STARTING A 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 order (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!

Small printing is an interesting and potentially profitable
business that is well adapted to a garage or shop operation.

One large room is usually adequate and it is an art that most
people can learn in a very short time. Kelsey (see Sources)

offers an impressive "Printer's Guide" for $2.50 that should be

especially helpful to the novice.

New printing press outfit start at around $300 for small (3" x
5") printing capacity and go on up to well over a thousand

dollars. Used one are much cheaper and are becoming more

plentiful as more of the "biggies" upgrade to sophisticated

equipment and computers to go after the large jobs.

You should be able to find a suitable used press at a very good
price if you look around. Look under Business Equipment in large

city want-ads, where complete outfits are sometimes offered

(retirees, companies that are updating, as well as those that

want out).

Some of these outfits will include variations that can result in
increased opportunities. A printing operation that must get out

a paper every day and two magazines a month is concerned with

speed, capacity and labor costs.

When they upgrade, their old equipment has usually already been
depreciated out (the entire price they get for the equipment is

considered "profit" by the IRS). And, they need the room for the

new presses NOW -- so they are usually anxious to sell!

With their old equipment, a small business person (like you!) can
learn the business, do a variety of profitable jobs, and make a

very good living in the bargain. One of the first things to

learn is to maintain contact (business friendship) with one or

two larger printers.

Usually, they will be happy to advise you (after all, printing is
their "first love", too) as well as take care of any jobs that

are too big for you. Learn their rates -- what they can and

cannot do, and how long it will take them to do a job.

This is not only to get an idea of how you should operate, it is
also so you can still accept work that you cant' handle and "farm

it out" to the larger printers, who will give you a discount

(your commission). This way, you make a little profit instead of

none -- and keep your customers!

Another trick is to work with your customers to help them get the
most for their money (especially when it doesn't hurt your profit

margin).

For example, it is much cheaper to use one color ink on colored
paper than two colors of ink on white paper -- yet the effect is

virtually the same. Quite often, saving the customer a small

amount here and there will build customer confidence that no

amount of advertising could accomplish.

A printer is also concerned with "cuts". These are metal dies
that produce illustrations, logos and decorations other than

type. Most printers soon accumulate an assortment of cuts such

as borders and corner embellishments -- many of which are

available at very low cost from printer supply houses.

When a customer wants his logo to appear in print, you will have
to send out the illustrations to have a cut made. Many large

printers make cuts and charge $5 or so per square inch. The

supply houses do too, but printers are cheaper (and faster, if

there is one in your own area).

The general rule for a logo is that the customer pays the entire
cost (sometimes the small printer adds a little for his trouble);

the printer keeps it, and all future use of it by that customer

is at no charge.

In the event the customer wants a personal copy of the cut,
charge him at least double, because he probably wants to let

another printer use it.

When you use it, you only charge him "wholesale", but if he wants
it, he must pay "retail" for it! If the cut is copyrighted, it

cannot be used for any other customer -- if it's not, but is

associated with that customer, ethics demand that you not use it

for other customers in the same area.

Of course if it is simply a common illustration, there is no
problem with using it for other customers. The one who needs it

first pays for it.

When you get started, consider buying or renting a copy machine
for VERY small orders and to enable you to make up sample

lay-outs by the "cut and paste" method, run off a copy and show

the customer a "proof" of the order.

A copier is also an excellent device to attract customers into
your place of business. Also, for about $100 or less, you can

get a new "roaster" attachment for small printing jobs. This is

a heater system that uses special inks that expand (curdle) when

heated, to look just like those expensive thermograph print jobs!

This produces very high quality looking business cards, for

example.

Another high profit potential is to offer pictures on your
printing jobs. Have a large printers (or newspaper) make

photoengravure cuts to fit your press.

In addition to doing sub-contract work for larger printers and
stationery stores, there are literally thousands of printing jobs

that can be done for private individuals. Especially if there is

a good deal of competition in your area, you need to look around

to see where a good market might be.

