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  • Running a business alongside your sign company

  • George Elsmore

    Member
    January 20, 2009 at 8:08 am

    Hello all, if you had the room/office space do or would any of you run a business alongside that of your sign making? Do any of you run a business that compliments your sign business? besides the obvious business cards/stationary or clothing/embroidery. just something that flew in my head on the way in this morning knowing some space had become available 😀

    Penny for them

    G

  • John Thomson

    Member
    January 20, 2009 at 8:36 am

    I added sublimation printing……..does not need much space, investment level is not to high…….good margins and great for promoting your sign business.

    John

  • Shane Drew

    Member
    January 20, 2009 at 8:52 am

    Must confess, toying with sublimation too…. same reasons as John.

  • Paul Humble

    Member
    January 20, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Ive got Sublimation, garment printing and stationary running alongside my Sign business but I had a little space left over so my Brother has just set up an Engineering head hunting company from here too.

  • John Childs

    Member
    January 20, 2009 at 9:49 am

    Morning George.

    I would think long and hard about running another business alongside mine. I’m not too worried about gross margins, but I am desperately interested in the bottom line.

    What I’m trying to say is that a three quid mug, even on a 1000% mark-up, doesn’t leave much money behind to pay the labour to make it, the overheads, and all the other expenses. Also, in my location I would need to spend on advertising and flyers before people even knew we made them. I would lose money by making mugs.

    That’s not to say that mugs isn’t a noble profession. Working from home, or high street premises with passing trade (and therefore less advertising requirement) will probably make it work. It must do because plenty of members do it, so I won’t knock it. I’m just saying that it could never work for me.

    I’ve used mugs as an example, but the same applies to any highly competitive business and would steer clear of business cards/stationery, embroidery or anything that allows anybody with a bit of pocket money to set up in competition.

    To make the big bucks you need to get in early. You need a new idea, the faith and commitment to the project, and the hard work to make it succeed. Then you need to milk it for all you can before everybody copies you and slashes prices. Our own industry provides excellent examples with vinyl cutting twenty five years ago and, more recently, digital printing. There are plenty of examples in other industries too, in fact, it is the normal business cycle.

    To be honest, if I couldn’t come up with something like that, I think I’d prefer to rent out my spare space and let somebody else have the worry and hassle of trying to scratch a living out of an already saturated market.

  • Shane Drew

    Member
    January 20, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Thats really good food for thought John.

    Most people forget they have a ready made market though. Their existing clients.

    I did a little phone around and asked my regular clients who did their promotional items….. most had no idea… they looked in the yellow pages if they couldn’t find someone that was recommended. I suggested I may be in a position to be a one stop shop for that sort of thing, and most got really excited

    Now I have clients interested but I’ve not committed to the business yet 😕 Whether that turns into real sales is a mute point though.

    When I had an engraving business running beside my sign business down the coast, I invested in a few boxes of expensive crystal wine flutes, engraved the clients logo on a pair, then gave them as a gift, with a covering letter explaining that it was a new service I was offering.

    We got so much work, we had to employ someone. Unfortunately he promptly destroyed any good will I built up because he was more interested in the wedding market – a saturated market here – than following on from what I started. I blame myself because I assumed he appreciated that my business was important.

    Unfortunately I found out too late that he was doing engraving from home and he was attempting to steal my client base by sabotaging my engraving business.

    When I sold my original business, I just closed the engraving side down. Something I’ve regretted ever since because to find a good computerised engraver here, that doesn’t charge a kings ransom, is hard to find.

    I guess I’m trying to say, in my long winded fashion, that some of our best prospects for work are people we are already dealing with. We spend so many resources trying to find new clients, we forget it actually much cheaper to look after our existing client base better.

    That said, you make some very valid points. Locality is probably the single most important requirement.

    Its very much a personal decision, but homework is important, and shouldn’t be ignored.

  • John Childs

    Member
    January 20, 2009 at 11:02 am
    quote Shane Drew:

    Most people forget they have a ready made market though. Their existing clients.

    I didn’t forget that Shane, it’s just that I didn’t want to make my post too long winded. 😀

    For someone with a long client list, and therefore prospective market, the obstacles to running one of those competitive businesses are less. Like high street premises, I don’t have that advantage.

  • Shane Drew

    Member
    January 20, 2009 at 11:06 am
    quote John Childs:

    quote Shane Drew:

    Most people forget they have a ready made market though. Their existing clients.

