Do you want to start a vinyl cutting business? If YES, here is a 20-step guide on how to start a vinyl cutting business with no money. Please note that if you intend to start this type of business, it is advisable to first look at the existing laws and zonal regulations in the country or state you reside in to know what is expected of you.
The bottom line is that you need to pay a visit to the regulatory bodies in your country to know what you need to do before you can legally open a vinyl cutting business in your city. You can start your vinyl cutting business from a small town in the United States and if you are good at what you do, it won’t be too long before your brand becomes nationally recognized.
Steps on How to Start a Vinyl cutting business
Understand the Industry
A vinyl cutter is simply a cutting device that can be controlled by a computer. The control of this machine is specifically handled by the computer which ensures the sharp blades of the Vinyl cutter moves properly. It is the duty of these sharp blades to cut out letters or various shapes from sheets of the adhesive Vinyl material. When these letters or shapes are cut with the vinyl machine, they can be stuck on any surface you like.
Using the computer that controls its movement, the vinyl cutter machine’s blade can move from the X to the Y axis of the material while it’s cutting it into any shape of your choice. This cutter is ideal to use if you want to create a particular symbol or shape which you can paste anywhere you want.
Note that the cutter will then follow the vector path that is in your design to smoothly cut out your vector-based artwork. This Vinyl cutter is capable of cutting tasks that have a long length such as banners and billboards since the materials of the vinyl are produced to be in rolls.
However, the only setback that the Vinyl cutter has is that it can only cut out shapes or letters on strong colored Vinyl. If you are planning to design a project of many colors, the Vinyl cutter will have to cut each color one after the other and then place it on top of the other before sticking it on the substrate.
With these limiting factors that are affecting the Vinyl cutter, it still produces long-lasting and solid designs that are resistant to wear or fading.
Have it in mind that many of the designs you’ll be using might be downloaded designs, except if you’re planning on creating your designs. Downloading designs are typical, although you will be expected to buy a commercial license if you intend to sell online.
Unlike a personal license, buying a commercial license is not a cheap investment. If you sell downloaded designs online without a commercial license, it is more or less theft, and you can get sued. If you do enough research, you might find a discounted commercial license.
In the same vein, if you’re skilled at creating your own designs, you can make your own commercial license. This provides you with the opportunity to send a cease-and-desist letter through your lawyer to anyone using your designs without your permission.
Over and above, vinyl cutting business is a profitable business and it is open for any aspiring entrepreneur to come in and establish his or her business. You can choose to start on a small scale or you can choose to start on a large scale with standard workshop and with robust distribution networks both in the United States of America and other countries of the world.
Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographic composition of those who make use of paper crafts and vinyl cutting products cut across individual consumers, businesses and downstream players such as graphic artists, designers and even architects who may further convert the industry’s products into specialty paper products hence the demographic composition for vinyl cutting business is all-encompassing.
So, if you are thinking of starting your own vinyl cutting business, then you should look beyond offering your services to just people in your city, but also people across the United States of America.
Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
There is no niche area of specialization in the vinyl cutting business but some vinyl cutting businesses may decide to specialize in the manufacturing of any or all of the following products;
- Vinyl Lettering
- Wall Murals
- Theme Toy Boxes
- Make and sell Vinyl Cut Clocks
- Make and sell Cut Coasters
- Cut Art
- Niche Greeting Cards
- Vinyl Cut Bookmarks
- Prototype Design
- Vinyl Cut Signs
The Level of Competition in the Industry
The competitions that exist in the vinyl cutting business go beyond competitions in your city; it is both national and international. This is so because major vinyl cutting businesses can be contracted from any part of the United States or abroad especially in China where it can be manufactured at a cheap rate. So, it will be right to say the competition in the printing and graphics industry is relatively tough.
The truth is that no matter the level of competition in an industry if you have done your due diligence and your brand and promote your products or business properly, you will always make headway in the industry. Just ensure you have what it takes to manufacture quality paper products and crafts and you know how to reach out to your target market.
