How To Start A Solar Products Distribution Business

Start A Solar Products Distribution Business

article

If you ask any entrepreneur, starting a business comes with its fair share of challenges.

Starting a solar products distribution business 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.

market size
$164B
gross margin
30%
time to build
24 months
growth channels
SEO
time investment
Side project
pros & cons
44 Pros & Cons
tips
9 Tips

💡 Introduction To Starting A Solar Products Distribution Business

Is Starting A Solar Products Distribution Business Right For You?

There are many factors to consider when starting a solar products distribution business.

We put together the main pros and cons for you here:

Pros of starting a solar products distribution business

• Rewarding work

Starting a solar products distribution business 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.

• Scalable

With businesses and processes changing daily, there will always be demand for new features, products and services for your business. Additionally, there are several different business models and pricing tiers you can implement that will allow you to reach all types of customers.

• Meaningful business connections

You never know who you will meet as a solar products distribution business. This could be the start of an incredible business opportunity!

• 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.

• Pick & choose the clients you work with

Solar Products Distribution Businesses have the ability to choose the clients they work with. You have the freedom to work with only a few loyal clients or with hundreds of clients!

• Unlimited income potential

With starting a solar products distribution business there is no cap as to how much income you can make. The stronger your business skills and the more energy/time you put into your career, the more you'll make.

• Daily physical activity

Solar Products Distribution Business'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.

• Predictable income stream

Your businesses income stream tends to be predictable based on the number of customers you have signed up. This makes financial planning and outlooks much more seamless!

• You can sell your product in various places!

There are various different markets to sell your product, which will help you reach different audiences and revenue streams.

• Simple business model

A solar products distribution business has the advantage of a simple business model, which makes launching and building the business more seamless.

• Strong Demand & Relatively Recession Proof

The demand for solar products distribution business is increasing year over year and the business is known to be relatively recession proof.

• You can promote and sell your product on Amazon

Although there are some disadvantages to consider when selling your product on Amazon, there are also a host of benefits. Mainly, Amazon is the world's largest online retailer, so you're bound to tap into new business and reach an entirely new audience.

• Make money while you sleep

The advantage of starting a solar products distribution business is that you have the ability to have passive income and make money while you sleep. This is the dream for many entrepreneurs.

• Low maintenance customers

In this industry, customers are known to be very appreciative and low maintenance. This can help with your stress levels and allow you to focus on growing your business.

Cons of starting a solar products distribution business

• Crowded Space

Competition is high when it comes to your solar products distribution business, so it's important that you spend a good amount of time analyzing the market and understanding where the demand lies.

• 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.

• Longer Sales Process

A solar products distribution business can be a big time and money investment for your customer, so it's important you plan and predict a longer conversion funnel and stay in communication with potential customers.

• Low margins

The gross margins for your solar products distribution business are typically around 30%, which can make it more challenging to incur new expenses and maintain profitability.

• High employee turnover

In the solar products distribution business, 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.

• Work can be inconsistent

As a solar products distribution business, the amount of work assigned to you and schedule tends to be more inconsistent, which may make your income less stable. It's important to set boundaries and budget accordingly based on the amount of work you plan to have.

• Lack of benefits

With a solar products distribution business, you are typically self-employed and responsible for finding your own insurance, which can be quite costly and time-consuming.

• Isolation

Often times, as a solar products distribution business, you typically work alone and do not have much face-to-face interaction with other team members.

• Taxes

As a solar products distribution business, 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 starting a solar products distribution business, 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

• Strict regulations

With any solar products distribution business, 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 solar products distribution business can be quite complex, which may cause delays and challenges when launching and growing your product.

• Complex maintenance

Your solar products distribution business 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.

• 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 solar products distribution business, you are more likely to run your business out of your office or storefront space.

• Minimal physical activity

A big part of starting a solar products distribution business 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.

• Work is not always glamorous

With starting a solar products distribution business, 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.

• The job can be demanding

This is one of the major disadvantages starting a solar products distribution business. 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 solar products distribution business. 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 solar products distribution business 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 solar products distribution business 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 solar products distribution business 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 solar products distribution business. 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.

