Your guide for starting a Screen Printing Business

Old School Screen Printing 101

In this article we will cover everything you should know before starting a screen printing business. If you are more on the “artsy side”and you like to create things, a screen printing business may be the perfect business opportunity for you. Before we dive too deep into this topic I want to preface what I’m about to write by clarifying my terminology of “screen printing”. Screen printing is a method of applying ink onto articles of clothing. Many people confuse this method to other processes that also apply graphics onto clothing. Throughout this article we will cover the various methods that are commonly used to create custom clothing and the most common methods that are used to operate a screen printing business. Making custom clothing is not a hard skill to learn, and seeing your work and designs being worn throughout your hometown can feel really rewarding.

How much can you make with a screen printing business?

According to the American Screen Printing Association the average screen print shop owner can easily earn over $100,000 a year. There are several key factors to consider in order to successfully operate this business. Time is money. You will need an experienced screen printer in the shop making sure that you are getting jobs done in a timely manner with no mistakes. One minor mistake in design or production could really set you back on a job if you are not careful.

Where will you operate your business?

I recommend starting out of your home or garage or whatever space you have readily available to you that requires little or no additional startup cost. Keeping your overhead expenses low will enable you to put more into your business. Making equipment upgrades that makes your shop more profitable will be key for your startup.  If you are fortunate enough to have a space available outside of your home that’s great, but it won’t be a make or break if you have to start out at home.

Who will operate your business?

If you plan on operating this business on your own, you should really get a feel for your equipment and software in order to minimize your mistakes and to maximize your shop efficiency. Repeat customers will be your best friend locally, and there are many ways to boost sales with online sites like Etsy and Ebay. If you put out quality work for a decent price you will have a very lucrative business on your hands.

What you will need in order to star your screen printing business.

You will have many options in regards to equipment and start up costs, it all depends on what you want to do and how you would like to scale this venture. Bootstrapping this business can be pretty easy. Let’s look at your options. For the sake of comparison, we will consider your options for garment printing only.First off you have your old school screen print setup, which has a few moving parts to it. On the brightside there are literally hundreds of youtube videos out there that can help you learn the process! With screen printing there are three main pieces of equipment you will need getting started. You will need your screen station this is where the ink is applied to the shirt; screens, (you use these to apply the design and ink to your garment); an exposure unit in order to apply a design to your screens. Last but not least you will need a flash dryer to cure the ink onto the article of clothing. There are complete kits available on amazon. I would suggest going that route over buying it piece by piece. This is the kit I would recommend. Coming in at just under $1000, this kit has everything you will need to start screen printing.

Vinyl Transfers and the Heat Press Printing
Heat Press and Vinyl Cutter

If screen printing sounds a little too much like work then maybe you should go with vinyl transfers. Essentially, you will use a vinyl cutter and some computer software to cut out your design in a piece of vinyl and you will use a heat press to cure that design onto the article of clothing. Pretty simple! Here’s what you will need! You will need a vinyl cutter and a heat press, you will also need a computer for you vinyl cutter and for you graphic design work. You will need some vinyl material, try to find you local schools colors and you can never go wrong with black and white for starters.

DTG (Direct to Garment) and Sublimation
Sublimation Kit
Sublimation Kit

If all of that still sounds like to much there are even more options for you to choose from, you could go with sublimation or DTG Printing (Direct to Garment). In a real world shop you will want the availability of all of these options. Each of these methods have there place in the industry. DTG printing is the easiest of all methods. It’s basically a printer that you use for clothes. The prices for these units used to be really high, but continue to become less expensive and more cost effective as time goes by.

How do you get started Screen Printing?
Direct to Garment Printer
Direct to Garment Printer

In order to get this business off the ground people need to know you exist. You will have to have a social media presence. If you aren’t using social media or advertising any of your ventures you are missing out on big money. Also tell your family and friends that you are starting the business. Make them a few things for free. I know that may not sound like the best idea, but when people see that you can do the job, word of mouth advertising will be huge for your business.

Get the word out.

You will need to keep all of your social groups. Facebook and Instagram will be your best friends when you first start advertising. Reach out to all of your family, friends, and coworkers to spread the word about your business. If you will be operating the shop from your home or garage, have a custom sign made or make one yourself to let passersby know where you are located. People that see your sign frequently will oftentimes think of your business first when they need work done.

How do you grow your Business?