But over and above, there are several vinyl cutting businesses scattered all around the United States and other parts of the world. So, if you choose to start your own vinyl cutting business in the United States, you will definitely meet stiff competition. Besides, there are larger vinyl cutting businesses that determine the trends in the industry and you should be ready to compete with them for customers.
Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
Here are some of the most popular vinyl cutting businesses in the United States of America;
- Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint
- Silhouette CAMEO 3.
- Brother CM350.
- Silhouette America Portrait 2.
- Cricut Maker.
- Cricut Explore Air Wireless.
- USCutter MH-871.
If you are looking towards successfully launching a business and maximizing profits, then you need to ensure that you get your economic analysis right and try as much as possible to adopt best practices in the industry you choose to build a business in.
The vinyl cutting business is no longer a green business, as a matter of fact, you will come across several brand names when you source for vinyl cutting businesses in your state. So, if you are mapping out your economic analysis, you should carry out a thorough market survey and cost of the required vinyl cutting machines, installation, raw materials, branding, and other costs needed to successfully run the business.
Over and above, if you are considering starting a vinyl cutting business, then your concern should not be limited to the cost of setting up the business, but also on branding and on how to build a robust business network. The truth is that if you are able to build a robust business network, you are sure going to maximize profits in the business.
Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
Unfortunately, you can hardly find the franchise of a vinyl cutting business to purchase meaning that if you want to own a vinyl cutting business, then you must be ready to start from scratch. The business is very easy to start and there are loads of opportunities available to aspiring entrepreneurs that are interested in the industry.
Please note that most of the successful vinyl cutting businesses around started from scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand. It takes dedication, hard work, and determination to achieve business success.
Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
If you decide to start your own vinyl cutting business today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well–established vinyl cutting businesses whose products can be found all across the United States. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market.
So also, just like any other business, you are going to face the challenge of getting the required raw materials when you want them. Other threats that you are likely going to face are economic downturn and unfavorable government policies. It is a fact that the economic downturn affects purchasing power.
Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
When considering starting a vinyl cutting business, the legal entity you choose will go a long way to determine how big the business can grow.
You have the option of either choosing a general partnership, limited liability company, or a sole proprietorship for your vinyl cutting business. Ordinarily, sole proprietorship should have been the ideal business structure for a small-scale vinyl cutting business especially if you are just starting out with moderate start-up capital. But if your intention is to grow the business and manufacture paper products for clients all across the United States of America, then choosing a sole proprietor is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company, LLC, or even general partnership will cut it for you.
Setting up an LLC protects you from personal liability. If anything goes wrong in the business, it is only the money that you invested into the limited liability company that will be at risk. It is not so for sole proprietorships and general partnerships. Limited liability companies are simpler and more flexible to operate and you don’t need a board of directors, shareholder meetings, and other managerial formalities.
These are some of the factors you should consider before choosing a legal entity for your vinyl cutting business; limitation of personal liability, ease of transferability, admission of new owners and investors’ expectations, and of course taxes. If you take your time to critically study the various legal entities to use for your vinyl cutting business, you will agree that a limited liability company; an LLC is most suitable. You can start this type of business as a limited liability company (LLC) and in the future convert it to a ‘C’ corporation or an ‘S’ corporation especially when you have plans of going public.
Upgrading to a ‘C’ corporation or ‘S’ corporation will give you the opportunity to grow your vinyl cutting business so as to compete with major players in the industry; you will be able to generate capital from venture capital firms, you will enjoy separate tax structure, and you can easily transfer ownership of the company.
Choose a Catchy Business Name from the Ideas Below
Normally, when it comes to choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. Typically, it is the norm for people to follow the trend in the industry they intend to operate from when naming their business.
If you are considering starting your own vinyl cutting business, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;
- Malcolm Robinson® Vinyl Cutting Shop, Inc.