Note that all you need is an idea for a couple of products or
services that are not now being adequately provided, or if they

are, they are inadequate or too expensive.

Some examples are: business cards, advertising sheets (flyers,
mail-outs), menus, forms, announcements, cards, programs (sports,

school plays), tickets, letterhead, personalized note pads,

resumes, and don't overlook printing a few copies of the local

poet's works! One printer, located near a college, specialized

in printed resumes whose letterhead includes the client's

picture.

One additional, potential profitable option is to print your own
products to sell: booklets, maps, guides, coupons or even a

small advertiser (paper).

See also B223, Publish a Home Business Index for Fast Profits,
and B254, Starting Your Own Co-op Coupon Business From Home.

Any of these suggestions can be used in combination with others
shown here, or that you might come up with.

For example, you could print your own "product between custom
orders, add a fast copy service, or even your own computer

typesetter and/or desktop system. The main thing to remember is

to do quality work and keep your word -- produce what you promise

WHEN you promise.

Before you even solicit that first commercial job, be confident
that you have practiced enough and "ruined enough paper" to feel

confident that you can do it right. Your most severe critic

should be YOURSELF.

BUSINESS SOURCES



THE KELSEY CO., Box 941, Meriden CT 06450. Printing equipment

and related supplies (paper, fonts of type, inks, woodcutting

tools, hot stampers, presses). Old, reliable company.

GRAPHIC ARTS TECHNICAL, 4615 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15214.
Printing supplies for the home printer.

TURNBAUGH PRINT SUPPLY, 104 Sporting Hill Rd., Mechanicsburg, PA
17055. New and used printing equipment and printing supplies.

PRINTING INSTITUTE OF AMERICA, 1730 Lynn St., Arlington, VA
22209. Information on starting a printing business.

GRAPHIC INTERNATIONAL, Box 4639, Margate, FL 33036. Trade
magazine for printers; features new and used equipment for sale.

INNES CO., Box 368, Northbrook, IL 60062, 312/564-5490.
Publishes IN PLANT PRINTER, trade magazine for printers.

AMERICAN PRINTER, Box 132113, Whitehall, OH 43213. Wholesale
printing supplies; info on starting in the business.

LELLI PRINTING & ADVERTISING, 2654 Cr 175, Rt 2, Loudonville, OH
44842. 419/994-5302. Write for current price list.

CREATE-A-BOOK, 6380 Euclid Rd., Cincinnati, OH 45236. Home base
book binding business (investment = $4300).

PERSONAL PUBLISHING, Box 390, Itasca, IL 60143. Trade magazine
for desktop publishers, especially beginners (features MacIntosh)

- $30 yr.

MECKLER PUBLISHING, 11 Ferry Lane West, West Port, CT 06880.
Publishes SMALL PRESS, trade magazine for small printers and

publishers.

EMPRINT, 329 Gunekel, Dayton, OH 45410, 513/252-1452. Offers
used small photo offset printing presses.

R.R. BOWKER CO (XEROX CORP), 205 E. 42nd St., New York, NY 10017,
212/916-1887. Publishes SMALL PRESS, bi-monthly trade magazine

for small printers and independent publishers.

DOVER PUBLICATIONS, INC., 31 East 2nd St., Mineola, NY 11051.
Discount books, clip are, stencils, etc.

QUILL CORPORATION, 100 Schelter Rd., Lincolnshire, IL 60917-4700,
312/634-4800. Office supplies.

NEBS, 500 Main St., Groton, MA 04171, 800/225-6380. Office
supplies.

IVEY PRINTING, Box 761, Meridan, TX 76665. Low-cost printing.
Write for price list.

SWEDCO, Box 29, Mooresville, NC 28115. 3 line rubber stamps,
business cards, etc.

ZPS, Box 581, Libertyville, IL 60048-2556. Business cards
(raised print - $11.50 per K) and letterhead stationery. Will

print your copy ready logo or design, even whole card.


ADVICE & TIPS