Starting a screen printing business can be very profitable. With proper planning, execution and hard work, you can enjoy great success. Below you will learn the keys to launching a successful screen printing business.
Importantly, a critical step in starting a screen printing business is to complete your business plan. To help you out, you should download Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template here.
14 Steps To Start a Screen Printing Business:
- Choose the Name for Your Screen Printing Business
- Develop Your Screen Printing Business Plan
- Choose the Legal Structure for Your Screen Printing Business
- Secure Startup Funding for Your Screen Printing Business (If Needed)
- Secure a Location for Your Business
- Register Your Screen Printing Business with the IRS
- Open a Business Bank Account
- Get a Business Credit Card
- Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits
- Get Business Insurance for Your Screen Printing Business
- Buy or Lease the Right Screen Printing Business Equipment
- Develop Your Screen Printing Business Marketing Materials
- Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your Screen Printing Business
- Open for Business
1. Choose the Name for Your Screen Printing Business
The first step to starting a screen printing business is to choose your business’ name.
This is a very important choice since your company name is your brand and will last for the lifetime of your business. Ideally you choose a name that is meaningful and memorable. Here are some tips for choosing a name for your screen printing business:
- Make sure the name is available. Check your desired name against trademark databases and your state’s list of registered business names to see if it’s available. Also check to see if a suitable domain name is available.
- Keep it simple. The best names are usually ones that are easy to remember, pronounce and spell.
- Think about marketing. Come up with a name that reflects the desired brand and/or focus of your screen printing business.
2. Develop Your Screen Printing Business Plan
One of the most important steps in starting a screen printing business is to develop your business plan. The process of creating your plan ensures that you fully understand your market and your business strategy. The plan also provides you with a roadmap to follow and if needed, to present to funding sources to raise capital for your business.
Your business plan should include the following sections:
- Executive Summary – this section should summarize your entire business plan so readers can quickly understand the key details of your screen printing business.
- Company Overview – this section tells the reader about the history of your screen printing business and what type of screen printing business you operate. For example, are you a generalized screen printing business; a specialized business that exclusively offers a specific service, such as apparel printing; or a screen printing business that works on contract (for manufacturing clients, for example).
- Industry Analysis – here you will document key information about the screen printing industry. Conduct market research and document how big the industry is and what trends are affecting it.
- Customer Analysis – in this section, you will document who your ideal or target audience are and their demographics. For example, how old are they? Where do they live? What do they find important when purchasing services like the ones you will offer?
- Competitive Analysis – here you will document the key direct and indirect competitors you will face and how you will build competitive advantage.
- Marketing Plan – your marketing plan should address the 4Ps: Product, Price, Promotions and Place.
- Product: Determine and document what products/services you will offer
- Prices: Document the prices of your products/services
- Place: Where will your business be located and how will that location help you increase sales?
- Promotions: What promotional methods will you use to attract customers to your screen printing business? For example, you might decide to use pay-per-click advertising, public relations, search engine optimization and/or social media marketing.
- Operations Plan – here you will determine the key processes you will need to run your day-to-day operations. You will also determine your staffing needs. Finally, in this section of your plan, you will create a projected growth timeline showing the milestones you hope to achieve in the coming years.
- Management Team – this section details the background of your company’s management team.
- Financial Plan – finally, the financial plan answers questions including the following:
- What startup costs will you incur?
- How will your screen printing business make money?
- What are your projected sales and expenses for the next five years?
- Do you need to raise funding to launch your business?
3. Choose the Legal Structure for Your Screen Printing Business
Next you need to choose a legal structure for your screen printing business and register it and your business name with the Secretary of State in each state where you operate your business.
Below are the five most common legal structures:
1) Sole proprietorship
A sole proprietorship is a business entity in which the owner of the screen printing business and the business are the same legal person. The business owner of a sole proprietorship is responsible for all debts and obligations of the business. There are no formalities required to establish a sole proprietorship, and it is easy to set up and operate. The main advantage of a sole proprietorship is that it is simple and inexpensive to establish. The main disadvantage is that the owner is liable for all debts and obligations of the business.
A partnership is a legal structure that is popular among small businesses. It is an agreement between two or more people who want to start a screen printing business together. The partners share in the profits and losses of the business.
The advantages of a partnership are that it is easy to set up, and the partners share in the profits and losses of the business. The disadvantages of a partnership are that the partners are jointly liable for the debts of the business, and disagreements between partners can be difficult to resolve.
3) Limited Liability Company (LLC)
A limited liability company, or LLC, is a type of business entity that provides limited liability to its owners. This means that the owners of an LLC are not personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the business. The advantages of an LLC for a screen printing business include flexibility in management, pass-through taxation (avoids double taxation as explained below), and limited personal liability. The disadvantages of an LLC include lack of availability in some states and self-employment taxes.
