Thursday, March 23, 2023

How can I make my Balloon Business Successful and Fail-Proof? - Part 2

In Part 1. of  'How can I make my Balloon Business Successful and Fail-Proof' post we look at why someone might start their own balloon company and why not all balloon businesses succeed. To read this post click HERE.

In part 2. we look at the steps that you need to take that will definitely help you to get off to a good start. 

1. How to run a business?

It is important to do your research before starting your business. You need to be excited and passionate about your new impending journey.

Write a Business Plan. A business plan is a written document that describes your business. It covers objectives, strategies, sales, marketing and financial forecasts.
A business plan helps you to:
  • clarify your business idea
  • spot potential problems
  • set out your goals
  • measure your progress
Register your business name, but make sure that you choose the name of your business wisely. This is one of the most important things that you will do. There are so many things that you will need to do when setting up a new business, but without a business name it will be impossible! You need a business name to:
  • Open a business bank account 
  • Invoice customers
  • Write terms & conditions 
  • Set up a website and social media business accounts
  • Order business cards
  • Open trade accounts
In the world of social media and SEO (search engine optimisation), choosing a name that people are likely to search for is important, as this will give you a much greater chance of appearing in search results. So start by thinking about what your customers are likely to be searching for.
Obviously, having the word balloon somewhere in your business name is important and if you can include your location too, that would be a huge bonus! 

Legal stuff
Start by registering your business - in the UK visit

You will need:
  • Insurance Cover - You may not consider that having insurance cover is important but all businesses should have it, including home based businesses. There are a number of different insurances that a business should have: 
  • Public & Products liability – which insures your business against third party claims for personal injury or property damage. 
  • Professional Indemnity – covers your professional advice. 
  • Employer's liability – provides cover for your employees (this is legally required) and If you are operating your business from a shop or store you will also require 
  • Building and Contents insurance. 
Inform HMRC or your government revenues and customs department - In the UK you need to register with the UK government (HMRC) to tell them that you’re self-employed. Check to see what your legal requirements are in your country.

Find an Accountant or Bookkeeper - It might be advisable to find an accountant who will tell you what you will need to do to ensure that you fulfil your tax obligations. 

Comply with data laws - It’s not just big companies that need to know about General Data Protection Regulation - GDPR. Small businesses also have a legal responsibility to keep personal data safe and provide a clear policy on how that data will be used and why.

Employing Staff - If you are employing staff there are so many other legal requirements by which you will need to abide. We strongly recommend that you look into all of those too!

2. Funding and Finance

How much money do you need to start a business? You might not need much of an initial investment if you’re starting small.
Things that you will need to consider:
  • Courses and training - learning the fundamental skills is definitely a great way to kick-start your business. Future courses will help you to develop new skills, techniques and learn industry tips and hints.
  • Specialist equipment – make sure you budget for any equipment or tools, balloon professionals use helium, electric balloon inflators and many other specialist tools.
  • Products – if you’re setting up a shop or selling your own creations, you will need to get your stock together... and this will be an on-going investment.
Once you have identified the costs involved, you should know how you’re going to fund your project. Will you use savings? Or will you ask for help with your new business start-up costs (for example, loans from friends, family, or a bank)?

Keep in mind you might be able to find grants for new businesses to help lighten the financial burden. The benefit of a small business grant rather than a loan is that you don’t usually have to pay the money back.

Be aware that it can take your business two to three years to reach profitability! 

3. Marketing and Publicity

  • Create a Google My Business page to help get you noticed
  • Do competitor research – competitor analysis helps you understand the market, set your prices, and find a way to stand out.
  • Build a social media presence – social media is a great way to showcase your brand’s personality and tone of voice, connect with customers, and even sell your products with tools like Facebook Shops and Instagram.
  • Create a website with SEO – optimise your website for search engines so people can find your business and understand the products or service you offer
  • Send emails and newsletters – a simple and cost-effective way to keep in touch with your customers and boost sales.
  • Use flyers and print marketing – a tangible way to reach potential customers
  • Network at industry events – get to know your industry and make connections at virtual or in-person events

4. Research and Market knowledge

Market research is the process of gathering and analysing information about customer groups, competitors, the balloon industry and the general business environment. Whether a company is small or large, market research plays a vital role in decisions about what products or services to offer and how to sell them. As a small business owner, gathering market information is an ongoing process and a high priority. This will give greater confidence in the decisions you makes knowing the information is based on solid data rather than guesswork or hunches.

