Starting a Small Printing Business From Your Garage
With a small printing press in your garage, basement or shop - accept and
contract (at first) for printing jobs that are too small for your competition.
The possibilities include doing jobs for stationery stores, advertisers, sub-
contract work for larger printers and the local newspaper, as well as custom
retail orders such as wedding announcements, personalized greeting cards,
advertising flyers and the like.
Most printers, including many small town newspapers have a problem with very
small (less than 1,000) orders because of their set-up costs and the fact that
their system is geared towards large orders (small ones can actually be a nuisance).
They have acquired presses, typesetters, computer oriented equipment at a very
high cost - so they can do the big jobs efficiently. In most cases, their fancy
equipment requires a lot of work, time and expertise just to set up a job
regardless of how many copies are to be printed.
Offset printers may waste several hundred copies just getting their equipment
properly aligned! That's why they may charge $250 for 100 copies and only $300
for a thousand.
Some commercial printers would be happy to sub contract their small jobs. They
can probably make more profit - and keep their customer too! Of course, you would
return the favor by referring or sub-contracting jobs that are too large for you.
Actually, there are three basic types of "printing". Although our concern here
is with the printing press (the old-fashioned way), we should be aware of the
basics of the other two methods.
Copy centers nowadays offer "printing" services - they can print in several
different colors, reduce and expand, and they can provide excellent master
copies by the "cut and paste" system (glue text, illustrations, logos, onto
"masters" and then copy them).
Desktop computer systems are also fast coming onto the scene. A computer system
costing as little as $5,000 can produce finished pages that look almost like
magazine pages. Although both of the above are used to produce "copy ready"
masters for copiers and photo-offset printers, these are normally very large
jobs that a small printer couldn't handle anyway.
The smaller printer's only real competition (aside from other small printers)
is the copy service and desktop publisher, both of which are fairly expensive.
A desktop publisher would probably charge $25 to $50 to design a master for a
single page flyer. The customer would take the finished flyer to a copy service
and pay about 5 cents per page to have them copied ("printed"). Total cost for
1000 flyers: $75 - $100.
In contrast, a small printer could set the type in a few minutes and run off
1,000 copies in an hour - at a total cost of about $5 (paper and ink) plus
labor. Obviously, the small printer can do the job for considerably less,
therefore, he can charge less and still make a good profit. And, the customer
only has to make one stop!