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Printing Business – Comprehensive Guide On How To Start Printing Business


The printing business is a highly lucrative business aspiring entrepreneurs should begin to give attention to. The printing business is not a new business, it’s been in existence for decades and it keeps evolving.

Over time, the printing business has proven to be one of the businesses that cannot go into extinction anytime soon. Individuals, government, and corporate organisations need printing services at one point or the other.

Start Your Business in 30 Days Even If You Don't Have An Idea
Start Your Business in 30 Days Even If You Don’t Have An Idea

Therefore, anyone considering venturing into the printing business is not mistaken. But, you must note that printing is not one of the businesses you dive into without prior knowledge of the basics of the business.

A certain level of expertise and experience is a huge plus in this line of business. Printing is wide and this is why some tertiary institutions are beginning to offer it as a course of study.

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This article will enlighten you about the basic knowledge you need to begin but nevertheless, a practical knowledge is advised. You need to know the type of printing you want to specialise in and plan accordingly.

To begin, let’s define printing business.

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What Is Printing Business?

Basically, printing business is a type of business that involves printing on a commercial level. In other words, printing business involves the use of machines and equipments to get artworks out on paper or other type of substrate.

What You Need To Start A Printing Business

Printing business is resource oriented and the needs vary depending on your niche. You can either start small or on a large scale. However, here are the major cost you’ll incur when starting out

  1. Rental
  2. Overhead bills (Office equipments, electricity bills, etc)
  3. Machineries/Equipments
  4. Salaries
  5. Registration

Printing Terms To Be Familiar With

1. Pre-Press

This is a term used in printing industries for the processes and procedures that occur before printing is carried out. The procedures include graphic design, proofreading, lithography, digital or computer color separation, paper cutting, and so on. Some focus on the pre-press aspect of printing, actually, not everyone in the printing industry runs a printing press.

2. Press

This is the next stage after pre-press is done. This is where actual printing is done. So, projects only go to press after they have passed the pre-press stage.

Go from idea to starting your business in 30 days
Go from idea to starting your business in 30 days

Any mistake at the pre-press stage will automatically affect the actual printing which can result in costly reprints. Another set of printers focuses on the press stage.

These are people that operate a printing press or operate printing machines. If you can operate any printing machine, you can choose to offer the press aspect of printing.

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3. Post-Press

Post press is a crucial part of any printing process and it takes place after the actual printing is completed. It helps in determining the final look, shape and feel of the printed product. Also, there are people in the printing industry who deal in the post-press aspect of printing.

Steps To Take In Starting A Printing Business In Nigeria

These steps are basic guidelines to follow if you are starting a printing business.

Step One: Find A Printing Niche

To become successful in the printing business, find a niche rather than joggling different types of printing. As explained earlier, you can either choose the pre-press, press, or post-press aspect of printing but if you have the capital and required resources, you can invest in all three.

Here are some of the niche to consider.

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a. Offset Litho Printing

This is one of the pre-press niche to consider. Offset printing is a form of printing where artwork (graphic file) is transfered to a metal plate and then from the plates to a rubber blanket.

Thereafter, the inked blankets will be used to run the printing on paper. It is called offset printing because of the different procedures involved.

Most times, offset printing is used when large volume of printing is required. Some printers are majorly trained to carry out this processes. They are called Lithographers.

Professional lithographers are usually needed because any error in the offset process will automatically affect the final output.

See Also: 12 Eco-Friendly Business Ideas That Can Make You Wealthy.

b. Digital Colour Separation Printing

Digital colour separation is another pre-press printing business to invest in. Usually, a graphic file contains maximum of four colours (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black). And except one is printing on digital image machine, the four colours need to be separated before sending them to press for printing. This separation can be done on computer, which is called computer separation.

Computer separation is usually done by graphic designers but most times, it is not always as sharp as digital color separation. Statistically, most people prefer digital colour separation. To engage in this business, you will need to buy the digital color separation machine.

