Screen printing startups: How to avoid the common roadblocks on your road to success

From the garage-based startup to the plant mass-producing designs by the thousand, the screen printing business is one that scales well. There’s room in this business for everyone. The bar for entry business is so low, however, that it’s possible to rush in before you’re ready, making some serious mistakes. 

screen printingThe mistake of not having a plan to handle the competition

If easy entry is one of the reasons that you feel emboldened to start up a screen printing business, you need to remember that it’s also a reason for other entrepreneurs to be drawn to it. Price wars commonly flare up, both with small and large businesses.

Many possible solutions exist. It may be possible for you to find a screen printing niche that you truly love, and attempt to offer greater variety than anyone else. Another possible strategy may be to offer very high-quality artwork. Setting your company up as a purveyor of great art, rather than generic produce, can help. Once you’ve established a beachhead, you can consider expanding.

Jumping in headfirst when you don’t need to

Investing in a screen printing business first and then learning the ins and outs of the business, can be a costly and anxiety-provoking exercise. If things don’t go well, you’ll be out a great deal of money. You need to gain experience at the business before you put any money into it.

Rather than starting out actually buying the equipment and setting yourself up in business, it’s a good idea to simply start out as a middleman. It’ll give you a great idea of the economic realities of the screen printing business, at first, to simply buy and sell. You will only need to gain orders, and then find a printer to outsource work to. Your time in the business will allow you opportunities to learn how it works. You can actually invest in your own equipment once you satisfy yourself of your ability to handle the challenges involved.

Going in knowing too little

A successful screen printing business can get complicated. You need to run an artwork department, understand at least the basics of ink and emulsion technology, the finer points of fabric quality, and embroidery and printing techniques, among other things. If you go in thinking of a business where machine and software do most of the work, you could end up overwhelmed. It’s important to gain an education.

Going in as a small-run printer without adequate planning

Boutique shops need screen-printing services that take on orders for small runs, and it’s possible to build a viable business catering to that market. You do need to plan for the needs of this market, however. It’s easy to make the mistake of investing in equipment not well-suited to small runs.

Underestimating the importance of proper production management

Mistakes are easy to make even when you do start small. Nothing ruins a promising screen printing business more effectively than orders that go out the wrong color, size or pricing. It’s also easy to make mistakes ordering the wrong supplies. It’s important to use professional software and use a quality web-based screen printing supplies provider, no matter how small your business may be.

Being the lone ranger

Screen printing is a huge field, with businesses and investors innovating in dozens of ways. It can be risky to go in without an adequate introduction to the state of the field. Subscribing to industry periodicals, attending industry events and signing up with a mentor, are all essential steps to take.

Don’t invest big bucks without first getting your feet wet

It’s easy to tell someone considering a venture, to put a thorough business plan together first before they invest any actual money; to an over-eager first-time entrepreneur, however, it can be advice that’s hard to take. When you’re raring to go, it can be hard to slow down and laboriously prepare a plan. It’s often much easier to simply put down a few dollars for a ready-made template.

With screen printing, it’s easy to gain business experience without investing a great deal. Many businesses do go under, and it’s possible to pick up inexpensive used equipment to quickly get a feel for the business. A business plan is always easier to write out when you have practice under your belt. Experience can make for a better business plan.

Matt Malanga has more than 20 years of experience in growing the top-line of disruptive companies. He is currently launching a new business, Rev Avenue, to disrupt traditional marketing management consulting companies and is a factional CMO at MonsterCloud and ShopWorks Software.