How to start a screen printing business?

Have you recently considered starting a screen-printing business? There are a lot of opportunities to make it big in the screen printing business if you use the right strategy to start your business. According to industry estimates, you can earn up to USD 100,000 per year with your screen printing business (an impressive figure, right?).

If you, too, want to get started in the screen printing business, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll go over everything you need to know in a step-by-step guide to help you start a screen-printing business below.

So, without further ado, let’s get right to our screen-printing business startup guide.

Step 1: The best approach to start a screen-printing business 

Before you begin investing in the trade, we strongly advise you to spend time researching the trade and determining whether it is the best option for you. There is a lot of money to be made in the screen printing industry, but it also has its own set of challenges, just like any other trade.

Furthermore, each entrepreneur has their own mindset, which may or may not be appropriate for all businesses. For example, you may be more interested in selling items to a specific audience rather than catering to a broad audience. Similarly, your approach and mindset may be more geared towards warehouse management for an ecommerce setup.

Understanding your prefered business model is important because the type of business model you choose will eventually influence all future business decisions you make.

The following are some of the most common types of printing business models.

Printing for Private Label T-shirts

This is a common type of screen printing business model in which you print for specific private label brands.

To be successful in this business model, you must focus on a specific niche market and have the necessary resources and expertise to meet their needs. To expand into other markets, you would also need to constantly add resources and expertise.


This is possibly the easier path, and it is ideal for entrepreneurs looking to generate early revenue. The franchise model entails simply adopting a pre-existing brand and processes. This would necessitate striking a deal with the brand owners to acquire the right to use the company’s branding and processes. In exchange, you will pay an upfront licencing fee as well as a recurring percentage of revenue.

Because you will be leveraging the company’s already established reputation and branding, the franchise model has a higher success ratio, especially at the start of the business. You will also have immediate access to equipment, marketing, and sales materials to keep up with demand.

Retail T-shirt Printers

The focus of this screen printing business model is on small retail orders for custom printing jobs. Such businesses are frequently established in shopping malls or small factories equipped with printing equipment.

Because you will be catering to a small number of custom orders rather than bulk orders, the costs of screen printing in this model are typically higher than in other models.

Since today, retail customers looking for custom screen printing prefer to deal with online screen printing stores, the ecommerce market has had a negative impact on this business model. As a result, you may need to rethink your business strategy and incorporate ecommerce platforms to boost sales.

Printing for E-commerce

The ecommerce industry has grown to account for more than half of all retail sales worldwide. While this may be difficult for retailers, you can create an intelligent business strategy by contacting an ecommerce store to meet their custom screen printing needs.

Simply purchase the printing equipment and contact interested online custom screen printing businesses to outsource their needs at a discounted rate. Also, if you can handle the shipment and delivery, you may be able to negotiate a better deal with additional revenue.

Cost to start a screen-printing business

The total cost of launching a screen-printing company will vary greatly depending on the business model, scale, and scope. A screen-printing business, on the other hand, can typically be started for as little as USD 10,000.

While this may appear to be a large initial investment, you can typically earn around USD 3,500 per day; however, you would need to implement the proper business strategy and manage expenses (especially at the early stage of business).

Step 2: Getting your hands on screen printing process

Ok, now that you’ve decided on the screen printing business model you want to pursue, you’ll need to learn about the processes involved in the trade. Some of the skills you will need to learn are as follows:



Management of a business

Design Skills

Even if you intend to hire a professional designer to manage the design aspect, it is always preferable to have at least a basic understanding of the trade in order to better manage business.

Designing is a critical component for all types of screen printing businesses because you must create designs before you can screen print any fabric.

Typically, clothing articles are designed using graphic design software such as Illustrator or Photoshop. There is a plethora of other software available for creating digital designs for screen printing.

Because we’re specifically discussing screen printing, you’d also need to create the screen from the design (we’ll get into the technical details later in the blog), though you can skip this step if you choose another type of printer.

