There are two ways to ensure success for your business idea from the start: satisfy a popular need or satisfy a popular want. With a copying machine you can do both, since people patronize print shops to satisfy business and personal needs every day. As a small operation, you can beat the competition by keeping your costs to a minimum.

Plan the basics of how you want to run your business, such as whether you'll have employees and whether customers will drop off orders at your home or deliver them to a post office box. These decisions may affect the legal requirements and costs of your business.

Visit the local branch of the U.S. Small Business Administration and talk to a representative about your plans to start a print shop. He'll tell you what legal requirements are necessary in your area. Fulfill them as soon as possible or you may face legal action.

Buy fresh cartridges of color ink and packages of paper in various colors, including white. You'll be able to fulfill a variety of customer orders.

Learn how the various settings on your copying machine work by making copies of your own photos and letters. Adjust the machine settings to make elements darker and lighter, bigger and smaller. The more experience you have with the machine, the more effectively you can fulfill customer orders.

Calculate your business costs, such as legal fees, paper and ink. Set a base rate higher than this total as a base rate to charge customers. Having a base rate allows you to charge more for jobs that require more supplies.

Give your business a name that indicates you run a print shop. Choose "Pauly's Printing" or "Prints of El Paso," for example, not "Pauly's Hut." Check your local phone directory to make sure no business in the area already uses the name.

Type a flier advertising your printing business. Be sure to include your business name and contact information. If you will have customers drop off their orders at your home, protect your privacy by not including it on the flier. If you will have customers deliver to a P.O. box, don't provide the address on the flier since you'll need to clarify what the customer wants.

Ask the managers at each of the recreation centers, college campuses and business office lobbies in your area if you can leave fliers at their facilities. These are just some of the places where your potential customers are likely to gather.

Take detailed notes of each customer's specifications when he contacts you to place an order. Tell him your P.O. box address and request that he mail payment along with his order, or give him your address and record his phone number to contact him when his order is ready.

Fulfill each customer's order exactly as she requests it. Take payment before handing her the finished order if she must pick it up at your home.


Offer discounts for customers who refer other customers to your business.

Learn how to bind various types of books to expand your printing business.