Stickers are used for a variety of reasons by different industries. Whether their functional, for pricing and labeling, or recreational, for creative designs, everybody loves stickers. 

And they all need to be produced somewhere, which means sticker printing has the potential to be a very lucrative career choice. So, if you’re interested in starting a sticker printing business, follow this step-by-step guide:

  • Understand the market
  • Build your brand identity 
  • Develop your product list
  • Find suppliers 
  • Market your business
  • Expand your professional network
  • Get the right equipment
  • Get insured
  • Choose a legal structure
  • Register with HMRC
  • Organise your finances
  • Make a business plan

Understand the market

If you want your sticker printing business to succeed, you need to know what industries are going to use your service so you can focus your marketing strategy and find customers. 

The market for sticker printing is vast because stickers are used in all sorts of ways. That said, you can generally split the into three main categories:

  1. Recreation

Everybody’s first experience of stickers is for fun. There are business opportunities in all of these industries:

  • Toy shops
  • Gift shops
  • Vehicle detailing
  • Book stores
  • Independent artists and crafters
  • Schools and nurseries
  • Community centres
  • Daycare
  1. Health and safety

Stickers remain one of the most convenient and flexible ways to convey safety information, you’ll find plenty of customers in these areas:

  • Construction
  • Lab supplies
  • Healthcare and dentistry
  • Public buildings and spaces
  • Pubs, cafes, and restaurants
  1. Sales and advertising

Most shops use stickers for price labels and promotional offers, so reach out to physical storefronts, such as:

  • Supermarkets
  • Convenience shops
  • Clothing shops
  • Game shops
  • Charity shops

Develop your product list

Most sticker printing businesses offer custom stickers with different degrees of flexibility. 

You could print stickers in a limited number of preset shapes, or you could offer completely customisable shapes and details. 

The same thing goes for designs. Will you take customer designs and print them, or will you allow them to create custom designs straight from your store.?

Finally, you’ll need to decide what different sticker materials you’re offering, and there are quite a few options to choose from:

  • Clear or White Polypropylene
  • Static Cling vinyl 
  • Opaque Vinyl
  • Clear Vinyl 
  • Clear Polyester
  • UV Lamination 
  • Standard Lamination 
  • Matte Lamination

Check out your competitors, like StickerMule, VistaPrint, and StickerShop to get an idea of what they’re offering. 

Find suppliers

Finding the right supplier for your business will have a direct impact on your product variety and prices. 

Once you’ve decided what products you’re going to offer, you’ll have a better idea of the kind of supplies you’ll need. 

As a sticker printer, you’ll need to find suppliers for two things – printer ink and sticker paper. 

For ink, try online stores like Inkredible and CartridgePeople. You can find printer paper from places like OnlineLabels and SheetLabels.

Get the right equipment

Like your supply list, you won’t actually need that much equipment to get started with a sticker printing business. 

All you really need is a printer and a sticker cutting machine. 

A good quality printer that can print on vinyl paper (like the Brother MFC-J497DW Colour Inkjet Printer or Canon PIXMA iP8750)  will cost somewhere between £150 – £200. 

Sticker cutting machines (like the Silhouette Portrait 3 Contour Cutter or the Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint Machine) are in the region of £200 – £300. 

Alternatively, there are also combined printing and cutting machines, like the Roland DG.

Build your brand identity

Establishing a brand identity will ensure you stand out among your competitors and attract customers. Building a brand from the ground takes time, so here are the basic steps you should take:

  • Find your unique selling point – what sets you apart from other sticker printing businesses?
  • Define your target audience – who are they, what do they want, how do they communicate, and where do they spend their time?
  • Build a brand style guide – create guidelines that inform everything your business does publicly, including logos, slogans, colour palettes, and copy

Market your business

After you’ve created a unique brand identity, you can focus your marketing efforts through as many channels as possible.

Build a business website

The look and feel of your website should reflect your brand. A few good areas to think about are:

  • Colour scheme and logo – what impression do they give?
  • Website layout – is it easy to use and navigate?
  • Copy – is it easy to read, and does it reflect your tone of voice?
  • Features – what level of customer support do you offer?

If you’re not sure, play around on your competitors’ websites and see what they’re doing – you might get some good ideas for your own. 

Promote your business on social media

Most social media sites have a variety of marketing and sales features made explicitly for business profiles. Your strategy for each platform will be slightly different, so check out our individual social media marketing guides:

Sites like Instagram and Facebook put a heavier focus on images, so they could be the best pace to show off the great work you’re doing. 

That said, there are plenty of ways to incorporate video content too. You could do product reviews and sticker making tutorials to get audiences engaged. 

Use online directories

Setting up a Google Business profile will make sure you appear when people Google search for sticker printers online – and it’s completely free. 

Encourage customer reviews

Search engines consider customer reviews when ranking their page results, so encourage your customers to leave you a rating on your Google Business profile. 

Aside from appealing to Google, good reviews will also convince other people to use your business and provide you with helpful feedback. 

