“What is your zip code?” The cursor patiently blinked on the monitor’s screen for Thimble’s website.
I entered my zip code.
“What sort of business are you in?”
After typing “candle,” a pop up menu gave me a choice of being an Etsy vendor, an on-line candle vendor, or a candle maker.
I clicked the option for on-line candle vendor since I was looking for product liability insurance as opposed to insurance as a candle maker for my workshop, tools, and equipment.
A pop up told me that liability insurance, “Covers third-party property damage, bodily injury, and personal and advertising injury. That means the everyday accidents that can happen on the job: slip and falls, flying tools, or spilling coffee on a customer’s laptop—you get the idea.”
After acknowledging that this was the option that I wanted, I was asked to confirm that my business would not be generating more than $500,000 per year and that my candle products were not gel based.
As soon as I verified this, Thimble gave me a quote for $96.73 per month. Since this seemed a bit steep, I closed the window and looked for another provider.
Google offered me CoverWallet as an alternate choice. After clicking on the website, I completed a brief questionnaire. After entering my name, contact information, the name of my company, and submitting a brief description about Tasty-Candles’ retail products, I was invited to call a toll free number for a free insurance quote.
“Hello,” greeted a voice over the phone. “My name is Mike and thank you for calling Cover Wallet for all of your insurance needs.” Mike’s voice had a thick Indian accent. I could hear a lot of other voices in the background and thought that Mike might be working at a call center. “Before proceeding further, could I please confirm your contact information?” After confirming my phone number and email address, Mike transferred me to an insurance agent who was also named Mike. New Mike’s English sounded mid-western.
“I understand that you’re looking for product liability insurance for Tasty-Candles,” observed Mike. “Let me get a bit more information from you and I’ll get you some quotes.”
“Are you an LLC (limited liability corporation)?”
I shook my head before remembering that I was on the phone. “Tasty-Candles is a sole proprietorship.”
“Do you have a commercial bank account? The reason I’m asking is because one of the insurance providers will only accept payments from a commercial bank account.”
“I just opened a commercial bank account. This would not be a problem.”
“Do you have a business website?”
“Not at this time. The business is not yet operational. Prior to becoming operational, I wanted to purchase product liability insurance. I can give you my blog website. The blog will link to the e-commerce business once the virtual store is up and running.” I gave Mike the address to Tasty-Candles.
“Is ###-###-#### a good number to reach you at?”
“Yes, but would it be possible to send me an email? I’m a high school teacher and I can’t take calls during class.”
“My sister is also a teacher,” replied Mike. “I quite understand. I will email you two different quotes.”
“Could you at least give me a ballpark figure on what this might cost?”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t do that,” apologized Mike. “I’ve had customers get upset if the quote comes in just a few dollars more than my estimate. I’ll check with the carriers and will get back with you as soon as possible.”
Within 24 hours I received an email from New Mike. “Here are your quotes,” said the header. When I opened the email I found a message asking me to call for an insurance quote. In looking at my phone after work, I saw that someone (probably New Mike) from CoverWallet had already called me several times even though I had mentioned that phoning me was not the best way for establishing contact.
Since getting a quote from CoverWallet was proving to be unduly cumbersome, I opted for visiting a third insurance provider called Next. The site asked me how my company was structured (sole proprietorship), how many employees I had (none), and what I expected my annual income to be ($6,000 based on goggled statistics for start-up candlemakers). I was given an on-line quote for a little over $30 a month. This was 1/3rd of what Thimble had wanted.
It took me less than three minutes to get this quote from Next. I purchased the insurance and downloaded proof of liability coverage.
I am now one step closer to launching Tasty-Candles as an on-line business. I am licensed to sell my candles in Nevada. I have a certified DBA (doing business as) registered with the county clerk. I have product liability insurance. I even have a logo.
My tax accountant is aware that I’m launching a business and I have organized all of my receipts into an electronic folder with a spreadsheet showing all of my debits along with the dates of these purchases, the name of each vendor, and a brief description of what was bought. The Nevada Department of Revenue will be mailing me a quarterly tax return later this month. Even though I have no income to yet report, I will still need to have the accountant file a return. The cost of having my accountant do this will be added to the debit column of my spreadsheet.
The problem that I blogged about with my commercial bank account was resolved with a short in-person visit to the bank earlier this week. According to the banker this problem occurred because the bank gave me the wrong account number. Insofar as everything is supposed to be electronic, I don’t see how this was even possible. Although I thought about closing the account and finding another bank that wouldn’t take 90 minutes to open a new account while also issuing erroneous account numbers, I decided to keep my funds where they were because it was convenient to do so. The banker seemed hugely relieved over this decision.
I am now going to spend part of today getting on-line access to my commercial bank account. Once I’ve done that, I will visit the Shop Nevada website to begin setting up my sales platform. I will also need to link this website to my bank account through a credit card processing company so that on-line purchases may be deposited to my commercial account. Once I have the virtual store up and running, I will link my blog to the store.
My launch date is still tentatively set for Saturday, October 23rd of this year.
As I write, I’ve noticed that the weather has gotten considerably cooler. It’s currently 64°F outside with a projected high of 81°F. The dog days of summer with outside temperatures soaring to 110°F are now thankfully gone. The cooler weather will be more conducive to shipping my candles without the added worry that they will partially melt in transit.
Tasty-Candles will be a seasonal business that operates from late October through May. It will be closed throughout the summer partially due to excessive heat but also so that I may enjoy my summer vacation while continuing to work at developing new inventory for my business.