HOW TO START A PRINTING/ PUBLISHING BUSINESS
By Ayoade Apelegan
A printing/publishing company also known as printing press provides a range of services which includes but not limited to;
Printing of office document, the printing of educational materials, the printing of souvenirs, branding of vehicles and buildings, the printing of stickers and printing on shirts.
To start a printing/publishing company, below are a few points to take into consideration.
Get a business plan for your printing business
The business plan is a document that contains all information required to set up the business. A business plan sets out a business objective and the strategies put in place for achieving them.
Information contained in a business plan are:
- An overview of your printing business
- Executive Summary
- General company description
- SWOT analysis
- Market Research
- Your Strategy
- The Team
- A marketing plan
- An operational plan
- Financial projection
- An appendix
Register your business
One of the first things to consider when setting up a business is “Business Registration”. The benefits of registering a business cannot be overemphasized. Some of the benefits are:
Building trust and reputation: Registering a business gives potential customers the confidence that they are dealing with a reputable organization.
Account Opening: In Nigeria, one of the requirements of opening and operating a corporate bank account is the certificate of incorporation. A certificate of incorporation is issued by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), which is the body authorized to carry out registration of business names.
During a business transaction, people are more comfortable paying into a corporate account than an individual account. Operating a corporate account gives a business more credibility and trust from customers, suppliers and other business associates.
Choosing a business location
For a printing /publishing company, the location you choose to set up your business goes a long way in determining the success of your business. A visible and accessible business premises helps to spread the word about your business. In Lagos-Nigeria, Shomolu is the hub of printers and publishers in Lagos State.
Identifying a niche in printing
The beauty of the business of printing and publishing is that there are different niches that one can venture in to.
Below are some niches worth considering:
Offset Lithography Printing
Offset Lithography printing is a form of printing that makes use of metal plates, water, ink and rubber blanket.
How it works:
The metal plate is first run through water and then ink. The image [graphic file] is transferred to a metal plate and from the metal plate to a rubber blanket. The ink sticks to the spaces where there are texts and images. While the water sticks to the blank spaces on the metal plates.
The inked rubber blanket will be used to run [transfer] the printing on paper.
There are two types of offset printing:
- Sheet-fed: In sheet-fed, the paper is already cut before printing.
- Web: In web press, the paper is in a roll first and cut after printing.
Printers who specialize in this type of printing are called lithographers.
Digital Color Separation Printing
Graphic files usually contain a maximum of four colours namely; Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. During printing, the colours need to be separated before sending them to press for printing. This separation when done on a computer, is called computer separation.
To engage in this type of printing, you will need to get the digital colour separation machine.
Large Format Printing
Large format printing which is sometimes called wide-format printing. Large format printing requires the use of special-purpose equipment that can accommodate bigger-than-normal print dimensions.
When crafted into different shapes or colours, large posters always attracts attention.
Screen printing is the process of transferring a design onto a surface using a mesh screen, ink and a squeegee or blade.
How it works:
This works by way of creating a stencil on a fine mesh screen, and then pushing ink or paint through the openings in the mesh to create an imprint of your design on the surface beneath. Areas that are meant to remain blank are covered with a substrate.
Sign printing is the art of using signs and symbols to pass a message. It includes all visual graphics that are used in displaying information. It can also come in the form of digital display.
Lamination refers to the process of applying a clear plastic film onto a printed material to enhance and protect the printed matter. Lamination is often used for packaging, book covers, brochures, business cards, Identity cards and other printed items. There are different types of laminate: Silk, Matt and Gloss Lamination.
Finishing is a niche in printing that deals with post-press activities.
Examples of finishing are: fixing of ropes on paper bags, binding of printed books and documents, spiral binding
Build a portfolio
To anyone in the printing and publishing business, a portfolio is more like an investment. Your portfolio should contain samples of jobs that have been executed by you. It could also be jobs that you intentionally embark on, so as just to add to your portfolio. It shows your prospects what you are capable of doing.
Identify your target market
Depending on the printing niche you intend to focus on, you need to identify your target market. Possible target markets for printing/publishing company are:
Fast foods businesses,
Students on campuses;
Event planners and organizers;
Read How to Conduct Competitor Analysis for your Business
Getting Funds for Your Printing Business
Starting a printing business is capital intensive. However, there are other ways through which one can secure the required funds for starting a business should you not have enough savings to start the business process. These are:
Savings: This involves funding from personal savings.
