Do you want to start a paper plate making business? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a paper plate making business with NO money and no experience. First and foremost, paper plates are accessories used in serving food items. At picnics or a finger food party, the role of paper plates can never be overemphasized. Its size and lightweight has made it attractive and a must for events. These plates are available in a wide range of designs and sizes to meet the needs and preferences of consumers.

This is why establishing and running your own paper plate business is an amazing way of earning extra income. With the growing demand coupled with the low supply of paper plates, now is the perfect time to start and run this business successfully.

But before you start your own paper plate making business, you need to take a look at the market and its needs in relation with the international market. Indeed there are huge demands for paper-made products owing to environmental concerns that made government authorities to ban plastic plates and cups.

You can leverage this growing market and start a paper plate making business which is a clean opportunity for you to have a self-standing career.

18 Steps to Starting a Paper Plate Making Business in the United States

1. Understand the Industry

Reports have it that the market for paper plates is globally fragmented into types of materials, end use, and regions. On the basis of material type, the global market is segregated into plastic, polyethylene terephthalate, low-density polyethylene, polypropylene, and high-density polyethylene.

The plastics segment is further sub-segregated into molded fiber, paper and paperboard, and plastic. On the basis of end use, the market is categorized into restaurants, birthday parties and other occasions, theatres, food retail outlets, and others.

Based on the geographical regions, the market is diversified into North America, Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe, the Middle East & Africa, Western Europe, and Latin America.

It’s important to note that paper plates are manufactured by the producers of food packaging materials. Experts believe that the food packaging industry holds a good market share. Indeed paper is available in very big quantities and have low cost, therefore growing the demand for paper plates.

We also believe that the change in lifestyle of people in developing regions and the consumption of ready to eat snacks have greatly affected the paper plate market positively. But then, the availability of alternatives such as trays for serving the food limits the growth of the paper plate market.

Reports have also shown that the massive growth in the food servicing industry in North America is the key trend that is driving the paper plate market; while the market growth in Western Europe is also good due to the change in the lifestyle of the people.

Experts believe that the paper plate market will grow at a moderate rate in Eastern Europe in the coming years. As Latin America and Asia Pacific regions are densely populated regions, the market is expected to grow at a rapid rate. In the Middle East and Africa, the market share for paper plate is small but is slowly growing.

2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

Just like we stated above, understanding the market demand for paper plates in your anticipated market is very important before choosing any business niche. Higher comfort is the main reason behind the increasing demand of paper plates. It is very easy to dispose of them and no need of cleaning and washing.

These plates will always be used in different occasions like picnics or any kind of ceremony or event where food or snacks will be distributed to people. Also since they are daily usable items and are disposed of immediately, this product is continuously in demand.

Research has shown that paper plates are widely used in eateries like canteens, restaurants, sweet and snack corners and have a great market with event organizers. In this business, you will get a steady market demand for your paper plates as with the increasing population; the need for the paper plates is also growing by a huge margin.

With the help of your marketing skills, you can have an agreement with different canteens and restaurants or event organizers to have a permanent customer base. We also believe you can lure them with attractive pricing or other gifts or schemes depending on the market requirement and individual choice.

3. Decide What Niche to Concentrate On

When starting your paper plate making business, you will have to decide who you are trying to sell to. You need to find your niche and decide how you will differentiate yourself from other paper plate manufacturers out there.

This is why deciding on a niche is part of the crucial decisions you have to make. If you specialize in a certain type of plate, your business name will be synonymous with the sort of plates you produce. Niches may include:

  • Making custom made paper plates
  • Making gift paper plates
  • Making green paper plates
  • Creating paper plates used for designs etc.
The Level of Competition in the Industry

Reports have it that the US paper plates market reached US$ 104 billion in 2016. Indeed the ever growing food service sector has led the United States to become one of the largest markets for paper cups and plates worldwide.