- Aston Tucson® Vinyl Cutting, Inc.
- Gerson Kent® Vinyl Cutting, Inc.
- Pop Poivre™ Vinyl Cutting Shop
- Madison Teen® Vinyl Cutting, Inc.
- Regal Brown® Vinyl Cutting, Inc.
- David Hudson & Sons® Vinyl Cutting Shop
- Reagent Group® Vinyl Cutting, LLC
- Simpson Martins® Vinyl Cutting, Inc.
- Daniel Wilson® Vinyl Cutting, Inc.
Discuss With an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
In the United States and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policies that are required by the industry you want to operate from. Thus, it is imperative to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your business.
Here are some of the basic insurance policies that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own vinyl cutting business in the United States of America;
- General insurance
- Health insurance
- Liability insurance
- Risk Insurance
- Workers compensation
- Building/Property insurance
- Overhead expense disability insurance
- Business owner’s policy group insurance
- Payment protection insurance
You can contact the following leading insurance companies in the United States of America to purchase the needed insurance policies for your vinyl cutting business;
- Allstate Insurance Group
- Liberty Mutual
- Progressive Insurance Group (PGR)
- Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC)
- New York Life Insurance Company
- Lincoln National Life Insurance Company
- MassMutual (Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company)
- Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company
Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
If you are considering starting your own vinyl cutting business, usually you may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection and trademark. This is because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successfully run the business without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.
On the other hand, if you want to leverage on these business opportunities within the industry and also to protect your unique design, company’s logo, and other documents or software that are unique to you or even operation concepts, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection. If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO.
Get the Necessary Professional Certification
When it comes to operating a vinyl cutting business, you do not need to have any formal training or special certification. All you need is informal training that will expose you to the in and out of managing vinyl cutting business.
On the other hand, if you come across any form of certification that can aid you to manage your vinyl cutting business pretty well, then by all means try and pursue such certification.
Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in the United States without proper documentation. If you do, it won’t be too long before the long hands of the law catches up with you. These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own business in the United States of America;
- Business and liability insurance
- Federal Tax Payer’s ID
- State Permit
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Business License
- Business Plan
- Employment Agreement (offer letters)
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Insurance Policy
- Company Bylaws
- Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
Raise the Needed Startup Capital
Starting a standard, secured, and well-equipped vinyl cutting business is not capital intensive unless you choose to launch the business on a large scale. Leasing of a standard facility that can accommodate your production machine, warehouse, and staff members and of course equipping the facility is part of what will consume a large chunk of your start-up capital, in essence, if you choose to start the business on a small scale, you will still need to source for fund to finance the business.
When it comes to financing a business, one of the first things and perhaps the major factors that you should consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors, and your friends to invest in your business.
Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for start-up capital for your vinyl cutting business;
- Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
- Raising money from investors and business partners
- Sell shares to interested investors
- Applying for a loan from your bank/banks
- Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends.
Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
When it comes to choosing a location for your vinyl cutting business, the rule of thumb is that you should be guided by the demand for such products and easy access to labor and raw materials. Of course, if you are able to secure a central location for your vinyl cutting business, it will enable you to cut the cost of transporting your raw materials and finished products to and from your production facility and warehouse.
It cannot be overemphasized that the location you chose to open your vinyl cutting business is key to the success of the business, hence entrepreneurs are willing to rent or lease a facility in a visible location; a location where the demography consists of people with the required purchasing power. If you make the mistake of renting or leasing a facility for your vinyl cutting business in a not too visible or hidden location simply because it is cheap, then you must be prepared to spend more in promoting the business.
It is important to note that a business facility in a good location does not come cheap hence you should be able to allocate enough funds for leasing/renting in your budget. If you are new to the dynamics of choosing a location for your vinyl cutting business, then you should feel free to talk to a business consultant or a realtor who has a full grasp of the city and perhaps the country you intend to start your vinyl cutting business.
