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I have talked to many of you over the last few years and have found that many of you have followed a certain path to surviving in this garment decorator business. You have diversified your business. Many have tried to start a "Tee or Apparel Business" with your branded shirts. You have done a lot of leg work to try to get your brand to stores. Many did not have a clue to how this was done but you set up your business anyway. Some of you have succeeded. Many have failed. But from my contacts both here on the forum and through my email contacts I found many of you have diversified your business by looking beyond you brand and opening you minds to other aspects of the business. You have added custom shirts for businesses, organizations, schools and other areas such as promotional products. Some of you have added embroidery to your business. many of you have added vinyl products both in apparel and signs. This was one of my best choices and really pushed my business in to high gear. So the jest of this is those of you that are struggling to stay afloat because you have limited yourself in doing only one thing should look at the other areas that are open to you. Having a heat press gives you the ability to do more then just your brand. Not saying that is a road that could lead to success but there is so much more available to you. Lou
 

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I couldn't agree more,I started 13+tears ago doing strictly embroidery. I had hopes and dreams of having a shop to offer custom products. I soon realized the work involved in this business. I have made 1000's of shirts over the years and many other products. I soon learned the one word that could hurt my business was the word"NO" and the most important word was "YES" . The first few years,I used the word no a lot when approached for products,That I didn't make. I soon realized these potential customers were going somewhere else and not returning for the embroidery fro me. I started saying yes and outsourcing things,I didn't do. I added a heat press and vinyl cutter. This opened many doors for me to create new products. I have not ventured into signs, but outsource them at this point. I'm sure I will do them in house soon. I want to close by telling all that took the time to read this post to always remember 2 things. !. Never say NO, and 2. PROFIT IS NOT A DIRTY WORD. These 2 things can and will make you successful. ..... JB
 

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I think i need to disagree. Diversity for the sake of diversity only leads to chasing rainbows. What i believe to be important to to take ownership to specific segments of the market.

fred
Would you care to explain more your thoughts. I just read in one our leading industry magazines that diversity brings more to the plate as to what you can do. Lou
 

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Would you care to explain more your thoughts. I just read in one our leading industry magazines that diversity brings more to the plate as to what you can do. Lou
I was under the impression that our purpose was to serve customers needs, I fell this is done through providing needed products. .... JB
 

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I totally agree Lou, we started out with a small sign business, upgraded most of the equipment in the next 2 years and then added screen printing 1st with signs and then tees. It has made all the difference in the world and now I find myself with a business that started with a few signs that now has 2 6 head embroidery machines, 2 single head machines, an 8 color 10 station automatic screen printing machine, misc. manuals/numbering machines, pad printer, sublimation and a dtg/Brother. I wouldn't have done things any other way, my problem is finding the help to run all the equipment!
 

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You always want to consider how new products and services will affect your costs. I've run companies where the owners insisted on diversifying in the belief that it would bring in more business. What I've seen happen is that it can just bring in different business but your overall sales fail to increase significantly because you aren't focusing on your core market. In addition, your costs also increase, especially payroll, so that you can end up making less money. I'm not saying that you shouldn't diversify but you want to make sure that new products will service your existing market and be careful that diversification isn't a replacement for penetrating your market and upselling your customers. This is a big reason why I believe in outsourcing... when one of my customers needs embroidery, nothing stops me from selling them embroidery even though I have no embroidery machines. And when I have no embroidery orders, I have no embroidery related costs.
 

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I totally agree with you Rick. The services you offer should compliment each other. Like I would not start doing one service that would take away from a higher money making service. Like with my dtg. I would not sell a different type of printing, as I am going after the small run, high detail service as far as printing. I would not offer screen printing or transfers because it would take away from the main print service I offer. I would outsource screen printing to someone who knows what they are doing :) For instance I have added a vinyl cutter so I can also do banners and signs which could compliment doing company shirts, as the customer can buy both, and I can make both at the same time. I do agree that if you get into to many things, it can actually take your focus away from your main business and in the long run hurt your main money maker.
 

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Fred,I see ezactly what your saying. I did grow mybusiness this way. I will say that growing slow and paying as you go will help you in the lean times. .... JB
 

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diversity into different typies of work could make a person a jake of all trades and master of none.
 

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Hi. I diversified my business in a slightly different way to most businesses. Here in the UK our warm tee shirt wearing weather lasts about five months of the year. The other seven months people are wearing jumpers and coats, so the demand for tees drops quite noticeably. I can make up that shortfall by diversifying into garments more suitable for the cooler weather, sweatshirts, hoodies etc Trouble with that route, is holding onto the previous seasons stock for months on end. For example when the weather turns warm, you won't be selling many sweatshirts (if any), so you have to store away your stock till the colder weather returns.

One day when things were quiet, I was looking around my work room at my vinyl cutter and thought I could also use that for vehicle graphics, I also looked at my sublimation printer and came up of other uses for that, my regular inkjet printer is now utilised for more thing than just printing out address labels. Most of us already have the equipment sitting around us, to be able to diversify into new areas.

I am now at the point where I operate five different websites. They are all separate enterprises that all contribute to my gross profit. Downsides are that my work space has gotten progressively smaller and when all five sites are busy, I can end up putting in an eighteen hour day just to get it all out of the door.