We believe that paper cups and plates are most times covered with plastic resin to increase their durability, making them liquid resistant and preventing them from soaking the moisture and becoming soggy. This is why they are extensively used to dispense beverages such as tea, coffee, soup, etc. But then paper disposables such as cups and plates do not need cleaning, and therefore can be discarded easily after use.

Due to modernization, hectic lifestyle and surging income levels, industry clients prefer to use disposables instead of reusable utensils to save time and effort, therefore encouraging the growth of the paper plates market.

The market is expected to reach a value of US$ 119 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of more than 2% between 2017 and 2022. Analysis has shown that food retail outlets are hindered by the challenge of serving customers at a faster rate along with keeping service cost at low levels.

We believe that this need to serve food to customers and at the same time maintain hygiene levels has led to the use of disposable paper plates. Research has it that paper plates and cups are widely used by restaurants, food joints, fast food retailers, etc.

Plastic plate manufacturers are supplying eco-friendly or paper made plates in order to address the issue of disposability of plastics. Paper plates are manufactured from paper pulp or recycled material which is very cheap and easily available.

4. Know the Major Competitors in the Industry

  • Ningbo Yinzhou Realpack Products Co., Ltd.
  • Eco-Products, Inc.
  • Solia SA
  • CKF Inc.
  • Guangdong Huasheng Meto Green Tech Stock Limited
  • Yiwu Green Paper Work Factory
  • Biopac India Corporation Limited
  • Ecoware Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
  • Sabert Corporation
  • Huhtamaki Group
  • Hangzhou Lvyang Paper Products Co., Ltd.
  • Xiamen Bioleader Environmental Protection Technology Co., Ltd.
Economic Analysis

Paper plates over the years has gained very huge acceptance over plastic plates. Also the ban of plastic usage all over the world has made paper plate business attractive to new entrepreneurs.

Industry statistics has shown that plates have a huge demand in parties and functions all over the world. Paper plates are generally made from millboard, grey board, Kraft paper, greaseproof paper. Nowadays demand for paper plates has increased drastically both in urban and rural areas.

Have it in mind that writing a detailed business plan for your paper plate making business and acting in accordance with it will ensure the smooth running of your business. The document should highlight your financial requirements, business goals, competitive environment; marketing strategies you will use to attract your target audience, the resources needed for the business and so on.

Also note that you can employ a professional in the field to do that for you, but if you have adequate knowledge about it, then no harm is done. Paper plate demands are mainly originating from IT concerns, educational institutes, industrial canteens, food canteens, roadside café and eateries, coffee shops, fast food centers, supermarkets and event organizers.

We also believe that the massive growth in demand, high employability, recycling of waste paper, production of paper plates of different designs and sizes are the strengths of the paper industry and as a result, this industry is having huge growth potential which would lead to socio-economic development, huge demands, good output recyclability, innovative creations of new items and emergence of fresh ancillary industry like packaging and transportation.

5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch

Note that the advantage of buying a paper plate making business franchise instead of starting a new business from the scratch is quite encouraging. But then buying a franchise isn’t necessarily a bed of roses.

Thoroughly evaluating the factors involved with buying a franchise, you will understand that you also need to do your research even before deciding to commit yourself. You also need to make sure the business is the right fit for your personal and professional goals.

If you think the business rhymes with your life goals, the assistance of a business broker will help all the pieces of the process to fall in place and you might just become an owner of a Paper plate making business without much stress. Facts have shown that your main goal of growing your business is more achievable if you become a franchisee instead of starting from the scratch.

  • Always research the history of the franchise
  • Decide if it’s the best of you
  • Hope for the Best But Plan for the Worst
  • Negotiate for a Good Price

6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face

This business has its own problems and pitfalls. The alterations in economic and technological environment along with the regulatory framework have affected the industry to a great extent.

The availability of raw materials, power, paper and cellulose raw materials has hindered the access to the proper technology that can convert these raw stuff into high grade pulp. Also the need for water used in production poses a serious challenge in this business.