  • Assess the feasibility of a venture - does the market place need what you are offering?
  • Determine what customers really want - don't assume that your customers want what you think they want, do some research.
  • Monitor your competitors - study their advertisements, visit their websites, ask business associates about them or even visit their businesses. You should also  be aware of new competitors planning to enter the market.
  • Identifying Opportunities - strive for continual growth and always be on the lookout for emerging opportunities, such as new products or services you could offer.
  • Spotting Potential Trouble Ahead - Small businesses are affected by the performance and direction of the local and national economy. 
To conclude, no business is fail-proof, but learning the basics in how to start a business will definitely help you to get off to a good start. Understand who your target market is: you may want to specialise in a particular style of balloon artistry -decor versus deliveries for example, and this will have an impact on your marketing and publicity. Be aware that breaking into the corporate market takes time, great marketing and to be honest a pinch of good luck! 

Here is a little more advice that I pick up from a couple of balloon professionals
Consider 'employing' a mentor in your early days, you will have so many questions and as much as you can ask these on various Facebook groups, you will probably get many different responses and still won't be any the wiser And if you don't pay them, they really aren't on the hook to help. They won't really care. 
Build a strong local network quicker. I AM only 3 years in and was always friendly to a couple of local artistS, but in the last 12 - 18 months a group of 9/10 of us have formed an online chat and it’s been a GODSEND. Comparing techniques, borrowing materials, passing on customers, moans about clients; we don’t see each other as competition but as a support system. I wished I’d been part of something like this earlier on, as it’s really helpful.

If you are new to your ballooning journey, I wish you every success, and hopefully you can take some of the advice from this post to help you on your way! 

Happy Ballooning!


Follow me @suebowler


How can I make my Balloon Business Successful and Fail-Proof? - Part 1

Launching a business can be one of the most exciting and challenging things you will ever do. So why would any of us start our balloon businesses, and if we had hindsight what would we do differently?

There are many reason why someone might choose to start running a balloon business:
  • It is a natural extension to a business that you already run.
  • It's a hot trend on social media and you want a slice of the action.
  • You want to be your own boss and balloons are the right fit! 
  • You can work from home and fit a balloon business around your family life.
  • And probably about 101 other reasons...
Something that I always say to anyone starting out in the balloon industry is: "It is fantastic if you are a creative person, but don't forget that you have to be able to run a business too!" 

The reason I started my balloon business over 30 years ago was because I wanted to find a business that I could run from home, that could fit around my young family and work with a product that was non-perishable (not food or flowers which have a very limited shelf life.) I had never run a business before, but I was creative and felt confident that running a business would not be that difficult 😉

I did not have big aspirations when I started, it seemed that every new design and technique was a huge challenge and posed a massive learning curve - complete trial and error, which was actually not such a bad way to learn!  Training opportunities were sparse and social media was nonexistent! My balloon business grew slowly and organically over those first four years. The biggest problem that I experienced during that period was that I was not familiar with the "business side" of being a business owner, and knew very little about pricing, which was a complete guessing game for a number of years!  I also found working on my own and from home very lonely! Not having anyone to share my bad or good experiences with or being able to talk through a problem or creative challenge! I could have easily thrown in the towel after 4 years. I had made very little money and was floundering badly. For me, the QBN program was my life & business saver, and from the moment I embarked in the program, my businesses moved forward and started to become profitable and more successful! 

As a training instructor, I have met hundreds of people who have started balloon businesses just like I did. S
ome survive and go on to grow successful businesses, while others fall away by the wayside after only a few short years.
It is reported that roughly 20% of small businesses fail within the first year, and roughly 50% fail within the first five years! (

So how can we make our balloon businesses successful and fail-proof? To answer this we need to know why so many small businesses fail:
  • Lack of knowledge on how to run a business
  • Running out of money
  • Lack of adequate marketing and publicity
  • Lack of research and market knowledge
In Part 2 of this post which you can find by clicking HERE, we will look at in greater detail:
  1.  How to run a business?
  2.  Funding and Finance
  3.  Marketing and Publicity
  4.  Research and Market Knowledge.

Happy Ballooning!


Follow me @suebowler

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Baby Bear Air-Filled Delivery Design with Step-by-Step Video Instructions, Product List and Job Cost Form

Baby Bear Design by Sue Bowler

As many of you have seen, I created a Baby Bear display at the recent Spring Fair. This new 31" Baby Bear Microfoil™ balloon is so cute and appealing, and perfect to recreate this charming 'Balloon Buddy' design for New Babies, Birthdays and even Mother's Day displays!

