If you are listening to this, you have a Cricut or a Silhouette, basically a cutter you got for $200-$600 at a local hobby store.
You make things for yourself, for friends and family. Maybe you are even making a little money here and there, or you’ve opened an etsy shop.
You might even be fulfilling orders almost every day.
What you all have in common is taking the next step to growing yourself into a better business, or maybe you might think of it as a “real” business.
What are the next steps:
1. Make it a business – Register with the state, get a resale or tax certificate, get a email address with your business name
2. Find Blank suppliers – stop buying from Walmart
3. Social Pages – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn
4. Website….. maybe? Order online?
5. Start quoting in writing, on a form. Sales Quote excel /google sheet / apple sheet
6. Start invoicing the same way in writing
7. Find a way to accept credit cards. Circle pay, Paypal
8. Treat every customer, like a customer. even friends / family.
9. Create a price book / price sheet.
10. Get commercial equipment
Story of comparing a job from a hobby to a commercial machine
Hobby Cutter: cut a 58.5in Triangle….. that is 11.5 across bottom and 23.5 up, then back 23.5 down takes. 30.5 seconds, when in fast mode on certain models, its 15.6 seconds.
Graphtec Commercial does that in about 2.5 seconds.
That’s 6x faster on the fastest hobby cutter or 12x faster on the standard one.
Consider the size. Affordable professional cutters cut about 15-48in wide, and can track 6-16 feet.
That means when you are using a hobby cutter, you are going to cut about 12″ x 24″ at a time. If you are cutting t-shirt designs that are a 7×7 square, you can cut 3 at a time. One over the other on a 12×24 in sheet. That is at a speed of about 2 inches per second.
Compared to a commercial unit, that is not that much more $…. you can cut 2 wide and about 27 long… so essentially over 50 at a time! Also at a speed that is 12 x faster.
Lets break this down into an actual job.
You are doing a family vacation to a theme park. Part of their tradition is making shirts for the whole family. That’s 3 brothers, and their spouses, plus 2 kits a piece. Then a couple of sisters and their spouses on the other side of the family (plus kits) That’s a total of 10 adults and 10 kids. Its a 3 day trip, so they want 3 shirts each. 60 shirts total.
If the design is that 7×7 how long will it take to do?
5 minutes a shirt x 60 shirts = 300 min of machine run time. Plus you have to load and reload it 30 times. That’s an extra 30 minutes of loading time. 5.5 hours of your hobby machine just cranking along.
at 12 times faster you are close to 45 seconds a shirt
45*60 = 45 minutes of run time on your machine, with only having to load it up 2x.
Then you are ready to finally place them on the shirts.
Your job goes from being done a few hours after the kids go to bed, compared to trying to stay up all night, passing out at 2am…. then waking up in the morning and doing it for another hour or two.
This is quality time with your family & friends or time used to make more money / more sales.
So how much did you make an hour?
Lets say it takes 3 hours to press all the shirts, fold them, etc.
Hobby cutter – 8.5 hours of work for 60 shirts
Commercial cutter – less than 4 hours of work for 60 shirts
You double the amount of money you make per hour of work! You take this extra time and market on Facebook, attend events to meet more people, spend time with your family, spend more time building up your home based business.
Welcome to the Custom Apparel Startups podcast, your best source for information, news, tips and tricks to get you off the ground running, and earn success with your custom apparel decorating business. So, get ready to soak up some knowledge!
Now, here are your hosts, Mark and Marc!
Mark S: Hey, everyone! Welcome to the Custom Apparel Startups podcast! My name is Mark Stephenson, from ColDesi.
Marc V: And this is Marc Vila, from Colman and Company. We’re doing episode 90 today, and it’s our last episode, actually.
Mark S: Yeah, 90. Because honestly, if you’re 90, it’s time to retire. Warren Buffett, you know.
Marc V: Actually, it’s not our last episode. I’m sorry for anybody who just got upset, or your stomach dropped.
Mark S: Do you think that’s true? Do you think that actually happened?
Marc V: Yeah! I think there’s thousands.
Mark S: I think there’s four.
Marc V: We are excited to hit episode 90. We were just talking about, before this, what the future of the studio might look like. That will be fun. Maybe we’ll chat about it in a bit. But for now, let’s tell the title, because this is what we should be doing.
Mark S: Hashtag foosball table, just think about that!
