Scaling up a start-up printing business requires more than adding the latest printing or finishing equipment. You must devote time and energy to recruiting multi-talented employees, identifying opportunities for growth, and marketing your business to the right prospects. Plus, you will need to develop automated workflows so your business can handle higher volumes of fast-turnaround jobs without adding equipment operators..

Master the basics. Become super-efficient at manufacturing high-quality, high-margin printed products that differentiate your company. Your products and services could include supersized wall murals, eye-catching vehicle wraps, promotional T-shirts and gifts, customized labels and packaging, or personalized direct-mail postcards.

Whatever specialty you choose, develop an organized system for managing every order, contact, and prospect that comes your way. Document successful practices for pricing jobs, managing orders, purchasing materials, controlling costs, and shipping and invoicing orders.

Automate as much as possible. Many digital printing systems can be set up to automate the prepress, printing, and finishing of everyday jobs. But you should also automate your everyday business processes, so you and your employees can focus on business development efforts.

Subscribing to a cloud-based print shop management program such as Ordant doesn’t require a huge upfront investment. And it doesn’t lock you into a predetermined workflow or mix of printing and finishing services. Ordant enables you to automate the best practices and pricing policies developed during the early months of your business.

With the right print-management system, your employees can keep your business running profitably even when you’re away from the office.

Study potential ideas for growth. Consider expanding into different niches. A niche can either be a specialized market (e.g. sports teams, restaurants, hotels, non-profit organizations, construction firms). Or, it could be a specialized product or service that fewer printing companies are willing to tackle (e.g. vehicle wraps,presentation folders, grand-format printing, dye sublimation)

Sometimes, your employees will come up ideas for growth. And in some cases, your best customers will ask you to develop specialized services that will help them grow.

Hire skilled designers and marketers. The design of your own marketing materials and the designs your team creates for customers can really differentiate your print shop. Designs that look fresh and contemporary send a clear signal that your print shop is at the forefront of changes in marketing and communications.

Plus, your designers can help you create new types of products that you can promote and sell to new markets. Digital printing equipment is so versatile that you can decorate almost any type of material or object with customized designs. The quality and originality of the designed products can increase the perceived value and stimulate word-of-mouth referrals.

Marketing talent is also important. A skilled marketer can help identify influencers and prospects in new markets, make your company more discoverable online, and automate personalized email marketing messages to targeted groups of customers. You can contract marketing support services until your business grows big enough to support a full-time marketing manager.

Network with other business professionals. Online marketing and social media are powerful tools, but you still need orders and referrals from people you meet face to face. If the local AIGA chapter hosts a Design Week, consider hosting or sponsoring an educational or networking event. Or, participate in activities that attract start-up companies and small businesses. If your services help them grow their own businesses, they will reward your company with repeat business and bigger jobs.

Expand your market reach with online sales. A web-to-print system enables you to sell printed products to other business or directly to consumers around the world. Your shop can receive orders 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your online storefronts should make it easy for customers to select the products, sizes, and quantities they need and place orders. With Ordant’s optional, integrated web-to-print module, online orders can flow directly into your order management system. There is no need to re-enter the job or customer data.

Scaling up involves more than increasing your production capacity. It requires operating your business in an cost-efficient way that enables you to handle surges in order volumes. It also gives your company the flexibility to add new services or products over time. If you lay a strong foundation for managing your business processes, your shop can grow more easily.

At Ordant, we understand the type of customizable software that your printing business will require as you expand in some exciting, but unforeseen directions. For a demonstration of Ordant’s easy-to-use, easy-to-customize print-business management software, visit