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c. Large Format Printing

Another alternative is to purchase a large-format machine. Large format machine is very big and carries out direct printing on flex, SAV, custom banners, backdrops, window graphics, roll up banners, vehicle wrap printing, and the likes.

A large-format machine has a small and big size. You can get one for about N 2.5million. It’s a very lucrative niche considering the number of churches, organisations, and government agencies patronizing large format printing.

d. Screen Printing

This is another printing niche that has been around since early 20th century and is used for printing on fabrics, wood, glass, signage, etc. This requires training as well.

In screen printing, the image or artwork is transferred to a fine mesh. Then, any area that needs to remain blank will be covered with a substrate.

Basically, the printing process involves pushing ink through the openings in the mesh onto the end material. It does not cost a lot to start.

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e. Sign Printing

Sign printing deals with the printing of signage, the big banners you see on the expressway, and the likes. You can partner with companies to handle their public signage and big banner jobs. It is a lucrative niche of printing that you can rack in millions from.

f. Lamination

Lamination is another post-press niche to explore. Once the entire printing process is complete, then the laminating process begins.

Some customers want to have their brochures, paper bags, and jotters laminated. Hence, you can purchase a laminating machine, secure a shop, and offer laminating services.

This is also a lucrative area if your shop or office is located close to printing presses or printing environment generally.

g. Finishing

There’s another niche called ‘finishing’ in printing. This also deals with post-press activities. For instance, if you want to produce a jotter, the printing press will only do the printing for you but there are some people whose job it is to fix the spiral bind at the edges of the jotter. These people
handle the finishing aspect.

Another example is affixing ropes on paper bags, folding, binding and collations of programme booklets, etc. This aspect of printing is cheap to start and you need little knowledge to begin.

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Step Two: Familiarise Yourself With The Printing World

Printing requires a lot of colour separation, color match and colour recognition. This is not something you want to guess your way around. In addition, you have to be familiar with the processing of CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) which is the four primary colors in printing.

The best way to learn these is to go to a printing environment and learn how it is done. But, if you have prior experience in the printing industry, you can skip this step

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Step 3: Register Your Business

Once you find the niche you want to play in, the next step to take is to find a suitable business name and register it with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

There are several benefits attached to registering your business. One of them is that it will save you from building on someone else’s identity. More than that, you will be able to secure a credible and trustworthy relationship with your customers. This is because most clients trust structured business.

To register your business, visit the CAC portal, and follow the required procedures. However, aspiring entrepreneurs find it difficult to register their businesses themselves. So, I’ll recommend you get the service of a lawyer or get a legal firm to help you out. One of the firms you can trust is ReDahlia. With as low as N20,000, you can get your business registered through them, regardless of your location in Nigeria.

See Also: Top Legal Documents Every Entrepreneur And Start-Up Should Have

Step 4: Research The Right Equipment You’ll Need

Before acquiring your equipment, research your competition and the equipment they use. Don’t forget that printing keeps evolving. A trending machine this year may become obsolete in the coming years. Hence, you need to always keep yourself abreast of the latest development. Once you discover your target audience, visit the printing presses that are currently catering to that audience and observe the equipment they use.

Not only that, also find out what they lack, so that you can include it in your service offering to attract customers. Offering what your competitors don’t have will give you a competitive advantage. If you cannot visit all the printing presses, a faster route is to check out their websites for the information you need.

Normally, there are several printing machines and they differ in size, and quality.

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Below are some of the commonly used printing machines

a. 201 Impression Machine

201 machine is used for running printing impressions on A4 and ledger sized papers. Most starters begin with this machine. You can use this machine to print one colored or full colored jobs. The cost of 201 machine is between N800,000 to N1,000,000

b. Cutting Machine

This machine is used to cut wide papers or card to required sizes. Most times, papers come in A1 size. Hence, if you need to print an A2, A3, A4 or A5 sized jobs, there’s need to cut the papers to suit the sizes.

