Opening your own screen printing shop can be a challenge. Here are some tips to get you started!
Some helpful guidelines to get you going…
- Formulate your plan. Every new business requires a plan. You can’t just start printing t-shirts and wait for orders to roll in. You have to know what kind of space you need, how many customers you aim to have in the first six months and how many you aim to have within the first two years. Your plan will have to factor in your operating expenses and your target profits. Your plan provides you with an outline for how you’ll establish and grow your business. It will help you stick to a budget, follow through with a market plan and manage your cash flow.
- Identify your target customer. As you start your new business venture, you’re probably thinking that your target customer is anyone who will pay you to provide them with printed garments. The reality is that you can’t run a successful screen printing business without knowing who your target customer is. Know which types of screen prints you plan to specialize in — whether it’s process prints, athletic garments or environmentally friendly printing — and who is likely to buy those prints. When you know your customer, you’ll have a better idea of where and how to market your screen printing business, and you’ll establish credibility with customers who will see you as a specialist in the types of screen prints they’re seeking.
- Hone your screen printing skills. The basic screen printing process is simple; creating quality screen prints isn’t. Creating great prints with the right colors and crisp details, and that won’t crack or wash out, is a skill. To succeed in screen printing, you need to hone your screen printing skills to provide your customers with quality products they feel good about spending their money on. Take a screen printing class. Do your research. Practice until your prints come out just the way you want them to.
- Focus on great customer service. Screen printing is largely a customer-based industry. You’re providing customers with custom garments, whether it’s t-shirts for a charity event or high-end marketing materials for a corporation. To succeed with your customers, you have to provide great service. Be friendly and professional, meet deadlines, listen to your customers and try to anticipate their needs.
And some pitfalls to avoid…
- Don’t settle for mediocre equipment. There’s a lot of inexpensive and second-hand screen printing equipment available to help you get your screen printing business up and running at a relatively low cost. But buyer beware: There’s plenty of subpar equipment to be found, and subpar equipment will create subpar prints. When you’re just getting started a full-scale, multi-station automatic might be unobtainable and unnecessary, but you do need equipment that will help you to create quality prints even as your business grows. Do your research to determine what equipment and which supplies are best suited to your current needs and your goals. Choosing the right equipment and supplies will help you establish your reputation and save you money from wasted misprints or wasted equipment that will need to be replaced.
- Don’t wait for customers to come to you. You’ve created your plan, invested in the right equipment, refined your printing skills and created some impressive sample prints; it’s time for customers to start strolling through the doors, right? If only it were that simple. In any business, it takes effort to gain new customers. You simply can’t wait for customers to come to you. With your target customers in mind, develop a marketing plan — that is, a message and how you will spread that message — and hit the pavement to attract customers to your new shop.
- Don’t undervalue your product or your time. One of the most common mistakes new businesses make is that they undervalue their products or their time to offer low, low prices and attract customers. When you undervalue your product or time, you set yourself up for failure. You need to set rates that are profitable and that show your customers you’re putting an effort into creating a quality product that provides them with value. If you undervalue your product and time by undercutting your prices, you’ll create an unsustainable model that fails to turn you a profit, and you’ll attract customers who value only the lowest prices rather than a quality product.
- Don’t give up. Starting your own business in any field is one of the most difficult things you can do. It takes hard work to make and stick to a business plan, a fiscal plan and a market plan, to hone your skills to provide quality products and to identify your ideal price point. The worst mistake a new business owner can make is to give up in the face of the stress and challenges of starting your own business. Know that if you put the thought and work into your business, you absolutely can be running your own successful screen printing business
For more tips on opening your own screen printing business, check out these blog posts: