Starting a New Digital Printing Business
I am starting a new business with my brother. He and I have a little bit of experience with the Digital Printing Business. He is really good with photoshop and has a descent portfolio of work he has done in the past (business cards, banners, Flyers, T-shirts, Logos, Menus). We are talking about starting a new business. I dont know much about designing but I have more knowledge on the Sales and Accounting Area. (Wich I think will be helpful) What we have decided is to start as a Broker (advises will be greatley appreciated)
So, our plan is to start as a broker and at the same time come up with a website to start selling products online also as a broker and In the future, if as a broker we build a strong customer list then we will think of opening a small shop.
Please give us some advice.
Caution: Printing may have long-term side effects to the size of your debt.
It is very, very easy to get in way over your head in the printing industry. Best intentions will not pay your lease and a lease on a good digital press (or production copier) can easily out-scale your mortgages, car payments and retirement funds combined.
I would very strongly suggest that you complete an exhaustive business plan, complete with marketing and financial projections for at least 8 quarters; and your brother begin to very seriously begin to study design and production. Photoshop IS NOT the be-all end-all of design software. Photoshop is for photos, not layout. If you want to be professional, stop being bad and get educated on the proper tools and techniques. Get a full Adobe Design Suite (InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop) and head down to your local junior or community college and take a design class, bonus points if they have a pre-production class.
Actually, you may want to take a year and get a part-time job at a copy shop or local printer. Hands-on education (with Real-Deal Client Demands™) is priceless. Seriously! You can't call yourself a printer until you've argued what "kelly green" looks like.
I don't mean to be harsh, but the industry is littered with failed printing firms and terrible "graphic designers" who have no business in the business. I personally know several people who were financially ruined by their best intentions after trying to get into printing. It's not as easy as the professionals make it seem.
Get educated. Plan well. Work hard. Good luck.
"I'm gonna need to see more math I don't understand to believe all this"
I also wish you good luck in this endeavor.
My husband works as a letterpress operator (specialty work such as foiling, embossing, numbering, scoring, etc.) and has seen so many print shops go out of business that he's not sure the company he works for (just a 2-man operation) is going to make it. If it weren't for the inhouse state and colleges that he has for clients, they'd probably already have closed their doors.
Prepress: Maynard is right - you MUST have the complete CS product, plus you have to have anything in your arsenal that your clients might use - Quark, Publisher, fonts, PC + Mac, etc. You also have to be sure you can flightcheck the files, so another software purchase required. Then there are the PDFs, probably your biggest workflow, so you'd need Acrobat Pro and perhaps PitStop Pro. I have to wish you luck finding someone or some school that actually teaches prepress - it's a tricky business and I've found that schools tend to pass right over it, even though it might be the most important part of printing. Hands-on may be the only way to learn this aspect of the printing business, so working in a printshop first was a good suggestions. You wouldn't believe some of the things that come up that leave you scratching your head.
Keep us posted and I hope you can make this happen. Just be sure, like was mentioned above, to do your homework before beginning this new adventure. There's more to it than meets the eye.
I seriously hope you have done your homework on this because it's tough for a printer in a world of digital communication. I've been with McCarthy Print for 12 years now. This is a company that went from making pamphlets out of a small house to being one of the premiere downtown printers in Austin, TX. As the business owner, you will have no holidays, no high salary, and hardly any free time. It is constant work and it can be draining. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavor, but please make sure you do all the necessary groundwork because like others have said, the debt can pile up very quickly. We just got a press a few years ago that was over $1,000,000 just for a single press. You can check out the company at McCarthy Print | Austin Printers | Austin Printing Services | Austin Digital Printing .
Listen to these people. I commend anyone who takes a whack at it. A solid business plan is an absolute. And very deep pockets. The way people handle Print today is so different from the times of someone starting out in their garage with a little press. But I suspect it has been that way all along also. I use the Horse and Buggy whip theory. Back in the day you would have been able to have a strong company making such a product. And there are still companies out there doing it to this day. But did you really want to open such a business with Henry Ford right on your heels? Same theory.
Just be a broker dont buy anything, just sell sell sell. There are so many printers out there at the moment doing work so cheaply (I'm sure some dont even cover the cost of the paper) You can easily put a 50% mark up on most of your print work. Dont worry about buying expensive software just get your printer to do it all for you for nothing (they will) you just need a phone and a computer. After a year then think about buying presses etc but dont bother!
Hope this helps
Gee, it sounds like things are tougher in the states than they are here. I have a very small print business, about 75% digital, 25% offset.
Turnover close to 300k a year. I manage to make about 35k gross on this turnover, not fantastic but just a livable wage. But hey my wife works full time. So as long as your expectations are not to high you might be allright. But keep debt down to an absolute minamum. I have paid cash for almost all my gear. ( I have owned this business for 25 years ) and most important just because you are now business owners don't live beyond your means. Just basic money management really. ta Simon ( from New Zealand )
I tell you this is the Gospel right here. Nothing like the Being Tucker-The man and his dream though and I applaud you for wanting to be the boss. If you are the salesman then you are the goods. Print is changing so quick these days a business plan/model will need to be modified in short order as you go along. It all comes down to who you know that needs Printing and will they let you have a shot at the work? If you can lock that up, broker the work and make the production a headache for someone else. I hope you listen to the people that are replying to your question. Even if you get an opportunity to bid on work take a hard look at the numbers as the profit margins are really tight in the market.
Originally Posted by ajr
On the flip side if you can find a niche and outsmart your competitors you can do OK for yourself.
In the end the decision is really up to you, but as long as you've don your research and taken the necessary precautions, it shouldn't be too problematic. However, you can't take the advice of the more senior members lightly.