Diversification isn't always a good thing though. I think about the number of times I want to fill up my vehicle with diesel and someone at the front of the queue is in the shop making a buying a coffee, warming up a pie in the customer microwave, or perusing which magazine to purchase. I have got fed up with waiting and gone elsewhere on more than one occaision.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Here is the rub.. a lot of people here bought heat presses to do heat transfers only. I was at a meeting for an industry related group and someone told me this is why they bought his press. He asked me about types of paper I used. I then asked him if he got request to do screen printing? He said he did but had to refuse them because he did not do screen printing so he sent them to his competition. I told him he did but just did not know it. He looked confused. Here was someone that was in business for 6 months trying to do heat transfers and just barely doing any business at all. I asked if he knew about plastisol transfers? He said he did but thought he needed to make them and did not have the equipment. To make a long story short I explained in detail how they worked. That was about 4 months ago and he emailed me last week that he was getting orders all summer for little league teams and a few of the fathers had businesses and he did shirts for those as well. He was so busy and did more business in the first 2 months then he did in the first 6. He was also too busy to thank me for explaining this to him. Diversification does not mean you need to go and spend money on equipment that you don't have. I means you can use what you have and find out how to expand on that. I had a cutter.. someone asked for a sign which I never did as I was using it for apparel vinyl for shirts. Could I do them as well? What Did I know about signs? I learned fast. Now I do door signs for a very large trucking company. That is diversification to me.
 

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I understand both sides of this argument, and I've done both. I have gone the diversify route, and I've done the specialize route. I think timing may be the essential ingredient.
First I did customized heat transfers, screen printing, flyers, sold fashion clothing, went to events to sell, etc. I made a little money, but the expenses were high and no one area was really strong, and I was spread really thin.
A few years later, I stopped doing the customized transfers and focused on screenprinting and flyers and paper printing from home. Did less volume and sales- had more take home profit.

Then I phased down the flyers to focus on mainly screen printing. This year has been by FAR our best. Having been in our new 2700 sq ft. location for a year and buying an automatic has greatly contributed to this growth, but I think really specializing in the core of my business has also gotten this area pretty strong.

Now I'm back full circle, I bought a vinyl cutter and I have my eyes on a Roland Versacamm when I can find the $$$. I want to diversify into signs, wide format printing, banners, vehicle wraps and magnets, custom tees with vinyl and heat transfers.
I think this winter or next spring may be a good time to spread back out now that the base is getting pretty strong.
It's all about timing and controlled growth. AND controlled expenses.
 

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Because some folks stay focused just on one area does not mean some of us cannot move into other areas and be good at it. Our shop is known in the south for its quality of work in the screen printing, embroidery and sign business and I'm proud to say we are very good at all 3. You can diversify and do well at it, we've been working at it since 1993 and have grown our business by leaps and bounds. The only regret I have is that we can't find more qualified help!
 

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Finding new opportunities for a piece of equipment is great, that's a very low level of diversification. And especially when just starting out, sometimes you have throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks. Generally speaking though, penetrating your specific market will be more productive than spreading your focus. Diversification into new markets should be fueled by success in your mature market.
 

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Hi If you can diversfied, your business to work for you, you need to. I only did Screen Printing at first, but so any people was looking for Embroidery and I did not do that at the time. You do not want to keep saying no, so know I do Embroidey to, and I offer a Tranfer design as well
So diversfing is good for business. LaTonya
 

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I have been diversifying long before I new what was happening to me. I was a manager for a Bank before I started my Apartment Cleaning Business, I branched out into property preservation and from there I began to buy foreclosed properties, renovate, and resell those homes for profit. From there I went to appraisal school to become a residential appraiser so that I would have a better knowledge of the homes I wanted to purchase and there value before I purchased the properties. This lead to my current profession as a commercial appraiser. While as a commercial appraiser I wanted to advertise so I was ordering all type of merchandise with my company's information on it which lead to me learning how to print my items myslef, which leads me to this profession. I currently have 6 businesses and I run and operate them all on a daily basis. I have two assistants that I "bark" orders at to make sure that trival things of the daily workings do not reach me but for the most part it all came from DIVERSIFYING.

I read somewhere that Rockefellar had 1000 businesses, if it is true, with only 6 businesses I need to get the ball moving.


Katrina
 

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I think it is more about not overstretching yourself.

And as has been raised too it depends on your definition of diversifying. Is it within the same industry (such as screening, vinyl, embroidery) or completely different areas!

For me the important thing is to make use of the equipment I have, or if looking to purchase some then how can I keep it working as much as possible. (For obvious reasons, a piece of equipment sitting there looking pretty is costing you money, when it is working it is, hopefully, making you money)

I think the way you "market" your business when diversifying is important too. A screen printer who does renovations and valuations is probably not going to instil confidence, no matter how experienced BUT as veedub3 has done these are kept as seperate entities so the customer only see's the "face" they are interested in.

A screen printer that does vinyl and signs, maybe even embroidery from a customer perspective is fine, they are complimentary.
 

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All five of my sites have their own identity. If you go to one of the domain registrars, it doesn't give you a list of all the domains that person owns. Of course a physical shop is a totally different entity. I doubt if I'd be happy if I were in a printers and having to wait, whilst they were showing another customer their latest range of skateboards.

There is nothing wrong with owning more than one venture. All businesses have quiet times, so having alternative income streams ensures you never have to worry about the financial side of things. One guy I used to know fixed lawnmowers. When nobody had need of that service in the winter, he used to deliver logs and gas bottles.
 
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