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How to Start a Screen Printing Business from Home in 17 Steps

Do you want to start a screen printing business from home? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a screen printing business with NO money and no experience plus a sample screen printing business plan template. Building your own screen-printing business can, against all odds, be a lucrative business that can yield overwhelming profits.

All the imprinted T-shirts, banners, bags and other items we see on the stands are being purchased by businesses, schools, non-profit organizations, sporting leagues and a variety of other industries. Even retail shops in the streets resell their personalized items for a profit, while companies may use them for branding and advertising purposes. Being able to make quality prints that look sharp and last through a number of laundry cycles is a unique advantage especially in our present world where fashion is the order of the day.

Have it in mind that you will need some amount of training and practice before you sell your first item. You will also need to work with a plan in order to get the best of results for your screen printing trade. That said; go through this article to know how to start a booming screen printing business.

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17 Steps to Starting a Screen Printing Business from Home

1. Understand the Industry

Businesses in this industry engage in screen printing without publishing on a job-order basis. Printing services include, but are not limited to, stationary, invitations, labels and apparel such as T-shirts, caps, jackets and towels. Analysis has shown that this industry has been growing since 2012 because of the demand from downstream consumers and businesses.

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It is believed that the industry has recouped the losses it accrued at the start of this period when cash-strapped consumers couldn’t allocate funds to discretionary expenditures like custom T-shirts. Experts believe that in the coming years, rising income for both businesses and consumers will enhance industry growth, but heightened competition from substitutes will always pose a threat to operators.

The screen printing industry is characterized by a low degree of capital intensity. We discovered that a majority of capital expenditures in the industry center on purchasing expensive printing machinery, but no matter how we look at it from, it tends to be only a one-time expense.

Also custom screen printers have been increasing their investment into technologies that can give wholly targeted and customized printing options for their customers. We are meant to believe that a lot of these investments have been targeted at improving the online presence of businesses in the industry. Even with capital costs rising, this industry remains labour intensive. Labour costs are estimated to represent 27.6% of revenue in 2016, which is high compared to the average for all manufacturing industries.

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2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

Before you start your screen printing company, you should be very certain that there is a wide range of both corporate and individual clients who you believe cannot successfully take their promotions and branding to the next level without hiring the services of a screen printing press.

It is your duty to make sure you develop strategic pacts with corporate organizations, advertising and branding agencies, and religious organizations et al. Outlined below are the list of sectors that always need the services you are willing to provide;

  • Banks, Insurance Companies and other related Financial Institutions
  • Blue Chips Companies
  • Corporate Organizations
  • Manufacturers and Distributors
  • Real Estate Owners, Developers, and Contractors
  • Research and Development Companies
  • The Government (Public Sector)
  • Schools (High Schools, Colleges and Universities)
  • Hotels
  • Celebrities, Politicians, Public Figures and Public Speakers
  • Sport Organizations
  • Religious Organizations
  • Political Parties
  • Television Stations
  • Printing Press (Publishing Houses) and Authors
  • Branding and Advertising agencies
  • Aspiring celebrities
  • Entrepreneurs and Start Ups
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3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On

In the business world, you need to deal with a lot of issues when starting or venturing into a particular lane. You have to take care of your budget, find and exploit niche markets, and create an acceptable organizational structure. Choosing significant market areas where you can set yourself apart from your competition is the lifeline to not falling prey to the generalist customer. We strongly advise that you start with the areas where you are conversant with. We believe that the more passionate you are, the higher your likelihood of success.

For you to stand out and build a business reputation for yourself, it is very relevant that you find one or two niche markets to focus in and develop. The more specific you get with your niche, the easier it will be to come up with an effective marketing plan to sell your products.

The Level of Competition in the Industry

The Screen Printing industry is presently in the mature stage of its business life cycle. Industry value-added (IVA), a measure of an industry’s contribution to the overall economy, is expected to rise at an average rate of 2.3 percent annually in the next 10 years. It is believed that this growth rate is slightly below the 2.5 percent annual US GDP growth expected over the same period.

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Even though the Screen Printing industry is seen as a mature industry, businesses in this industry have been increasing their investments into new technologies and systems so as to increase their income. Also this industry  is indeed a very large industry and always active in all the parts of the world. If we look around, we will notice that no company has a dominate market share in the industry.