Once you are off and running you will likely want to scale up your operation, you may want to hire help and may want to upgrade your equipment. Before you make those moves you need to make sure your business will support it. Closely look at your book and revenue in order to make those decisions. You will always want to keep advertising your business. Advertising your business will ensure the proper growth needed to scale up your operation.

Top rural business ideas for 2020 and beyond

Top rural business ideas for 2020 and beyond.

If you are like me and don’t live in or near a major city, starting a business may seem a little scary.  It’s always a little scary to consider investing time and money into any venture, let alone one that may seem destined to fail due to the circumstances of your area. I challenge you to keep an open mind. Instead of fear, I would like you to think of your demographic as a golden opportunity. A golden goose so to speak. Just think about this. You live in a town of a few thousand people, surrounded by a few more towns of a few thousand people. With the right opportunity and insight anyone could capitalize on this cornered market. You have an opportunity to provide much needed services to folks that more than likely don’t want to travel long distances to get what they need.

Whether we are talking about groceries, gas, or even a haircut.  Finding the right niche in a small town may just be the ticket to a sizable annual income right in your backyard. In order for us to find you the right business, we will need to analyze your market. How many people live in your area? Is local sports a big draw in the community? Are there any major landmarks or are there any major industries near your area? Are there any major waterways or highways that moves consistent traffic to or through your region? Are you surrounded by mostly farmland and agriculture? If you answered yes to one or several of these questions we need to explore those possibilities. If you answered no, there are still many options so don’t be discouraged.

I will provide a list of rural business ideas that do well in almost any region. In the descriptions of each of these I will cover when and where these opportunities work best. If you don’t find what you are looking for in this article, I encourage you to check out some of my other blog posts. I cover many topics that may help you find what you are looking for.

Start a pressure washing business

This business is one of my favorites. Why? For several reasons actually. It’s an extremely versatile business model with many potential applications, and it can be a mobile business. When setup with a trailer and water storage system you can take your business to just about anywhere to provide your service. Here’s a quick list of ideas for this business.

You can pressure wash almost all outdoor materials for homes and businesses:
Concrete for garage floors, pools, gutters,windows, driveways, sidewalks, decks, roofs, vinyl siding, brick and stucco structures, fencing etc.(Pro tip: when a home or business puts a real estate sign in the front yard, contact them and offer your services!) Contract with local schools to clean school buses (also buildings!) Work with local farmers to clean equipment before major repairs or before the equipment is stored away for a season. Mobile car wash: go from customer to customer throughout your area providing washes! Many of these customers will buy weekly or monthly washes! Contact local car dealerships and offer your services to them!
If you live near a major park or water attraction offer boat and RV washes. If you live near any industrial sites, watch for bids for equipment cleaning jobs. I haven’t even scratched the surface with this one. As you can see, the possibilities are almost endless.

If you are considering this business, there will be a few pieces of equipment that are essential to your business. For a rig that is ready to go right out of the gate this is my recommendation. NorthStar Hot Water Commercial Pressure Washer. The current price for this unit comes in at 12k. That’s actually a really good price for a business delivered right to your door! If $12,000 is a little out of your budget and you are looking to bootstrap your new venture I would consider this model SIMPSON Cleaning 95000 Trailer Cold Water Mobile Washing System. The current price for this unit comes in at $3,465.00 with free shipping. If $3,465.00 is still on the higher end of your budget. This model will get you started and you can upgrade later on if you need to. SIMPSON Cleaning ALH4240 Aluminum Gas Pressure Washer  this unit comes in at just over $1200 with free shipping. Your washer obviously is essential, so is water. With the lower end model you will need to either buy a high capacity storage tank and keep it on a pickup truck or buy a separate trailer at a later date. I recommend buying a tank and trailer, but if you are bootstrapping it’s understandable. It’s important to keep in mind, you will lose some potential customers that can’t supply your water. If you can afford a tank and a trailer

Screen Printing Business

If you are more on the artsy side and would rather work indoors, a screen printing business could be the perfect business opportunity for you. It’s not hard to learn, and seeing your work and designs being worn throughout your area can feel really rewarding. Repeat customers will be your best friend locally, and there are many ways to boost sales with online sites like Etsy and Ebay. If you put out quality work for a decent price you will have a very lucrative business on your hands. There will also be many options in regards to equipment and start up costs, it all depends on what you want to do and how you would like to scale this venture. Bootstrapping this one will be pretty easy. Let’s look at your options. For the sake of comparison, we will consider your options for garment printing. You will have options. You have your old school screen print setup, which has a few moving parts to it. It may be a little much for a newbie to handle but if you are resourceful this method is fairly inexpensive to get started with and there are many youtube videos out there that can help you learn the process! With screen printing there are three main pieces of equipment you will need getting started. You will need your screen station this is where the ink is applied to the shirt. You will need screens, you use these to apply the design and ink to your garment. You will need an exposure unit in order to apply a design to your screens, and you will need a flash dryer to cure the ink onto the article of clothing. There are complete kits available on amazon. I would suggest going that route over buying it piece by piece. This is the kit I would recommend. Coming in at just under $1000, it will get you going.

