Screen printing offers the best of both worlds – it’s creative and artistic on one hand, and business-oriented on the other (think creating a budget, exploring marketing initiatives, and maintaining organization). And while it’s certainly rewarding to have your own business, there are rules to live by if you want it to be successful.
We happen to know a thing or two about this subject. The two founders of BELLA+CANVAS got their start by launching a successful screen printing company right out of high school, and look where it led them!
Here are some tips on how to start a screen printing business:
Just like any other business, planning is integral. Before you open shop, it’s important to create a business plan that sets you apart from the rest. Ask yourself who your key customer is, how you are different from the other screen printers on the market, and what your expected budget may be. In other words, find your niche! Some screen printers set themselves apart by using water-based ink, some focus on halftone printing, and some work with only polyester pieces. Whatever you decide is up to you, so choose right, and stick with your commitment. Talk to your target customer, friends, family – whoever, and find out about their needs. Once you identify your target customer, you’ll have an easier time finding jobs. Another way to make connections is by networking. If you strive to print shirts for bands, attend local concerts. If you plan to create pieces for clothing stores, walk into stores in your target area and introduce yourself! Get it?
After you find your niche, learn everything you can to make the best product possible. Screen printing isn’t easy, so it’s important to educate yourself on the equipment and techniques required to create the best product in the game. Take classes, learn from others, do whatever it takes – it’s worth the investment, trust us! If you’re not keen on the idea of classes, scroll the interwebs for tips, tricks, and more – you’ll be surprised at all the info out there!
Create the Perfect Team
When you have a solid team, you’re set. First, decide what you like doing best. If you like printing, do that, if you like running the back of the business, do that, and so on. If you’re able to create certain roles for certain people, do it – even if specific team members end up being responsible for multiple roles.
Before you settle on a space, decide where to designate your stuff. Depending on the printing you’ll be doing, you’ll need space for a conveyer dryer, printing press, flash dryer, ink and screen storage, and more. Consider water pressure and voltage, too – many pieces of equipment require more than basic power. You want your space to be a reflection of your business. If you want high-end clientele and walk-in customers, opt for a space that’s open, clean, and of course, professional.
Equip Yourself–The Right Way
While there are tons of amazing pieces of equipment out there, we suggest doing your research before you shop. Search the web for distributors, read about brands, and scroll forums for questions, answers, and real opinions. If you have specific questions that you can’t find answers to, simply call the company you’re interested in and speak to someone over the phone.
There’s nothing more important than clear communication with your team and your customers. If you don’t communicate well, you can run into some serious problems in the end. Be up front about fees, proofs, and deadlines. Moreover, if a customer asks for something you can’t do, send them somewhere else instead of trying to do everything yourself. Last but not least, whether it’s a down payment or points of contact, it’s important that every one of your policies is clear and concise. Clear information means less hassle in the long run for you.
Ready to get started? Follow the tips above and you’ll be on your way to a successful screen printing business in no time!