Recently, the most coveted raw material for the industry is depleting at a fast rate and has already started giving alarming signals at some areas across the country. Also the paper plates industry is also affected by energy shortage like power and coal and the industry is energy intensive. Other challenges or barriers to starting this business may include;

  • Purchasing Supplies And Equipment
  • Hiring staff
  • Market services
  • Selecting a niche
  • Researching about the industry
  • Naming your business
  • Setting up your workplace

7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)

When making this decision for your business, just bear it in mind that you have two options- sole proprietorship and the LLC. This is why to hugely understand the tax liabilities for each; it is quite beneficial if you get hold of the definitions.

A sole proprietor business structure is a company with a single owner. This structure is used by three-quarters of all businesses. The owner is in control of the company and has the simplest initial setup. A limited liability corporation, or LLC, is often formed for partnerships when the business has grown significantly. The LLC creates more options for growth and tax advantages.

Indeed a lot of entrepreneurs would want to establish their business as an LLC than a sole proprietorship because of liability issues, but have it in mind that it takes money to prepare the articles of incorporation.

Payment options need to be considered, a bookkeeping system has to be in place, and this all takes additional money that takes away from the funding necessary to purchase the materials to make the products.

8. Choose a Catchy Business Name from the ideas Below

  • Flashy paper plates
  • Pressing Events
  • Pulp
  • Warship plates
  • Paper press
  • The Gallery Collection
  • Paper plates cottage
  • The Papery Of Princeton
  • Funny paper plates
  • Brickwell plates
  • Plates Factory
  • Heaven paper plates
  • Smart paper plates
  • Paper plates Galore
  • Carlton Paper plates
  • Glass Cinderella paper plates
  • Paper plate making Shop
  • Papyrus

9. Discuss With an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You

It’s very important that you cover yourself as a paper business owner from potential lawsuits by getting business insurance. Even before you purchase insurance, you need to categorically outline your business risks and decide how to avoid those risks. Note that not all of your risks as a business owner can be covered simply by getting a basic insurance policy.

We suggest that you first know what your risks are before you set out to protect yourself. This is why we suggest you consult with an attorney or even an insurance professional. Risk in the Paper plate making business can be overwhelming but listed below are the basic insurance policies you will need.

Professional Liability Insurance

This insurance which is also known as Errors and Omissions insurance or E&O insurance provides coverage in the event that a business is held legally liable for damages which are cause by your improper advice or negligence.

Commercial Auto Insurance

Being an entrepreneur, you need the same kinds of insurance coverage for your business car as you do for your personal cars– liability, collision and comprehensive, medical payments (known as personal injury protection in some states) and coverage for uninsured motorists.

General Liability Insurance

This insurance protects your business against claims for bodily injury and property damage. Adding property coverage to a General Liability policy is often referred to as a Business Owner Policy or BOP insurance. The BOP insurance has many levels and facets.  General Liability protects your small business from injury or damage caused by your employees or injury to 3rd parties while on your premises.

Workers compensation insurance

This insurance covers the medical and lost wage costs (similar to disability) when an employee suffers a work-related injury or illness.

10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents

Indeed copyright is an automatic right, but then the way you protect your designs rests solely on you. We can all agree that creating and designing a product is hard work. It will sure hurt if after taking so much time striving to bring your idea to life, then you discover your design or promotional copy is stolen. Imitation is not the most sincere form of flattery; it’s a drastic reduction on your gross income and your ability to support yourself.

Licensing

Licensing or mass producing your work is one very great way to make money but there are a lot of issues you need to consider when licensing your design. For instance, will you receive artist credit?

What method of payment will you be getting– a flat fee for the design or royalties based upon sales? What about any non-compete clauses? You should be wise and alert wen dotting the contract to make sure you’re not actually losing money by licensing your product.

Patents

A lot of paper plate making businesses will be better served by copyrighting their work. However, this is a complex subject that is best discussed with your attorney should you think you may benefit from seeking a design patent.

Copyrights

You need to understand that the most crucial part of copyrights for your paper plate making business is that they protect the written word. Your ideas and designs aren’t protected by the copyright law, although the way in which they are expressed may be – thus the importance of protecting your written word.

