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I know some of this gets covered time and time again but technology changes fast, so would like real time suggestions.
If you had a $5k budget and need these 3 items:

1. Cutter
2. Printer &
3. Heat press

What would you buy to maximize shirt production in terms of quality of print, fabric types and colors available?

What would be missing in the available shirt selection that would be most annoying to you and your customers? (ie inferior end product due to printer/ink, dark vs light shirt availability, missing apparel materials, etc.)

How many dollars away from making your selection of shirts significantly better?

Thank you for your suggestions from experience in advance. Hopefully it's a little fun since there can be some give and take on where the money goes.
 

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Forget the printer, get a good cutter and heat press and Corel draw.

You can do with that, rhinestones, HTV including glitter, plasotisol transfers, banners, signs, decals.

If you want to add dyesub you can do awards as well with dyesub plate material.

Combined that is an easy $100K a year if you have the customers.
 

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Combined that is an easy $100K a year IF YOU HAVE THE CUSTOMERS.
This is what disturbs me most about people coming in here seeking advice on the best this, and the best that, without even giving a thought as to who they're going to sell this stuff to

The most difficult part is building up a solid customer base, no matter what equipment you have, or how much expertise you have in using that equipment.
 

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Yes, that is right. We struggled until the financial crash in 2008. Retail rents dropped by 70% and we rented a place month-to-month and everyone thought we were nuts. We had 8 competitors within a half mile of us and all but 1 went out of business. Why? Rent was too high for them and they couldn't negotiate it down and we had a far better location. Even places with 20 times the space and a couple of auto screen print machines were coming to us for work because they couldn't keep busy.

Flat out you need to be in the right place at the right time and also hustle. I pounded the pavement on cold calls for a year before we took off. Today we are word of mouth and don't have to advertise or ask for business. It just comes to us.

BTW, our first cutter was a LP24 from USCutter purchased on Ebay. We made (in revenue) about $250K with it in 5 years. We also did embroidery, trophies, signs, banners, and a lot of promotional products. That machine ran 16 hours or more a day 6 or 7 days a week for the entire 5 years. We purchased it for $400 and sold it for $200 and it never went down the entire time we had it. It just wasn't very accurate. It was replaced with a Graphtec which died after 7 years of service and we sold it also. Now we have a VersaCamm and a 4 head and single head embroidery machine that keeps us busy beyond imagination.

Today we are on cruise control with a steady income and reliable customers.

My advice is to write a business plan and a marketing plan. That is what we did, 2 years before we even started in this biz. Oh, sorry, I should have opened with that.

I wish you the best.
 

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First of all, I would analyze the existing equipment. And already realizing that from what I have the most outdated, I would carry out the renewal of fixed assets. But now it seems to me that such a business is unprofitable. And during the pandemic, freelancing became the best way to earn money. Now young people no longer seek to open their own business. Now everyone aspires to be freelancers. An example of this is the community of freelancers and bloggers partnersinfire.com. Very interesting and competent information on this topic is found on this blog.
 
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