Let’s Talk About Sex: Small Business, Big Concept

5 03 2010

by Monica Jackson

Sex sells. This idea is constantly presented as both justification and validation for sex and sex appeal, which is increasingly dominating consumer marketing and advertising imagery within the media. Regardless of your moral judgment on the matter, this trend is ostensible inevitable. Consumerism and sex go together like chocolate on a strawberry, whipped cream and nuts on a sundae… And in an economy like this, selling sex may be the way to go, so why not start a sex business?

Sex shops, like Leather Sport in Chicago's Lakeview neighbohood, are potential niches for your small business. Photo courtesy of about.com.

While selling sex is a quirky and fun business niche, opening a sex shop can prove to be a long and difficult process. Still, if you are determined to tackle entrepreneurship and open this taboo, and at times offensive, small business, there are steps to make the process as simple as possible.

When starting a new business, there are a few steps that are important to get it off the ground (courtesy of BusinessTown.com).  The first step is choosing a business idea.  This step may seem obvious but it is important because often people who want to become entrepreneurs do not have an idea in mind for their business. In addition, this is important because it also directs how an entrepreneur will approach starting their business (franchise, start up business, etc.) Once an idea is established, the real work begins. For the purpose of these blog, our business idea is a sex shop.

The next step is developing a business plan, which is important for planning how to run your business and for attracting financers and lenders. A plan is essential for developing your business and marketing strategies.

The third step is financing, which for a small business usually means three options: asking friends and family to invest, enticing outside investors, or taking out a bank loan. All three options have business implications: some investors – and sometimes even friends and family – will want partial ownership or control in the business. If taking out loans, entrepreneurs can expect expenses to add up fast, and that can set back business profit.

The fourth step is managing legal issues, which means picking a legal structure (sole proprietor, partnership, or corporation) and filing the business with the state to receive your federal identification number. Starting your business as a sole proprietor is the easiest legal structure to choose. The proprietor only has to acquire the proper licenses needed to start their business (most small business owners choose this structure initially, choosing to possibly explore partnership or corporate status as the business expands).

The final step is to get your business ready for its grand opening, which means deciding on a location, the amount of space appropriate for your business, if an accountant is necessary to do the bookkeeping, and what taxes will be collected and paid. Once you have all the business and legal parts under control, then comes the fun part: creating the store of your dreams. Envision what your store’s interior will look like. Depending on the type of atmosphere you want to create you can arrange the store to emulate your wildest fantasies and simulate your clientele or you can create an atmosphere that makes customers feel safe and normal while purchasing sex items. In an interview with MSNBC.com, Kim Airs, owner of two sex shops located in Massachusetts and California, talks about how she developed the atmosphere for her stores. In the interview, Airs says that she used soft color tones within her store and placed the erotic book collection at the front of the stores to make customers feel comfortable with their sex and their sexual needs. “I’m giving people permission to say, ‘This is OK.’ You do not have to feel shameful, degraded, bad, [or] sinful. Sex is a beautiful part of life,” Airs said.

Another option is to intertwine the stores concept with a theme in the product. For example, Leather Sport, located in Chicago’s Lakeview area, has a leather theme featured in the products of its store. Ultimately, the choice of a theme and the vibe it presents is up to you, you just have to make sure your customers are hip to it.

A sex shop as a small business can be a great way to lay the foundations of your future as an entrepreneur. So do enjoy the ride. Spank you very much!

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