Some 6.5 billion of the world’s 8 billion people, or 80 percent of humanity, use mobile phones as of 2022, according to research firm Statista. That number is growing steadily, along with the average cost of a phone. As a result, the smartphone accessories market, which is led by protective cases, is ripe with opportunity. If you have a creative touch and a gung-ho attitude, a custom phone case business could be your entrepreneurial avenue to success.
Of course, starting a successful phone case business will have its challenges and require hard work. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place, as this step-by-step guide will provide all the information you need to develop and launch your new business.
Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You
Pros and cons
All businesses, including a phone case business, have pros and cons that you need to consider thoroughly to decide if the business is right for you.
- Creativity – case design offers endless possibility
- Demand – everybody has a phone that needs protecting
- Simplicity — uncomplicated business model
- Profit potential – high margins mean good income
- Competition – saturated market, not easy to stand out
- Production – finding a good inexpensive manufacturer could be tough
- Choosing market – which phones will you make cases for?
Phone case industry trends
Because smartphones are today such a significant investment, costing up to $1,000 or more, consumers feel the need to protect them, thus driving sharp growth in the phone case market.
The expansion is led by increased smartphone use, which is expected to grow a further 30% by 2026, according to research firm Market Data Forecast.
Industry size and growth
- Industry size and past growth – Industry analyst Verified Market Research valued the global mobile phone protective cases market at over $21 billion in 2020.
- Growth forecast – The global market is predicted to grow further by around 7% annually through 2028.
Trends and challenges
Phone case trends are:
- Steady demand for accessories to protect mobile phones
- Consumers pick phone cases to make a statement
- Growing preference for cases with a slot for credit cards and ID and colorful abstract designs that pop
Challenges in the phone case industry include:
- Lack of universal standards in manufacturing phone cases
- Product defects and wrong measurements
- High level of competition
Cases for the most popular smartphones are experiencing strong growth. Market analyst IDC lists the top mobile phone companies worldwide in the first quarter of 2022:
- Samsung (24%)
- Apple (18%)
- Xiaomi (13%)
- Oppo (9%)
- Vivo (8%)
How much does it cost to start a phone case business?
Startup costs for a phone case business range from around $4,500 to $30,000 with an average of around $17,000. At the low end, you can start with a phone case making kit to make your own cases and sell via an online marketplace like Amazon or Etsy to avoid the cost of creating your own website. The high-end option would include hiring a manufacturer to make your first batch of cases.
You’ll need a phone case making starter kit and a case design software to successfully launch your phone case business.
|Startup Costs||Ballpark Range||Average
|Setting up a business name and corporation||$150 - $200||$175
|Licenses and permits||$200 - $300||$250
|Insurance ||$100 - $300||$200
|Business cards and brochures||$200 - $300||$250
|Website setup ||$0 - $3,000||$1,500
|Phone case making kit or first manufacturing run||$3,500 - $25,000||$14,250
|Phone case design software||$500 - $1,000||$750
|Total||$4,650 - $30,100||$17,375
How much can you earn from a phone case business?
Making a phone case can cost as little as $2, while that case can then be sold at a retail price of $15, resulting in an approximately 85% profit margin.
If you’re a solopreneur, you could work from home and sell 2,000 units in a year, bringing in $30,000 in annual revenue and at least $25,000 in profit. As your brand gains recognition, sales could climb to 10,000 units a year. At this stage, you might rent an office and hire staff, reducing your margin to 50%. With expected annual revenue of $150,000, you’d make about $75,000.
What barriers to entry are there?
There are a few barriers to entry for a phone case business. Your biggest challenges will be:
- Competition – It’s a very saturated market
- Manufacturing – Finding a reliable and inexpensive producer can be tough
Related Business Ideas
If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
Step 2: Hone Your Idea
Now that you know what’s involved in starting a phone case business, it’s a good idea to hone your idea in preparation to enter a competitive market.
Why? Identify an opportunity
Examine the latest phone case designs and themes, and particularly those seeing strong sales, to come up with a concept for your own designs.
Try to find a unique approach or design to differentiate your products and stand out in a crowded market.
What? Determine your products or services
You’ll not only need to choose a list of designs that you want to make, but also determine your materials and which phones you’ll make cases for. You could choose the most common models, or choose less common models to create a niche market.
How much should you charge for phone cases?
The average price for a phone case in a marketplace like Amazon is between $10 – $20, but prices are often much higher. You should start at the low end at first until you start to gain traction with your business.
Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.
Who? Identify your target market
Your target market will depend on your designs. If your designs are fun and trendy, you may wish to target a younger audience found on sites like Instagram and TikTok.
Where? Choose your business premises
In the early stages, you may want to operate your business from home to keep costs low. But as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers for various roles. You may need to rent out a storefront or office for your operations. You can find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.
When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:
- Central location accessible via public transport
- Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
- Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
- Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
Step 3: Brainstorm a Business Name
Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.
Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:
- Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
- Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better
- The name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
- Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
- Including keywords, such as “phone case” or “phone protector”, boosts SEO
- Choose a name that allows for expansion: “Jim’s Bakery” over “Jim’s Cookies”
- Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
- Use online tools like the Step by Step Business Name Generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.
Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these.
Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that set your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.
Step 4: Create a Business Plan
Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:
- Executive Summary: Brief overview of the entire business plan; should be written after the plan is complete.
- Business Overview: Overview of the company, vision, mission, ownership, and corporate goals.
- Product and Services: Describe your phone case products in detail.
- Market Analysis: Assess market trends such as variations in demand and prospects for growth, and do a SWOT analysis.