Material List

4 x 7" Chrome Rose Gold
1 x 18" Rose Gold Round Foil Balloon
2 x 16" Blush (1 x body 1 x sand weight)
6 x 5" Pearl Peach
6 x 5" Pink (the pink goes inside the Pearl Peach)
2 x 350Q Blush
1 x 260Q for tying 
1 x 31" Baby Bear Special Shape Microfoil 
Stretchy Balloon Tape

I have also added a prepared Job Cost Form to this post: all you need to do is add in the values and you will be able to quickly calculate a profitable selling price! 

To learn how to create this design, check out Sue's video below.

Sue's Window Display at Spring Fair 2023

I recently made a Panda Bear version, which is also very cute! 
Panda Bear with Pastel Rainbow 

I hope that you enjoy making these and maybe even adding your own personal touch to the design - I look forward to seeing them! 

Happy Ballooning!

Sue Bowler
Follow me @suebowler

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Blooming Good Ideas for Spring Balloon Decor

With Mother's Day, Easter, International Woman's Day, plenty of spring birthdays and fresh new babies over the coming months, this is the perfect time for balloon businesses to boost their marketing and sales opportunities with a bright and fresh spring theme decor and delivery ideas!

Spring is actually my favourite time of year; the blossoming trees and early flowers pushing through the earth holds so much charm for me. I don't know about you, but I definitely feel more energised and ready to take on new projects and challenges in the Spring! 

International Woman's Day

International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality.

I have read much about International Woman's Day, and feel that it is important as a female entrepreneur and business owner to stand loud and proud and use this day to create greater awareness of women in business. Here is a great post, titled 6 International Woman's day social post ideas 2023, that is packed with some great ideas that you could implement!

Standing for Women!
Celebrate International Women’s Day with this impressive display.
Designer name: Alexander Solomatin, CBA, Moscow, Russia, Dmitry Novikov, CBA, Moscow, Russia

If you would like to learn how to make a Number of Eight sculpture check out my post: International Women's Day and how to make this fabulous Number Eight Sculpture by Alexander Solomatin, CBA.

Mother's Day

Mother’s Day is a holiday to honour and celebrate mothers (and any other woman that has taken on a 'mother' role in a person's life) and is celebrated in countries worldwide. The holiday originated in the United States in its modern form, and is observed on the second Sunday in May. Many other countries also celebrate the holiday on this date, while some celebrate at different times of the year. In the UK, we celebrate it on the 4th Sunday of lent, which means that the date varies each year according to Easter. This year we will be celebrating Mother's Day on the 19th March! 

When it comes to finding the perfect gift for Mother's Day, most people leave it to the last minute (much like Valentine's Day). It is human nature to delay until the date creeps up, then frantically rush around looking for gift ideas at the final hour.

This is why it’s a great idea to start promoting Mother’s Day at least 3-4 weeks before the special day. It gives you time to remind shoppers that the big day is coming and helps them start thinking about what to buy.

Qualatex has a comprehensive range of fabulous marketing assets available to use for social media posts for Facebook, Stories and Instagram plus Facebook banners too! Click HERE for direct access or go to

Rain, Sun, Rainbow, Repeat…
This dreamy rainbow design is sure to make her day.
Designer name: Cam Woody, CBA, Pioneer Balloon Company, Wichita, KS, USA

Crazy for Daisies!
Spring flowers are all the rage for Mother’s Day, especially in a balloon centerpiece.
Designer name: Cam Woody, CBA, Pioneer Balloon Company, Wichita, KS, USA

I dream in watercolor…
This extra dreamy design will thrill all moms this Mother’s Day!
Designer name: Cam Woody, CBA, Pioneer Balloon Company, Wichita, KS, USA

For more great ideas, check out Happy Hour with Cam and Eve!

I have a number of previous posts that are packed with ideas and inspiration for Mother's Day! 


Easter has become the new hot holiday for stuffing balloons! Like Elf on the Shelf at Christmas, it is now popular to give a child a stuffing balloon filled with Easter Treats and topped with a Floppy Eared Bunny or Baby Chick balloon!

And finally, Babies and Birthdays featuring the newest Qualatex balloons! 

