Do you want to start a customized glass etching business? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a customized glass etching business with NO money and no experience. The glass etching business is one that is not only exciting but also very profitable for any entrepreneur looking to start this kind of business as there are tons of glasses that can be etched. Glass etching allows for creativity as you can customize a glass item for those that want to give out glass gifts, awards or decorate their homes and businesses.

The possibilities are endless as regards what you can etch on different types of glasses. One good thing with glass etching is that you do not have to be an artist to start this business, as with lots of practice you can develop amazing techniques.

The good news about the glass etching business is that you can sell your products in various markets as etched glasses are often used in celebrations and commemoration of events. Also, those who give out glass etched items as gifts love the fact that they are not only personalizing the product they are giving to someone that they care about, but that they are also giving a gift that is permanent.

Even though this might look like a trivial business, but having a business plan is very important. The standard reasons why you will need to create a business plan is so that you can determine how viable your business idea is, be able to obtain financing, as well as also have control over how your business can grow.

17 Steps to Starting a Customized Glass Etching Business

1. Understand the Industry

According to IBISWorld, there are no companies that have a dominant share in this industry. The industry which is merged with engravings generates revenue of $2 billion annually and between the period of 2011 and 2016 had a 5.5 percent growth, this shows that the industry has had a robust growth.

There are more than 3,700 businesses operating in the united states and employing more than 10,700 people. It is expected that revenue will continue to increase over the next five years 2016 – 2022 as the economy continues to boom which will lead to consumers having more money to spend on discretionary services.

The glass etching technique is one that has become quite popular in the automobile industry and this has become an advantage to car owners as thieves do not like to steal such vehicles because they will need to replace the glass.

In time past, learning glass etching used to be very difficult because those who knew how to etch considered the knowledge of their techniques to be a secret and most glass etchers till today still do not consider it necessary to share their etching ideas with others.

Globally, the glass industry generates more than $75 billion every year and countries that lead in exporting are the United States, France, China, Japan, Germany and india. However, 60 percent of the revenue generated by the glass industry is from specialty products. Sectors that are end-users such as bottling, construction, container, and automotive industries make up the greatest demand.

It is expected that the glass manufacturing market will continue to grow due to innovation in technology and rising level of activity in the automobile industry globally.

2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

The demography and psychographic composition of those who might require the services of a customized glass etching business are hotels and motels, restaurants, luxury apartment buildings, corporate businesses, educational institutions, home builders, wealthy individuals and so on.

Therefore, if you are looking to define the demographics of your customized glass etching business, it should be one that should depend on where you intend to locate your business.

3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On

A customized glass etching business is usually one that involves etching on a piece of glass according to a pattern that had been cut from stencil where etching cream is then used to brush over the stencil. Another process is usually the sandblasting process where tiny particles of sand are used to hit the glass and then removed in such a way that the surface of the glass becomes etched.

Even though there are many products that can be etched, entrepreneurs starting this business usually look for ways which they can stand out by offering niche services. Below are some of the niche ideas that you can specialize on within this business;

  • Glass Etchings
  • Engraving services
  • Etching non-precious and precious metal
The Level of Competition in the Industry

In every industry, there is bound to be a level of competition that will depend on how many of such businesses are located in the same area. Even though the glass etching business industry is not a large one, the few that exist have to strive for the attention of the customers especially as this is not a service that is regarded as essential.

Those that patronize glass etchers usually go for those that are innovative and consistent in their quality, so, in order for you to stand out and convince your potential customers to choose your business as against that of your competitors, it is important that you have carried out jobs that are regarded as creative and innovative.

One thing you should note when looking to start your business is that you will not only be competing against other etching companies but also other similar services such as sandblasting, engravings and the rest and so you should develop strategies that will enable you to compete with others.

4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry

In every industry, there are brands that stand out and the etching industry is no different. It should be noted that because the business is majorly regionalized, there are no national brands that stand out and as such most popular brands are only known within the region in which they operate. Regardless of this fact, brands that stand out have certain factors going for them; quality of service, charges, promotional campaigns and customer care service.