Players

Big Players

Small Players

Search Interest

Let's take a look at the search trends for over the last year:

How To Name Your Solar Products Distribution Business

It's important to find a catchy name for your solar products distribution business so that you can stand out in your space.

Here are some general tips to consider when naming your solar products distribution business

  • 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 solar products distribution business 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 solar products distribution business.

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 solar products distribution business:

  • Courtesy Rays check availability
  • Early check availability
  • Young Sunlight check availability
  • Pre Heating check availability
  • Argyle Willow Trading Co check availability
  • Heating Group check availability
  • Boulder Solar check availability
  • The Luni check availability
  • The Inter Sunlight check availability
  • Non Sol Place check availability
  • RoyalSolar check availability
  • Old check availability
  • Sunlight Spot check availability
  • Secular Photovoltaic check availability
  • Argyle Renewable check availability
  • Extra Sunlight check availability
  • Ruiz check availability
  • Luni Renewable check availability
  • Extra check availability
  • Joker Solar check availability
  • Sun Pro check availability
  • Mean Heating Trading Co check availability
  • Ancient check availability
  • Total check availability
  • Sub Solari check availability
  • Voter Solar check availability
  • Vial Soil Place check availability
  • Sunshine Spot check availability
  • The Old check availability
  • The Sub Renewable check availability
  • The Young check availability
  • Soil Spot check availability
  • Shoulder Solar check availability
  • True Sunscreen Pro check availability
  • The Low Sun check availability
  • Habitable Sunlight Co check availability
  • Vial Rays Co check availability
  • The Sub check availability
  • Luni Sunshine Pro check availability
  • Sola Solar check availability
  • PreSolar check availability
  • Sub Willow check availability
  • Inter Photovoltaic Place check availability
  • Floater Solar check availability
  • Luni check availability
  • CourtesySolar check availability
  • Photovoltaic Co check availability
  • Courtesy check availability
  • Molars Solar check availability
  • The Passive Sunshine check availability
  • Sunshine Co check availability
  • The Courtesy Sunshine check availability
  • Royal Sunlight Trading Co check availability
  • Royal Willow Spot check availability
  • Non Sunshine check availability

How To Create A Slogan For Your Solar Products Distribution Business:

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 solar products distribution business:

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 solar products distribution business:

From Active Voice To Supine

Solar The Only Way To Fly.

Direct Watts Are What We Do

Passive Willow, Mean Soil

Solar For President.

Luni Solar, Redefined

Habitable And Fathomable

The Too Good To Hurry Solar.

From Retrograde To Lead

Non Solar, Better Results

Incoming Is What We Do

It's A Beautiful Solar.

We're With The Solar.

Lay Of The Sun

Solar, It's As Simple As That!

That's Handy, Harry! Stick It In The Solar.

The Ultimate Solar Machine.

Behold The Power Of Solar.

Indirect Solar, We're Commiitted

Designed For Solar, Engineered To Last.

🎬 How To Start A Solar Products Distribution Business

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How Much Does It Cost To Start A Solar Products Distribution Business

If you are planning to start a solar products distribution business, 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 starting a solar products distribution business and outline the costs you should expect for each:

