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Hello Everyone,

I generally use the forum to ask technical-type questions, but I now have a question needing general advice about growing our business.

A quick history:

March 2010 - Business partner and I researched and started screen printing in the garage, in order to keep costs low for our new clothing brand. Bought or built basic equipment (press, light box, screens, flash, etc).

August 2010 - Decided the "brand" sucked and started printing for other people.

July 2011 - Landed first big deal (1,500+ shirts) and bought a Riley Hopkins WIN 6/4 press and conveyor dryer.

November 2011 - Quit "real job", borrowed some money, and rented out downtown spot to operate business. 180 sqft , hole-in-the-wall location with press, conveyor, lightbox, drying cabinet, and two desks all in same area.

March 2012 - Started feeling the squeeze of being in such a small space and trying to complete 5-10 orders (avg. 20-30 shirts per order) per week with some big orders mixed in (1,000 - 4,000 shirts).

April 2012 (current) - Signed lease for close to 2000 sqft (for less than double what we were paying for 180 sqft) just outside downtown area and will be moving there soon.

So the question is how big should we really take our business? Right now we have an automatic press and hiring employees dancing around in our head. We're asking ourselves: should we take it slow and grow as needed, or upgrade quickly so we can offer more (quicker turnaround, variety of print styles, etc.) to customers? It's literally the sh*t or get off the pot question.

Any thoughts?
 

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I am not a big company but have been around going on 6 years. If your getting jobs over a few hundred shirts a automatic is in your future for sure. As far as employees this is where I would tread lightly and do a lot of research into the cost involved like tax matching and social security, worker comp and unemployment insurance. Also if you do hire employees then I would have a no compete contract for whatever term your state or county allows. I wish luck and continued success
 

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Hello Everyone,

I generally use the forum to ask technical-type questions, but I now have a question needing general advice about growing our business.

A quick history:

March 2010 - Business partner and I researched and started screen printing in the garage, in order to keep costs low for our new clothing brand. Bought or built basic equipment (press, light box, screens, flash, etc).

August 2010 - Decided the "brand" sucked and started printing for other people.

July 2011 - Landed first big deal (1,500+ shirts) and bought a Riley Hopkins WIN 6/4 press and conveyor dryer.

November 2011 - Quit "real job", borrowed some money, and rented out downtown spot to operate business. 180 sqft , hole-in-the-wall location with press, conveyor, lightbox, drying cabinet, and two desks all in same area.

March 2012 - Started feeling the squeeze of being in such a small space and trying to complete 5-10 orders (avg. 20-30 shirts per order) per week with some big orders mixed in (1,000 - 4,000 shirts).

April 2012 (current) - Signed lease for close to 2000 sqft (for less than double what we were paying for 180 sqft) just outside downtown area and will be moving there soon.

So the question is how big should we really take our business? Right now we have an automatic press and hiring employees dancing around in our head. We're asking ourselves: should we take it slow and grow as needed, or upgrade quickly so we can offer more (quicker turnaround, variety of print styles, etc.) to customers? It's literally the sh*t or get off the pot question.

Any thoughts?
that is a good question that I keep asking myself and others. . . 'have not found the answer, but here are few thoughts.

We are in similar position as you are, but about a year older. We are averaging over a 1,000 shirts per day and are growing rapidly. We just added two employees (6 total) and will add few more before the year is over. We are looking/thinking about the second auto. So in my case, I only have two speeds, 0 and 100; nothing in between. I take on more than I can handle and find a way to make it happen. It makes for long hours and no money in my pocket as everything goes right back into growing the business. I've paid for several consultants to come over, keep buying equipment and taking classes. I am about to send my production manager to see a friend who is managing a large shop and will pay for her to go the ISS show and take classes. The goals is to grow as fast as possible without any outside capital (we are up 300% compared to the first three months of last year). It makes for the long hours and if you can stay on top of it, it should pay off in the long run. This only works if you have a good head for business and and are fairly confidant that you can pull it off. Last job I interviewed for before starting this was paying over six figures. Not taking that kind of money for 3-5 years means leaving more than half a mil on the table. I am that confident in this project! Are you willing to invest that much to make it happen?

The other option is to grow slow, nice and easy and let it come on it's own. While I will be working mad hours for 5 years and hopefully start to relax afterwards, you can work normal hours, take vacations and get paid. It is a slower pace, requires less business skills and has much surer footing. We are constantly running into new challenges and by the time we figure out the production system for x number of employees, we have several more and the volume is double or triple what it was not to long ago. At a slower pace, you can introduce the unknowns when you are ready for them.

It also has to do with the type of personality you have. Some ppl always charge and other kick back and let it happen on it's own. It sounds like you are doing pretty good as it is, just go with it. Get help (somebody to bounce ideas off of and potentially mentor you), be prepared for things to go horribly wrong (as they will at some point no matter what you do), ask for money when you don't need it (line of credit), get up after you are knocked down (and chalk it up to a learning experience) and wake up with a smile!

pierre
 
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