- Competitive Analysis: Analyze main competitors, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and create a list of the advantages of your services.
- Sales and Marketing: Examine your companies’ unique selling propositions (USPs) and develop sales, marketing, and promotional strategies.
- Management Team: Overview of management team, detailing their roles and professional background, along with a corporate hierarchy.
- Operations Plan: Your company’s operational plan includes procurement, office location, key assets and equipment, and other logistical details.
- Financial Plan: Three years of financial planning, including startup costs, break-even analysis, profit and loss estimates, cash flow, and balance sheet.
- Appendix: Include any additional financial or business-related documents.
If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist at Fiverr to create a top-notch business plan for you.
Step 5: Register Your Business
Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.
Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business!
Choose where to register your company
Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to phone case manufacturing.
If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state.
Choose your business structure
Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your phone case business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely.
Here are the main options:
- Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
- General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
- C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
- S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using ZenBusiness’s online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have.
Step 6: Register for Taxes
The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN.
Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.
It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.
Step 7: Fund your Business
Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:
- Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
- SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
- Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
- Venture capital: Venture capital investors take an ownership stake in exchange for funds, so keep in mind that you’d be sacrificing some control over your business. This is generally only available for businesses with high growth potential.
- Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
- Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
- Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.
Bank and SBA loans are probably the best options, other than friends and family, for funding a phone case business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept.
Step 8: Apply for Licenses/Permits
Starting a phone case business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.
Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits.
You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more.
You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.
This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.
If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.
Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account
Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.
Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your phone case business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.
Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account.
Step 10: Get Business Insurance
Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.
Here are some types of insurance to consider:
- General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
- Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
- Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
- Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
- Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
- Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
- Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
- Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of any of the above insurance types.
Step 11: Prepare to Launch
As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business.
Essential software and tools
Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.
Design software, such as HAVIpropel, PhotoCenter3D, and PRINTFUL, can help turn you into a brilliant designer of phone cases.
- Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero.
- If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.
Some of your business will come from the casual passerby or online visitors, but you should still invest in digital marketing! Getting the word out is especially important for new businesses, as it’ll boost customer and brand awareness.
Once your website is up and running, link it to your social media accounts and vice versa. Social media is a great tool for promoting your business because you can create engaging posts that advertise your products:
- Facebook: Great platform for paid advertising, allows you to target specific demographics, like men under age 50 in the Cleveland area.
- Instagram: Same benefits as Facebook but with different target audiences.
- Website: SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Buy Now”. This can sharply increase purchases.
- Google and Yelp: For businesses that rely on local clientele, getting listed on Yelp and Google My Business can be crucial to generating awareness and customers.
Take advantage of your website, social media presence and real-life activities to increase awareness of your offerings and build your brand. Some suggestions include:
- Competitions and giveaways – Generate interest by offering prizes for customers who complete a certain action, such as 10% off for every purchase of 5 cases.
- Signage – Put up eye-catching signage at your store and website.
- Flyering – Distribute flyers in your neighborhood and at industry events.
- In-Person Sales – Offer your phone cases at local markets and trade shows.
- Post a video – Post a video about your phone cases. Use humor and maybe it will go viral!
- Limited edition – Offer a one-time version of your phone case.
- Seek out referrals – Offer incentives to generate customer referrals to new clients.
- Paid ads on social media – Choose sites that will reach your target market and do targeted ads.
- Pay–per-click marketing – Use Google AdWords to perform better in searches. Research your keywords first.
- Influencer marketing – Pay people with large social media followings to promote your phone cases. You can find micro-influencers with smaller followings and lower rates.
- Testimonials – Share customer testimonials about how they love your phone cases.
- Create infographics – Post infographics and include them in your content.
Develop your website
Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism. They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google.
You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.
Focus on USPs
Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your phone cases meet their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire.
Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your phone case business could be:
- Phone cases for the biggest or smallest phones only
- The wildest and most unique case designs
- Custom-made designs according to your vision!
You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a phone case business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been making phone cases for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections.
The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in phone cases. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. Online businesses might also consider affiliate marketing as a way to build relationships with potential partners and boost business.
Step 12: Build Your Team
If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a phone case business would include:
- Designers – design new unique cases
- Customer Service – handle customer calls
- General Manager – scheduling, hiring and firing, inventory
- Marketing Lead – SEO optimization, social media strategies
At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need.
Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent.
Step 13: Start Making Money!
Much like global phone usage, the phone case industry is growing by leaps and bounds. Think about it: every time you upgrade to a new phone you need a new case. The market is expected to grow further through 2028.
You might want to focus on a niche market, such as making cases only for the most popular smartphones. You might also consider doing creative and unique designs. People like to make a statement with their cases, so feel free to use your creative juices as you launch your new business. You’re now ready to start making phone cases, and good money!
Phone Case Business FAQs
Can I start making phone cases at home and sell them?
Yes, you can. You can purchase design software and a phone case making kit with 100 blank cases for about $4,000. It’s not a difficult process – you just need creative designs.
How much does it cost to start a phone case business?
Costs to start a phone case business run from about $4,500 – $30,000. To be on the low end you can make your phone cases at home and sell them on an online marketplace like Amazon so that you don’t have the expenses of a manufacturer or building your own website.
Do I need a permit to manufacture phone cases at home?
There are no industry-specific permits required to manufacture cases, but your state or town may require certain licenses and permits. Check with your state and local government offices for requirements.
Is a phone case business profitable?
Profit margins on phone cases are high. When you start by yourself from home, your margin can be up to 80%. Even after you grow your company, your profit margin can still be around 50%. The sky’s the limit when it comes to sales since the market for phone cases is expected to be $35 billion by 2028.