It is not just about how to start a printing business in Nigeria but about how to start a profitable printing business in Nigeria; any business that does not have the goal of profitability should not be started in the first place.
In over 12 years of active involvement in the printing press industry in Nigeria, I have come to understand that starting a printing business is one thing, running one and making it constantly profitable is yet another thing altogether.
So many printing firms have closed down over time because they could not cut it in the business. I have seen numerous printing firms try to sell their machines to my company (a company I am managing in Port Harcourt) over time and they are all pointing to one thing: inadequate information and experience.
In this article, I would write from a place of deep experience having risen from the ranks of an intern paid 5,000 Naira a month to the rank of a manager in a Port Harcourt-based printing firm.
How Does The Printing Press Business Work in Nigeria?
While it is always going to be a lucrative venture, it is very important for anyone trying to move into the business to understand how it works and also be equipped with the right information before spending a dime investing.
From a basic point of view, you should expect a good number of daily customers to walk through your door either for printing or for inquiries.
The printing business works in such a way that there is no longer a standard (industry) price for any of the services you might be rendering.
For instance, while a flyer is printed at 30 Naira in one press, another may be printing the same flyer at either 40 Naira or 25 Naira.
It is this way because there is not yet controlled pricing for anything in the business.
Understandably, material costs fluctuate often but with experience (as would be explained further in this article), you would be better equipped to run your business profitably.
How to Start a Printing Business in Nigeria
The printing business is one business that is widely misunderstood, yet people claim they understand how it works.
The assertion that “the higher the quantity, the lower the price” is one worrying factor for printing firms because while it is mostly true, it is hardly true in all areas of printing.
Below is a comprehensive list of things to know or do if you must start and run a profitable printing business in Nigeria on a budget.
Find a Printing Niche or Angle
Now, this is one area people make the worst mistake in printing.
It is wrong to assume that you must dive into every area of printing if you are starting newly.
For instance: some printing firms are involved only with printing on paper (with Kord Machine or MOZ machines), while others are more concerned with printing on shirts and garments, and others focusing on digital printing like Flex banners, Flags, Souvenir Materials, etc.
One question that should always be answered by any business person intending to invest in the printing business is the question of applied knowledge.
How much do you know about the printing business? If you must start the business without great knowledge about the dynamics of the printing world, make sure to employ a trustworthy manager that is well versed in the business; that way, you would have less to worry about.
Managing Bonelham has been fun but the mere fact that the company owner didn’t have a great knowledge of the business at its inception only meant that I continue to give my best, not just to earn his undying trust but to gradually teach him all he needed to know about his business.
Since you now know that there are several areas of the printing business, what area would you like to focus on? It does not mean that focusing on one area would make you reject jobs from another area, assay shirt printing. It only means that you have a focus more on digital printing so you can channel your energy and dedication rightly.
Choose any niche that you are comfortable with and stick with it. Everything about printing is very profitable.
Carefully decide on a printing niche with a low margin for error and give your best in it.
Understand How Printing Business in Nigeria Works
Business dynamics in Nigeria are always going to be a bit different from what is regularly obtainable.
Sometimes, government policies can alter the progress of your business without prior announcement.
Clients only believe that prices drop when quantities (of what you are printing for them) increases but in their greed (fairly), they refuse to accept that if quantity drops, prices should increase.
Sadly this is Nigeria and if you must function in this industry, you must learn how to interface gainfully with clients using the best customer retention strategies so that you would always win them over.
Since there is no standard pricing for anything in the printing industry, it would make so much sense for you to study your competitors to find out how they charge for their services so that you can charge similar prices.
Understandably, these price ranges could be seen as standards but it happened some time that a major supplier of printing materials in Port Harcourt shifted his pricing and the industry price went high.
Your first point of duty consequently is to study what works with your competitors properly. A good business plan can help you do that as would be explained better as you read on.
Register Your Business with CAC
This is not to say that you cannot start your business without registering your company with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) but it is very important for various reasons.
Without a registered name, you would not be able to open a company bank account with which you would accept payments from customers.
Again, you can do this with a personal account but without a company name and a company account, you cannot bid for certain printing contracts at some big companies and multinationals.
Moreover, you would find it impossible to obtain a business loan without a registered name.
There are numerous reasons why you must register your business with the CAC but if you cannot afford a full company registration (that issues an RC Number), you can just register it as a Business Name or Enterprise (the issues a BN Number) with the CAC.
The two different registration types are different in functionality but if you cannot afford the recommended company registration, you can go for a business Name registration (which is below 20,000 Naira to get done).
How Much Does it Cost to Start a Printing Business in Nigeria?
Everyone seems to want to know the exact amount it would cost to start a printing press business in Nigeria.
The answer to this depends on your budget.
Before we look at your budget and find out where to channel your funds, let us look at what machines are needed to start a printing business in Nigeria.
What Equipment Do I Need to Start a Printing Press In Nigeria?