Below therefore are some well-known brands in the industry;

  • Etched in Glass
  • Aa Vin Etching LLC
  • Acorn Etching & Engraving
  • Aliento Etched Glass
  • Alaskan Wilderness Etching
  • Amazing Etching Inc
Economic Analysis

Current interest in glass etching started about two decades ago as only doors and windows were etched. However, this has now spread to other products such as glass awards, personal and corporate gifts and it is also used for interior decoration, design of display signs and other such products.

Commercially, demand for etched glass is growing rapidly even though the supply of glass etchers is low leading to high prices and profit margins for the few operators that are in the sector. There are also those who have taken this as a hobby in order to have an outlet for their creativity.

Customized glass etching is usually priced based on the letter or design that has been used and how many of the big letters have to be applied including the number of pieces. Customized glass etching might be regarded as a hobby but for those that take the craft as a business, the industry is still on its growth level.

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

When looking to start a business, there are several decisions that you will need to make which is paramount to the viability of the business. Deciding whether to start your business from scratch or buy a franchise is one of the decisions that you will have to make when starting your customized glass etching business.

Even though neither option is a guarantee against failure, entrepreneurs that buy franchises do so because they are looking to not only get a head start in the business but also to receive the guide they need in running a new business. There are however no franchise opportunities available for entrepreneurs looking to start this business and so starting from the scratch is usually the only option.

In starting your business from scratch, it is usually necessary to conduct a thorough research in order to have several strategies and plans in place as regards keeping your business afloat and generating revenue especially when challenges occur.

One thing with starting a business is that aside from the passion and skill you might have regarding the business, you will also need to have a thorough knowledge about other aspects of the business such as finances, management and marketing, so that you do not run your business aground.

6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face

When starting any business, you should not only develop strategies that will enable you create awareness for your business and generate revenue but also strategies that will allow you overcome threats and challenges wherever they might rise up; this is because every entrepreneur should expect threats and challenges at every point either while starting the business or running it. What you should note is that while there are threats and challenges that can easily be handled, not all can be and so it is vital that you do not panic when challenges arise that you cannot handle.

Some of the threats and challenges that you are likely to face when starting your customized glass etching business include; economic downturn which will lead to many people not needing your services, being an unknown brand which could take a long while for customers to patronize you and having competition from others in the same business.

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

One of the most important decisions that have to be made regarding a business is the legal entity to be used for the business. The reason why a legal entity is important is because it can affect the way your business can achieve its full potential.

If you made most researches concerning your business online, you might likely choose the wrong legal entity because what worked for a glass etching business in one state might not work for you in your state because there might be different state laws for the business. This is why it is always best to check with similar businesses in your own state or you visit the city council to know what legal entity will be best for your business.

Generally, there are five legal entities that are available to entrepreneurs looking to start their business in the United States and they are; sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), S corporation and C corporation.

In order to choose the best legal entity for your business, you might need to consider certain factors such as ease of setup, ownership and control, flexibility of the legal entity in relation to your business, how you or your business will be taxed, and what liability you are exposed to.

If you are looking to start your business on a small scale and only do jobs that will not require you to bid or submit several documents, then you might need to start your business as a sole proprietor. A sole proprietorship is one of the most common legal entities for an entrepreneur in the United States but it has its limitation especially if you are looking to run your business on a large scale.

Companies that are being run on a large scale usually choose an LLC or a corporation and this is due to the fact that under these kinds of legal entities, they are protected in terms of their personal assets. Taxation differs for an LLC and a corporation and you will need to, in the end, find out what works for you.

8. Choose a Catchy Business Name

When looking to start a business, one of the things that you will need to be concerned about is what name to call your business. A name is important be it for an individual or a business and so taking time to pick a name can have an impact on how much your business will achieve your intended corporate goals and objectives. It is important that your Business title=”business name” data-wpil-keyword-link=”linked”>business name be catchy, easily pronounceable and indicative of the kind of business which you are into.

Some of the catchy business name ideas that are suitable for a customized glass etching business include;

  • Quick Glass Etchings LLC
  • Trivia Etchings, Inc
  • Honey Customized Etchings
  • Milson Glass Etch
  • Verizon Customized Etch

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

No matter how trivial a business might look, there is insurance coverage available for it because of the risk every business carries, even though the cost and amount of the policy might vary depending on the insurer. Even though customized glass etching business is one that is service inclined, a number of things could go wrong which could make you pay through your nose if you don’t have an insurance policy.

