As with all businesses, making a career in sublimation printing is only practical if it can properly turn revenue. There is no greater disappointment than sinking a personal savings, or worse going into debt, to foster a business that won’t be successful. Miscalculations or simply letting small expenditures slip through unaccounted can drastically affect how efficient your business runs and better yet, how it will grow. Jimmy Lamb, of Sawgrass Technologies, addresses these issues in the February 2019 issue of Insights Magazine and focuses on a few of the most important components: operational costs, production capabilities, and better managing those facets. Although Jimmy uses a spreadsheet, incorporating his essentials into your company is a lot less daunting than you think.
To summarize, operational overhead is the cost of keeping your doors open. Your business’ rent, phone service, internet access, utilities, licenses and other requirements are considered your overhead. To properly calculate this figure, you also need to include what you and your employees will need to earn to make it worth your while. Once you have an accurate estimate of your company’s overhead you can determine how much your company needs to earn annually and break it down further to weekly and hourly requirements.
Also, consider how often you want to work. Will you be taking certain holidays off? Will you be working five days a week or taking an annual vacation? If so, you also need to figure in that time. Say you need to earn roughly $60,000 a year to satiate overhead costs but will only be working 48 weeks, your business needs to profit a minimum of $1250 a week to maintain stability. If we break that figure down even further, we can assume we need to make $250 daily for a five-day work week.
When determining our production capabilities, it is pertinent to remember our three parts of printing: setup, production, and backend/finishing work. Although we may account for the cost of our sublimation blanks, we also need to consider the time it takes to setup the product for print and how much we are paying the employees who are putting in the labor to materialize the final product. Sublimation press times are fairly well defined. With the information gathered, we are able to evaluate production costs and include that in our pricing estimate. Likewise, we need to account for the time we aren’t producing. Downtime is detrimental because when we are not producing, or managing our time wisely, we aren’t making money. After all, time is money.
To counter excess cost, buying in bulk is recommended. Buying in bulk is used to battle production costs and can be very effective if the items you buy are used frequently. If you buy bulk items that you rarely use, you have invested money that could be allotted elsewhere. Not only that, if these items are sitting on a shelf in a warehouse unused, you may be paying rent to house an item that isn’t turning revenue. Jimmy also suggests staging jobs so that your machines and time are used most efficiently. David Gross has a great article about sublimation tips here. Why waste time and energy creating one item at a time if you can use the same amount of energy to create 10 or 20?
Sublimation is an incredibly rewarding business if managed properly. Few careers can fulfill the heart of an artist with the mindset of a businessman. With dedication, business strategy, and sensible spending procedures, a person can easily grow from a garage company to owning multiple printers and being worth millions. We at Condé wish you great success and look forward to seeing your artistic vision. Good luck!