Most importantly, before choosing a location for your vinyl cutting business, ensure that you first conduct a thorough feasibility study and market survey. The possibility of you coming across a similar business that just closed shop in the location you want to open yours can’t be ruled out.
Having said that, these are some of the cities in the United States of America where you can locate your vinyl cutting business;
- Terre Haute, Indiana
- Tucson, Arizona
- Silver Spring, Maryland
- Los Angeles, California
- Portland, Oregon
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- Boston, Massachusetts
- Dallas, Texas
Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
If you are considering setting up a vinyl cutting business, it means that you should be prepared to purchase vinyl cutting machines and accessories. If you don’t have enough cash, you can start with fairly used vinyl cutting machines, but if you are financially buoyant, then you should go for brand new ones.
As regard leasing or outright purchase of a production facility or warehouse facility, the choice is dependent on your financial standings, but the truth is that to be on the safe side, it is advisable to start off with a short–term rent/lease while test running the business in the location. If things work out as planned, then you go on a long-term lease or outright purchase of the property but if not, then move on and source for other ideal locations/facilities for such business.
When it comes to hiring employees, you should make plans to hire a competent Chief Executive Officer (you can occupy this role), Admin and Human Resources Manager, Sales and Marketing Manager, Quality Control Officer, Vinyl Cutting Machine Operators, Accountant, Distribution / Delivery Truck Drivers, and Client Services Executive. On average, you will need a minimum of 5 to 15 key staff members to run a small-scale but standard vinyl cutting business.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
The production process of a vinyl cutting business may differ from one another, but basically a vinyl cutter is an entry level machine for making signs, and here are the steps involved in the production process;
Computer designed images are loaded onto the vinyl cutter via a wired connection or over a wireless protocol, such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Then the vinyl is loaded into the machine where it is automatically fed through and cut to follow the set design. The vinyl can be placed on an adhesive mat to stabilize the vinyl when cutting smaller designs.
Using Other Materials
In addition to vinyl, some cutters are capable of cutting other materials such as paper, cards, plastic sheets, and even thin wood. The thickness and type of material that can be cut will depend on the model of the cutter and heavily depends on the downforce. Cricut is a popular home cutter used by arts and craft enthusiasts since it allows for wide use of different materials and is similar in size to a household printer and has strong downforce for its size.
Backing and Cutting Mat
If you cut material that doesn’t have an adhesive backing you will require a cutting mat that you need to attach your material to. Some cutting mats are sticky, others will require you to use a temporary adhesive and/or masking tape to keep the material in place when cutting.
The vinyl cutter uses a small knife to precisely cut the outline of figures into a sheet or piece of vinyl, but not the release liner. The knife moves side to side and turns, while the vinyl is moved beneath the knife. The result from the cut process is an image cut into the material.
The material is then ‘weeded’ where the excess parts of the figures are removed from the release liner. It is possible to remove the positive parts, which would give a negative decal, or remove the negative parts, giving a positive decal. Removing the figure would be like removing the positive, giving a negative image of the figure.
A sheet of transfer tape with an adhesive backing is laid on the weeded vinyl when necessary. Heat Transfer vinyl often does not require the use of a separate transfer tape. A roller is applied to the tape, causing it to adhere to the vinyl. The transfer tape and the weeded vinyl are pulled off the release liner and applied to a substrate, such as a sheet of aluminium. This results in an aluminium sign with vinyl figures.
It is important to state that a vinyl cutting business may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them efficiency and flexibility; the above-stated vinyl cutting business process is not cast on stone.
Write a Marketing Plan Packed With Ideas & Strategies
Running a business requires that you should be proactive when it comes to marketing your goods or services. If you choose to launch a vinyl cutting business, then you must go all out to employ strategies that will help you attract customers, or else you will likely struggle with the business because there are well-known brands that determine the market direction for the business.
Customers will purchase your products if they know that they are going to get the best in terms of quality and value for their money.