If you would prefer a little simpler method you could go with vinyl transfers. Essentially, you will use a vinyl cutter and some computer software to cut out your design in a piece of vinyl and you will use a heat press to cure that design onto the article of clothing. Pretty simple! Here’s what you will need! You will need a vinyl cutter and a heat press, you will also need a computer for you vinyl cutter and for you graphic design work. You will need some vinyl material, try to find you local schools colors and you can never go wrong with black and white for starters.

If all of that still sounds like to much there are even more options for you to choose from, you could go with sublimation or DTG printing (Direct to Garment). In a real world shop you will want the availability of all of these options. All of these methods have there place in the industry, but for starters I would research each of these methods to see which you would be more comfortable with starting out. DTG printing is the easiest of all methods. It’s basically a printer that you use for clothes. The prices for these units used to be really high, but continue to become less expensive and more cost effective. Sublimation will allow you to use an inkjet printer to print really detailed images and apply them to clothes. A really big business right now is custom socks. Which uses the sublimation process to apply the print. The only drawback to sublimation is that you are limited to printing on lighter colored surfaces. The one big advantage on the other hand is that you can sublimate on almost any material (wood, stone, glass, metal etc.) If this sounds like something you would like to look into this is the setup I recommend.

Open a Coffee Shop

Open up a coffee shop if you tend to be more of a social butterfly. This is almost one of those dream businesses. You go into the shop every morning, brew up all of the classics, see your close friends and meet some new ones as well. It doesn’t stop at just coffee! You could sell doughnuts, muffins, and any other pastry your heart desires! Look on Pinterest to get some ideas for your edibles. You can really create your own identity in this market! I would look at the more successful coffee shops out there and draw some inspiration from that, but also be unique and offer that boutique feel. If you have access to a nice location I would be all over this one! Here is what you will need! For a high volume of customers for coffee only, this unit will be what you are looking for. If you forecast slower sales for espressos, lattes and cappuccinos start with some lower end equipment and move up from there after you see what sells the best! The machine that I linked will do all three and the price is reasonable for starters! Of course the decor and furniture will be all up to you. You should be able to look at some auctions or other commercial restaurant sales venues to find this stuff at discount to keep your startup expenses low! The best part about this is that it’s not too hard, and coffee is an everyday routine for almost everyone this day and age!

Become a real estate sales agent

If you are more of an independent worker, maybe you should get your real estate license. You can essentially work for yourself throughout the year, and if you are looking for a part time hustle to make ends meet then this idea might be perfect for you. No matter what part of the world you live in real estate is always selling. Most states offer online courses that allow you to complete the course at your own pace and take your state exam whenever you like. This flexibility make this a super attractive and potentially super lucrative venture. Real estate sales checks all the boxes for someone that would like to work on their own and at their own pace. Not to mention the cost for the courses and exam can be less than $1000, in some states. This one is a no brainer! If this is something that you would like to consider you should check out www.theceshop.com they cover 30 states, and provide and extremely affordable plan.

Start a Food Concessions Business

How to Start a Food Concessions Business

Funnel Cake
Classic Funnel Cakes

Have you ever been to a festival or fair and become overwhelmed by all the delicious smells that permeated through the air? Yeah, me too. Have you ever been walking around at a theme park or state or county fair and seen people eating all of these delicious looking confections? When most adults and kids think of these types of events the foods are an equal or even in some cases a bigger draw than the attractions themselves. It’s a given that people go to fairs and festivals to devour funnel cakes and turkey legs and all of the other delights that are out of grasp of any normal restaurant and drive thru? That’s why this business is so special. It’s almost like that old movie quote from the 90s “If you build it, he will come.” The people are looking forward to seeing these confections when they go to these events, so be there for them with the goods and cash in! I’m going to walk you through the business model and answer the most common questions associated with the food concessions business and we will figure out what products and foods are right for your business.