Let us look at a few of the most popular machines you’d need to start up and their probable market costs (as at the time of writing).
1. Direct Imaging (D.I) Machine:
The D.I Machine as it is popularly called is an industrial printing machine that prints just like your regular office printer. This machine is mainly used to print flyers/handbills
It works with dry printing toners and developers and can print not just flyers but letterheads, envelopes, posters, cards, etc.
The D.I Machine is relatively expensive but you can get a strong one. Fairly used machine for 300,000 Naira or above. When used optimally, it has the capability of returning the money us in purchasing it in 6 months or less!
2. Stitching and Cutting Machine:
This is just a big stapler used in stapling paper of big quantities together.
It is sold for about 30,000 Naira and can return your investment in 5 months and remain in use for years to come.
A cutting machine is used to cut paper to size before or after printing. They come in different sizes but if you have a small budget, you can get a portable cutting machine around 300,000 Naira or more. If you do not have a cutting machine, you would be forced to spend the money cutting your paper elsewhere.
3. Work Stations and Stationaries:
Your printing business needs good computer sets but ideally, you need a laptop or two.
You need a laptop so that your graphic designer(s) can continue working on designs even when you do not have power supply.
4. Di-cutting Machines and Plotters:
A di-cutting machine and a plotter is used to cut paper (and other related materials) to whatever pattern you decide.
For instance, the curved edges of a business card are achieved with a di-cutting machine, the fine cuts on a product packet are achieved with a di-cutting machine.
With a plotter, you can cut vinyl materials to text patters or shape patterns. This comes in useful more if you are into shirt printing.
To buy a plotter, you would have to shell out about 180,000 Naira currently.
5. Heat Transfer Machines:
This machine is for printing on shirts, caps, and (sometimes) cups. It is sold for about 160,000 Naira and has the potential or returning your investment in less than 6 months.
6. Flex (Large Format) Machine and Seaming Machine:
Large format machines are used to print billboards and banners and it is easily the best cash-spinning machine in a digital printing press.
When handled very well, it can generate a profit of over 200,000 Naira a month.
Purchasing the Flex machine could be the masterstroke for you if you can afford it. It comes in sizes of 4 feet to 10 feet with the 10 feet sold for over 4 Million Naira.
A seaming machine is an electric-powered heating machine that is used to join or “seam” flex materials together.
The 10 feet flex machine comes with a free seaming machine.
7. Kord Machine (or/and MOZ Printing Machine):
The KORD and MOZ printing machines are used to print on large quantities of paper.
While the D.I Machine can also print on paper, it does not print any paper beyond the A3 paper size.
The KORD Machine prints one color per time while the MOZ print the four colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) all at once because it has four color chambers.
There are other machines you would need to start a printing business but then it all depends on your budget and the printing niche you have chosen.
If you chose to start printing mainly on shirts and caps, you would need to buy the heat transfer machine and plotter.
These are the two important machines you need to run your shirt printing business successfully and you can buy both machines at a combined cost of less than 500,000 Naira.
If you, however, decide to start a digital printing business, you would need to buy a D.I machine and a flex (large format) machine if you can afford it. You must not start with a 10 feet machine because a 4 or 6 feet machine can do just fine for a start.
What budget do you have for starting the business? This is one thing that decides what machines to buy. A good business plan can help you work on those.
You Need a Printing Press Business Plan
It is already an accepted fact that a business that has refused to plan has agreed to fail.
A business plan helps you to decide where and how best to channel your limited budget.
With a good business plan, you would understand your strength, weakness, opportunities, and the threats you are likely going to face in the business.
A good business plan helps you study and understand the printing market in Nigeria with great and extensive market research.
Having been in the printing business for over a decade and managed a printing firm, I can help you come up with a business plan that can help you start profitably and also provide a reasonable financial projection plus marketing and customer acquisition plan for your new and budding printing business.
Click on the WhatsApp button below to send a quick message to me.
Choose the Right Location:
Location is everything! In printing, while it is great to open your business close to a printing hub in your city, it is always better to stay a little distance away from it but in a place that has a large number of people gathering daily.
Profitability in the printing business in Nigeria depends on a large number of customer patronage.
Seek to site your business in a place that has a high concentration of businesses so that the crowd would rub off on you; gradually, people would start patronizing you steadily.
Employment and Staffing Your Printing Business in Nigeria
The printing business is such that every staff you employ should know how to do more than one task as it concerns the printing industry.
If you must employ a graphic designer, you should employ one that knows how to use the D.I machine.
The reason you must employ competent people to cover all relevant areas of printing is so that staff can cover for another staff that is not readily available.
Starting a printing business in Nigeria is an investment that is worth the time and effort but it must be done from the place of knowledge and experience.
The purpose of this article is to equip you with the best FREE knowledge to help you start a printing business in Nigeria and I hope I did justice to that.
Drop a question in the comment section if you have any.