    I didn’t forget that Shane, it’s just that I didn’t want to make my post too long winded. 😀

    😳 😳 sorry…… 😉 :lol1:

  • John Childs

    Member
    January 20, 2009 at 11:46 am
    quote Shane Drew:

    😳 😳 sorry…… 😉 :lol1:

    Not at all Shane. You made a good valid point.

    The fact that, in an attempt to keep my post readable, I didn’t mention it, is not your fault.

  • Silvio Alves

    Member
    January 20, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Hello all,

    We have been running an Architectural and Website Design, service, along with our sign business since we first started trading back in 2003.

    Our main trade is Signs but followed closely with Architectural design. I would have to say that the Architectural side of our business generate the biggest income for us however the signage side of our business is also successful.

    It can get really hectic with making signs and running an architectural job at the same time. However I have to say up to the present day we have always manged to keep our clients happy and allot of our trade is returning customers.

    We are always looking at different ways we can expand our business. There have been things that we have tried that have failed miserably, such as letter head/Business card printing.

    The website design side of our business was busy initially but we find these days that people prefer to do their own websites themselves. However we decided to keep this aspect of our business going as it is not costing us any money.

    We still have a couple of ideas in the pipeline to expand our business, but we will need tor research these a bit better.

    Anyway, that’s my pennys worth.

    all the best

    Silvio

  • Phill Fenton

    Member
    January 20, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    I’ve always put off any ideas of diversifying. When I first started I tried to do all things sign related – but over time discovered it was more profitable to concentrate on the main thing I do most of which is computer cut vinyl and (more recently) digital printing signs.

    However, I have considered offering business cards letter heads as a service by subbing the work out. I often get asked for it, and I figure that because I have a fairly large and diverse customer base with their artwork on file it would be a natural progression. The only thing that puts me off trying is that I have one or two good clients who put a lot of sign related work my way who themselves offer this type of service and I don’t want to tread on their toes and risk losing business from them

  • Michael Potter

    Member
    January 23, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    we run a picture framing business, wife’s department.
    The picture framing was the main part when we started but over time signage followed by Dye Sub have moved in to 1 & 2 followed by picture framing.

  • Chris Wool

    Member
    January 24, 2009 at 12:28 am
    quote :

    I have one or two good clients who put a lot of sign related work my way who themselves offer this type of service and I don’t want to tread on their toes and risk losing business from them

    can’t you get them to do the printing for you give and take ? which is what i try to do.

    chris

  • Shane Drew

    Member
    January 24, 2009 at 5:13 am
    quote Phill:

    However, I have considered offering business cards letter heads as a service by subbing the work out. I often get asked for it, and I figure that because I have a fairly large and diverse customer base with their artwork on file it would be a natural progression.

    Phill. I do work for a printer too. I offer all sorts of printing to my clients, do the artwork and send it off to my client, acting as his agent. He gives me a wholesale rate, and lets me know what the retail rate is so I can be competitive. Then I charge my client extra for the artwork.

    He, in return, advertises pull up and car door magnets to his clients. He supplies the ready to print art to me and I give him a wholesale rate and he sells them at retail, plus his artwork charges.

    It works really well, and it gives my clients the feel of one stop shopping.

    Everyone wins really, because we both get regular work and our clients get a good service.

    I work with a few clients in a few industries offering the same concept…

  • David Rowland

    Member
    January 24, 2009 at 11:22 am

    i have to say that this thread is border line of the board rules lol

    we do webdesign but we dont just sell signs, we sell "a company image" so its all based on that… however two of us work closely on an upcoming trade project and have nothing to do with everyday work.

    With regards John C comment about mugs, yes I agree with this, also when you look at things you rather have your staff working on the good money based clients work then a £10 sign correx/fx "No Parking" sign that needs to be done by the end of the day. But everyones business is different in some ways.

    We also looked at things like running exhibitions to ice rinks! thats all I am going to say on that.

  • Chris Ferrie

    Member
    January 26, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    From a slightly different angle – my company started as a point of sale company then we "bolted on" the sign business. As POS declined I then bolted on the sign fixings and that is my core business now. My point is that diversification is not just an interesting concept but an essential means of future proofing your business. If your sign business is booming it doesn’t mean it is guaranteed to stay that way. Being able to dip your toes into other markets lets you see what works and what doesn’t.

