: What they buy + when they buy
- Level of price sensitivity with your customer
All of these segments will help you identify the type of customer you're attracting and how to price your product accordingly.
Understand your costs
When pricing your ship chandler, it's critical that you first identify all of your costs and consequently mark up your ship chandler so you can factor in a profit.
The actual cost of your ship chandler may include things like:
- The actual cost to make the product (ie. raw materials, supplies, manufacturer).
- Shipping + overhead fees
- Operating costs to run your business
You may want to consider creating a spreadsheet with every single expense involved in operating/owning your business. This will give you an idea as to what you need to generate in order to at the very least, break-even and will help you price your products to factor in a profit.
Create revenue goals
When determining the price of your ship chandler, you'll want to create goals for revenue + how much profit you want your ship chandler to make.
This process is simpler than you may think:
- Think about your breakeven cost (by completing the above step).
- Create a revenue goal based on your break-even cost
- Evaluate the # of items you plan to sell in a given period (make sure this is a realistic number)
- Divide your revenue goal by the number of items you plan to sell
This figure will help determine your estimated price per product in order to meet your revenue goals.
Evaluate your competition
The last piece in determining how to price your ship chandler is by simply looking at your competition.
The best way to do this is by finding like-minded businesses that offer product(s) with similar perceived value. Then, you can compare prices of the different businesses and determine where your ship chandler fits best in the marketplace.
All of these factors play an equal part in pricing your ship chandler, so it's important you evaluate each one individually to come up with an accurate price that will help optimize your business from the start.
Gross Margin Calculator: How to Calculate The Gross Margin For Your Ship Chandler
Our calculator is designed to be simple and easy to use.
The goal is to help you set realistic expectations and understand what is considered a healthy gross margin for your ship chandler.
Design A Prototype
Turning your idea into a reality can feel like a daunting task - but it's critical that you have an idea of what your product will look like (even if it's just a sketch) prior to finding a manufacturer.
Here are some common ways you can design your prototype:
- Draw Your Initial Design on Paper
- Form pieces of fabric together
- Consider Taking A Generic Product And Putting Your Own Brand On It
- Try Making the Product Yourself
- Consider Building A Prototype With A 3D Printer
To learn more about how to design and prototype a product, check out our latest guide here.
Donation Based Funding
You may want to consider raising money through donations for your ship chandler.
This type of funding is common for disaster relief, charities, non-profits, and medical bills.
Donation-based funding is a way to raise money by asking a large group of people to donate, with no financial return to investors or contributors.
Often times, backers donate money in exchange for perks or rewards.
🚀 How To Launch Your Ship Chandler
Build A Website
Building a website is imperative when launching your business, and with the right tools in place, this can be a simple task to check off the list (without having to hire someone).
- Pick a domain name that's easy to remember and easy to type
- Choose a Web Hosting Plan (ie. Shopify, Squarespace)
- Make sure you choose the right theme and design
- Implement the proper page structure (ie. about page, contact page, pricing etc)
To learn more about how to build a stellar website with little stress, we give you all the details on this step-by-step guide.
Once you have chosen the domain, web hosting, and platform, it's time to get started with the design phase.
Themes are a great way to produce the fundamental style and identity of your website - this includes everything from your font design to your blog post styles.
One of the best ways to get started is to simply explore the various themes (free or paid depending on what you're looking for) and test them on your site.
If web-design really isn't in the cards for you, you may want to consider outsourcing a web designer to help bring your vision and brand to life.
Traditional Launch Strategies For Your Ship Chandler:
There are various different ways you can launch your ship chandler successfully.
Here are a few different strategies to get customers excited about your ship chandler:
- Set up a Facebook page for your business. This is a great way to establish an online presence
- Host an event in a fun location with drinks & food. This is a great way to get exposure in the local community.
- Get Press! Pitch your story to the media and you may just land in an amazing publication
- Live sales to get customers excited
- Send a hand-written letter in the mail with a discount on your services to the local community/neighborhoods.
🌱 How To Grow Your Ship Chandler
Social Media Advertising
Social Media Advertising is one of the leading ways to get the word out when it comes to ship chandler.
There are various different Social Media platforms available to you. Some may be more critical for your marketing efforts than others, however, it's important to have an understanding of what's out there and available to you.
Let's talk about a few of the main platforms and what makes them unique:
- Facebook Advertising - more than 2 billion monthly users. Facebook is the best for lead generation + capturing email addresses for e-commerce businesses.
- Instagram Advertising - approximately 500 million monthly users and has a higher audience engagement rate than any other platform. Instagram ads are best for linking to a product page or landing page and reaches the 18-29 age group most effectively.
- Twitter Advertising- Small businesses typically use twitter ads to drive brand awareness, but the platform is meant more for organic engagement (and is not as heavily used for paid advertising)
- Pinterest Advertising - 175 million monthly users and most effectively reaches the female audience. Pinterest is great for promoting products without "promoted". The promoted pins have a way of blending right in.
- LinkedIn Advertising - 227 million monthly users and is geared towards the B2B market and generates the highest quality leads. Great platform for recruiters, high-end products and services that will help businesses
It's important to first define your goal/objective so that you don't waste time and money into the wrong platform:
Here are some different questions to ask yourself as it relates to your goals:
- Do I want to simply drive brand awareness?