Flutter Into Spring
This lovely design is perfect for a bright and airy spring birthday!
Designer name: Eve Antonello, CBA, Pioneer Balloon Company, Wichita, KS, USA

Grinning over Birthdays
Smiling from ear to ear over this design!
Designer name: Cam Woody, CBA, Pioneer Balloon Company, Wichita, KS, USA

Sweet as Sugar
Cook up this extra sweet design for a fun birthday at any age!
Designer name: Eve Antonello, CBA, Pioneer Balloon Company, Wichita, KS, USA

Babies are Magic
Nothing says “Hello little one!” like a magical unicorn.
Designer name: Cam Woody, CBA, Pioneer Balloon Company, Wichita, KS, USA

Cuddle them Close
This cuddly and lovely deliverable will charm every new parent.
Designer name: Cam Woody, CBA, Pioneer Balloon Company, Wichita, KS, USA

I dream of baby…
Float away to baby land with this sweet ‘new baby’ deliverable.
Designer name: Cam Woody, CBA, Pioneer Balloon Company, Wichita, KS, USA

I am certainly inspired by all the new Qualatex balloons and excited to start creating! I look forward to seeing all your fabulous designs appearing on socials soon! 

Happy Ballooning! 

Follow me @suebowler

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Old MacDonald had a Farm... NEW, Fun Farm-Themed Qualatex Balloons

I would like to start this post with a little farm barn trivia! Do you know why farm barns are always red?

The practice actually started in the late 18th century with New England farmers applying a protective varnish to barn surfaces. The varnish usually contained some mixture of linseed oil, lime, or iron oxide, which, under the sun, would then turn to the red ochre hue that we have become so familiar with.

Children absolutely adore farm animals, and creating farm theme party decor is a colourful and fun way to appeal to children of all ages! 

Earlier this month, I created a range of window displays to showcase some of the new Qualatex balloons that were launched at the Spring Fair at the NEC Birmingham. When I saw the new Birthday-Farm range I knew exactly what I wanted to make and immediately started designing a Red Barn! 

To design the barn, I used Chris Adamo's Balloon Design Tool. If you have never used this tool I strongly recommend that you have a little play using the 7 day free trial. I absolutely love it and use it on a regular basis, it helps me to work out what style of wall that I need to make to ensure that I get the end result I am looking for. This definitely makes it very worth the minimal monthly fee! 

The barn is made using the Alternate Size Pack technique, with my balloons sized at  3" and 4". The Bran is built in columns, and then linked together using the "paperclip and elastic band" method. To give the barn greater stability, I added in two poles and bases and also secured it to the top of the window using 50lb monofilament line just in case someone decided to try and move it - you will be amazed what people will do to get a good photo! 

The window display design was designed around this new 18" Birthday Barn balloon. Look at this balloon and now look at my window display to see the similarities!

18" Birthday Barn

You will see that in my window display, I have added in other elements such as the mini Pig and Cow sculptures and some of the new 14" Retro Daisies to bring this window to life and to re-create the scene from the balloon as accurately as possible.

Here are all the other new products in this range:



And don't forget these other great farm theme balloons! 

Holstein Cow
11" White #11633
Another bit of trivia, this is Qualatex's  No 1. selling printed balloon! 

34" Farm Tractor

30" Playful Pig #16202
14" Playful Pig #41799

32" Hilarious Horse #16210 (Limited Availability)
14" Hilarious Horse #41796

Here are a few more Farm theme ideas! 

Don’t have a cow!
This cow creation makes a big impact!
Designer name: Cam Woody, CBA, Pioneer Balloon Company, Wichita, KS, USA

Mooooove over for birthdays!
Adorable cows and pigs make for a fun birthday!
Designer name: Cam Woody, CBA, Pioneer Balloon Company, Wichita, KS, USA

If you are unsure how to make the Alternate Size Balloon Wall, check out my previous post: Balloon Wall Part 2

Creating something fun and new is always very rewarding! Though I am very familiar with creating balloon walls. this Red Barn presented new challenges for me, especially when creating the sloping roof! 

Happy Ballooning! 
Follow me @suebowler

Monday, February 13, 2023

Cupcake Theme Balloon Decoration Ideas!

Last week I attended the Spring Fair at the NEC Birmingham. Spring Fair is an annual B2B trade show where businesses go, and that includes many of the major high street and online retailers as well as small independent stores, to buy new and inspiring products to sell in their stores. The fair is not only balloon and party related, it covers an abundance of products from fashion to jewellery, cookware and thousands of other products! The next show will be from the 4th -7th February 2024, so don't forget to mark it in your diary if you are UK based! 

So what does this have to do with Cupcakes? Each year, for more years than I can actually remember, I have been given the amazing opportunity to create balloon designs for Qualatex Europe's windows at this trade event! Each year I am tasked with creating and designing displays that feature new balloons and products from scratch.

Colourful Balloon Cupcake by Sue Bowler
Balloon Cupcake by Sue Bowler, inspired by Dante Longhi

For my first window, I was asked to feature the new Birthday Ombrè Cupcake, a fabulous new 31" Microfoil balloon.

