Starting a Custom T-Shirt Business Checklist

Joanne Cipressi
Aug 1, 2017

So, you want to start a custom t-shirt business? It’s a pretty exciting idea. There are many perks to working for t-shirt business start upyourself – set your own schedule, unlimited income potential and flexibility. However, these perks often come after you become an established company and you are making a nice profit. First, is the hard work, time and dedication to starting your business.

As with any business, starting your own custom t-shirt company means that you have to prepare before you even make any money. I created a checklist to help get you started. This is a general checklist with must haves to starting your own custom t shop:

  1. Know what you are selling: Know your merchandise. Know it inside and out. Know fabric options, what they are made of, who manufacturers the shirt, where the shirt is manufactured, and life of the shirt. Be an authority of what you are selling.
  2. Print yourself or contract out: This is an important decision. Do you have the money to invest in printing equipment or do you have the experience to print professionally enough? Answer these questions honestly. You may need to outsource in the beginning until you bring in enough profit to justify an equipment investment. Be smart.
  3. Employees: Figure out what employees you need. Do you need a designers, printer, manager, sales person, or a customer service rep? What are you reasonably able to do yourself, considering your time and skills? How much can you afford to pay your team? Here are some hiring tips.
  4. Research equipment: If you are ready to invest in equipment, make sure you take the time to research before buying. Technology has advanced greatly over these past few years. Be aware of the best equipment options for your shop.
  5. Establish supply and distribution lines: Where and how are you going to distribute your merchandise? Know this before you begin advertising your shirts.
  6. Types of designs: What types of designs do you specialize in? Are you going to have stock designs as well? Are you willing to use other people’s designs too? Do you need to recruit a designer to create designs that you may not be able to create well? If not, make those connections now so you are prepared.  
  7. Payment methods: Cash, credit card, POD, Paypal, and so on? Once you decide, set up ways to make these transactions.
  8. Shipping account: Prepare your shippers ahead of time can save you time and money. Inquire about who gives the best rates, time, and service. Then create your accounts so all is smooth sailing once your products are available to ship.
  9. Website and social media accounts: Having an online presence is vital these days, whether you are selling online or offline. Make sure you have a great website and a social media presence. These help build credibility and exposure. 
  10. Marketing plan: How do you plan to market? Who is you target? What is your budget? Do you have a landing page? 
  11. Management plan: How are you going to manage your business? Having a system to manage your sales, quotes, workflow, products, customers, vendors, invoicing and the rest of your business from the start of your business is super smart. Explore different systems that can allow you to manage all of your shop while you are starting out and can also still be used as you grow. Take a look at shopVOX management software for your management needs. 

Once you can check off all items on this list, you can feel more confident about your business heading off in the right direction. 

What else would you add to this checklist for starting your own custom business? Share your thoughts with us below. 

Here’s a free t-shirt business toolkit for you:

t-shirt business toolkit 

Joanne Cipressi
1 / 8 / 2017
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