- Do I want to drive users to my website to gather information?
- Do I want to increase sales and get my customer to take action?
From there, choose the platform that targets your audience best and start experimenting!
Learn more about social media advertising ➜ here.
Founder Andy Hayes talks about mastering FB ads and the pixel:
The biggest bang for your buck will likely be mastering Facebook and it’s platform - which we all know is pay for play, so you’ll have to come up with a small amount of budget to start for marketing.
We’ve spent countless hours (and paid numerous coaches) before we cracked the code that works for us on Facebook, but it is working really well for us now.
Some of the most important things to know when it comes to FB Ads:
- Start with retargeting (that’s showing ads to people who already know you but did not purchase). Master this - and start building information on your Facebook Pixel - before you do anything else
- Once you have that down, try working with the 1% “Lookalike” audience to prospect for new customers. This may take awhile because your pixel audience is small, so try layering on interests - 1% Lookalike and your largest competitor, for example. Don’t use interest-only targeting until you master this.
- Great photography and videography is key, as is smart copy. Research what’s out there in your industry and constantly test - what works for one company may not work for other people.
- Make sure you have good offers. For example, we have a $5 trial for our subscription, which converts affordably - if we promoted our subscription with the standard $30 front charge, it wouldn’t be as cost-effective.
Form partnerships for your ship chandler
Starting a ship chandler is all about building relationships and becoming an integral part of your community.
Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking they can do everything on their own. In reality, other businesses (even your competition) and members of your community can be a huge piece of your growth strategy.
When forming any type of partnership, a lot of energy and time can go into this. To ensure it's worth your while, dive deep into the vetting process and ask yourself (and them) the following questions:
- What are your businesses values and priorities?
- Who are your customers? What matters most to them?
- In what ways can we both bring value to each others businesses? Cross promotions? Clout/credibility?
- Should we do a trial run first to make sure this partnership works out before finalizing an agreement?
- What will the agreement look like?
Once you have an idea as to what the ideal partnership agreement looks like, that's when the outreach begins (the hardest part)!
Here are some different ways you can meet other entrepreneurs and form partnerships:
- Simply talk to other people in the ship chandler industry. You'd be surprised as to how willing other entrepreneurs are to share their knowledge with you
- Host an event: By inviting people to your event in your community and industry, you may be able to form partnerships and expand your clientele
- Join a facebook community: Nowadays, everything is online. A great way to meet other people is to become 'active' on a public forum or community
- Use other social networks such as LinkedIn or Twitter to aid your outreach. This can be a very powerful tool if used properly.
Forming partnerships and building relationships within your community can be a very valuable tool, but it's important that you do your due diligence and avoid going in blind to any sort of partnership. This can save you months, if not years of time.
Mike Aspinall, founder of The Crafty Gentlemen discusses how brand partnerships are the most important part of his growth strategy and revenue stream:
My main revenue stream is sponsored brand partnerships, whereby a company pays me a fee to feature their product within one of my blog posts.
Over the years, I’ve worked with some really cool brands – Etsy, Hobbycraft, Cricut, Pinterest, Gorilla Glue, Singer, Janome, Brother, Bosch, and lots more.
For a long time, I was hesitant to charge for my work – I was happy to work in exchange for products. But there came a point where I was being offered more work than I could have said yes to – something had to change. So I started to charge for partnerships. And brands agreed, no questions asked!
The last 6-12 months have been the most successful yet for my business. I’m making regular revenue through multiple streams, including sponsorships, media appearances, influencer work, and passive ad revenue. My website traffic is at an all-time high, and growing – as are my social media followings:
Grow Your Email List
The more engaged list of emails, the more engaged customers, which ultimately leads to more sales.
One of the best ways to start growing your list is by providing your customer with something free (or discounted) in return.
This could also be anything from:
- Fascinating case study
- Video series
- Free week of the product
- Discount on the product
Learn more about how to grow your email list and improve email marketing ➜ here.
Dylan Jacob, founder of Brumate states their email collection tactic that is proven to work:
We use Spin-a-Sale for this (you spin a wheel for a discount code in exchange for subscribing to our email list). This has been the best email-collecting tool we have found because the customer truly feels like they won a prize rather than just a coupon code.
Even if a customer doesn’t convert right away, if we have their email we have a 19% chance of converting them into a future customer whether that is through future promotions, new releases, or simply just sending an email at the right time for a purchase to finally make sense for them.
We also have a return customer rate of over 14%, so one out of every 6 people we convert will end up buying from us again with an average order value of over $60.00.
Add an exit-intent popup to your online store
A great way to double, or even triple, your email opt-in rate and to grow your list is to add an exit-intent popup to your site, and offering a discount or content upgrade for subscribers.
Here's an example of what that might look like:
One thing that I spent years NOT doing, that I now kick myself about, is adding an "exit intent pop-up" to our site, which lets people enter a sweepstakes to win a Xero Shoes gift certificate.
That one idea has added over 100,000 subscribers to our email list, which is one of our most effective marketing channels.
