Surviving as a Small Business Printer

In today’s challenging world, the biggest issue that small businesses face is survival.  printing-shop-business-insurance
It’s an extremely competitive market no matter what industry you’re in, and more small businesses shut down each month than start up!  Even so,  small businesses represent more than 99.7% of all employers.

Many of these small business dwell here within the realm of printing as small family started label shops.  These shops are everywhere but more are closing due to competition from larger companies, and starting a printing business in this economy is a huge challenge.  Profits may fluctuate from year to year and without strong corporate accounts, it can be hard to stabilize growth and losses.

Main challenges for small businesses

  • Financial-Finding startup money, dealing with billing, invoicing, and customer collections
  • Customers – Finding and keeping customers, especially in the beginning stages of business
  • Production- Giving customers what they want on time with no delays, quick shipping, and no machinery downtime
  • Resources – having strategic planning and testing departments for new products/materials
  • Growth – Keeping up with industry trends to grow the business in a positive direction

Small business printers have to manage these issues and at the same time stay flexible.  One of the top things that helps is customer loyalty, and going above and beyond customer needs, giving them the quickest work possible and getting it to them as soon as possible.  Another key is being service oriented and having knowledge and options to choose from, so customers don’t necessarily feel like they are dealing with a small business. Impossible?  Not at all.

Printers should ask themselves these key questions about their business techniques:

  • Who do you work with?  Get specific.  Are you looking to do label printing for other small businesses or are does your shop have the potential to do customization for special projects?  Defining this gives you and your abilities value.
  • What problems are your clients looking to solve and what is the solution you provide? Think about what solutions you can offer your customers.  What end-all thing do you offer that gives someone a reason to go with you?  It could be that you have same day printing and shipping, or the lowest prices in town.  Perhaps you stock more materials than other printers or you have a special skill for die cutting.  Use this as a solution to your advantage.
  • How do you get results for your clients?  What makes you unique?  This answer is different for everyone and forces small businesses to look at evaluate themselves, whereas many large corporate companies have teams who answer this question for the printers.


Answering these questions in addition to tackling the issues above can lead to many problems for small business printers.  Worst still, asking these questions and realizing you don’t have an answer, and that you haven’t made yourself unique in the business marketplace.  In that situation, you might want to let a helpful vendor come in and give you some tips.  A successful product vendor will work with you to determine these questions about your business and get you the materials that most compliment the clients you are targeting.  If you’re printing mostly invitations, then synthetic paper, digital French Paper, and wood veneer sheets are a must for unique materials that compliment unique invitation designs.  Doing a lot of printing for local sports teams and theaters?  Silver and rainbow metallic boards give punches (not pops!) of shine and brilliance that are eye catching.

A great material provider will also assist you with your issues and those of your clients.

Say your customer need a special lenticular material for a 3D application.  Your provider should work with you to determine the look the client wants, what press you are using, and, if needed, what coatings will help the material run best in your machine. Perhaps they need a decal material that sticks to any surface, but is reusable and doesn’t leave residue.  Let your supplier assist you in finding that material and making your clients dream a reality.   There are other solutions you can produce as well.  You can work with suppliers to have materials stocked, so your customers have their materials in the quickest manner.

Finally, getting results for your clients.  It’s tricky to gauge this as a printer, because you can’t guarantee where customers will hang, use, or distribute their printed materials to the proper targeted customers.  What you can help, however, is making sure that the printed pieces they receive are of top quality.  Materials need to be durable, with superior ink adhesion, and the printing needs to follow suit with no tail stretch or improper cuts.

If you’re looking for a supplier that can help you answer these questions or make these decisions, MGX is a great place to go.

We have over forty materials stocked for convenience, from pressure sensitive materials and synthetic paper to rigid vinyl PVC and printable wood veneer.  These materials are optimized for the top digital printing effect and give any application and design a great canvas to start with.  Working with us as a supplier can give you shorter lead times, quicker turnarounds, and a better overall printed piece that meets your needs and the needs of your customer in a cost effective way.