Many businesses have closed down when incidents occurred because of lack of insurance policy because paying through one’s pockets can be financially draining. Below are some of the insurance policies that you might need to purchase when looking to start your customized etching business in the United States of America;

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

The business of customized glass etching has to do with the creation of art on the surface of glass and it is a job that is very labor intensive; however, you have no business with applying for intellectual property protection.

Even though most entrepreneurs in this sector usually don’t bother with applying for intellectual property protection, if you feel your company name, logo and other materials are worth protecting, then you might as well apply for an IPP.

11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification

Etching glass is a quite creative business and so any entrepreneur looking to start this business does not need to bother with getting professional certification as clients are more interested in past jobs as opposed to what qualifications you have amassed.

There are however entrepreneurs who always seek to become better in their fields of endeavor or any field related to it and so might take one or two professional courses. This however is not regarded as a priority.

12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate

When starting any business in the United States regardless of the nature, it is expected that all legal documents should be in place so that there will be no hitches whatsoever when it comes to running the business. As an entrepreneur starting a business newly, you should know that the area where you intend to run your business from might differ in terms of the document you would need from other same business in another area and so it is your duty to carry out researche to know which legal documents you might need.

Below are some of the documents you might need to run your customized etching business in the United States;

  • Doing Business AS (DBA) Certificate
  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Operating Agreement for LLC
  • Business License and Permit
  • Business Plan
  • Insurance Policy
  • Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • Federal Tax Identification Number (TIN)

13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital

The customized glass etching business is one that is labor intensive and so to be able to meet up with a large number of orders especially once your business gets the awareness necessary, you will need to ensure that you hire enough help and hiring takes money.

Every entrepreneur starting a business no matter the kind knows that finance plays an important role and so will do all that is necessary to ensure that the right amount of money is available. If you are going to be borrowing money to start your business, it is necessary that you have invested some of your own money and also have a plan as to how the business will be run. This way you can easily convince your intending investors.

Some of the financing options that are therefore open to your kind of business are;

  • Generating part of your start-up capital from your savings
  • Getting a business partner to split your start-up capital with
  • Sourcing for soft loan from family members and friends

14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business

Where you intend to locate your business is vital to the growth and success of your business, whether you are running the business from home or intend to rent a physical facility with which to run the business from. Location therefore forms part of the serious decisions you will have to make concerning your new business.

If you are going to be running the business on a small scale, then you can run the business directly from your home especially if you live in your own house. You can carry out your etching business right in your garage and go out for jobs that require you to be on-site. Documentations regarding your business can be kept in a den or a sectioned out place where no other person can easily tamper with it.

If you intend running your business in an official facility, it is essential that you choose a place that will enable you to be within the hub of your target market. It will be of no use if your business is located far and not too visible to your potential customers as this would mean that you would end up spending more than necessary in promoting your business.

Ensure that you engage the services of a real estate agent if you will be leasing or renting a facility so as to get you a facility in the best location within your stipulated budget. Whether running your business from home or a physical facility, it is important that you have a website that will allow more potential customers to be aware of your business.

15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs

Even though this might not be a capital intensive business as most other kinds of businesses, you will still require several thousands of dollars to get the equipment as well as handle some other overhead and operating costs.

The business is one that relies greatly on creativity and even though you might not spend the whole day etching certain glasses, you will still be spending a considerable amount of time. One thing you will need to note about this business is that it is highly dependent on the economy and in a bad economy, you might receive little or no jobs, and so in order to stay afloat, you might need to carve out a niche for yourself.

The materials that you will need in order to be able to carry out regular glass etching include; glasses, brushes, glass etching, masking tape, paper towels, glass etching stencils, cutting devices, paper, pencil and pen. If you intend on engaging in a more professional process (sandblasting), then you will require equipment such as; sandblaster, air compressor, eye protection, gloves, respirator, vinyl resist material, and generic sand grit.