4) C Corporation
A C Corporation is a business entity that is separate from its owners. It has its own tax ID and can have shareholders. The main advantage of a C Corporation for a screen printing business is that it offers limited liability to its owners. This means that the owners are not personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the business. The disadvantage is that C Corporations are subject to double taxation. This means that the corporation pays taxes on its profits, and the shareholders also pay taxes on their dividends.
5) S Corporation
An S Corporation is a type of corporation that provides its owners with limited liability protection and allows them to pass their business income through to their personal income tax returns, thus avoiding double taxation. There are several limitations on S Corporations including the number of shareholders they can have among others.
Once you register your screen printing business, your state will send you your official “Articles of Incorporation.” You will need this among other documentation when establishing your banking account (see below). We recommend that you consult an attorney in determining which legal structure is best suited for your company.
4. Secure Startup Funding for Your Screen Printing Business (If Needed)
In developing your screen printing business plan, you might have determined that you need to raise funding to launch your business.
If so, the main sources of funding for a screen printing business to consider are personal savings, family and friends, credit card financing, bank loans, crowdfunding and angel investors. Angel investors are individuals who provide capital to early-stage businesses. Angel investors typically will invest in a screen print shop that they believe has high potential for growth.
5. Secure a Location for Your Business
When starting a screen printing business, finding the right location is key. You’ll need a space that is big enough to accommodate your equipment and supplies, and that is also in a convenient location for your customers. Here are a few tips on how to find the perfect space for your business:
- Start by assessing your needs. What kind of equipment do you have, and how much space do you need to store it? How many employees will you have, and what kind of work area do they need? Make sure to take into account any future growth plans for your business.
- Do some research on local zoning laws. You’ll want to make sure the location you choose is zoned for commercial use.
- Spend some time driving around different neighborhoods and shopping centers, and look for a location that is easily accessible for customers.
- When you find the right spot, it’s time to negotiate a lease agreement–and be sure to get everything in writing.
6. Register Your Screen Printing Business with the IRS
Next, you need to register your business with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which will result in the IRS issuing you an Employer Identification Number (EIN).
Most banks will require you to have an EIN in order to open up an account. In addition, in order to hire employees, you will need an EIN since that is how the IRS tracks your payroll tax payments.
Note that if you are a sole proprietor without employees, you generally do not need to get an EIN. Rather, you would use your social security number (instead of your EIN) as your taxpayer identification number.
7. Open a Business Bank Account
It is important to establish a bank account in your screen printing business’ name. This process is fairly simple and involves the following steps:
- Identify and contact the bank you want to use
- Gather and present the required documents (generally include your company’s Articles of Incorporation, driver’s license or passport, and proof of address)
- Complete the bank’s application form and provide all relevant information
- Meet with a banker to discuss your business needs and establish a relationship with them
8. Get a Business Credit Card
You should get a business credit card for your screen printing business to help you separate personal and business expenses.
You can either apply for a business credit card through your bank or apply for one through a credit card company.
When you’re applying for a business credit card, you’ll need to provide some information about your business. This includes the name of your business, the address of your business, and the type of business you’re running. You’ll also need to provide some information about yourself, including your name, Social Security number, and date of birth.
Once you’ve been approved for a business credit card, you’ll be able to use it to make purchases for your business. You can also use it to build your credit history which could be very important in securing loans and getting credit lines for your business in the future.
9. Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits
To start a screen printing business, you will need to obtain a business license and a permit to operate from your local government. You may also need to obtain permits from other agencies, such as the fire department. Be sure to research what is required in your area before starting your business.
10. Get Business Insurance for Your Screen Printing Business
There are a few types of insurance you will need to operate a screen printing business, including:
- General liability insurance: This covers accidents and injuries that occur on your property. It also covers damages caused by your employees or products.
- Workers’ compensation insurance: If you have employees, this type of policy works with your general liability policy to protect against workplace injuries and accidents. It also covers medical expenses and lost wages.
- Commercial property insurance: This covers damage to your property caused by fire, theft, or vandalism.
Find an insurance agent, tell them about your business and its needs, and they will recommend policies that fit those needs.
11. Buy or Lease the Right Screen Printing Business Equipment
In order to start a screen printing business, you will need some essential equipment. This includes screen printing frames and screens, drying racks, exposure unit, a screen printing press, ink, emulsion, and paper or textiles to print on.
Other equipment that you may need includes a printer, transparency films or vellum, squeegees, ink trays, tape, fabric markers (if you are printing on textiles with dark designs), curing equipment, screen cleaning products, an exhaust system (for ventilation), a work station (a table or desk to operate your press from) and any necessary tools for building or setting up your screens.
