Starting a T-shirt business, especially if you are going to be utilizing a heat press, is relatively easy. There aren’t a lot of barriers to getting started, and the investment is pretty low compared to other printing methods.
Printing apparel with a heat press is straightforward. The only piece of equipment you need is a heat press unless you also plan on cutting vinyl, then you also need a cutter.
Once you have a heat press, you are ready to go. However, starting a successful heat printing business does involve other aspects that you need to consider as well.
HAVE A SOLID BUSINESS PLAN
Before you start, think about your business. What are you going to sell? Who's your customer? What is your competitive advantage?
Search online for templates. It will make writing your business plan easier and outline the right things you should be thinking about.
HAVE THE PROPER EQUIPMENT
Because your heat press is the main piece of equipment that is driving your business, do research and buy a quality press. It must be reliable and endure the volume of pressing you want to achieve over time. Make sure it can handle a long run of printing without losing heat.
A good heat press will have even temperature and pressure throughout the entire platen. This evenness helps ensure a good application. Going cheap and producing one bad order can cost you more than the difference of a good press, plus the cost of losing returning customers.
FIND YOUR SUPPLIERS
In the heat printing business, you are going to need suppliers for heat transfers, blank apparel, and vinyl if you choose to cut vinyl.
There are so many places to get all of these, so look for a supplier that meets your business needs, whether it’s speed, quality, one-stop-shop, etc.
PRICE FOR PROFITS
After you find your suppliers and know your raw material and overhead costs, you can start to create your pricing structure. There are many methods out there for pricing, so again, do your research. Your costs, your market, competition, and your desired profit margin are all pieces to the pricing puzzle.
Make sure your profits are not so low that you can’t stay in business, but not too high that people aren’t willing to buy from you.
TAKE CARE OF THE LEGAL STUFF
To start a proper heat printing business, you will need to do all the legal paperwork that isn't always fun.
Getting a tax id, LLC, vendor’s license, etc. will help you get the things you need to run your business more effectively. Plus, if you are running a business, it’s the right thing to do, legally.
PROMOTE YOUR BUSINESS
Now, this is probably more of the fun side of starting a heat printing business. Promote and market your business, so you start to gain customers. Without customers, your business can’t get off the ground.
Create business cards, a website, a business Facebook page, and any other forms of ideal audience reach. Don’t underestimate a happy customer and word-of-mouth advertising either, especially if your target market is in a local geographic region.
Another way to promote your business is through the use of promotional products. This method is easy because you are a printer. Use promotional products you can heat print. When getting screen-printed transfers, use your gang sheets for extra “free” images. Use the additional images to print your own gear or upsell them to your same customer with their logo/design. For example, when they order T-shirts, give them a free tote bag with the same logo on it. This surprises and delights customers with an extra, unexpected gift. Everyone loves to be surprised with a gift, no matter how little it is. This little trick could lead to additional sales.
In the end, proper planning will help you be more successful in the long run. Don’t try to cut corners because it will probably come back to bite you.