I began a screen printing and graphic design business in 1998. I was forced prematurely out of my job and full time into this business before it was ready. As a result, my credit history suffered.
Over the years, I have eliminated many products or services that just did not yield a high enough profit. As a one man operation, this is the first year we have finally reached over $100,000 in gross sales. The good thing is, most of our work has a really good profit margin. This means that not only have we reached the highest we ever have in gross sales, but the margins are so much better that we aren't necessarily struggling anymore.
Now the main issue at this point is, I want to start fresh and clean. I want to move the business into a new location, a higher traffic location. Get rid of some more services and create more of a high tech copy service center. The only one we have locally is Staples and I hear so many bad things about them from customers I come across.
I say high tech, because I want to have a high end full color copier capable of printing business cards, brochures, flyers and whatever else the customer wants. I currently offer this, but use a company to do it for us. I want to basically offer full color copies at $0.39 all the time (our cost would be appx. $.08 - $.09 a copy not including a lease). This would draw people in and then we want to offer other larger profit items. Some of these items would include tshirts. We print now, but we screen print. I would have a machine that would print whatever the customer wants, directly from the computer onto the shirt in minutes from start to finish. These items can easily sell for $25 each and our cost would be appx. $2.00. We also wanted to offer domed decals, exclusive wedding invitations, large format printing (signs, banners, posters etc), trade show display graphics and systems and high end artwork.
Currently, we have the equipment to print the full color posters, banners, signs, etc. (up to 5' wide). We still need to invest in the tshirt printer, some additional computers for customers to use, the doming system with a cutter and printer, the full color copier. We currently have an exclusive on a new line of wedding invitations in our area, we offer high end display systems and can print most of the panels for trade shows.
This is the direction we've been going, we just need to get into more of a retail environment. After looking at everything, to do it in the least amount of finances needed, we are looking at $75K-$100K. To do it more like I would want to do it, including hiring people right away, advertising effectively and having a financial cushion for at least 12 months, we are looking more at $250K. One good thing is, we have a customer base that would be brought over to this new business.
Back to the issue with the existing business. Throughout the growth, it has been feast or famine. I have been trying to create an environment whereas it is not so much that way, but more steady. We have worked hard at it and am really just wanting a higher profit margin business. Building this business, as I said before, has hurt my credit score. I wanted to work with the SBA, but most financial institutions want you to have a credit score of at least 600 or they won't even look at you. There are currently thinks on my record that have been cleaned up and yet don't reflect it. There are still others that are being cleaned up and won't reflect for at least a couple more months. My current average between the three is 546.
All this being said, what are my options? I know I could find an angel investor, but they are so hard to find and then making sure you have the right one. Traditional banks won't help, nor with SBA programs. I know I need to finish a business plan for any of these ideas, so that is in the works. I've looked into grants, but to be honest, it's next to near impossible for me to find any help because I am a white male. I don't say that in any way other than the reality. If I was a minority (or what is defined as a minority via the government), I'm sure I wouldn't have as hard of a time finding the funding.
So I sit here day after day, week after week, month after month trying to figure out the best possible funding source and I make no headway. Is there any advice that you can give or any direction as to good funding sources? Thanks in advance!
#1. "RE: New Business Idea and Investments...." In response to Reply # 0
Well you are right to get your business plan written. That is absolutely the first order of business. It doesn't sound hopeless at all. By the time you have your business plan ready hopefully some more of your credit problems would have fallen off the report. You may need to try bank after bank but with your current business successes it shouldn't be impossible to get that SBA loan. Go to your local SBDC office (Small Business Development Centers located in local colleges). They can offer tremendous advice specific to your situation and they can direct you to banks that are favorable to small businesses.
Additionally, don't waste your time looking for grants. It is a falacy that if you are a minority you get funded easier. Grants are issued for non profit organizations and the criteria is extremely specific to certain needs. Any grants that are offered to for-profit businesses are likely to be extremely small ($500 - $1500) and the competition...forget about it.
You're on the right track. The important thing at this juncture is that your business plan be written in such a way that the reader is hooked right from the Executive Summary (the first section) and is enticed to continue to read the remainder and take you seriously.
I have spoken with many loan officers that say they rarely read entire plans because they are so long and boring. So take care to make it consise and complete without going overboard. Look here for help with that. http://smallbusinessstartup.biz/plan/
You're doing great! I wish you all the luck and have no doubt that you will achieve all you are trying to accomplish with your business.