Bank of Industry: Bank of Industry provides financial assistance for the establishment of large, medium and small projects as well as the expansion, diversification and modernization of existing enterprises.
Bank loans: Bank loans are one of the most common forms of finance for small and medium-sized enterprises. It can be capital/principal repayment or interest-only and can be structured to meet the business’s needs. Bank loans can be short term or long term depending on the purpose of the loan.
Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF): The Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) was established by the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund Law 2016 to provide financial support to residents of Lagos State.
Venture Capital: Venture Capital is a type of funding for a new or growing business. Equity capital or loan capital provided by private investors.
Angel Investors: Funds for starting a business can be raised through Angel Investors. Angel Investors are individuals that provide capital for a business in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity.
Crowdfunding: This is the process of raising capital through the collective effort of a large number of people mainly through the internet. Examples of crowdfunding sites are: Kickstarter, RocketHub, gofundme, CircleUp
Marketing your Printing Business
Marketing deals with attracting and educating people about a product or service. The printing industry is highly competitive and as such, your business needs to stand out in the market.
Below are some ways to market your printing business;
A business’ social media presence is also a marketing tool. Social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, can be used to maintain existing relationships with customers, as well as to get leads and gain more customers.
Jumping on trending hashtags and topics is a way to keep your business in the eye of the public.
How it works:
- Create a business page;
- Upload contents that reflect your business’s purposes;
- Upload images of your products and services using relevant hashtags.
A paid advert is a form of marketing that is used to drive traffic to a website, with conversions and sales. Paid advert ensures that your contents reach the right influencers.
Sharing of Handbills/Flyers/Posters
Sharing of flyers and handbills is an effective way of promoting your business. Flyers and handbills contain information about your business. To make your potential customer interested in your business and keep your flyer for future reference, the flyer has to be eye-catching. It is a great way to let your prospects know the quality of your work as you are creating the flyer yourself.
Attending exhibitions and trade shows
Attending trade shows and exhibitions will give you the necessary exposure as a printer. You get to meet a lot of industry professionals and learn about latest happenings in the printing world, e.g. latest printing technology, latest equipment.
Work On Brand Building
It is important to have an identity that people can relate to when you run a business. A brand is a company’s public identity. For a printing company to stand out and achieve its business goals, the company must be properly branded. Creation of branded items puts the company in the public eye. Some items to consider during branding are:
Your company’s logo is the face of your company. A company’s logo is a way of passing information, keeping your brand visible and memorable to customers.
A logo should be easily identifiable and easily linked to your products or services. For a printing company, the logo should be placed in strategic places on products and items printed by the company. So, there are numerous benefits of having a logo design that represents your business.
A tagline is a catchphrase or a slogan used in advertising. It is a phrase that accompanies a brand name.
Popular taglines for some brands are:
Apple – “Think different.”
Nike – “Just do it”
Budweiser – “The king of beers.”
Colours are important in branding as they convey emotions, feelings and experiences.
Popular brands and their colours are:
MTN – Yellow
Glo – Green
Etisalat – Lemon
Build an Online Presence
Studies have shown that people seek information online when they need information about products and services. Online presence covers both website and social media profiles. A printing company must have a good presence online, as the internet has become a marketing tool for businesses.
Anyone who operates or runs a printing a company should ensure that during a search on the internet, their website comes out top in the search results. Among other things, you should ensure that your website is easy to navigate and should be responsive for mobile devices.
Hiring of Staff
Members of staff of a printing company are majorly the graphic designer and the machine operator. Other members of staff are; manager, accountant, front desk officer, typist.
Purchase block of ISBNs
International Standard Book Numbers, also known as ISBNs, are required to publish and distribute books through booksellers. All books have their own unique ISBN (International Standard Book Number). If you plan to sell your book in a bookstore, through an online retailer, or to the library, you’ll need to have a 13-digit ISBN assigned to it. All over the world, ISBNs are used to identify books.
How to get ISBN in Nigeria
ISBN and ISSN can be gotten from any of the National Library’s offices after submitting the following documents:
- An ISBN or ISSN application letter to the Director of the National Library on your company’s letter-headed paper.
