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If you are creative and have skills in typography, illustration or graphic design, starting a signage business can be a great way to monetise your skills. From choosing a business niche to marketing your business, this guide explains the key steps involved in setting up your own company.
A signage business specialises in making custom signs for individual and business clients. As a small business, you can specialise in making indoor signs (such as paper posters, banners and vinyl prints), outdoor signs (such as sandwich boards and A-frames) and digital signs (such as PDF files).
Here are the key steps involved in starting a signage business:
A typical day for a signage business owner will involve: Meeting with clients to discuss their needs, creating multiple drafts based on client instruction and feedback, and manufacturing and shipping finished products. Useful skills required to run a signage business include:
You don't need formal qualifications to work in the signage industry. However, as you will be working with customers to create beautiful signage, it's important to have experience in graphic design. You can find online graphic design courses here.
The exact type of equipment you need will depend on your niche, but useful tools for a signage business might include:
In addition, you will need graphic design software to help you create signs and might need online accounting software to help with bookkeeping.
It's important to structure your signage business in the correct way, so you don't run into tax, debt or ownership issues later. For a small business like a signage business, common structures are:
You can read more on different business structures here.
A signage business will be dealing with customers and suppliers on a day-to-day basis. Therefore, it's important to prepare legal documents to help protect your business. Useful documents for a signage business include:
You can find customisable business contract templates and other legal document templates from the websites below. They can also help you find a lawyer who will work with you to prepare the documents.
Generally, you will start by building a website that showcases your skills. You can also use the content on your website to promote your skills on social media.
To reach your specific customer base, you will need to tailor your marketing strategy to suit your target customers. For example, if you're running a wedding and event signage business, it's a good idea to connect with other suppliers such as wedding planners, photographers and florists. If your specialty is blackboard art for cafes and restaurants, you may need to reach out to hospitality venues directly. If you're creating digital signage, you can use creative marketplaces such as Etsy, 99designs and Envato.
In addition, you can respond to job requests on online marketplaces such as hipages, Airtasker and Oneflare. You can also list your services on directories such as Yellow Pages and True Local.
Your pricing will depend on the type of signage service you provide, the cost of materials and labour, and how much your competitors are charging.
For commercial signage services the rates range from $50 to $60 per hour according to Service Seeking.
For wedding and event signage, typically customers are quoted a price per item. Welcome signs and seating charts can cost around $150 to $200 per item while smaller signs start at around $15 to $30 per item.
For digital signs, where customers receive a printable PDF file, you can charge much less since you don't need to supply the materials to customers. Search marketplaces such as Etsy to find out what your competitors are charging.
What are the operating expenses of a signage business?
Common operating expenses for a signage business include:
What are the signage trends of 2021?
According to international signage franchisor Signarama, the signage trends expected in 2021 include personalised signs to appeal to a particular group of people, minimalist signage and branding, and digital signage such as digital menus for hospitality venues.
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