    In the transition period between my company being a POS business and a trade supplier we tried loads of things including mod-edit car graphix, mod-edit trade letters supply and – I am reluctant to admit – even mod-edit sex toys – which was strange, funny, interesting – and not profitable at all. The point I make though is that the more things you try out the more likely you are to come across a successful additional revenue stream. Chris

  • John Childs

    Member
    January 26, 2009 at 2:11 pm
    quote Chris Ferrie:

    If your sign business is booming it doesn’t mean it is guaranteed to stay that way. Being able to dip your toes into other markets lets you see what works and what doesn’t.

    Not sure about that Chris.

    The really smart people of my acquaintance don’t try to evolve a business. They start one up, work hard to make it a success, are able to gauge when the golden times are about to come to an end, and then sell it for big bucks before the inevitable decline. Then they either go onto the next big thing, or are maybe already running two or three completely separate businesses in parallel.

    Unfortunately I am not amongst their number. I take it too personally, coming to regard the customers and suppliers that I deal with everyday more as friends than as weapons to earn money, and am reluctant to sell the company that I have nurtured from a baby and come to love. I realised years ago that that is the main reason why I will never earn vast amounts of money and am basically a small businessman at heart. Richard Branson I ain’t.

    Now, tell me about the sex toys. 😛

  • Michael Potter

    Member
    January 26, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    John I think you said exactly what Chris said, but using slightly different words. In the end it is each to their own.
    cheers Mike

  • Phill Fenton

    Member
    January 26, 2009 at 10:40 pm
    quote Chris Ferrie:

    My point is that diversification is not just an interesting concept but an essential means of future proofing your business.

    I was interested to recently discover that in 2007 the car manufacturer Porsche made three times more profit from stock market investments than they do from manufacturing cars.

    Incredible but true 😮

    http://www.talkingmotors.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=26153:porsche-profits-raise-eyebrows&catid=10:carmaker-news&Itemid=15

    Not sure how they’re faring now though 😕

  • John Childs

    Member
    January 26, 2009 at 10:49 pm
    quote Michael Potter:

    John I think you said exactly what Chris said, but using slightly different words. In the end it is each to their own.
    cheers Mike

    Similar maybe Michael, but Chris was talking about evolving a business, to bolt on a new line as an old one declines. I was promoting the more radical action of disposing of a declining business, while it still has maximum value, and getting into something else which is on the up.

  • Shane Drew

    Member
    January 26, 2009 at 11:06 pm
    quote John Childs:

    Similar maybe Michael, but Chris was talking about evolving a business, to bolt on a new line as an old one declines. I was promoting the more radical action of disposing of a declining business, while it still has maximum value, and getting into something else which is on the up.

    John has basically defined the difference between being a small business v being an opportunist 🙂 I guess.

    Nothing illegal in either, the simple difference being that a small businessman usually has a conscience, and opportunist usually doesn’t 🙂

  • Peter Normington

    Member
    January 26, 2009 at 11:24 pm
    quote Phill:

    quote Chris Ferrie:

    My point is that diversification is not just an interesting concept but an essential means of future proofing your business.

    I was interested to recently discover that in 2007 the car manufacturer Porsche made three times more profit from stock market investments than they do from manufacturing cars.

    Incredible but true 😮

    http://www.talkingmotors.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=26153:porsche-profits-raise-eyebrows&catid=10:carmaker-news&Itemid=15

    Not sure how they’re faring now though 😕

    Avis and Hertz used to make most of their profit by

    selling cars
    probably even more so now

    Peter

  • John Childs

    Member
    January 27, 2009 at 12:28 am
    quote Shane Drew:

    John has basically defined the difference between being a small business v being an opportunist 🙂 I guess.

    Don’t think I agree with that either Shane. Looks like my night for being contrary. 😀

    I think "opportunist" is the wrong word to describe what I am trying to say, because even a serial businessman can run his affairs in an ethical and proper manner.

    I reckon the difference is whether we are emotionally involved in our companies, and therefore reluctant to move on to something else.

  • Phill Fenton

    Member
    January 27, 2009 at 7:32 am
    quote John Childs:

    Looks like my night for being contrary. 😀

    You don’t want to be doing that – that’s Peters Job :lol1:

  • George Elsmore

    Member
    January 27, 2009 at 8:55 am

    glad i stirred up a good old fashioned DEBATE 😀

  • Peter Normington

    Member
    January 27, 2009 at 9:21 am
    quote Phill:

    quote John Childs:

    Looks like my night for being contrary. 😀

    You don’t want to be doing that – that’s Peters Job :lol1:

    Only when its your night off Phill,
    😀

    Peter

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