If you’ve got the entrepreneurial spirit and a knack for creativity, starting your own custom garment business might be a great fit for you – but it’s not all fun and games!

You might not be really passionate about your career, but it puts dinner on the table. You’re thinking it’s time to make a change: to be your own boss, set your own hours and maybe even work from the comfort of home. If you’ve got a creative mind and you’ve caught the entrepreneurial bug, decorating t-shirts at home might sound like a good way to earn a living doing something you love.

Fortunately for you, a productive t-shirt screen printing business doesn’t require a factory-sized setup!

There are screen printers around the world who fill large orders right out of their garages. It’s entirely possible to support yourself with an in-home garment customization business. But before you’re ready to strike out on your own and get ink on your hands, there are some very important things to consider. It’s not going to be easy – it’ll take intensely focused planning and total dedication to get your screen printing business off the ground. However, if you’re willing to put in the work, your own t-shirt shop can be a very rewarding venture.

Like starting any new career, before you decide garment customization is the right path for you, you need to really think it through.

Think it Through

Are you ready to put in the effort it takes to start a business? It’s a competitive industry and even with 100% dedication, there’s no guarantee you’ll be successful.

Can you handle the financial challenge? Even with careful planning and research, it can be quite a while before you see a profit. While you can get a good quality printing setup for an initial investment as low as a couple thousand dollars, equipment, supplies and a variety of other overhead costs can really add up.

Are you ready to learn? Printing garments, no matter which method you choose, isn’t something you pick up overnight. Even printers who’ve been in the industry for decades find themselves learning new things every day. There are plenty of resources available to help you along the way. It might be a good idea to take a class at your local community college or apprentice at a nearby print shop to get your feet wet.

Focus on Your Strengths

What is it you do best? If sales is your strong suit, you might want to start by taking orders and contracting them out to established printers, rather than printing them yourself. This will help you learn the industry and gauge the business opportunities in your area, while ensuring you can deliver a professional-quality product. You can take this time to really learn about the printing process first hand, if the shop filling your orders doesn’t mind showing you the ropes. There’s so much to learn – ordering wholesale garments, setting up artwork and pre-press, the actual printing, delivering your final product, marketing your business and lots more. Rather than try to tackle everything at once in-house, focus on what you’re best at and really develop that skill.

If you’re going to screen print, will you need a manual or automatic press? We can help you choose!

Don’t Try to Do it All

Being a one-stop shop for all of your customers’ customization needs sounds like a great idea – and it’s achievable with time – but if you’re starting out, don’t offer more than you can handle. Focus on one service, like screen printing, DTG printing or embroidery, and really sharpen your skills. You’ll serve your customers better by performing one service well than doing many things poorly. You can always contract out jobs requiring services you don’t offer. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to do too much, learn skills and add services at a comfortable pace for you. The goal is to be a jack-of-all-trades, not a master of none.

Once you’ve decided what printing method will work best for you, find a niche within that service that’ll serve as your specialty. How can you set yourself apart from other shops? Maybe you’ll be the go-to printer for sports uniforms in your community, or shirts for school clubs. Know your competition. If you’ve been contracting out orders to shops in your area, is there any demand they couldn’t meet? If so, a profitable opportunity might exist that you can take advantage of.

Have a Plan

If you’ve developed a solid understanding of the printing method of your choice, chosen your niche and established that a demand for your screen printing business actually exists, you need a plan of action. A comprehensive business plan is essential to the success of every entrepreneur (especially if you’re going to be seeking financing). In your business plan, you should clearly outline all the facets of your shop’s operation – from the business structure, the type of operation (you may qualify as manufacturing, wholesale or retail), your business goals, target market and how you plan to penetrate it, and how you plan to produce and sell your products.

Once you’ve planned out your shop’s operation, it’s time to find the perfect equipment to get up and running. That’s our specialty at Anatol – helping printers get a setup tailored exactly to their needs. Contact us, we’re ready to have that conversation when you are!