By: Nichole Barnett
Starting your own business is a daunting endeavor. There are a million ways you can overanalyze a situation and an unbelievable amount of “what ifs” that can flood your mind, but for those of us who feel like we have plenty to offer and can find a way to shelve our anxiety, there is plenty to be gained. If you aren’t dependent on your print company and consider it more of a hobby than an income, this may not be relevant to you. However, if you enjoy sublimation and want to grow your business into something that is not only self-sufficient, but actively growing and gaining income, now could be the perfect time to do so.
Personalized products are only gaining popularity. With a vast range of potential customer bases, business owners are constantly putting their images out into the public in order to stay relevant. From Coca Cola jackets and car dealership tags, to ADT yard stakes and reusable grocery bags, functional marketing is everywhere and constantly in high demand. If properly taken advantage of, these opportunities can be a sublimators dream! But how do we know when it’s time to advance our company? When you have a plan in place and the confidence to move forward! It’s scary to take the plunge, but with the right strategy and drive, you can go from creating cute knick-knacks to branding products for major companies! Here is some of our best advice on taking your sublimation business to the next level:
Penetrate your existing market. The overall assumption is that in order to do more business you need more clients, but that isn’t always the case. If you provide your customers with great service and are a trusted partner, they are your best return. Imagine the hours of coaxing and outsourcing needed to grow a customer base. Isn’t it more effective to find a way to mutually benefit yourself and your already loyal clients? Nurture and encourage them. Be their cheerleader. If you can help them achieve more, you benefit in return.
You can also expand to a new market. If you currently offer personalized products to photographers, consider offering those same products to local artists. Maybe the churches in your area would appreciate the same ornaments and t-shirts that are offered to schools. There are many untapped markets out there who would like to offer personalized products but just don’t know where to go! Make a list of potential clients and consider which of your products they would likely take advantage of. Figure out what markets are hot in your community and grow from there. Think back to your original group of clients. Maybe your clients know of other businesses that need help getting their brand out there. Referrals are usually a great place to find new customers.
Vary your services! The key to this is to stay within the realm of what’s working for you, while slowly expanding your reach and honing your expertise. Consider tackling one new industry at a time, whether it's schools, churches, professional services, restaurants, hospitality (hotels, inns, entertainment destinations), health care (doctors’ offices, clinics, dentists), etc. Or, turn the coin another way. Try nurturing relationships and partnerships with pet groomers, event planners, wedding planners, or dabbling in apparel, automotive, or signage. You don’t want to offer sublimated t-shirts and, oh say, landscaping... but if you keep growing your company to offer similar-yet-different services, you can slowly expand while also growing your credibility. When the time is right to scale up and increase production, consider purchasing, or financing, a piece of equipment that allows you to add a little more variety to your line. Now not only have you expanded your market, but the products you can offer them! Your new clients have multiple products or services to choose from and your old clients have something more they can take advantage of (which brings us back to the first step).
Growing a business isn’t always easy, but with the right strategy and execution, it doesn’t have to be a total nightmare. The benefits of company growth far outweigh the risks. While company growth is never immediate, with consistency and drive, there will be progress. How much progress you’re willing to make is entirely up to you.