If you are starting the customized glass etching business on a small scale, it is best to start alone in order to keep costs down. If this is a large scale business, you might need to employ others to help you run the business such as; customer care executive, marketing executive, office manager, driver, etchers and cleaners. From the above analysis, you will require at least 6 key individuals to run your business efficiently.

The Service Delivery Process of the Business

In order to be able to etch glass, you will need to gather all the necessary materials and keep them in place before preparing your glass by making sure it is clean. It is also necessary to ensure that you have adequate lighting and that the surface you intend to use in etching is clean.

Once all is in place, you will have to decide on the design you intend using. If it has been provided by the client, you might need to first sketch it out on paper. Once you are satisfied with the sketched design, mark where you intend to etch on the glass before applying the etching solution which should cover all the patterns you have carried out on the glass. The etching solution should be left on the glass for a while and then washed off. Remove whatever materials you had used to keep your etches in place and then wash the glass again.

Another process is sandblasting where tiny particles of sand are used to hit the glass and then later removed in a way that ensures that the etches are designed into the surface of the glass. This process is often more intricate and gives the glass a professional look.

16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies

Marketing is one way of getting your business known to your potential market in the hope that a percentage of those aware will actually convert to revenue for your business. In order to be able to successfully market your products and/or services, you will need to correctly anticipate the needs of your target market. Having this knowledge will enable you to penetrate the market, get a huge share for yourself and compete fairly against your competitors.

Even though marketing is done to generate revenue for the business, to ensure its sustainability and growth, it is also a way by which the business can be promoted as through marketing a business achieves more visibility.

Before one can create effective marketing strategies, there is need for a thorough market research to first be carried out as this will help the entrepreneur have a clearer picture of what he intends to achieve and how he can achieve it with the available resources.

One huge factor that needs to be considered when crafting your marketing strategies is where your business is located. The more visible your location is, the less you will need to be bothered about carrying out an intense form of marketing campaign. The creation of websites has made it more easy for businesses to be visible to their target markets regardless of the location.

Below are some of the marketing ideas and strategies that are available for this particular business;

  • Distribute colorful handbills and paste fliers in several strategic locations in your area of operation
  • Get a professional web designer to create a website for your company and use this to showcase your works
  • Register in several online forums in order to participate and increase awareness about your business
  • Ensure that you approach corporate institutions as well as other such clients in order to market your business to them
  • Empower your marketing executives to directly market your business to potential clients
  • Ensure that your customized glass etching business is listed in yellow pages as well as online directories

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

The aim of a business that is being established is to ensure that profit is maximized. However, before the profit maximization can be achieved, the target market has to be aware that the business exists in the first place and to achieve awareness, a business must have consciously or unconsciously engaged in activities that would boost its brand and enable it create a corporate identity that would be perceived positively by not only the target market, but by stakeholders and the general public as well.

Aside from ensuring that a business is able to achieve its profit-oriented goals and objectives, boosting one’s brand also enables a business to compete favorably against similar businesses like it in the same area or even industry. This reason is why already existing and successful companies do all they can to ensure that they keep boosting the awareness for their brand through various and effective strategies.

Because boosting your brand can help in actualizing your corporate goals and objectives, knowing what strategies would work for you will take a bit of research as you will need to first identify who is going to be paying for your products or services, why they would pay for it and what they expect from you as an entity. Your research will also enable you to identify who your competition is, what tricks they are using to stay on and in what ways you can push your business in order to be able to have a fair chance as well.

As a new business, the disadvantage that you may have when it comes to creating strategies no matter how many researches you have conducted, is that none of your strategies have been tried out against your target market and so it is essential that you continuously review your strategies in order to know how effective they are, so that you can remove or modify ineffective ones.

Below are some of the strategies that you will need to boost your brand awareness and create a corporate identity for your business;

  • Ensure that you create a website and display evidence of your work there and use that to promote your brand as a whole
  • Get a social media account on several platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in order to promote your business
  • Place adverts in your local newspapers and magazines as well as on radio and television stations
  • Make an attractive signage that can be seen from afar in a bid to bring awareness for your business
  • Engage in local community events such as helping out the local charity in your community as well as other social clubs
  • Encourage your loyal customers to help spread the word about your business to their friends, family members and colleagues