12. Develop Your Screen Printing Business Marketing Materials
Marketing materials will be required to attract and retain customers to your screen printing shop.
The key marketing materials you will need are as follows:
- Logo: Spend some time developing a good logo for your screen printing business. Your logo will be printed on company stationery, business cards, marketing materials and so forth. The right logo can increase customer trust and awareness of your brand.
- Website: Likewise, a professional screen printing business website provides potential customers with information about the products and/or services you offer, your company’s history, and contact information. Importantly, remember that the look and feel of your website will affect how customers perceive you.
- Social Media Accounts: establish social media accounts in your company’s name. Accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and/or other social media networks will help customers and others find and interact with your screen printing business.
13. Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your Screen Printing Business
To run a screen printing business, you need software to create the designs and to print them on t-shirts or other items. You can find free software online that will allow you to do this, or you can purchase software that is specifically designed for screen printing businesses.
Some popular software packages for creating designs include:
- CorelDraw – a vector-based software, which means it can zoom in and out without losing quality. It also exports easily to other programs such as Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape.
- Adobe Illustrator – another vector-based program, it is one of the most popular programs for t-shirt designers due to its ease of use and wide range of features. It is part of Adobe Creative Cloud which you can subscribe to on a monthly or annual basis, or pay for separately if you do not want to subscribe.
- Inkscape – a powerful open-source program, it is available free of charge; however, it does not export to Adobe Illustrator easily. It also doesn’t have many of the advanced text features that CorelDraw and Illustrator include.
14. Open for Business
You are now ready to open your screen printing business. If you followed the steps above, you should be in a great position to build a successful business. Below are answers to frequently asked questions that might further help you.
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How to Start a Screen Printing Business FAQs
Is it hard to start a screen printing business?
No, it's not hard to start a screen printing business. In fact, there are a number of online resources and articles that can help you get started. You'll need to invest in some equipment and screen printing supplies, but the process is relatively simple. Screen printing is a great way to start your own business, because it's affordable and there's a lot of potential for growth.
How can I start a screen printing business with no experience?
There are a few things you can do to get started in screen printing without any prior experience. You can learn about the process and the equipment involved by reading articles online or watching YouTube videos, or you could take a course at a local community college. Additionally, you could seek out advice from someone who is already in the business, or hire an experienced screen printer. If you're willing to put in the time and effort, it's possible to learn everything you need to know about screen printing on your own.
What type of screen printing business is most profitable?
The most profitable type of screen printing business is one that offers a wide range of services. This allows the business to serve as a one-stop shop for customers. Additionally, it's important to have a good reputation in the community and offer competitive prices.
How much does it cost to start a screen printing business?
The cost of setting up a screen printing business will vary depending on the type of equipment you choose to buy and the amount of printing you plan to do. Generally, you can start a small screen printing business for around $1,000-$2,000. A small screen printing business can consist of a manual press, squeegee, mesh, emulsion remover, photo emulsion and cleaners. If you plan to do larger bulk orders you should invest in an automatic screen printing press which will cost around $4000-$8000.
Alternatively, you can use a manual press for basic printing and invest in an automatic press when you start to do larger bulk orders.
What are the ongoing expenses for a screen printing business?
The ongoing expenses for a screen printing business can include the cost of materials, the cost of labor, and the cost of shipping.
The materials that are commonly used in screen printing include squeegees, ink, screens, film positives, and paper. Labor for a screen printing business may consist of the cost of hiring employees as well as the costs of miscellaneous expenses such as marketing and accounting. The cost of shipping can depend on how much the business ships, but also can depend on how much the business spends on packaging materials.
How does a screen printing business make money?
A screen printing business makes money by charging a per-item fee for each item that is printed. They also typically charge customers a setup fee to create the screens that will be used in the printing process. These fees vary based on the size of the printing run.
Is owning a screen printing business profitable?
There is no simple answer to this question because it depends on a lot of factors, such as the type of screen printing business, the location, the competition, and the amount of work that you're willing to put in. That being said, there is definitely money to be made in the screen printing business if you do it right.
Screen printing shops can be profitable because they offer a service that is in high demand. They are also able to keep their costs low because the screen printing equipment needed to start a screen printing business is relatively inexpensive. Additionally, screen printing businesses can be run as a home-based business, which reduces overhead costs involved.
Why do screen printing businesses fail?
There are a number of reasons why screen printing shops can fail. One reason is that the business may not have been well planned and may not have had a solid business model in place. Another reason may be that the business did not do enough research on the competition, and as a result was not able to differentiate themselves from other screen printing shops in the area. Additionally, the business may have lacked good marketing and sales strategies, which led to low customer traffic and revenue. Lastly, if the screen printing business does not have at least one experienced screen printing employee, quality will suffer, and it will quickly lose market share.