We believe that this industry is pretty much open to new entrepreneurs and investors to come in and build a successful business. The screen printing market is fiercely competitive and businesses in the industry constantly complain about price-driven competition and the almost unending recurrence of new start-ups.

We have also noted that customer loyalty seems more of an oxymoron than a reality. We believe that sooner or later, all serious screen printers faced with these issues will search for a niche market where they can differentiate themselves and increase their profit potential.

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4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry

There are big screen printing businesses scattered all over. These coys have come a long way and have paid their dues in making sure that they maintain the top positions over the years. Here are some well-known screen printing brands that you have to know;

  • Art Farm Screen Printing & Design
  • Hanneke’s Logowear
  • Left Hand Promotions
  • Cenveo
  • Quad/Graphics
  • RR Donnelley
  • Arvato
  • Cimpress
  • Dai Nippon Printing
  • Toppan Printing
  • Transcontinental
Economic Analysis

Sincerely if you have a creative mind and an entrepreneurial drive, decorating t-shirts at home might sound like a good way to earn a living doing something you enjoy. Also you should know that starting a screen printing business doesn’t necessarily mean you have to build a factory.

There are screen printers around the world who push out large orders right out of their garages and the comfort of their living room. It is very much possible for you to support yourself with an in-home screen printing business. But before you are ready to start on your own and get ink on your hands, there are some very important things to consider.

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Have it mind that is not going to be easy because it requires focused planning and total dedication to move your screen printing business off the ground. But if you are willing to put in the work, you can build a very formidable and lucrative business.

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

The advantages of buying a Screen Printing franchise instead of starting a new business venture are quite great and attractive, but you should note that buying a franchise is not necessarily a bed of roses. You need to strictly evaluate the factors involved in buying a franchise; you need to do your research even before deciding to commit yourself. It is your right to make sure the business is the right fit for your personal and professional goals.

Then when you believe the business rhymes with your life goals and vision, 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 Screen Printing business without the stress of going from the scratch.

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Achieving your primary goal of building a unique business leaps upwards if you become a franchisee instead of starting from the scratch. If you have decided to start a Screen Printing business, we advise that you do the following;

  • Research the history of the company
  • Decide if it is 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

Indeed one of the juicy parts about this industry is the wide attraction it has to all types of people. We gave noticed that a lot of people around the world have seen the wonders of the screen printing industry and are considering diving into the business. But a lot of people do not understand what it takes and how to get started in the industry.

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For the sake of this article, we hope to help you understand the various ways to kick start this business and what to avoid. The very first pitfall in diving into the business is hoping you can make any kind of custom printed garments with computer generated heat transfers.

Indeed we have noted that this is often the starting point for people with limited funds to purchase equipment. We have also noticed that a lot of heat press vendors and suppliers make it look like you can do just about anything with heat transfers and the truth is there are many things that can be decorated with heat transfers.

The second pitfall when planning to start this business is purchasing a start-up package without knowing the learning curve involved with screen printing business. You should know that most people get start up kits with the promise of being able to raise extra income from home in their spare time. It can’t be denied that a lot of screen printing businesses started this way, but you should also know that most of those startup kits end up lying dormant in storage without being remembered.

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Learning how to screen print takes more than just good equipment. You need to have unique skills and knowledge that cannot be learned overnight. You should also know that there are many different facets to screen printing and each particular product may require certain knowledge in order to print correctly.

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

When starting your screen printing business and choosing a legal structure, you have to understand that you have two options- sole proprietorship and the LLC. But have it in mind that the legal structure you choose out of the two should be based on the size and scale of the business.

