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Starting up a Spore Business in the UK

I’ve been asked a few times now by other people “should I start up a spore business” and uhhh, yeah, probably go for it? Maybe? Depends how much you like working I guess! Here’s my take on it, in handy readable form.

Please bear in mind that by most sensible metrics I could be described as a ‘fucking idiot’ so don’t take this as the Ten Commandments of your Life Coach, alright? It’s just words about my experience so far.

The best life coach and psychedelic priest, Jeremy Usborne
“You’ve been thinking thoughts your whole life. Look where that got you”

I think there’s loads of room left in the UK market for people to start their own spore businesses, whether that’s magic mushroom spores or gourmet LC’s. There really aren’t any “big” companies hoovering everything up, most of the businesses seem to be one/two person operations, so everything is quite small-scale. It’s very easy to get a whole load of spores, some decent kit, start up a little business and scale it up month by month. Personally, if I did it again I would do it (mostly) the same way:

First, get your products sorted, and test them. With a microscope. If everything is looking shipshape, then setup a cheap website using Big Cartel. Like I said elsewhere, it’s probably the most cost-effective way of setting up a quick and decent-looking storefront. Customers absolutely love the security they get by using a credit card or PayPal, and this combined with a nice-looking theme will get you sales.

Second, and very important, choose Stripe instead of PayPal as your payment processor (or use both if you must, but be prepared to take your money out of PayPal daily, which also pretty much guarantees they will cotton on to what you are doing quicker). Both of them are gonna pull your accounts as soon as they realise you’re slinging spores, but Stripe will continue paying out what they owe you whereas PayPal will lock your funds for six months. You’ll probably have a couple of months before this happens, which is enough time to get some money coming in, and for customers to realise that you’re legit. You absolutely do not want whatever cash you’ve got to operate with locked up in PayPal jail at this point. I had to spend most of my rent money on my Royal Mail bill at one point due to PayPal and my missus was not very happy about this.

Angry girlfriend who is a monkey
“You’ve spent the rent money on fucking what?!

Third! Once your payment options on Big Cartel are locked out, you’re gonna have to switch to a different website, one that lets you take whatever payment options you want. So hopefully you’ve spent every spare hour doing this in the background in your first couple of months, and then you can instantly change over. This is the hard bit, I guess. Assuming you’re starting off with “zero money”, like me, you are going to have to learn quickly. Fiverr is great for getting people to do the trickier bits for small sums of money (the quality can vary hugely so make sure you spend some time checking the vendor out), but unless you’ve got deep pockets you are going to be doing a lot of it yourself.

Fourth! Now can you can muck around with your site to your heart’s desire. Feel free to try adding other card payment processors, but to be honest they’re all gonna lock your funds at some point so I think it’s a bit sketchy if you like “actually having functional cashflow”. You will probably have to bite the bullet, like the rest of us, and just take payment by bank transfer and cryptocurrency. On the plus side, crypto is taxed completely stupidly in the UK (it’s a capital gains thing) so even though you’ll have to declare it, you won’t be paying a lot of tax on it. On the downside it’s less hilarious when your little pot of moon money halves in value overnight. It’s like gambling I guess.

At this point, if you wanna go mad and start making grow kits, substrate, monotubs and whatever, fill your boots. I have no idea how other people find the time for this as I am the busiest motherfucker just selling Cubensis spores, but maybe you’re more efficient than me. There are loads of guides out there on how to do this sort of thing properly. Once again, make sure you test your products – the last thing you want is to have to give a shitload of refunds (and getting lots of bad reviews) a month down the line because you made a mistake in your processes.

A picture from one of the best films ever made: Demolition Man
My boggle is that actually I think Denis Leary’s guy was the bad guy in this film, he was a dick

The only major boggle here for me is that you will find is that if you didn’t sell Cubensis spores, you would be able to take card payments and have a Shopify website and all of that normal, non-grey-area stuff, so at the end of the day would you not be better just focusing on those bits instead? It’s a difficult question, and one that I see lots of vendors all taking completely different approaches to. I think if I were doing that I’d split the businesses into two separate entities, much like another cool space-based vendor – that was a really smart move.

Like I’ve said, I think there is plenty of space left in the UK for other people to start up mycology businesses (less so in America but that’s another story), so if anyone else wants to have a crack at it, and is happy to put in quite frankly insane amounts of work (do you like days off? Uhhhhh unlucky, chief), then it’s not a bad gamble.