  • The estimated minimum starting cost = $6,672
  • The estimated maximum starting cost = $68,186
Startup Expenses: Average expenses incurred when starting a solar products distribution business. 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 rent out for your business. To minimize costs, you may want to consider starting your business from home or renting an office in a coworking space. $0 $2,000
Utility Costs (office space): This refers to the first month's utility bill for your office space. If you are not responsible for this bill, this would not apply to starting your solar products distribution business. $0 $150
Office Supplies: Although these may seem like minor costs, things like your desks, chairs, pens, paper, filing cabinets do add up. In general, all the necessary things that you can use in the office regularly are included as Office Supplies. However, to avoid these adding up too much, try to be as lean as possible and go paperless! $30 $100
Total Office Space Expenses $30 (min) $2,250 (max)
Employee & Freelancer Expenses
Payroll: 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. $0 $4,000
Other Employee Expenses: Aside from payroll and benefits, there are other costs associated with hiring employees. This includes the cost to advertise the job, the time it takes to interview candidates, and any potential turnover that may result from hiring the wrong candidate. $0 $1,000
Employee Reward Ideas: It's important to recognize and reward employees - whether they hit their goals or are doing an exceptional job. This doesn't have to cost you a lot - simply taking them out to lunch, giving them a gift card or offering a pay-check bonus are all ways to recognize your employee! Here are 65 ways to reward your employees. $0 $500
Total Employee & Freelancer Expenses $0 (min) $5,500 (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: To get started, you may want to consider getting basic cleaning supplies. Note, that you may not need to buy all the cleaning tools and supplies at first. You can consider purchasing in bulk down the road. $25 $500
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 $525 (min) $6,000 (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 solar products distribution business. $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
A Patent: Patents provide protection against others stealing or selling your idea.Securing a patent can be very valuable, but it's important that you are 100% sure this will be a smart business move for you, or if this is something to consider down the line.The process of securing a US patent can be both lengthy and pricey, and typically includes filing an application with the USPTO. $5,000 $15,000
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 $5,600 (min) $20,400 (max)
Inventory Expenses
Upfront Costs For Inventory: This includes all upfront inventory you will need in order to launch. Be sure to compare prices of wholesalers to ensure you're getting the best deal and margins remain high. $300 $5,000
Inventory Storage: If you decide to have a physical space for your solar products distribution business, 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
Package Design: Packaging refers to wrapping and protecting products during distribution, shipping, and sales.Your package design is your customer's first impression of your brand, so it's important you spend some time and energy to get this right from the start.Many businesses design their own packages using design software and tools. There is always the option to outsource this to a design expert, but that route tends to be much more expensive. $50 $3,000
Shrinkage: Shrinkage refers to the loss of inventory at any point between the purchase from your supplier and the purchase by your customer. Although you will try to avoid this at all costs, this does happen sometimes (especially in the learning stages of your business), and it's important to plan ahead financially in case this happens. Fortune states that retail shrinkage costs U.S. retailers approximately 1.4 percent of their total sales. $0 $1,000
Distribution costs: Depending on what distribution plan you choose, expenses such as renting vans, hiring delivery drivers and gas costs can add up. If you are looking to save money upfront, you may want to consider conducting distribution on your own. $0 $750
Total Inventory Expenses $350 (min) $14,750 (max)
Vehicle Expenses
Mode of Transporation: For your solar products distribution business you'll need to rent or purchase an operating vehicle such as a van, vessel, RV, or enclosed trailer. $0 $10,000
Fuel: Fuel costs vary on the area that you practice and the length you drive per day. $50 $500
Total Vehicle Expenses $50 (min) $10,500 (max)
Training & Education Expenses
Online Learning Sites: With a solar products distribution business, 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 solar products distribution business. 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)
Other Expenses
Travel: Often times, solar products distribution business 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)
Website Costs
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
Email hosting: Email is a critical piece for running your business. Once you have your domain name, you will want to set up email accounts for each user on your team. The most common email hosts are GSuite (typically starting at $6+ per user, per month) or Microsoft Office (typically starting at $5+ per user, per month). The number of email accounts you set up will determine the monthly cost breakdown. $5 $75
Total Website Costs $17 (min) $275 (max)
Food Business Expenses
Initial Ingredients: To get your solar products distribution business started, you will need to purchase initial ingredients to test recipes and eventually create your final product. $25 $500
Total Food Business Expenses $25 (min) $500 (max)
Retail Business Expenses
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
Total Retail Business Expenses $0 (min) $950 (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)
Software Expenses
Accounting & Invoicing Software: It's important to have an accounting system and process in place to manage financials, reporting, planning and tax preparation. Here are the 30 best accounting tools for small businesses. $0 $50
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) $275 (max)
Specific Industry Expenses
Handyman Tools: To start your solar products distribution business, you will need to have the essential tools to bring to each job. Here's a list of tools to get you started - you may find that you already have these in your tool-kit or garage! $0 $500
Total Specific Industry Expenses $0 (min) $500 (max)
Total Starting Costs $6,672 (min) $68,186 (max)

Raising Money For Your Solar Products Distribution Business

Here are the most common ways to raise money for your solar products distribution business:

Bootstrapping

You may not need funding for your solar products distribution business.