Since your business is all about the income and interest of your clients, the LLC is the best legal entity for your business be it small, medium or large. It is important to state that the advantage of creating an LLC typically outweighs any perceived disadvantages. They are;

  • Protected assets
  • Heightened credibility
  • Limited compliance requirements
  • Flexible management structure
  • Few restrictions
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8. Choose a Catchy Business Name

One of the aspects that you need to look into before you start your own screen printing business is the name aspect. You have to look at choosing a name that is unique yet attractive. Here are some sample names that you can work with;

  • Astral Attic Art
  • Apple Ink Shop
  • White Ice Tees
  • Proud and Noble
  • Carousel Ink
  • Cool fashion
  • Feather designs
  • Printing fire
  • Design Trap
  • Gall Art
  • Hancock Creative Shop
  • Manny Apparel
  • Blue screen
  • Ink designs
  • Style Print
  • Little Atoms
  • Methane Studios
  • Creative ink
  • Nimbus Print Shop
  • Designer Press
  • Mafia Designs
  • Printed Wonders
  • Suburban Basement
  • Time Printing

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

As a Screen Printing business owner, you need to be aware of certain business risks such as employees getting a repetitive motion injury or customers slipping in the screen printing shop. We strongly advice that for you to be protected from these and other business risks, you should obtain the screen printers insurance. The insurance your business may need include;

  • Screen Printers General Liability Insurance
  • Screen Printers property insurance
  • Screen Printers Equipment Breakdown Insurance
  • Screen Printers commercial auto insurance
  • Screen Printers umbrella insurance
  • Screen Printers Workers’ Compensation
  • Screen Printers crime insurance
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10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents

If you plan on venturing into this business, then you must go for intellectual property protection to be able to protect your intellectual property. Indeed you may think that it is not important for your business, but note that filing for intellectual property protection for your screen printing business  goes beyond protecting your company’s logo and other documents, but also protecting your investments, ideas, style and of course the name of your company.

If you want to file for intellectual property protection and also register your trademark in the united states, you have to start by filing an application with the USPTO. The final approval of your trademark is subjected to the review of attorneys as required by USPTO.

11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification

Have it mind that each certification in this industry has its own set of rules and regulations and is granted by a professional career organization.

  • ASPA Certified Screen Printer
  • Silkscreen Printmaking Training and Certification
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12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate

  • Articles of Organization
  • LLC operating agreement
  • Business license
  • Business plan
  • Tax

We advise that you register yourself as a small business and check with your Secretary of State about any licenses or registrations you need to have. The regulations are different in every state.

13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital

Whether you are searching for loans, small business grants, angel investors, venture capital, crowd funding, or investments from friends and family, you can greatly step up your chances of securing business capital but writing a well detailed business plan. Ways of financing your Screen printing business may include

  • Personal savings
  • Pitching
  • Angel investors
  • Partnership
  • Bank overdraft
  • Venture Capital
  • Loans from family and friends
  • Loans and grants
  • Alternative funding source like Crowdfunding

14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business

It is important to state that most screen printing businesses choose their location using population density, average adjusted gross income (AGI) in that surrounding area, and proximity to their target market. We advise that you leverage on the same factors when choosing locations for your screen printing business.

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We also advice that you know the specific area you are considering very well; know how many people have access to that location, what income level they belong to, their demographic and psychographic, and the likely competition.

15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs

When starting a screen printing business, be rest assured that you have to do some or  all the aspects of the screen-printing process. These processes may include the conceptualization and then design of the screen-print pattern, the preparation of the apparatus’ stencils, the mixing and loading of inks, the cleaning and maintenance of the machines, the drying and then folding and storage of the finished screen-printed products, and importantly, the ability to troubleshoot any mechanical or technological problems that may arise over time.

Before you start this business, we strongly advise that you master the skills of managing your workers and keeping up all the administrative tasks necessary in running your firm. Managing a business corporately may also include record-keeping, the processing of orders and payments, and the management of the shipping of the processed items to your prospective clients.

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Before starting this business, you need to have a myriad of skills which we believe will make you flow well with the demands of the job. We also believe that you need to have good eyes, an ability to differentiate subtle colours, and a unique dexterity of eye-hand coordination while doing the work. We also believe that you should be able and willing to organise and mix the many chemicals used in the ink for screen-printing.