You could, for example, use direct-to-garment printing, which allows you to print designs directly on the fabric. However, these printers can cost up to USD 22,000.


Aside from learning design skills, you will also need to learn at least the fundamentals of the technology used in the screen printing industry. This trade’s technology is divided into two categories:

including production and printing technology

Business support and marketing technology

Here’s a quick rundown of each of these technologies:

Production and Printing technology

You will need to learn the entire process of getting printed t-shirts and other clothing articles as a screen printing business. You will need to learn how to use various software and machines for this. Among the important technologies widely used in the industry are:

  • Embroidery
  • Printing on a screen
  • Vinyl Cut in Cad
  • Garment-to-Garment
  • Printing on Transfer

Again, you may begin with only one technique; however, in order to grow and expand your business horizontally, you will most likely need to incorporate all available technologies.

Technology to support and manage business

Business support and management technology is another important technology that you will need to master.

Some of the technologies that you will need to implement in order to grow your business successfully include:

  • Marketing
  • Processing of payments
  • Sales
  • Accounting
  • Shipping
  • Inventory control
  • Pricing
  • Customer relationship management (CRM)

Each of these technologies will have a significant impact on the success of your business; as a result, you will need to master these technologies in order to sustain and expand your business.

Step 3: Business Name

Most of you will most likely ignore this step until the last minute; however, we cannot emphasise enough the importance of maintaining a strategic name for your business. Remember that your company name will directly communicate the brand philosophy and values to the audience, so it should be strategically chosen for the targeted market.

How does your company name explain the business?

The name of the company will either attract or repel the target audience. When we talk about screen printing on t-shirts, the typical target audience is young people with rebellious souls or people who want to express and proudly wear their thoughts.

As a result, your brand’s name should be memorable enough to attract the intended audience while also clearly communicating the company’s values and philosophy. Furthermore, the brand name should be distinct enough to be easily identified and remembered among hundreds of competitors.

Here are some great names to think about when naming your screen printing company:

Is it simple to remember and spell?

While fanatical names or spellings may appear more appealing and aggressive, at the end of the day, you should always consider the practical feasibility of business aspects. Words with unusual spellings may be too difficult for users to remember. Also, unusually spelt business names are more difficult to rank on search engines (where you would get the most marketing and customers).

So, rather than going with a strange-sounding name like Namubatuta Printing, try to come up with a valid, easy-to-remember, and relevant name that will be easy on users and search engines.


Another pro tip for keeping the business name is to include the state or city. Names such as Chicago Screen Printing or Bold Screen Printing New York can help to localise the brand. This not only helps you attract more local customers, but it also makes it easier to rank such names on search engines using local SEO techniques.


The branding reflection should be another important consideration for your business name. The name of your company, such as Custom Screen Printing Wisconsin, should immediately reflect your business model. This will help the audience understand what your company does, and you will avoid losing customers due to ambiguity.

Register a .com

While you can choose a localised domain name such, we recommend going with domain because it is the easiest to remember and hints at the company’s global scale.

Step 4: Come up with a business plan

Unfortunately, many small and local businesses undervalue the importance of a business plan. In reality, a business plan is the most important and sacred document that determines the entire vision, philosophy, objectives, and strategy of the company.

Without a comprehensive business plan, you will most likely be aimlessly wandering with no control over critical business aspects. You will also be unable to secure investment or form business partnerships if you do not have a comprehensive business plan.

A detailed business plan should clearly state the company’s core objectives, as well as the strategy for achieving long-term growth.

Step 5: Establish the legal structure 

Now that you’ve decided on a company name, domain name, and business plan, it’s time to finalise the legal structure. While you can proceed on your own, it is best to hire professional legal representation, such as attorneys or tax specialists, to settle things for you. This way, you’ll be able to get your business up and running quickly.