Furthermore, cutting machine is also used to trim the rough edges of printed jobs. This is to maintain a neat finishing of the job done. The machine cost is between N2 – N3million

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c. Kord Machine

While 201 machine prints on A4 and ledger sized papers, Kord machine prints on bigger sized papers or cards. A good Kord machine should cost around N5million

d. Direct Image Printing Machine

This is also called a DI machine. With a DI, one can print from small sizes as A6 to bigger banners. But, the machine is quite expensive. If you cannot afford it at the beginning, you can make do with 201 and Kord machine. DI machine costs about N15million or more.

The difference between DI and other machines mentioned earlier is that you don’t need color separation to print on DI. But, before you can print on 201 or Kord machine, you will need to first separate the colors into Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. So, the machines runs each of the four colours separately. DI on the other hand sends the graphic file from your computer system and prints the four colours at once.

Another interesting thing is that the output of DI is always very clean and neat. DI allows you to send PDF or JPG files from your computer and print directly on the canvas, photo, paper, fabric, synthetics, cards, and other substrates.

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Other equipment include:

  • Computer systems
  • Office equipments
  • Generator Set
  • Graphic design software
  • Accounting software

Step Five: Draft Your Printing Business Plan

A business plan is a document setting out your business’s future objectives and strategies for achieving them. This step is important because it
contains detailed information that can help you improve your business chances of success. More than that, it will help you achieve both the short and long-term objectives of your business.

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Here are the basic information your business plan should have:

  1. An overview of your printing business
  2. Executive Summary
  3. General company description
  4. SWOT analysis
  5. Market Research
  6. Your Strategy
  7. The Team
  8. A marketing plan
  9. An operational plan
  10. Financial projection
  11. An appendix

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Step Six: Secure Funding For Your Printing Business

At this stage, if you cannot finance the equipment yourself, you will need to secure funding. Printing business is capital intensive, so, this step is very important. You can start sending out your business plan to banks or other establishments that support new businesses.

There are quite a number of initiatives that give grants to entrepreneurs. So, make good use of the opportunity. Nevertheless, if you have loose cash or savings to start, you can move to the next step.

See Also: 11 Ways To Get Funding And Grow Your Business In Nigeria

Importantly, you need to know that not all printers own a printing press. Some started as contractors and this is a cheaper way to start. You can source for clients, get a good graphic designer to do the artwork, then partner with an established printing press to carry out the printing, then deliver the job to your client. It’s that simple.

Actually, this is one of the best ways to start a printing business. This is because as a contractor, you will have the opportunity to learn the pros and cons of the business so that when you finally own your press, you will be well-grounded in the business.

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Step Seven: Secure A Space In A Good Location

Actually, if you want to own a printing press, you will definitely need to rent a space where you can set up your equipment. The cost will differ based on the location you choose.

This step cannot be overemphasised because location plays a major role in the success of a printing business. Preferably, choose a location where printing activities are dominant is ideal.

For example, in a place like Lagos, Nigeria, the first two places that come
to mind when you think of printing are Shomolu and Mushin. You can begin from such locations and gradually expand to other locations as you grow.

In simple terms, choose a location that brings you closer to your customers. Once you secure a place, you can then set up all your machines and equipment.

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Step Eight: Employ Skilled Labour

Statistically, most printing business enterprises employ fewer than 10 people. As more business owners utilise digital printing equipment, fewer skilled technicians will be needed to operate the machines. That said, there are two major people you will need to employ for a start.

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1. Graphic Designer

A good graphic designer will draw prospective customers to your business. Clients prefer to print their jobs where they can design their artwork and run their printing at the same time.

Hence, a graphic designer is a great plus to your printing business. Also, a graphic designer will help in the adjustment of images and colours before sending it out for final printing. The size of your business will determine the number of graphic designers to employ.