Your marketing strategy should center on quality and pricing, and above all excellent customer service. The truth is that if you are able to put the above stated in place, you won’t struggle to retain your old customers and at the same time win over new customers.
So, when you are drafting your marketing plans, make sure that you create a compelling company profile. Aside from your qualifications and experience, it is important to clearly state what you have been able to achieve in time past. This will help boost your chances in the marketplace when marketing your paper products.
Here are some of the platforms you can utilize to market your vinyl cutting business;
- Introduce your vinyl cutting business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to households, corporate organizations, schools, stores, and key stakeholders throughout the United States and Canada.
- Advertise on the internet on blogs and forums, and also on social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn to get your message across
- Creating a basic website for your business, so as to give your business an online presence
- Directly market your products.
- Join local paper crafts related associations for industry trends and tips
- Provide discount days for your customers
- Advertise our business in community-based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
- List your business on yellow pages ads (local directories)
- Encourage the use of word-of-mouth marketing (referrals)
Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products
One key factor that will help you sell your paper products and paper crafts at rock bottom prices is to purchase your raw materials and supplies directly from wholesalers in pretty large quantities. The truth is the higher the quantities of items you purchase directly from wholesalers, the cheaper you tend to get them.
You can also try as much as possible to work with independent contractors and marketers; it will help you save costs for paying sales and marketing executives.
So also, if you are able to secure a business partnership as it relates to getting referrals, then you will be able to get the right pricing and of course maximize profits from your business.
Develop Iron-Clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
The vinyl cutting business is a competitive industry, and you must come up with a unique and highly creative strategy to be able to outsmart your competitors in the industry. Part of what you need to do in order to stay competitive in the industry is to ensure that your paper products and paper crafts are well designed to fit with the trends and quality must also be your guiding principle.
In other to stay competitive in this industry, you must ensure that your clients are always comfortable when making use of your paper products and always ensure that you pay attention to details when carrying out your job. The truth is that if there are fluctuations in the quality of your products, customers can choose to shift allegiance and settle for other options available.
Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
When it comes to business, no matter the industry that you choose to pitch your tent in, one of the easiest ways to increase customer retention and perhaps attract new customers is to produce results and satisfy your customers always. If your customers are satisfied with your products and service delivery, they can hardly source for alternative service providers.
If your services and customer service fluctuate, you are likely going to struggle to get your customers coming back. Ensure that you offer your customers incentives if you want to retain them and of course continue to generate repeated sales from them and also to attract new customers.
Part of what you need to do to achieve this is to track progress, results, or outputs with the aim of improving on them quickly as the case demands. When it comes to managing your customers and building a loyal clientele base, you should purchase customized CRM software.
With a customized CRM system, you can easily stay in touch with your clients (you can carry out quick surveys, you can introduce new products and prices to them without any hitch, you can felicitate with them on their birthdays and other anniversaries, you can keep track of their progress, you can send bulk SMS and customized emails and above all, you can easily receive compliant and feedback from them).
Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
If you are in business and you are not conscious about boosting your brand awareness and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portrays your business to be. One of the secrets of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend fortunes year in and year out to boost their brand awareness and to continue to communicate their corporate identity the way they want people to perceive them to be.
No matter the industry you belong to, the truth is that the market is dynamic and it requires consistent brand awareness and brand-boosting cum promotion to continue to appeal to your target market. Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand and create a corporate identity for your vinyl cutting business;
- Place adverts on both print (newspapers and magazines) and electronic media platforms
- Sponsor relevant community-based events
- Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + et al to promote your vinyl cutting business
- Install your billboards in strategic locations all around your city or state
- Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
- List your vinyl cutting business in local directories/yellow pages
- Advertise your vinyl cutting business on your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site
- Position your Flexi Banners at strategic positions in the location where your vinyl cutting business is located.
- Ensure that all your staff members wear your branded shirts and all your vehicles are branded with your company logo.