Taxes, licences, and permits

The licencing, permits, and tax requirements for the screen printing industry will vary greatly from country to country, and even from state to state. That is why it is critical to research all applicable federal, state, and local permits and taxes in order to conduct your business legally.

Sole proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is the most basic legal structure for establishing a local screen printing business. The structure’s disadvantage is that the owner’s assets are vulnerable to legal issues.

Simply put, with a sole proprietorship business structure, you will be held legally responsible for any loss, and you may lose the company or even your home as a result of lawsuits. As a result, we only recommend this legal structure for businesses that cannot afford an LLC structure.

Nonetheless, as a sole proprietorship, you can join the American Independent Business Alliance and file the Schedule C special tax form.

Limited Liability Corporation (LLC)

A limited liability company, or LLC, is a highly recommended and widely used business structure throughout the world. Entrepreneurs and business owners prefer the LLC business structure because it safeguards their personal assets.

Each state has different requirements for forming an LLC, but most states require businesses to submit an operating agreement document. You can also compare the legal aspects of forming an LLC company in various states and select the state with more liberal or business-friendly laws.

Partnerships and corporations

Partnerships and corporations, on the other hand, are more appropriate for large corporations or law firms than for small and medium-sized businesses. Nonetheless, you can investigate the structure of partnerships and corporations to see if they are appropriate for your company.


Franchising is yet another popular business structure that offers numerous advantages to small businesses. The franchising structure entails simply purchasing the right to use another brand’s name for your company. In this case, you must pay an upfront licencing fee for the brand name, as well as a percentage of revenue to the parent company.

On the plus side, by leveraging the brand’s already established market and customers, the franchise model can help small screen printing businesses get a head start. You will also receive all training, equipment, and established processes as part of the package.

Step 6: Preparing for Customers

Congratulations, your screen printing company is not a legal entity; however, much more work remains to be done.

Moving on, you can decide which steps to take in what order, based on your business model, available resources, and skill set.

Nonetheless, in order to get started with your business, you will need to focus on the following aspects:

Location – from where do you intend to work?

What equipment and inventory will you be purchasing? Who will foot the bill?

Finances – how do you plan to raise funds for the business?

Accounts – how will you manage the company’s financial records and accounts?

Marketing – how do you intend to bring customers to your company?

Employees – do you intend to hire anyone? If so, how will you find the best people?

Insurance – how do you intend to safeguard your company?

Step 7: Location

When it comes to selecting a location for your screen printing business, your options will be greatly influenced by your preferences, business model, and operating costs. For example, if you have a few corporations that you frequently hook, locating your business near them will be advantageous.

On the other hand, you could choose a location based on the cost of doing business in the area. If you plan to work for some online brands, you can set up shop in a more suburban area to save money. Alternatively, if you are looking for a retailer screen printing business, you will need to set up shop in a busy mall.

Whatever location you choose for your business, here are a few things to think about before committing to a location:

  • The location should have enough space to safely house equipment and inventory.
  • There should be enough room for a few cabins and offices at the location.
  • The location should not be too far away from the target audience.
  • The location should be large enough to accommodate future growth.

Step 8: Equipment and inventory

Following that, you will need to acquire equipment and inventory for your new screen printing business. First and foremost, you’ll need shirts and tees to sell. You’ll also need display stands, a computer for designing, registers, and printing machines.

To cater to different types of tees and offer different types of printing solutions, you may require multiple printing machines. You may require heat presses, embroidery digitizing stations, or DTG printers, for example. You would also need to compare market options and select the best machines to meet your needs.

Go for used machines and product displays

Because most startups are cash-strapped, you will need to use the available capital wisely to sustain the business. Buying used screen printing equipment is one way to save a lot of money. In the market, you can easily find used equipment at steep discounts.

Online stores are the best place to find used machines such as printers and product display equipment. You can easily find a variety of online stores that sell used equipment and machines at drastically reduced prices. Alternatively, you can look for the necessary equipment and machines at pawn shops or any local store that is going out of business.