Try email marketing

If you can get people to sign up to a mailing list, email marketing is one of the most efficient marketing tools – it’s cheap, simple to use, and provides a direct line to the customer. 

You can send news bulletins, promotions, and business updates. You can even automate your email service to trigger messages on certain dates, or in response to customer actions.

For example, the “abandoned cart” email has been very successful for e-commerce stores. It sends an email when customers leave the site with items in their basket, prompting them to come back and continue shopping.  

For more information, check out our top picks for the 5 best email marketing services for small businesses

Get insured

Your sticker printing equipment is expensive, and you’ll be pretty lost without it, so make sure you have equipment insurance for your printer and cutting machine. 

Aside from that, there are a few other insurance policies that you’ll want to consider as a self-employed business owner:

  • Public liability insurance.
  • Professional indemnity insurance.
  • Business interruption insurance.

When setting up your business, you’ll need to decide whether you’d like to set up as a sole trader or a limited company. From an operational perspective, the main differences between the two structures are:

  • Financial liability – sole traders are personally responsible for all debts incurred by their business, whereas limited companies enjoy limited liability
  • Income tax – sole traders pay more tax as their income increases (0% – 45%), whereas limited companies pay corporation tax (a flat rate of 19%).
  • Preparing records – limited companies must submit public records of all business information to companies house, whereas sole traders can keep their information private. 

Because of limited liability, investors are more likely to consider buying into your business if it’s a limited company. 

Register with HMRC

If you choose to set up as a sole trader, you’ll need to register as self-employed so you can manage your taxes. 

When you set up as a sole trader, you’ll receive a Unique Tax Reference (UTR). You’ll need this information when you submit your self-assessment tax return

If you register as a limited company, you’ll need to register with HMRC with your chosen company name and detailed company records.

Organise your finances

As a business owner, you’ll be responsible for recording all of your finances and using that information to make future business decisions. 

Bookkeeping can take a while to get the hang of if you don’t have much accounting experience, so we’ll cover a few of the essentials here, including:

  • Cash flow
  • Profit and loss statements
  • Recording business expenses
  • Invoicing

Cash flow 

Cash flow describes the money moving in and out of your business account. You need to track cash flow if you want an accurate picture of your business’ financial situation. 

Profit and Loss statements

With accurate cash flow insights, you can use them to make profit and loss statements. They’re financial reports showing how much you spend compared to how much you earn, so you can see how your business will perform over time. 

Invoicing

A large part of bookkeeping is creating, issuing, and recording invoices. It’s important to have an organisational system in place for invoices because you’ll need them to report your earnings to HMRC. 

Business expenses 

Business expenses are any costs that are wholly and exclusively for running your business. When you report your business expenses to HMRC, the amount is taken off of your total taxable income, giving you a lower tax bill. 

Open a business current account

When running a business, it’s important to separate your personal and business finances.

Countingup is the business current account and accounting software in one app. It automates time-consuming bookkeeping admin for thousands of self-employed people across the UK. 

With features like accurate cash flow insights, profit and loss statements, live tax estimates, and automatic expense categorisation, you’ll save yourself hours of accounting admin so you can focus on growing your business. 

Make a business plan

Once you’ve committed to the idea of a sticker printing business, you can start putting it all together in a business plan.

Aside from keeping you on track, a business plan is essential if you want to secure funding from potential investors – they’ll want a fair amount of reassurance before they invest.

Using everything mentioned so far, you can create a comprehensive business plan made up of seven parts:

Executive summary

An executive summary is a broad overview of your business idea. It should include:

  • A basic definition of your business
  • A list of business goals
  • A list of products and services
  • Your target customers
  • Where and how you intend to sell your services
  • Your financial strategy

Business overview

Similar to an executive summary but more about the big picture stuff. A business overview should include: 

  • Your official business name
  • A rundown of your brand identity
  • Your business structure
  • A mission statement

Market analysis

Describe the industry as a whole, including your competitors, recent trends, and how you plan to fit in. Write about your target audience and explain why they’ll choose you.

Products and services snapshot

Go into detail about the product list from your executive summary. Give an in-depth explanation of each product and service. 

Marketing plan

Through extensive market research, you should have a strong strategy for marketing your sticker printing business. Include your total marketing budget and where exactly that money will go. 

Operations plan

Your operations plan should describe all the practical parts of your business operations – equipment, location, supplies, shipping options, funding, and other resources.

Financial plan

You might need an initial investment from a bank loan or private investor. If so, you’ll have to prove you can handle the repayments with a financial plan. 

Most financial plans include:

  • An income statement – how much money your business will earn per week, month, quarter, or year (minus your business-related expenses).
  • A balance sheet – a list of your business assets and liabilities.
  • A cash flow statement – a list of when your income and liabilities come in and go out every month. 

Get started and stick with it

Starting a business of any kind can be challenging, and success doesn’t happen overnight. 

But if you follow the advice in this guide, work hard, and keep improving, you’ll have the best possible chance of success with your sticker printing business.