Jimmy Lamb, Sawgrass’ Education Manager, details four important steps that every sublimation business owner should take to get on the path to success.
1. Create a business plan
Business plans are crucial to finding long-term, sustained success. A business plan is a document that you create, which includes market research, financial planning, specific goals and milestones, plans for managing changes and setting expectations. In short, a business plan is a blueprint for going from startup to sustained income and growth.
Take the time to research your markets, successful business models, prices and cost of operation and how other businesses have succeeded. Then create a plan with specific goals, benchmarks, metrics and timelines. This will give you focus throughout your first few years and is a way to keep your business on track.
2. Create a Marketing Plan
As part of your business plan, you should have a section focused on marketing. Within this section, you can think of some broad strokes of how to approach your markets. However, every year, you should create a marketing plan aimed at achieving the goals you’ve set out in your business plan for the current year. These plans will change from year to year, as will your goals and your market landscapes, which is why it’s important to develop strategies for each year.
Choose specific markets to target and specific products to promote within those markets. Learn about how potential customers within those target markets want to be communicated with and what they respond to and use that information to build plans to provide value. Be open-minded as you analyse market needs and wants, and make your decisions based on what has worked in the past, as well as new information you cultivate and your own experience.
3. Price for profit
To ensure you’re accounting for all the costs of doing business that you’re actually accruing, use the following formula: divide all the operational costs for a given period by the number of units produced during the same period. Operational costs include ALL anticipated costs: rent, power, insurance, phone, website, e-mail, advertising, marketing collateral, chamber and professional association fees, depreciation on fixed assets (printer, heat press, computer), accounting fees, etc. Costs should also include your ink, substrates, paper, software and artwork expenses – not to mention paying yourself.
Once you know what your actual expenses are, you can start thinking about pricing. The rule of thumb for most retailers is to multiply cost times two or three. This can leave a lot of money on the table in the sublimation business because the cost of sublimating products is so low relative to the perceived high quality of those products – and therefore the price customers will pay. Look at what others are charging for similar products and talk to your customers. You may find that the best price point is well above what you thought it would be.
4. Develop a Sample Kit
Regardless of what your niche is, one key to making sales is a high-quality set of samples focused on showing what you offer. Your samples will encourage larger orders by having multiple unique pieces that are interrelated. Remember, your clients don’t know what you can do until you show them. Even if they only ask to see a single piece, make sure you show several other products to open their eyes and expand your sales potential.
Focus on samples that can be shown to multiple customers and be prepared to modify or update your samples as you develop your niche. Though you may have to invest a sizable amount of money and time into your sample kits, this is a critical step for making sales.
In addition to real samples, it’s also useful to create a portfolio with pictures of orders you have completed. Group the items and take pictures, then put this into a slideshow on a tablet or laptop for easy reference. Substrate catalogues are useful as well.
JG ELECTRONICS 011 789 6033 www.jgelectronics.com