How to Start a Taxidermy Business
If you have some taxidermy skills and want to know how you can turn your hobby into a business, you’ve come to the right page!
Many people don’t realize that they can turn their taxidermy business into a successful, full-time business.
It all starts with forming your business correctly, setting up your business for success with the proper tools and then spending time marketing and advertising.
It may sound hard, but it is not as hard as you think!
Today we are going to discuss how to start a taxidermy business so that you can turn your hobby and talent into a successful business!
How to Start a Taxidermy Business
Choose a Business Name
The first thing you will need to do is select a name for your taxidermy business.
It is always a good idea to select a name that is easy for customers to remember so that they can refer you without having to look you up the spelling of your name because it is too complicated.
You will want to check if the business name you want is available.
You can check name availability at your local Secretary of State website.
There are some business naming resources that you can use like Domain Name Search from MyCompany Works.
This helps you identify available domain names before you register which can be helpful in determining general name availability.
You are not required to reserve a name before starting your business, but if you are afraid someone else might use the name, then you may want to consider doing a name reservation.
They cost around $25, depending on your state, and they give you name exclusivity for 30 – 90 days so that you have time to form your business without worrying about the name you’ve already chosen.
You can also choose to trademark your business name so that someone else doesn’t use it – learn more about that here.
Register your Business as an LLC
Before getting your first customers, you will need to legally form your business.
Once you have a name, you’ll need to decide on a business structure.
There are several business structures to choose from including sole proprietorship, limited liability company (LLC), Corporation, etc.
You will want to consult an attorney if you are not sure which business structure to choose.
You can also use a formation service to help you setup your business.
Some of them are free + State Fee!
Many small business owners choose an LLC (limited liability company) because it provides limited liability protection to you as the owner and it benefits from pass-through taxation.
It provides a flexible business structure and is fairly simple to set up.
Why business owners choose an LLC:
- Business owners are not liable for the company’s debts and can choose their own management structure.
- They qualify for pass-through taxation – meaning that profits are only taxed once.
For example, if your LLC declares bankruptcy or is sued, your personal assets such as your vehicle, personal bank accounts, and house are safe.
Each business structure has its own advantages and features but for the majority of small businesses, an LLC is going to be the best choice.
LLC’s are simple, flexible and protect your personal assets.
Here is a quick checklist of things you need to complete to form your business:
- Select a business entity type: Sole proprietor, LLC, Corporation, etc.
- Obtain an EIN (Employer Identification Number) from the IRS – once your application is completed online, you will receive an EIN instantly.
- Register your business locally in the State in which you will be conducting business. This is done with the Secretary of State in the state where you will be doing business.
- Obtain any business licenses or permits required in your State to operate a taxidermy business. These can also be found at your local Secretary of State website. Most states require some sort of licenses or permits so you will want to do a quick google search on this one.
Set up the Business
Now that you’ve chosen a business name and have legally formed your business, you will want to complete a few more key steps:
- Open a business checking account (you will need an EIN to do this)
- Setup a way to manage your accounting whether it be a software program or spreadsheet to begin. This will help you track your income and expenses.
- Create a “media kit” that outlines your rates, services and offerings.
- Create a website where people can visually see what services you offer, your rates, and photos of taxidermy work that you have done. Your website should also clearly state your business hours, address (if you have a physical location where clients can walk in), and contact information.
- If you plan on having employees work for you, setup a payroll system or a way to pay your 1099 contractors.
Inventory and Supplies
Taxidermists need certain tools to do their work and the initial investment can be a little high, however, most of these tools should last a while and can be reused, saving you money over time.
Some inventory and supplies that you will need to start include:
- Fleshing hand tools
- Measuring tools
- Mounting stands and accessories
- Taxidermy blowers and dryers
- Special taxidermy knives
- Form prep
- Mixing, modeling and tucking tools
- Taxidermy hand tools such as scalpels, ear openers, scissors, knives, etc.
- Painting tools
- Grooming tools
- Cape stretchers
- Taxidermy machinery such as Dakota Fleshers, Bird Fleshers, etc.
- Stuffing supplies
These supplies and equipment can be purchased online, at local outdoor stores, and other taxidermy suppliers.
Marketing and Advertising
Now that you have everything needed to open your doors, you will want to start marketing and advertising to get your name out there.
Social media outlets like Facebook and Instagram are great ways to get your information out.
You can also join online forums where people post questions or general taxidermy topics.
You will also want to see if you can drop materials off at local outdoor stores or stores that sell taxidermy supplies.
Once you start building a customer list, encourage your customers to refer you and offer them an incentive like a gift card or discount on their next project.
Lastly, the best thing you can do is to offer an excellent service and excellent work so that you can get repeat customers who willingly refer you to their friends.
A satisfied customer is more likely to come back or to refer you when the opportunity comes up.
Believe it or not, the taxidermy business is always changing and evolving and educating yourself on the changes are going to make you stand out from the crowd.
Most states have associations and annual shows were you can go and sit in on seminars and listen to presenters sharing their own techniques.
These are usually leaders in the industry and so you will be surprised how much you can learn from someone who is wiling to share their techniques.