Trademarks

A trademark is a unique symbol, word, or phrase that identifies your product. Two symbols designate a trademark. One is ™ and the other is an R inside a circle ®. You should formal formally to register your trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

11. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate

Every business needs legal documents to do business in a particular environment. It doesn’t depend on what you make or sell, or if you make a profit or not. A lot of licenses may be necessary, but is still depends on your location and what you are offering. This is why the prime step is to find out if you need a business license.

If you plan on operating your paper plate making business as a home-based business and live within city limits, the best place to check is with your city business license office. You can also check with your county business license office. If you need to get a business license, you also need to check for zoning issues.

We also suggest that you contact your local government to know about those requirements, and to make sure you have all the proper forms. Also, try paying the proper taxes. Apply to the IRS for a tax identification number, which you will use on the many tax-filing forms your new business will need.

You should also purchase financial software. Strive to meet all the mandatory and necessary legal obligations and visit the respective authorities to obtain necessary documents. If you do this and comply with all the necessary laws, then you can proceed to the next thing you are expected to do before kick starting a paper plate making business.

12. Raise the Needed Startup Capital

To start a paper plate making business, you need to have startup capital at hand or it will be very hard to launch your business successfully. It does not necessarily mean that you must have the exact capital needed to kick start your business. You can raise capital from family members and friends, or better still, apply for a loan from financial institutions with your business plan.

We believe there are several new government schemes out there where you can get loan to set up your paper plate business without any collateral. But then to ask for a loan from any financial institutions, you need to file a well-written business plan of your paper plate making business. You can get business finance from…

  • Personal savings
  • Loans
  • Credit card caveats
  • Investors
  • Partnership
  • Crowdfunding
  • Family and friends

13. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business

Most individuals are neglecting this business because they assume they need a huge garage or workspace to start making paper plates. But have it in mind that you can successfully set up a small hobbyist paper plate making shop in any space, even in an apartment.

First you need to consider the demographics and Psychographics of the proposed location, you need to decide if your targeted audience are close to you and you can reach them. Then there are raw material considerations, competition, good road network, brand affinity and networking. However, choosing the suitable business location is very critical to the success of your business.

If you plan on starting big, you will need a factory and not a retail counter for selling paper plates and location would not be of prime significance. It is better to set up the factory in the outskirts of the city or in particular industrial zones where price of land is not quite high.

But we suggest you have your manufacturing unit close to your intended consumers and suppliers of raw materials. All you would need is a covered area of approximately 500 square meters with uninterrupted power connectivity to run all the electrical machines. The location should be such that you can effortlessly attract, source and eventually recruit workers for your plant.

14. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs

We believe you don’t need to have specific skills or knowledge before staring up this lucrative business. The paper plate making business is not completely dependent on manual operation.

The manufacturing process of paper plates is not at all labour-intensive and you would be able to run the entire factory with the help of one production manager, one skilled labourer and one unskilled labourer.

But then it’s best to estimate the manpower on both managerial and administrative role needed on the basis of the capacity of the plant while you do rest of the works. Tools needed to start the business include;

  • Paper plate making machine
  • Die
  • Raw Materials
The Service Delivery process of the Business 

There are three stages involved in the process of making paper plates. The very first stage takes care of carving out the design and pattern of the plate and the encircling area is tapered in the second stage while in the third and final stage, the paper plate is pre-heated and the sides are rimmed and curled to make the process complete.

Raw materials

Paper plate businesses need raw items in the form of bottom reel, printed PE paper and packing material. There are a lot of manufacturers of automatic machinery of paper plates across the United States and you can surely get something to meet your requirements within your budget.

Also note that you will have to look for reputed suppliers who can get you the raw materials in good time and extend the credit term if needed and you should also have to negotiate better pricing with the suppliers by promising timely payment. Also ensure that the raw materials are of top quality so that you don’t have to compromise the quality of your manufactured products.

