While a Pagan-based business may be similar to other start-up businesses in many respects, there are also a few key issues that Pagan entrepreneurs have to face which may be non-existent for their non-Pagan counterparts. If you're thinking of starting up your own Pagan-based business, such as a bookstore, a candle shop, or an energy-work studio, there are a few things you should probably keep in mind before you begin.
Before You Open Your Doors:
I once got an email from a very nice lady who said she wanted to start a Pagan business, but didn't know what to sell. Well, if you want to run a Pagan shop of any type, it's a good idea to do some homework first. Visit other Pagan shops in your area. If there aren't any, go visit some in other areas. Talk to people in the Pagan community near you, and ask them what sorts of things they'd want to see in a business they patronized.
Know your market. Talk to people in the Pagan community -- and if you aren't part of that community, now's the time to get involved, before you open your business. Find out what size the local Pagan population is. Figure out where they're currently shopping, and why. In some major cities there are no Pagan stores at all -- how come? Is it because the Pagans are shopping somewhere online, or is it because they have no money to spend? Has there been a shop near you before that has closed its doors? Why did it fail?
Understand zoning issues. Nothing is worse than having your Grand Opening shut down because you forgot to file some zoning paperwork. If you're opening a brick and mortar shop, be sure that everything you're doing complies with local ordinances. Check zoning regulations, particularly if your business includes divination or energy work. Be sure you've completed the appropriate paperwork and forms for a business license as well.
Once You've Opened
Because the Pagan community often has no place to meet, any store or shop that can offer meeting or classroom space will automatically become a gathering place. If possible, try to make a space available that people can rent or use for classes, workshops, study groups and other events.
Network with other Pagan business owners. No one wants their shop shut down because of some stupid "witch war," so it's a good idea to become familiar with the other Pagan store owners in your area. If you have Pagan customers who run home-based businesses, such as candle making or jewelry crafting, consider offering them display space in your store on a consignment basis -- this means you don't pay them for the product until it sells.
Meet the non-Pagan business owners in your area. The nice lady who runs the tea shop across the street from you isn't Pagan, and she'll probably never set foot in your store, which means she might have all kinds of misconceptions about who you are and what you're doing over there. Go over and introduce yourself, make it clear that you're as normal as she is, and establish a relationship.
Remember that if you're a Pagan business owner, you may well become the local "public face of Paganism," and it's possible you may find yourself contacted by the mainstream media. Have a plan in place in case this happens - know in advance what you'll say about your beliefs to friendly reporters who drop in for a surprise chat.
Build your business with shameless self-promotion. Once you've got your doors open, get out there and promote yourself in the Pagan community. Set up a website so you can take orders online, if possible. Attend fairs, festivals, and public events whenever you can. Take advantage of social networking, and create a Facebook page, a Twitter feed, or whatever it takes to spread the word that your store is open for business.
Keep in mind that any new Pagan business will attract a variety of clientele. Admittedly, some of those people may be what we'd politely call "odd." Be fair, and respect the fact that there are going to be a wide range of people with a wide range of beliefs shopping at your store. Not everyone who stops in will follow the Wiccan Rede, the rule of three, or other guidelines that you might hold dear. Be respectful of the differences in the many Pagan paths.
Also, because there tend to be some people in the Pagan community who are, for lack of a better term, energy suckers, before you open your doors each day it's not a bad idea to put a bit of magical energy into your shop. Cleanse the space at the end of each work day, and be sure you keep yourself shielded from any potential "psychic vampires" you may encounter.