Young Upstarts

All about entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship, ideas, innovation, and small business.

How To Start A Tobacco Alternative Business: A Step By Step Guide

Tobacco alternatives are a hot commodity these days, with so many smokers looking to turn away from the harmful habit. Companies like Black Buffalo have shown us that tobaccoless alternatives are real, effective, and affordable, and now there’s an emerging market you might want to get a hand in.

If you’re thinking about starting a tobacco alternative business, we’ve put together this short guide on the step-by-step process. It all starts with an idea.

Start With An Idea.

Everything starts with an idea. The idea acts as the foundation of your business, growing from a small seed to a budding profitable entity with the right care and attention. That being said, an idea by itself isn’t enough; you’ll need to perform some research to see if your idea would even attract an audience or have a place in the industry you’re looking to work in.

Look for gaps in the market that you can capitalize on. Even if you’re doing something similar to your competitors, the key is to do it better or with more originality. Expect fierce competition in pretty much any market you enter, but don’t let that stop you, either.

Don’t Forget About Big Tobacco.

If you’re stepping into the tobacco alternative space, you’re going to have to deal with big tobacco as a direct threat to your business. Make no mistake; big tobacco will do everything in their power to make their products more relevant, seem “safer” and more desirable, and downplay tobaccoless alternatives. After all, big tobacco has been earning billions of dollars for nearly 50 years now, and they’re not about to stop.

The tobacco industry has a lot of money invested in their products, advertisements, and also in the right places to ensure they keep their profits. While tobacco lobbying has, luckily, declined in the past few years as greater awareness about their harmful products comes into the spotlight, they’re still a juggernaut to be reckoned with.

You’ll be taking on one of the oldest and largest industries in the country, and that’s no easy task. You’ll need to have a top-notch product to make an impact.

Quality Is First and Foremost.

The quality of your product should absolutely be your first priority. The quality of what you’re selling will make all the difference in your success. If you’ve ever purchased something you felt you didn’t get your money’s worth for, you understand the pain of poor consumer choices. Give your customers not only a product they’ll remember but an experience they won’t forget.

The success of tobaccoless alternatives lies in their likeness to tobacco products. For example, tobaccoless chew is so popular because it looks, feels, tastes, and even smells like the real thing! You can hardly tell the difference, but it isn’t tobacco, so life-long tobacco users are making the switch for the sake of their health.

Embrace Feedback.

In the early stages of development, you might get poor feedback on your product. Don’t take this as a personal slight, but rather constructive criticism for the sake of building a better product for your customers. Even if the criticism comes directly from your customers, it’s not designed to tear you down. It’s easy to take criticism personally, but listening closely to it is the only way your business will be able to grow and adapt to industry changes and customer needs.

Follow Laws and Guidelines.

You’ll need to research any laws or guidelines regarding your product before you design your packaging. The FDA may require you to provide certain information or warning labels. In the case of nicotine, you must disclose if your product has nicotine in it, as well as provide a warning label regarding the addictive properties of nicotine.

This is simply to protect the consumer and let them know that the products they’re purchasing could potentially cause addiction. The FDA has plenty of rules and regulations regarding tobacco, but very few for tobacco-free products. Do your research, and get in touch with the FDA to ensure you’re in compliance.

Build Relationships.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can launch an entire empire by yourself. Success in any industry requires relationships. Strong relationships can help your business thrive during tough times, expose you to new opportunities, and provide you with a solid support base for your entrepreneurial dreams.

Don’t Neglect Your Employees.

The biggest mistake you can make as a new business (besides neglecting the customer) s neglecting your employees. The way you treat your employees can make all the difference in your productivity, as well as the relationship you share with your team. Treat employees well, offer benefits when you can, and pay them fairly for their labor. Don’t become one of those shady businesses that treats its employees poorly; you’ll pay for it one way or another later.

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Young Upstarts is a business and technology blog that champions new ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship. It focuses on highlighting young people and small businesses, celebrating their vision and role in changing the world with their ideas, products and services.

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