2. Machine Operator

Some people are trained to operate printing machines. Printing machines are expensive and should be treated with utmost care. Hence, always look out for experienced machine operators that will not mishandle the machines.

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Step Nine: Market Your Printing Business

This is another very important stage to take seriously. Nobody will know about your business if you don’t advertise or talk about it. As a matter of fact, all other efforts will go to waste if this step is trivialised.

You can have all the best equipment in the world and all the best employees, but if you don’t have customers, you will go out of business.

Therefore, focus more on selling. Explore every available marketing options and don’t stop marketing even when it seems like you have all the customers you need.

See Also: Digital Marketing Channels For Small Businesses In Nigeria To Explore

Here are some of the marketing options to explore:

  1. Social media marketing
  2. Paid advert
  3. Sharing of Handbills/Flyers/Posters
  4. Collaboration and partnership
  5. TV/Radio advert
  6. Offering freebies
  7. Referral marketing
  8. Word of mouth
  9. Email marketing
35 Business Ideas

Final Thought

Without mincing words, the printing business is one of the ways to amass wealth. If you are interested in venturing into the printing business, the best time to start is now.

As you begin your business, pay attention to trends in the industry so, that you don’t become obsolete. As with every business, you need to work hard and be determined to succeed.

There you have it. Feel free to share this article with your friends. You can ask any questions you have in the comment section. Are you running a printing business? We will like to hear your thoughts also.

Are you doing something amazing in your industry and you want the world to hear about it? Reach out to us today to tell your story.

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37 thoughts on “Printing Business – Comprehensive Guide On How To Start Printing Business”

  1. This is 2023, and this piece is evergreen helpful. I reside in Ibadan and I’m hoping to visit Mokola to continue learning in the practical way before venturing into the business. Thank you.

  2. Chukwuemeka John

    Wow. I appreciate this write-up on starting my printing press business. So happy to find this. Please, do you have a YouTube channel where you teach?

    1. Oyetunde Alawode

      This is a good one. Thanks for sharing.

      What type of large format printer did you recommend for a starter and what is the price range?

  3. Simeon Godfirst okoh

    I truly appreciate all the time taken to draft out these important lessons and guides on how to run this lucrative business. I once again thank the editors.. although I need more guide

  4. Ogunmodede Ayotunde

    God day, please I’m currently residing in Ibadan Oyo state, I’m wishing to start a printing business, I’m new to it and no ideal at all, I will be very happy if I can get accurate measure to take in starting the printing business as a starter. Thanks.

  5. Please i would need a Sample of a Drafted Business Plan and Financial plan for Large format Printing Business, is urgent . Thank you.

    1. Thank you for reaching out to us.

      We can help with your business plan. Please, reach us on WhatsApp: 08038874148.

      Thank you.

  6. Aliu Akinola

    I really enjoy and have gained an in-depth knowledge of the Printing Business. Though, I have invested in the business before but failed because I entrusted it into the hands of family and friends while I live abroad.

    They mismanaged the business and collapsed foundation structure due to infighting among the stakeholders.

    With this write-up, I was able to analyse where I got it wrong and gain a more professional approach to the business.

    I am presently based outside Nigeria but I am looking forward to investing in the business whenever I decided to relocate back to Nigeria.

    Thanks for sharing this experience and expertise with us.

    1. Hello Akinola,

      We’re glad you found the content insightful. Thank you for sharing your experience and it’s nice you have picked some learning from the experience.

      We have an in-depth guide that contains everything you need to start the printing business up to the cost of set up. Get it here: https://www.entrepreneurs.ng/product/start-your-own-printing-business/

      If you need to speak to us to develop a business model and strategy to grow your business, reach us on 08038874148.

      Thank you.

  7. This is the most informative post I’ve ever read in my entire life. So detailed to light every confusing corners of printing business. God bless the authors and editors of this post

  8. Jackson Joseph

    Thank you for this interesting article
    I also want to venture into large format printing but I’ve been trying to get a good working space in a very lucarative location.