My Inspiration

Before I even touch a balloon, I start by creating a mood board; this helps me to get an idea of the balloons that I should feature within my displays. I use Canva to create my mood boards. I simply import the balloons and any images that I want to use to help me with my display. This is also a great way to show your clients your ideas when you are still in the development stages of your designs.

Cupcake Window Display Mood-Board 

I knew that Dante Longhi of Dream Factory Balloons in New Jersey, USA had designed and made balloon cupcakes, so this was my first stop, to find out the technique! Fortunately for me, Dante had filmed himself making the cupcake for the QCorner convention last year. 

To learn how to make Dante's 3-D Cupcake Sculpture watch the video below! 

Watching this video was invaluable as it helped me understand the technique that I needed to use. My next challenge was then to work out the balloon sizing, as my cupcake was much smaller than Dante's! I surprisingly worked out the sizing quite quickly and after only a few attempts my cupcake began to take shape! I cannot tell you how much fun I had creating this design and seeing it grow into the final result! 

Here are photos from each step of building the cupcake:

Balloon Cupcake Base Layer
Base Layer

Balloon Cupcake
View looking into the Cupcake

Second Layer Added

Two Layers of Frosting added

And the final balloon added to fill in the top

Here is the final result and my window display!

I did actually make some changes to Dante's original design. I only use four rings, whereas Dante uses five. This helped me to reduce the size and height of the design to ensure that it was in proportion to the window space that I had available.

Colourful Balloon Cupcake by Sue Bowler
Balloon Cupcake by Sue Bowler - inspired by Dante Longhi

Colourful Balloon Cupcake design by Sue Bowler
Window Display created by Sue Bowler for Qualatex Europe at Spring Fair 2023

If you are interested to learn how to make the smaller cupcake design, email me and I will happily share the sizing, just follow the same construction techniques as shown in Dante's video above! 

A huge thank you to Dante for his incredible talent and for sharing this design! 

I will be sharing my other window displays over the next few weeks! 

Happy Ballooning! 

Follow me @suebowler

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Air-Filled Design idea using PremiumConwin DecoCup™ + DecoStick™

With the continually soaring cost of helium and its lack of availability, finding air-filled solutions is extremely important to the ballooning community.

Creating designs using the PremiumConwin DecoCup™ + DecoCup™ is definitely the way forward, and today, I would like to share two videos with you featuring those accessories.

It's all about the Base! 

In the first video, I will demonstrate how to create the central support for your designs. I have two methods:

1. Using a tile base with 2x DecoCups and 1x DecoCup

2. Using a sand-weight with 2x DecoCups and 1 x DecoCup

I show two different glue options to secure the DecoCups to the tile base.

If like me, you have unused Lomey Adhesive in your toolbox. 
 This works very well for sticking a DecoCup to a ceramic tile base, 
but it can take up to 24 hours to dry! I recommend using packing tape to hold the cup in place on the tile during the drying process.

Gorilla Glue works extremely well when you need to stick two items together that are made from different material. The down-side is the drying time as it can take up to 24 hours for the glue to bond successfully.

Sand-Weights - using kiln-dried sand
A sand-weight makes the perfect weight for a base, unlike a water-weight, a sand-weight can be moulded into shape and flattened and is very stable, it is also quick and inexpensive to make. 

Check out the video below to see how easy it is to make the base element for our air-filled designs.

"With Love" - air-filled Hat Box Valentine's arrangement 

In the second video, I show you how to create this relatively easy design that would be perfect for Valentine's Day or by simply changing the balloons and colours it would be suitable for any occasion!

For this design I have used:

  • Hat Box
  • 7" Qualatex Gold Chrome
  • 5" Wild Berry
  • 260Q Gold Chrome
  • 260Q Wild Berry
  • 260Q Rose
  • 18" Love Gold #16766
  • Pink Organza Ribbon
  • Uglu Dashes 
Check out the video below to find out step-by-step how to make this great design.

I have been creating air-filled balloon designs for many years now, and I have come to have a preference to air-filled over helium-filled designs. I feel that an air-filled design allows for more creativity and detail, and I prefer the end results!

Here are a few more of my air-filled arrangements, some using Deco Cups and Sticks.

The Happy Birthday foil in this design is actually helium-filled, but it could easily be replaced with an air-filled version on a Deco Cup & Stick

I hope that this post has been helpful and given you a little inspiration!

Happy Ballooning!

Follow me @Suebowler