Focusing on an industry sector that sees periodic bursts of flurried activity is a great way to start a side business. You can make the bulk of your money in a short amount of time without much hassle. With any luck, such a side business becomes a full-time career. Fireworks are great because they’re popular for several major holidays, celebrations and boast decent returns. It’s not that hard to start a fireworks business if you know what you’re getting into beforehand. Use the following blueprint to launch your own fireworks concern.
Figure Out a Niche
There are so many different types of fireworks and fireworks buyers out there that it’s hard to know where to start. The old standbys such as M-80s and Silver Salutes are now illegal, so its is best to find a niche based on who will be buying your goods. Will you be a purveyor of novelty fireworks or the more generic variety? Do a little market research to figure out what’s currently popular with different consumer demographics.
Decide on a Business Model
Most fireworks distributors buy their goods in bulk from China and sell them to the public stateside. You could offer your fireworks exclusively online, operate a bricks-and-mortar shop or do a combination of the two. Setting up a booth at local events where fireworks are likely to be used such as a Fourth of July parade is the best way to maximize profits. The key is to figure out how you want to move your fireworks inventory to the consumers at the end of the pipeline.
Get Trained and Certified
Naturally, running a fireworks business requires an entrepreneur to educate themselves regarding safe handling and transportation. The American Pyrotechnics Association is a great resource when it comes to learning technical aspects of the business. If you’re directly importing fireworks from another country, you’ll need a license from the ATF. Keep in mind that the laws governing the handling and sale of fireworks vary from state to state. A familiarity with the legality of certain types of explosives in different jurisdictions is essential when running a fireworks business.
Deal with the Paperwork
First things first, get a business license from your state and structure your company. Set up an LLC or an S corp and trademark your brand name. Keep in mind that many municipalities have restrictions related to explosives businesses operating within their borders. Check with your local authorities to make sure that there are no surprises on the regulatory front. If you’re going to be hiring part-time help, get an EIN from the IRS and contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for safety information.
Lock Down Supply Chains
At some point, you’ll need to actually acquire the fireworks to sell to your customers. A small fireworks stand can be launched for less than $1,000 if you play your cards right. Most consumer-grade pyrotechnics are made in Asia. To begin with, you’ll probably want to start with a wholesale distributor like Black Cat Fireworks, TNT Fireworks orSpirit of 76. Later on you can think about directly contacting overseas manufacturers for better deals on your inventory if the business grows to an appropriate size.
Set Up a Commercial Space
Regardless of how you structure your business or sell to customers, plenty of storage space is a must. When you’re first starting out, any dry basement that’s secure should do just fine. At a certain point, you may need to upgrade to dedicated warehouse space. If you plan on operating a retail store, look for a location that’s close to commercial centers to attract walk-in customers. If you plan on selling your fireworks on the road, a good trailer or tent is advisable.
Market to the Masses
Set up a website for your business that you can direct traffic towards from other profiles online. Use social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Yelp and Instagram to promote your wares to interested parties. Local radio spots are a great way to boost sales when you need them the most around the holidays. Passing out flyers and business cards in the weeks leading up to major holidays and festivals can be highly productive. Contact local events companies and wedding planners to move bulk amounts of product.
Master the Pricing Game
The great thing about fireworks is that they’re fairly cheap but can be marked up as much as 200%. The only problem is that the competition in the fireworks business is pretty stiff since the barrier to entry is so low. Fine-tuning your price structure will therefore be of the utmost importance. Start out at barely break even prices to build initial demand for your goods. Gradually bump up your prices until you’ve figured out what customers are willing to happily pay for your merchandise.
Building Out the Empire
Fireworks have been a popular diversion for over 1,000 years. As such, it’s unlikely that they’ll go out of style anytime soon. Regardless, there’s more than one way to profit from fireworks. For instance, you could get licensed as a fireworks operator and put on professional shows yourself. You might even sell e-books that show people how to start their own fireworks enterprises. The point is that a fireworks business can take many forms and provide a great income with a little diversification.