1.1 STARTING YOUR OWN VINYL SIGN BUSINESS
A business of your own can provide the security of income and flexibility of time that many yearn for. In addition, a VINYL sign business of your own can provide the challenge of self expression, excitement, and job satisfaction not available in many other income opportunities.
A business such as this will grow quickly as you provide excellent service, quality, value, and customer satisfaction. Not to be dismissed though, is the hard work that'll be required. Yet this effort, steered into the right channels, will yield successful results.
1.2 What Does It Take To Start?
Like a captain carefully charting out a desired course, time will be one of your basic outlays. In addition to your focused energies, some capital will also be required.
But unlike other income opportunities, a VINYL sign business does not demand excessive resources to get sailing. Although some segments of the sign industry such as high-rise design and installation, neon and vacuum form signage, take a large investment, the VINYL sign industry does not require that kind of extensive undertaking. Actually, the cash outlay for supplies and equipment is probably less than you may have imagined!
What makes the sign business, and especially the VINYL industry, unique is the ability to eliminate many of these start-up costs by focusing on specific areas of production. As each area of production grows, you can add the advertising, material or service machinery as needed. But you will need some basic inventory, computer hardware, software programs, and service machinery to cut your vinyl. So let's focus on these.
1.3 The Basics Required To Get On Board
Times have certainly changed! The basics needed to start your own sign business have become so affordable to professionals like you. What has caused this to happen? Computer aided signmaking (C.A.S.) systems. Computer-aided signmaking (C.A.S.) has brought sign production out from the back room onto your desktop.
Signs are now designed and redesigned, cost estimated, and even cut by computer. A computer, a software program, and a cutting plotter, (a C.A.S. system), will transform a thin sheet of vinyl material into easy-to-apply lettering or graphics that you can place on the sign background of your choice. No need to be an experienced sign painter and know all the ropes!
With even a minimum of artistic experience, the new software packages can turn you into a graphic genius. The latest computer hardware and cutting plotters available to cut the vinyl signage of today give attention to very small, tedious detailing you would have refused to do in the past. Additional cutting plotters or color scanners can be added as you perceive the need.
A basic inventory of vinyl material of different colors, textures, and thicknesses will be needed. Also, a stock of signage backgrounds will be required: vinyl banner cloth, aluminum blanks, coroplast, MDO plywood, etc... The extent of this on-hand inventory can be adjusted as your budget allows. As you offer more products and services, stock can be increased accordingly.
1.4 Business Requirements For Casting Off
A Business License is a requirement for most cities and communities. This is really a stamp of approval that you are a bonafide company and not a fly-by- night operation. You will need to check with the local county clerk's office to obtain a business license to produce and sell your signs. This will also ensure that no one else can use your particular business name.
You'll also need to apply for a Sales Tax and Resale Permit. This will permit you to charge the appropriate sales tax in your city and state on your product and also enable you to buy supplies tax free if they will be used in the production of your signs. Each city and state has different rates and criteria as to what is taxed, so you will need to contact the local tax office for additional information.
Another important consideration to casting off properly is to decide the type of legal form your company will take. It can be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a corporation.
A sole proprietorship -- This is the simplest form and can be set up quickly and without much legal documentation to begin with. Make sure you procure the appropriate licenses and tax permits, keep complete business records, and at the end of the year, fill out a business tax return with your personal tax return package. That's basically all there is to it as its simplicity does hold some advantages.
A partnership -- This has some advantages, too, in that you acquire a partner to split the load of work and responsibility. But be assured, this is not as simple as it sounds. It can become a complex arrangement to draw up legal documentation through an attorney. You must spell out in advance possibilities such as: death of either party, sale of either party's share of the business, etc... In addition, you may have to take on the financial responsibilities of your partner if for some reason, he or she cannot carry their load.
The day-to-day activities may bring up other issues to be dealt with such as: business direction, time each partner spends working, monetary spending, etc... At times these issues can distract from overall business sales and production.
A corporation -- This is a legal entity that operates separate from you. In other words, IT owns the business and therefore is responsible for its actions, income and debts. A corporation needs legal documentation and paperwork set up through an attorney. These will be filed with the state and you must pay a state franchise tax yearly. Rates vary with each state.
Some companies operate without this last necessity: Insurance. But, a savvy business professional knows that hitting just one rock below the surface can capsize the entire ship. Liability insurance is required to keep on course in case things go wrong. Accidental injury of people and property can ruin a successful business. So, be sure you talk with a knowledgeable agent to see if you are adequately covered. Always shop around to get the best possible rate. Other areas of insurance such as health, life and retirement, deserve attention according to your needs.
1.5 How To Stay Afloat
Staying afloat is an aspect of business that encompasses a broad range of subjects, each of which is unique to an individual company. But one thing is sure, a most important step is developing a business plan or goal as a guide. To keep to the charted course, know which potential customers and production areas to target.
Also be cognizant of how to price, sell, design, and apply the vinyl correctly within this framework of the sign industry. Keep a list of suppliers with their current price catalogs on hand for reference. This will empower you to give competitive price quotes and hold down your production costs. Always ask these suppliers to send any new product information and samples of assorted materials for you to evaluate. In addition, keep up to date on the application and usage of materials through industry magazines and trade seminars.
You must, as well, be able to keep accurate, organized, and up-to-date transaction records to attain charted business goals. These will ultimately assist in filling your customer's needs, too. If you have neither the time nor the expertise in this area, be sure to enlist the aid of someone who does. It may well be justifiable to hire a professional with understanding in this sphere. Then, this will allow you to concentrate on what you do the best -- operate a VINYL SIGN BUSINESS!
A successful sign professional must also make adjustments to the course when needed. Stay alert to the very latest in sign making trends to be able to provide fresh and innovative ideas and images. Subscribe to sign magazines and keep these magazines on hand to refer to when needing materials and supplies. Attend sign business trade shows and seminars to enhance your knowledge of the industry and stay competitive. Also, educate yourself to the business basics of sales, marketing, advertising, etc... by using the local library or book store.
The privilege of purchasing items for resale on credit shouldn't be taken for granted. Do all you can to build a good credit rating from the beginning. This means pay your bills and be sure you pay them on time. In the first few critical months, your salary may have to wait a few days, if necessary! Always show yourself to be responsible and remit what you are able, even when you can't meet specified deadlines. Eventually, your company will have the necessary track record to apply for a loan and receive it when expansion plans or equipment purchases are required.
Staying afloat demands a prevailing knowledge of local zoning ordinances and architectural requirements in your neighborhood. This goes a long way in assuring mistake-free sign production that could otherwise derail your sound financial status and quality reputation. Since these restrictions can vary greatly, vinyl identification is the flexible sign design choice as it can easily be adapted to please both customer and community.
For more information please contact Signwarehouse at 800.699.5512
Copyright © 1998-2003 Grayson Business Computers, Inc. Signwarehouse All Rights Reserved
STARTING YOUR OWN VINYL SIGN BUSINESS
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October 4, 2006
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