Another way to save a lot of money is to buy out an existing company. However, in order to make a good deal, you must conduct due diligence and business valuation to ensure that you only pay a fair price for the acquisition.

Step 9: Employees

Another critical aspect to consider is bringing on the right employees. Also, as a startup, you may decide to go along for the ride, at least initially, to save money, but this is not advised. Remember that the screen printing industry is a multifaceted one that requires both creative designers and experienced technicians to complete the job.

Other core business aspects, such as client relationship management, sales, marketing, finance, and accounting, all necessitate your time and effort. As a result, it is advised to hire employees who can handle a few aspects of the business (creative, technical, or financial) while leaving you with plenty of time to look for growth strategies.

Also, if you decide to hire people, you must consider a number of factors, including tax filing and withholding.

As an employer, you will be required to file federal and state taxes. You will be in charge of keeping employment tax records (the number of record years may vary from state to state).

Job Posting

As a startup, you need the best resources to help you grow your business. To attract top talent, you will need to use multiple job placement platforms. The following are some popular job posting platforms that you can use to hire employees:





Zip code recruiter

All of these are excellent platforms for posting job openings. You can use a single platform or a combination of platforms to attract the best talent for your company.


Following the receipt of resumes for the job posting, you will need to conduct interviews to assess the candidate’s skills and fit in your company. The key here is to give equal weight to the candidate’s technical and soft skills and determine whether the candidate is ready to embark on the growth journey with your company.


You would also be responsible for employee compensation and other related costs. Businesses commonly use the following compensation structures:





Step 10: Financial Management

Financial management is critical to the success of any business, including the screen printing industry. The following are some suggestions to help you better manage the finances of your screen-printing business.

Budgeting is important

A budget is essential for any small business to manage its finances. Any small business that does not have a well-planned budget will fail within the first few years.

Fortunately, you can create a budget for your small screen-printing business using free budgeting software. Here are some free budgeting software options for your consideration:

dsBudget: It is a free, open-source budgeting software; however, it requires some development experience to fully utilise its features.

QuickBooks: One of the most widely used budgeting and accounting software programmes, used to manage accounts by millions of businesses worldwide. It’s simple to use and has a wide range of features, even in the free version.

Xero: Yet another piece of legacy accounting software used by millions of businesses to manage their finances. The software includes a number of automation features to help businesses with budgeting and accounting.

You can start with any other free budgeting software, and as your business grows, you can upgrade to the premium version.

Raising financing

Following that, you must consider funding options for the newly established screen-printing business. Here are a few popular options for raising initial funding for a business among entrepreneurs:

  • Individual savings
  • Borrowing from family or friends
  • Investment by an angel
  • Capital for risk-taking
  • a loan for home equity
  • crowdfunding
  • Programs of the government

Step 11: Marketing

Now that we’ve covered the fundamentals, it’s time to get started.

After all of your time, money, and effort, you must now begin selling like crazy in order to turn your small business into a profitable entity.

You will need a solid marketing strategy to accomplish this! We cannot overstate the importance of effective marketing strategies for any successful business venture.

Here are some pointers to help you get started with low-cost, strategic marketing:

Networking: Your network is your nett worth as an entrepreneur. That is why you must now cultivate relationships like crazy. It will pay off handsomely!

SEO should be prioritised: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is at the heart of all digital marketing strategies. This is what will allow you to establish yourself on Google and drive traffic to your website.

Social Media Marketing: Social media platforms provide the best and most cost-effective way for businesses to connect with customers and become a brand.

Make no concessions when it comes to customer service: remember the adage, “the customer is king!” Make no concessions when it comes to providing 100 percent client satisfaction every time.

Use Analytics: In today’s digital world, your ability to use analytics makes all the difference. Make sure you use analytics strategically to gain insights into customer behaviour and adjust marketing campaigns accordingly.

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