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5 Essential Questions to Ask Before Starting a Print Business

28 February 2020
Marketing & Selling Print

5 Essential Questions to Ask Before Starting a Print Business


Thinking of getting into print? We don’t blame you. The UK print market has a £14 billion turnover, as of 2019, and is the world’s 5th largest producer of print products. There’s a lot of potential here!

If this sounds tempting, you can read all about what it takes to start your own print business here. But first, you need to work out how your business could fit into the existing print industry. Here are five questions to help you do that…

1.    Printer or Finisher?

One fundamental thing you need to nail down is, what stage of the production process are you going to offer? You could offer the whole deal or you could choose to focus on one area. Offering the whole process means that you could become people’s one-stop print supplier. Alternatively, you could create a highly specialised service for those customers with specific needs.

Your offering can always change though. If you choose to specialise, you can create a really solid foundation to build from and then expand your services later down the line.

2.    Large Format or Small Format?

As a small format printer, you can produce 100s of different products with a wide range of stocks at your disposal. You could be responsible for a company’s entire stationery cupboard, producing regular high-quantity orders.

With large format, you will likely have more one-off orders but you will also have more opportunities to specialise. If there is a gap in your local market for dedicated vinyl printing, you could jump on that.

Remember that you can always produce one yourself and outsource the rest.

3.    Offset, Digital, or Screen?

If you do plan to offer the printing element, you need to think about which print method you want to invest in. The kind of products you want to produce will have a big influence here, as will your start-up budget.

Litho: Offset presses have a big upfront cost but are very efficient in the long-term. The longer the print run, the more cost effective it is, so litho printers are best if you expect lots of jobs on long run lengths.

Digital: Without the lengthy changeover process, digital printing is ideal for short run orders, or jobs with variable data. Digital print has a higher cost per print but the presses are cheaper for the initial investment.

Screen: Like litho, screen printing has a longer set up process, meaning it’s best for large batches of the same design. However, if you want to offer t-shirts and other textile products, screen printing is the one for you.

4.    To Franchise or Not to Franchise?

This is a valid question when starting out in any field. By signing up to an existing franchise, you are signing up to an established and proven business model with a ready-made audience base. You don’t have to work so hard to make a name for yourself in the industry because it’s already been made for you.

However, as a franchisee, you don’t have all the freedom over your business that you would have if you were independent. If you have specific ideas that you want to see become a reality, it might be better to start out on your own terms.

5.    What is Your Target Audience?

The kind of service you offer is intrinsically linked to the audience you are targeting. So, by answering all our other questions, you’ve probably already answered this one in part.

If you want to produce vehicle wraps, your audience is going to be very different to a print shop that offers a specialist booklet service. Which, in turn will be a very different audience to that of a sign printing business. Know your audience and know their needs.

The answers to these five questions will give you the basics of a business plan. With a business plan in place, you can move on to answer other questions like, what would it actually take to start your own print business, and how much money could you expect to make? 



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