How to Start a Small Copier Business

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Man's finger pushing a photocopier's start button.
Man's finger pushing a photocopier's start button. (Image: Milous Chab/Hemera/Getty Images)

Opening a small copier business gives you the opportunity to earn revenue by providing photocopying services to customers who need occasional copies or organizations that want to outsource their copying. A foundation in operating copiers, as well as sales, customer service and business management skills can help you succeed.

Establish Your Service Offer

Determine the services you can offer to reach the widest range of customers. For example, document copying and reproduction services represent 70 percent of industry sales while mailbox rentals and other mailing services account for 10 percent of sales, according to Hoovers, a business information firm. Copy centers also earn revenue from fax services, on-site PC rental and office product sales. Offering specialist services, such as graphic design or short-run digital copies, can help you compete with larger copy centers.

Set Up Your Operation

Location is a critical factor in success. Rent a unit in a business park or retail center with space for equipment, supplies and a reception desk. Locating your copy shop close to other businesses that may need urgent copying can provide a useful source of additional revenue.

Obtain Equipment

Consider rather to lease or buy equipment. Leasing, rather than buying outright, gives you the option to upgrade your equipment as your business grows without investing additional capital. You can also save money by buying used equipment when you're first starting out. Consider opening accounts with suppliers of essentials, such as paper, toner and maintenance services.

Obtain Business Permits

You must register your business by completing a state or local business license form. The U.S. Small Business Administration has a Business Licenses and Permits Search Tool to help you check local requirements. You may also need a sales tax license or permit to cover sales of copying services. The Sales Tax Institute provides a guide to state sales taxes. Obtain business insurance to cover your premises, equipment and public liability.

Market Your Business

Your business will face competition from other local copy and print shops, franchised outlets and Internet-based copying services. Using market research to identify areas of growing demand can help you stay ahead of your competition.
Mail or email details of your services to organizations such as schools, colleges and small businesses that often need copying services. Set up a website listing your services and providing location and contact details.

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