With the level of advancement in technology in this industry, we also believe it is important that you know your way around computers. Other important skills may include self-motivation, the ability and temperament to solve issues as they come up, general creativity, and a trait for keeping things organized. We also advice that you have a great familiarity with all the screen-printing equipment which may include;

  • Athletic numbering equipment
  • Automatic textile screen printing presses
  • Cts & film printers
  • Computer-to-screen printers
  • Digital printing software
  • Direct-to-garment printers
  • Drying racks
  • Epson inkjet printers
  • Express jet printers
  • Flash units and spot curing
  • Graphic conveyor dryers
  • Graphic screen printing presses
  • Heat transfer presses
  • Manual screen printing presses
  • Platen choices
  • Plotters
  • Pre-treatment sprayers
  • Replacement belts
  • Roland inkjet printer/cutters
  • Screen exposure units
  • Screen exposure units
  • Screen printing equipment & pre-press
  • Screen printing frames & accessories
  • Screen reclaiming/cleaning equipment
  • Shop equipment & misc.
  • Squeegees & floodbars
  • T-shirt and textile conveyor dryers
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The Service Delivery Process of the Business

It is important to state that originally, screen-printing process was known as silkscreen printing because of the silk which is utilized in the process before polyester was invented. But in our modernized society now, the “mesh” (or the screen) is comprised of synthetic threading rather than silk, and the most popular material is made from polyester.

It is also important to state that there are also specialized mesh materials made of nylon and stainless steel that can be used by the screen printer for particular kinds of output. Have it in mind that the mesh itself is also of different sizes, and this on the long run decides the final look and feel of the completed design.

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The screen is built with a piece of the mesh material that is stretched over a frame. To create the image the artist has designed, a stencil (a thin sheet of material like paper, plastic, wood or metal) is used to create letters and/or design a motif on a surface below.

Have it in mind that this is done by the artist applying pigment through the cut-out spaces in the stencil material. Then images are built by blocking out parts of the screen in the negative images of the design that is being created.

Before the actual printing onto the material, the frame and the mesh must be exposed to the pre-press process. Also note that during this process, there is an emulsion that is spread or “scooped” across the screen. What is referred to as the “exposure unit” then clears the unneeded emulsion which leaves behind a clean area in the mesh with the exact shape of the design image for the printing.

At this stage, the screen is placed on top of the “substrate” or underlying surface. A lot of ink is used in steps on top of the screen for a particular part of the design creation. Then what we know as a “floodbar” is used to force the ink through the mesh holes.

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At this point the artist, which is you in this case, begins with the applicator situated at the rear of the screen next to the ink reservoir. Then lifts the screen so as to avoid contact with the substrate, and then, using just the right amount of downward force, pulls the bar to the front of the screen. This is how the mesh openings are filled with ink –because as you move the bar, it follows the ink reservoir to the front of the screen.

At this point, a squeegee (a rubber blade like a windshield wiper) is used to force the mesh down to the underlying surface as it moves from one end of the screen to the other. Also note that during this action the ink that is in the holes or openings of the mesh is squeezed onto the substrate in a severely controlled and exacting manner so that the ink deposited onto the surface uniquely matches the mesh and stencil design. Then as the squeegee blade is moved toward to the back of the screen, it moves the mesh up and away from the underlying surface (substrate) leaving behind the ink that reveals that section of the design.

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16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies

After completing some basic screen printing skills and laying a good business foundation for your screen printing business, you will need to market your business. There are many ways to do this and they may include;

  • Building a website

In your website, you can explain your services and your rates, and give potential customers information about you and your professional background. It will also give you the opportunity to share relevant information that individuals might find interesting and helpful.

  • Partnering with corporate organizations

Have it in mind that almost all organizations are eager to boost their brand awareness and coming to them first might be the kick they need.

  • Using marketing materials

Make use of  inexpensive marketing materials such as business cards and postcards. We advise you drop these off with ventures and businesses around you.

  • Referrals

Another step in marketing your business is to get referrals from family and friends. We believe that they would create the initial buzz for your business and provide the bulk of the testimonials on your website.

  • Using customer’s testimonies

We advise that you collect testimonials from people who have done a job or two with you. That way people who visit your site can see that your services work and are motivated to patronize you.

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

It is important to state that having a brand alone is not enough in the screen printing industry.To win customers over, you need to make sure you shout about your brand and get your name into people’s ears, eyes as well as their hearts. You can do that by doing the following;

  • Choose a resounding name
  • Optimize your website
  • Take over the Internet
  • Personalization
  • Referrals
  • Outshine your competitors
  • Tag your works
  • Biddable media