- ISBN application form
- A Photocopy of certificate of incorporation of your company (as registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission of Nigeria – CAC)
- The Printed manuscript or copy of the book you wish to get ISBN for
- Registration fee
In Lagos, ISBN can be gotten at the national library office located at 227 Herbert Macaulay Way, Yaba, Lagos.
Some equipment needed to start a printing company are:
Cutting Equipment: In printing, the cutters cut out what you design on the cutter program, and is also used in cutting cards, letters and graphics. The hand cutter which is also known as the hydraulic cutter is used to cut cards, e.g. greeting cards, business cards while the vinyl cutting machine is used to cut letters and graphics from adhesive back vinyl.
Binding Machine: this is used to bind sheets of papers together to form magazines and books. There are different types of binding machines namely: comb binders, wire binders, thermal binders.
Printer: The type of printer to be purchased will depend on the kind of printing you are embarking on. Examples of printers are: Laser printer, Inkjet printer, Offset printer, Sublimation printer, Solvent printer, Garment printer and Screen printer.
Computer and Graphic Design Software: A computer with sufficient memory, hard drive space and speed are recommended for a printing business. Other peripherals such as scanners and camera are also needed in a printing business.
Graphic design software is necessary for the modern print shop for basic design and typesetting. Softwares like Adobe Photoshop, Pagemaker, CorelDraw are needed for printing purposes.
You’ll need at least one higher-end computer in your shop for graphic design work. Graphic design work soaks up a lot of your computer’s resources. Look for a computer with a powerful CPU and graphics processing unit, as well as lots of onboard RAM.
The Adobe suite of software is generally considered the standard for graphic design work. The pitfall is that you can only get the newest versions of the software through a subscription. That can get expensive over time.
Other equipments are Photo Copier Machine, Fax Machine, Laminator, paper driller, transfer paper, heat press machine, paper folders, generator set.
The printing industry is a high waste generating industry. Wastes from papers, plastics, nylons, chemicals, inks and solvent-based inks are generated daily. When starting up a printing company, an arrangement should be made with the relevant waste management agency for the prompt evacuation of generated waste daily.
Get Insurance for your business
As a business owner, you must get insurance an insurance cover for your business. Insurance protects your business against unforeseen circumstances and events that might occur during running your business. Insurance for a printing/publishing company covers the following:
Breach of copyright
Loss of artwork
Goods in transit
Motor insurance (for delivery vehicles)
Costs associated with a printing/publishing company
Running a printing press comes with some unavoidable costs. Some of these costs are:
Subscription costs for design software
Maintenance and replacement costs for equipment parts
Offering Additional Services
For a print/publishing shop, additional services must be added offered alongside the printing and publishing business. These additional services can include one or more of the following: sale of stationery
Delivery of finished jobs
Desktop publishing services
Making of ID cards
Delivery Vehicle / Dispatch Bike
To meet the deadline and deliver finished jobs in perfect conditions, it is important to deliver those jobs to the doorstep of the customers. For jobs that aren’t bulky, a dispatch bike will be the best means of making a delivery while for bulky jobs, a bus or truck will be the best option. Delivering finished jobs to the doorstep of customers will always give you an edge over your competitors.
Research your competitors
The printing industry is highly competitive. Therefore to be a force to reckon within the business, it is important to research your competitors. Keeping close tabs on them to know the latest equipment acquired and services being rendered is key to your business survival. You can be a step ahead by offering those services they aren’t offering and finding better and improved ways to offer those services that they do render.
Most people venture into a business without having background knowledge of the industry. The printing/publishing is an industry that offers a wide a range of services, therefore it is important to have an idea of the processes involved at different stages of production. Some ways to go about this are:
Interning at a printing /publishing centre;
Following industry leaders on social media;
Subscribing to newsletters and publications.
Printing is a service-oriented business. Therefore, it is important to hire an Accountant for your printing/publishing business. The Accountant helps put your books in place and advice you on the tax implication of the business to avoid sanctions and disruptions of business processes from government agencies.
At MATOG CONSULTING, we offer business plan services that contain all necessary information about the structure of your company, your expenses, expected investment and anticipated returns on your investment.
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