    But it’s kind of difficult so I’m still working on it.
    Thank you guys you’ve really enlighten me on how to go about it for a better result.

  9. Michael Oduro

    Thanks for your article. I ventured into the printing business 3 years after Technical School. I was fortunate to complete a course in commercial arts. After my course, I attached myself to a printing press and got a year’s experience on the job. Then I was fortunate to source capital from my brother and I amass the courage to start something small. I never hired a graphic designer, Secretary, Printing Machine Operator, Marketer, etc. I trained in Graphic Design myself. I just started with a computer and a desktop printer and worked as a middleman/print broker. I also rented a space for a start. I am yet to register my business name. Your article has helped me a lot. All I will say to the interested audience is, the best way to start is to begin as a broker and partner yourself with well-printing establishments, but remember after winning clients, the key to your success in the print brokerage business is MEETING DEADLINES after all no client will be happy to receive a LATE JOB possibly for an occasion. Writing from Ghana West Africa

    1. Hello Micheal,

      Thank you for sharing your experience with the valid business lessons.

      Great luck with your business.

  10. Nwokorie Augustine

    Read this and it was well explained for every beginner like me. It really gives out a pure understanding of what it really takes to venture press.

    1. Hello Augustine,

      Thank you for your interest in starting the printing business. We even have a more comprehensive guide that contains the prices of all the machines you need and step-by-step guides to start and succeed in the printing business.

      Get the guide here:

      We’re here if you have any business concern.

      Thank you.

    2. Thank you for this detailed explanation. I just staring a printing business and i actually l find it ucrative with he little knowledge I have, but I still need more experience mostly on the business plan aspect. Could you be of help please?

      1. Hello Amaka,

        Thank you for reaching out to us.

        Yes, we can help you with your business planning. Do reach out to us on WhatsApp- 08038874148.

        We have a program that will prepare you to launch your business with expert guidance. Learn all about it here – https://www.entrepreneurs.ng/start-your-business-in-30-days/

        Please, take a look at all the different ways we can work with you and increase your success here: https://entrepreneurs.ng/services/

        And reach out to us on WhatsApp- 08038874148.

    1. Hello Anyichukwu,

      We’re glad you found the content insighful. Please know that we have an indepth guide that will help you start the Printing business and 34 other profitable businesses. It contains the cost of all the equipment, exact amount you need to start the business, and valuable information that are not covered in the article.

      Get it here:https://www.entrepreneurs.ng/35-business-ideas/

      We’re here if you need more guidance.

  11. Emeka anetoh

    I’m about to set up a DI printing business. i’ll still quite a novice in it. I’m wondering what are my chances in succeeding considering the fact that i am completely new at it.

    1. Hello Emeka,

      We’re happy you have an interest in starting the printing business. We have a crash course that will help you start the printing business. It contains the financial breakdown of all you need. Also, you will get 34 other profitable businesses to start.

      Get it here:

      Thank you.

    1. Hello Yemisi,

      God bless you too. We’re glad you found the content insightful.

      We have an even more comprehensive guide that contains the cost of investment and the cost of all the machines and equipment you need to start the printing business and 34 other profitable businesses.

      Get the book here:
      Thank you.

  12. Ebere Desire Silas

    I really enjoyed this writ-up…
    Am a printer by profession and I have interest in running printing press…

    1. Hello Ebere,

      Thank you for reading. We’re glad you found the content very useful. Please know that we have a comprehensive guide coming out soon that contains the strategies and investment cost of starting the printing business and other businesses. We will send an email and also make the announcement on Entrepreneurs.ng once it’s launched. Thank you.

    1. Thank you, Sifon. Happy you found the content useful. We have a comprehensive guide coming out soon that contains the investment cost of starting the business and other business ideas. Please keep tabs on Entrepreneurs.ng because we will make the announcement once it’s out.

      Thank you.

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