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

Business Accelerator

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

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 Starting A Solar Products Distribution Business?

As a solar products distribution business, 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:

Design Skills

Whether you are the one designing the product or the decision-maker for the product, an eye for design is critical when starting a solar products distribution business. 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 starting a solar products distribution business include digital marketing skills, branding experience, and basic business knowledge.

Business Savvy Skills

When starting a solar products distribution business, 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 starting a solar products distribution business.

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 solar products distribution business 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.

*Negotiation Skills

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 solar products distribution business, 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 solar products distribution business. 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 Starting A Solar Products Distribution Business

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 starting a solar products distribution business:

Colin McIntosh, founder of Sheets & Giggles ($200K/month):

Build a business model first, not a product. So many entrepreneurs spend time and money building a solution for a problem they perceive without ever validating that it’s a viable business.

Read the full interview ➜

-

Ashley Drummonds, founder of ABS Protein Pancakes ($25K/month):

See your entrepreneurial journey as a marathon and not a sprint. It’s the daily things you do that keep you moving forward.

Read the full interview ➜

-

Harris Derner, founder of Brine Brothers ($10K/month):

We invested a total of $11,000 in 2016 and had a business valuation of $200,000 3 years later.

Read the full interview ➜

-

Michael Vahey, founder of Breathe Healthy ($90K/month):

Don’t let the naysayers bother you: they are probably just jealous anyway.

Read the full interview ➜

-

Write a Business Plan

Writing a business plan from the start is critical for the success of your solar products distribution business.

Why?

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 Solar Products Distribution Business (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.

Learn more about securing the right permits and licenses ➜

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.

2. Salary

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.

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To learn more about how to pay yourself and what is a reasonable amount, check out this article.

How To Price Your

One of the most challenging aspects to starting a solar products distribution business is determining how much to charge for your .

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 , it's critical that you first identify all of your costs and consequently mark up your so you can factor in a profit.

The actual cost of your may include things like:

  • The actual cost to make the product (ie. raw materials, supplies, manufacturer).
  • Shipping + overhead fees
  • Rent
  • 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 , you'll want to create goals for revenue + how much profit you want your solar products distribution business to make.

This process is simpler than you may think:

  1. Think about your breakeven cost (by completing the above step).
  2. Create a revenue goal based on your break-even cost
  3. Evaluate the # of items you plan to sell in a given period (make sure this is a realistic number)
  4. 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 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 fits best in the marketplace.

All of these factors play an equal part in pricing your , 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

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 solar products distribution business.

Calculate your gross margin and profit margin here.

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.

Manufacturing Your Product In House

It's also very common to manufacture your on your own - either from your home or in a commercial space.

In order to get the product right, you may want to consider experimenting with different designs and recipes until you find the perfect one.

Some founders choose to manufacture their product in-house so that they can control quality, manage costs, and easily handle production/logistics.

Down the road, you can always choose to outsource your .

🚀 How To Launch Your Solar Products Distribution Business

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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).

  1. Pick a domain name that's easy to remember and easy to type
  2. Choose a Web Hosting Plan (ie. Shopify, Squarespace)
  3. Make sure you choose the right theme and design
  4. 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.

Web Design

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 Solar Products Distribution Business:

There are various different ways you can launch your solar products distribution business successfully.

Here are a few different strategies to get customers excited about your solar products distribution business:

  • 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 Solar Products Distribution Business

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🏃🏼‍♀️ How To Run Your Solar Products Distribution Business

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How To Retain Customers For Your Solar Products Distribution Business

Retaining customers is one of the most effective ways to grow your solar products distribution business.

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 solar products distribution business:

  • 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

Resources

We put together the best resources on the internet to help you start your solar products distribution business.

Tools

Books

Web Resources

Videos

Case Studies

Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story

Want to start your own business?

Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.

We interview successful business owners and share the stories behind their business. By sharing these stories, we want to help you get started.

Interested in starting your own business? Join Starter Story Premium to get the greatest companion to starting and growing your business:

  • Connect + get advice from successful entrepreneurs
  • Step by step guides on how to start and grow
  • Exclusive and early access to the best case studies on the web
  • And much more!

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