Paper plate manufacturing process

Making and designing paper plates is not as complicated because you can make plates of varying shapes and sizes with the aid of specific die. The paper along with the polythene sheets need to be previously cut for proper sizing and you may even buy these materials pre-cut as per your requirements. The particular die has to be mounted on the press and the die is then heated to the needed temperature.

Then both the layers of paper as well as polythene sheets are placed properly in between the respective die parts and application of pressure aids the product to take its needed shape. After that, the product ultimately formed is removed for you to load another set.

Afterwards, the bulk of manufactured products are collected and the edges are trimmed and rippled to give it the desired shape and appearance. Then they are packed in a set and dispatched for delivery. The general production capacity of a regular paper plate manufacturing unit is 30,000 to 40,000 in a day per each press on two shifts.

15. Write a Marketing Plan Packed With ideas & Strategies

As a new entrant in this lucrative industry, you are expected to have a solid value proposition for creating a viable market for your business. This is why you will have to segregate the different targeted groups of consumers, their special attributes etc., so that you can scheme distinct marketing strategies for every customer segment.

To make known your identity, you may consider venturing into an agreement with consumers where you may sell the paper plates at a relatively lower cost. Immediately your target group of consumers is assured of the quality and competitive pricing of your products, you may raise the price.

We also suggest that you ensure that the quality of your manufactured products is top rate as it is very important to the success of your business.

Staffing Expertise

A lot of entrepreneurs believe that in-house staffing is attractive because it can be performed by current employees and can give them more control over the process, which is indeed true.

So don’t you neglect or overlook the need to enlist the assistance of external marketing professionals. In addition to delivering a better overall outcome, marketing firms brings an optimistic perspective to your strategy and key messaging.

Make use of the Contests concept

Leveraging this concept does not guarantee high income and revenue, but it can be a strategic component of a comprehensive marketing plan. However, a contest is not a no-risk marketing option. Poor execution can dampen your struggle to improve your business’s market presence.

Making use of Multichannel Marketing Strategies

We believe that making use of multichannel marketing strategies can make your business grow higher and reach more customers. Customers now engage with brands in different ways, which is the more why brands need to show diversity in the channels they employ to connect with customers.

It is very much possible for a paper plate making business to channel a part of its resources towards marketing channels to maintain a noticeable presence in the marketplace. So consider including print ads, flyers, and even online marketing tactics in your marketing plan. Also note that the acquisition of a reliable mailing list from considerable and proven providers can aid your business.

16. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win

You have to understand the competitive landscape that you might face in this business and where your new business will fit in. It’s also important that you understand that competition is natural in business and it shouldn’t be discouraged. You just need to sit up and devise ways to win your business competitors, and this ways may include:

  • Use Your Printer’s Bulletin Board
  • Teach a class once in a while or speak to a group
  • Submit your paper plates to reps
  • Help other people make money
  • Invent a new kind of paper plates
  • Write and publish an article
  • Contact Trade Publications
  • Offer raffle donation

17. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers

Customers returning is a blessing every business should be working towards and praying for. Have it in mind that a customer with an awesome story to tell or an awesome product to show will definitely attract ten new ones. Ways to increase customer retention and make your brand super lucrative may include;

  • Know your customers
  • Try display advertising retargeting your customers
  • Work together and implement loyalty programs
  • Satisfy your customers
  • Stay in contact
  • Attend to dissatisfied customers
  • Make them feel wanted
  • Educate customers

18. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity

The essence of having brand awareness is to make sure people know you are selling paper plates for them to patronize it. It’s your sole responsibility as an entrepreneur to boost your brand awareness and create a corporate identity for your business. Ways to do that may include:

  • Leverage the social media
  • Go directly to event organisers and shops to sell your products and create a sustainable supply chain
  • Create a website to sell your paper plates online
  • Using an online store like Etsy or eBay, make sure you are familiar with the kind of users that populate these sites, and whether or not they fit into your target audience.
Ajaero Tony Martins