Improve Your Email Marketing
Different types of emails
Here are the most common types of email campaigns you can send to your customers and their benefits:
- Welcome emails - the perfect way to provide information from the start with a clear CTA. Make sure to tell your customer everything they need to know about your product or service.
- Newsletters - a great way to give customers updates or send out your latest content
- Product launch emails - the quickest (and easiest) way to increase sales is by selling to current customers. Make sure they're the first on the list to know about your new product
- Promotional emails - promote discounts, deals coupons etc. Try and make this feel exclusive and for a limited time only
- Abandoned cart emails - give your customers a reason to complete their purchase!
Here's a great resource for finding curated email designs, for all types of email campaigns!
Abandonded Cart Flow
The abandoned cart workflow is one of the most effective strategies for turning your lead into a customer, and a powerful tool to have if you're an e-commerce business.
Think about all the times that you went on a shopping frenzy only to add items to your cart and then either forget or realize nows not the right time to pull the trigger.
Then, minutes later you receive an email saying "Hurry up! Your cart is waiting - and we want to provide you with 20% off your order."
Maybe that's the special touch (and discount) you needed to pull that trigger.
Implementing this workflow can automatically trigger this for your business every time a customer abandons their cart.
Here's a great example of an abandoned cart email from Brooklinen:
Things they do well:
- Showcase 5-star reviews from other customers
- Offer a small discount + free shipping
- Great design + clear call to actions!
🏃🏼♀️ How To Run Your Ship Chandler
How To Retain Customers For Your Ship Chandler
Retaining customers is one of the most effective ways to grow your ship chandler.
Oftentimes, it's easy to find yourself focusing on generating new customers, vs retaining your current ones.
Look at it this way - you are 60-70% more likely to sell a new product to an existing customer than you are a new customer.
That's not to say that finding new customers and revenue streams is not important, however, the easiest (and most inexpensive) source of new revenue is right there in front of you.
Here are some ways you can retain customers for your ship chandler:
- Responding to comments on social media
- Send discounts (or freebies) to loyal customers
- Provide valuable content, for free
- Write a hand written thank you note
- Provide awesome customer service and build relationships with customers
To find out more tips and tricks on retaining customers, check out this article ➜ here
Diversify Your Product Line
Adding new products to your business is a great way to expand into new markets and grow your business.
It's important to note that adding new products and diversifying may not be in the cards for you right this moment, and that's okay. You can always consider it down the road.
Here are some reasons you may want to considering adding/diversifying your product
- Meeting the needs of your customers
- Establish yourself as a top provider in your industry and stay ahead of the game with competition
- Resistance to downturns/trends fading
- Create new revenue streams
Word of Mouth
The most tried and true way to grow a ship chandler is through word of mouth - some entrepreneurs would say it's more important than all social media.
Why you should focus on word of mouth:
- Consumers trust word of mouth above all other forms of marketing
- 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising
- 64% of marketing executives indicated that they believe it is the most effective form of marketing
Learn more about word of mouth in our guide: 30 Ways Founders Grow Their Business ➜
How To Crush The Sales Process For Your Ship Chandler
You may find yourself in a spot where you're ready to hire a few (or many) salespeople to support the sales conversion process.
Regardless if you have one or thirty salespeople, it's critical that you assign them specific roles and responsibilities to nurture the client and provide excellent support.
Mike Korba, co-founder of User.Com walks us through the entire sales process and which teams are responsible for what:
User.com Sales Process
Each user and account is qualified with a specialist. For business leads, they are handled by the sales team, and if they are qualified we give them a demo, more than often at the end of their fourteen-day trial. If they’re happy they’ll add a payment, and get an account manager, so a customer support and success team who will help implement the solution and to use the technology.
Sometimes, users will convert naturally on their own, after using the freemium product and finding it to be something that they will find beneficial.
After they convert, we help with onboarding, give them some personalized tips for their specific business or industry to grow plus all kinds of support, for whatever they need - something we take huge pride in.
The team is right now more than 30 people, with more than half working on the IT and product side, and the rest are in three teams: Support, Marketing, and Sales who all work together very closely.
As a brand, you want to deliver an experience that authentic, honest and transparent.
Don't make the mistake of giving your audience less credit than they deserve.
If you go around chasing every trend and only focused on yourself and money, you’re going to lose very quickly.
There have been many times where we have been tempted to do this but stayed true.
Sure we sacrificed sales, but we kept our integrity, played the long game and people saw and appreciated that, and really began emotionally investing in the brand.
Build a Referral Program
Word of mouth is one of the best ways to get the word out about your business and acquire new customers. Especially when you are starting out, it’s important to build a solid referral program to encourage existing customers to help you find new ones.
A great way to do that is by offering a reward (ie. credit on your service or cash) to customers that refer you to their friends and family.
A fantastic referral program will help with clout, credibility, and establishing yourself in the space.
We put together the best resources on the internet to help you start your ship chandler.
- How To Start And Run A Used Bookstore: Chandler, Stephanie
- What Is Ship Chandler? What Does Ship Chandler Mean? Ship Chandler Meaning & Explanation.
- Institutional Video Ship Chandler - English
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