What is the most profitable concession stand food? Here’s the top 5

The short and sweet answer! Cotton Candy, Shaved Ice, Popcorn, Funnel Cakes and Nachos. I have provided links to the best current deals on Amazon for what you may need for these businesses

How much money does a concession stand make?

This is the most important part of any business right? It all really depends on what you are selling and where you are selling it. I know that’s not a hard and fast answer, but it’s true. Remember, location, location, location! You wouldn’t want to sell Biscuits and Gravy in Soho, just like you wouldn’t sell ribeyes at a vegan festival. You have to have the right product, in the right place. The beauty of this business model is that it’s MOBILE, you can go wherever you need to in order to make those sales! In an average market your income model could look something like this: A stand operated for 300 days a year, made 100 sales a day at a cost of $5 the gross annual income would be roughly $150,000. In the right market, these numbers are easily doable. Understandably, you may be in a market that could crush those figures, or you may be in a slower market and may tend to be on the lower end of that model.

What food sells best at festivals? 

Ideally, the product will have predictable sales and a good profit margin. Products like cotton candy, snow cones, and popcorn/kettle corn are always safe bets in this game. They are easy and inexpensive to make, you can turn out product fairly quickly, and losses are usually minimal. Another benefit to these options are when someone is first dipping their toes into concessions, the startup costs can be way less because you can get away with operating from a cart instead of buying a food trailer. If this isn’t your first rodeo in concessions however, and you are wanting to up the ante with a trailer operation then I would suggest a combo of caramel/candy apples and funnels cakes along with fountain drinks and fresh lemonade. These options are risk averse and traditionally sell really well at most events.

Foods to avoid selling.

My approach is and always has been to avoid food that spoil easily and foods that keep my operational costs low. If you happen to get caught in a rainy event or sells just seem to be really slow for whatever reason, the last thing you want is to be setting on several thousand dollars worth of food product that may or may not be salvageable.

 If hot food is your forte and you think that you want to tackle that niche, I would suggest hotdogs! Hotdogs are a classic that will always be a staple at events like these. You could even go gourmet if you like, the allure and added variety will be a bigger draw without really taking too much out of your pocket, and it will also give you some creative liberties to carve out your own market and brand. Losses can be managed with the proteins by making sure that they are adequately refrigerated and frozen within the date suggested on the packaging. Pair the dogs with some fresh cut french fries, bags of potato chips and a fountain drink you should have a winner! When all is said and done, if you are all in on hot foods and dogs don’t scratch your itch there are many other options to look into. My suggestions are based on my experiences and I want to help you make the best decisions going forward! If you are a risk taker and you have a specialty in mind by all means jump on it.

Startup costs 

The biggest expense will be the trailer or cart. You will also have to consider the food prep and cooking equipment as well. After that you will have to obtain all of the proper licensing in your state and you should be ready to go.

Things to consider after you have decided the right product. Will you require a trailer or a cart? A trailer without upgrades will be around $9000. You can pick up a basic stand for around $1500 – $2000. More times than not your stand or cart will be basic. Which means it won’t have any food prep or cooking equipment included. You may need a refrigerator, deep fryer, a warming lamp, ice machine, soda fountain and so on. If you are doing something like cotton candy and snacks, maybe a cart will be more suiting.  If you are thinking about taking a more meal like approach and you want to sell something like tacos or burgers and fries a trailer will be more suitable for your business

I will include a list of products from amazon if you would like to order them directly through those sellers. A hot dog cooker ranges from $400 to $800. An ice machine costs between $1,000 and $3,000 on average. In addition, concession stand owners usually paint and decorate their trailer to attract customers, which also costs money.

Permits and Licensing

 Concession stand owners need to obtain the required licenses in their state and local district. A concession stand is a business, and you’ll need a vendor’s license to run it in your state. This license usually costs between $60 and $300 a year, according to. Concession stand owners and their employees also need state food handlers licenses. A license to operate in a public venue may also be required. Check the state board of health and other authorities for more details.

What do I need to be a food vendor? 

In every state there will be a vendor license that will be needed in order to sell to the public. You will need to determine what permits are needed in your state in order to legally sell. Transportation and kitchen needs we already talked about some of the equipment, but each piece will be vital to your operation. Be sure to clean and maintain your equipment after every use. This will extend the life of your equipment and will in turn keep help you more profitable in the end. Purchase the appropriately sized work vehicle if you are going to pull a trailer. You will need correct food preparation equipment, prep surface, cutlery, bowls, mixers etc. You will also need all of the appropriate insurance policies to keep your business and assets protected.