Regardless of all the online and digital media, the demand for printing is undying as businesses still rely on brochures, business cards, banners, apparel for their branding and marketing purposes.
Printing is a large sector and it is wise to understand your edges when talking about printing and the printing industry as a whole.
From our 20 years of experience in the printing and branding industry, we have learned about the challenges and difficulties with starting a print shop. Although the scope of printing is rather simple, the business in itself is complex and resource-intensive.
If you think the printing business is easy, you need a rethink.
Truth is, it is lucrative- Indeed, the demand is there and the potential is huge.
Tips to start and scale a small print shop business.
1. Start small – Get a Business Plan
You heard printing is a deep pocket business, yes, we can’t deny that. For every business alike. You can always start small? As a startup, you need to begin with affordable machines to test, make mistakes then get it right.
Never to forget how essential a business plan is. A business plan is your guide when you ever lose focus on your business specifics. It is also very essential when you want to pitch investors.
2. Understand the Business
To succeed in any business, you must know your onions. The process of printing is different from the business of printing and the earlier you understand the difference, the better. Pay no attention to gurus who preach “Learn on the business”. It’s ok to make mistakes as you go, but not to set yourself up for failure.
You can hardly start nor scale if you do not understand the business. We advise you to get a mentor or a bigger company and pay for training if that is the only option. Get a well-drafted business plan and follow it religiously.
3. Niche Down
Don’t try to be everything to everyone in the printing industry. The industry is as old as man and with numerous opportunities to rake in millions each year. With the advancement in technology and the cost of equipment, it can be a lot hard to scale if you want to be everywhere and doing everything in printing.
We have so many types of printing from; Digital printing, embroidery, engraving, screen printing UV printing, sublimation, heat transfer, direct to garment printing etc. know your edge and enjoy a cut of the market.
We recommend you start with laser engraving because it is relatively cheaper and has low to no maintenance cost.
4. Do Not Spend on Machines yet
Like we talked about niche down, buying many machines is not the answer, these machines are expensive with a high maintenance cost. Know that which serves your niche and focus on trying to bring out the best in style and quality. That way you can scale easily.
An example of such a machine is the screen-printer. It prints on several surfaces and you can get good quality work at the very least.
5. Join a Reliable Reseller Network
Reseller program is great for small print shops, graphic designers, photographers, marketers, and anyone who creates and sells printed merchandise. As a reseller, you’ll save time by shipping orders directly to your clients, as all products and packages are branded based on your customer specifics.
Reseller’s network is a good way to get into the printing industry easily. Good thing is, you don’t need to own a small print shop or be a registered business before you can become a reseller.
At the Print Haven, our reseller’s network has trained SMEs and with the aid of our machines, and we are able to get their job done within the shortest time frame. Join the Print Haven resellers network today, to enjoy amazing discounts on printing services.
6. Location Matters
Maybe all the polar bears had agreed to sleep only in your snow, we don’t know, but it is unwise to sell snow in the arctic. As you plan to start that small print shop, kindly know your target market and set up where they can see you and give you the job you know how to do best.
This is not to scare you away from competition, but to let you know it’s easier to scale where you’re less shadowed. If your target market is “Corporate Printing” get yourself in the face of the corporate organizations. Be well-positioned that whenever the nearest man wants to print, they think about you first, do not be lost in the crowd.
7. Follow the Trend – Be Innovative
Technology is changing, the printers are becoming hybrid and the style of printing is now advanced. The only option you have a starter is to follow the market demand. Be specific about your abilities, but be much more innovative about it. From your vector graphics to your finished project, there should be a feel of uniqueness and quality.
Try out new machines and even if you can’t afford, outsource to make sure your client gets the best, and if you have the money to buy a machine, buy from the latest brand with new technology. That way you will not be kicked out of the business. The competition is high and you must be on top of your niche.
8. Customer Service
This is the strong-hold of your business, the customer care unit is the first contact to your brand and as much as you can get the best possible hand on the job. The best of trusted employees must be on your team.
Your customer care staff must be passionate and have a flair for the job. Must also be a compassionate person who can take all the stuns from customers, vendors, and big clients. Must also be good communicators.
The number one reason you started this business is to make money. How do you make money? By making sales and closing deals. You need marketing, marketing is about people. It is about understanding what they want, then trying to give it to them at a price that they are willing to pay and will provide you with an acceptable profit.
To get your marketing right, you need to answer the following questions:
a. What do my customers want from my product or service?
b. Am I targeting the right customers?
c. What is the unique benefit of my product or service that my customers can’t get elsewhere?
In marketing “you can’t be everything to everyone”- You have to focus your efforts on those customers you wish to attract.
10. Follow Trends
It pays to follow the trend in the printing business. What works in 2016 no longer works in 2020. As a reseller, you must be able to see, smell and feel trends in your area.
Understand how consumers behave with the trend. Jump on the trend and cash out. It’s simple.
In closing, starting a small printing shop is not rocket science. But a hands-on understanding can save you years of time-wasting. You don’t want to joke with the little investment you have and even if you have investors- which in most cases is worse than how juicy it sounds; you still want to be extra conservative to avoid bankruptcy.
You want to understand that it takes time to breakeven
With a good understanding of your niche, good marketing and other factors of business success, start, fail forward, and then become a success.
For more information on how you can start and scale a small print shop, you can contact the Print Haven, and sign up to be a part of our reseller’s network today.