What Do I Need to Open a Print Shop Business?

Print shop equipment will vary with the services and products you will offer.

Equipment and business needs required to open a print shop business will depend on the type of printing and services you choose to offer. Small print shops typically provide one or more services including photocopying, offset printing, screen printing or digital printing, offering diverse product lines such as personal and commercial paper printing, T-shirts and other wearables, signage, posters and promotional goods.
Market Research
Investigate the industry and your local market by visiting print shops, subscribing to printing trade magazines and visiting industry association websites. According to a 2010-11 report by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics some print shop and employment segments are on the decline due to changes in the way printing is produced and procured — computer-based printing, online services. But by specializing in a market not properly served in your area, you may be able to start and run a successful shop.

Business Planning
A business plan will serve as an operational guide for startup and ongoing operations, and is necessary if you plan to finance your venture through a bank or lending company. Your business plan will include all aspects of the business, included equipment lists, marketing and advertising strategies, financial startup and operational information, business structure and other details. Visit the U.S. Small Business Administration website for free business plan and startup information; contact your local SCORE field office for mentoring and other help, or hire a business consultant to prepare your print shop business plan.
Store or Facility
You may purchase or rent a store or facility for your shop, but it must pass local zoning, planning, safety and environmental requirements. Depending on the type of shop and equipment, the work space will need adequate ventilation, drainage, electricity, climate control and water service. Printing equipment can require commercial or industrial electrical systems, and may produce wastewater and airborne contaminants. Consult with your local authorities on restrictions and requirements for your type of shop.

Permits, Licenses And Inspections
Most print shops double as retail stores and manufacturing facilities, and require local business permits, state sales tax registration and retail sales certificates, and any required safety and environmental inspections. If the print shop is structured as a corporation, limited liability company or partnership, you will need to file the necessary paperwork with your secretary of state. If employees will be involved, the Internal Revenue Service requires you to apply for a Taxpayer Identification Number and an Employer Identification Number. Forms and information can be found on local, state and federal government websites.
Equipment And Supplies
Purchase equipment and supplies from a printing equipment and supply company, or search trade magazine and online classifieds for used equipment. In general, your basic equipment needs will include office and store necessities, a printing press, finishing equipment and blank printing material.

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