Marc V: It’s episode 90, and it’s Your Cricut-Based Business, The Next Steps. This really has to do with if you have a Cricut, a Silhouette, a hobby-based machine that’s designed for hobby. This is also true, it could be even embroidery, if you’ve got a hobby embroidery machine.
Mark S: If you’ve got a home sewing machine, or something like that.
Marc V: And what are you next steps to actually make some money, and turning this into a business? If you’re already a business, I think this is still a great episode for you, because we’re talking about basic steps of starting a business. You should listen to these, because if you missed one of them, and you’re already a business, we can help you out.
Mark S: And honestly, there’s a good percentage that you have, because we get tons of feedback. Really, the reason that we’re doing this particular kind of specific topic is because there are so many of you out there that have a passion for creating. You’re doing scrapbooking, or you’re doing shirts for yourself or for you kids, and you see the potential.
So, you find us. You find the podcast or the Facebook group, or the ColDesi.com or ColmanandCompany.com website that’s related to that kind of thing, and you’re anxious to take the next step. We see those questions on Facebook all of the time.
A lot of you, on the Facebook group in particular, are in business, but are not in business officially. It’s like you’re hiding from the feds for some reason. We really don’t know.
Marc V: Well, you’re trapped there. That’s the problem, is you don’t even realize where you are. It’s almost like – we’re in Florida, here. So, we go to the ocean. What happens when you go to the ocean, if you like to brave into the water, you go out there and you’re walking along.
And the water stays kind of low, here where we are. We can walk really far out, and still be up to your waist. The next thing you know, you turn around, and where you’re sitting seems barely visible away, because you’re moving with the tide. You’re walking, not paying attention, and now you’re there.
It’s like “Now, what do I do?” That’s kind of where you end up, when you start this business. You’ve got a hobby type of machine. You start making some shirts for some friends. Maybe you start a little store online, or you start sharing on Facebook.
Now, all of a sudden, you’re staying up until 2:00 in the morning!
Mark S: That’s the way it happens, too.
Marc V: That’s really the way it happens. So, we’re going to kind of rewind you, get you back to the beach, so you can make a safe journey out.
Mark S: That was a good surprise analogy, by the way. I like that.
Marc V: You know what? They just happen.
Mark S: Normally, you would say something like “If you’ve got your Cricut, and you’re in a biker bar, and you see a girl. You want to make her a shirt.”
Marc V: Yes, that’s actually -.
Mark S: He’s done that. That’s a true story.
Marc V: Well, let’s go ahead and actually get into it a little bit. Speaking about the studio, though, what I was saying was we need to do like a loveseat and a chair, a plush type of a chair. Because I want to sit back.
Mark S: I’ll tell you what. I can guarantee one thing. We’re not going to share the loveseat.
Marc V: No, no. We’re going to have guests, though, and I’ll share the loveseat with them. And I want the microphones on the wall, so we can pull them out from the wall. And you mentioned a wet bar?
Mark S: Yes.
Marc V: Alright, cool. So, we’re good now.
Mark S: I mean we would never do that.
Marc V: If you have any ideas, please send them to Mark Stephenson. So, let’s go ahead and get right into it, then. What the setup of this is going to be is we’re going to talk about what are the steps, kind of one through ten. Do all of these. You have to do all of them.
Then at the end, we’re going to tell a little story to kind of wrap it up, so you can really understand why these steps are important.
Mark S: Yeah. So, by the end of the podcast, you should have a clear idea. If you’ve got a Silhouette or a Cameo, or something like that in your house, or a consumer embroidery or sewing machine and you want to get into business, you should have an idea of what you’re going to do next, hopefully, over the next 30, 60 or 90 days, in order to really kind of go pro.
We talked about this first one a little bit, before the show. What is the first thing that you can do, that will make you kind of feel like a business? Like this is the demarcation point, like Marc said. When do you know that you’re getting too far out? What’s that marker?
Marc V: The first thing is to actually literally make it a business. That means you register with your state. You get your certificate to resell items. You have the ability to collect sales tax.
Mark S: Yep. You get a business license by your county or your state.
Marc V: Whatever it is.
Mark S: Get legal.
Marc V: Get legal. This way, when you’re accepting money for goods traded, you’re doing it in a legal way. That’s really the first step. Too often, and we see it all of the time here, is folks end up with equipment and orders and all of this stuff, and they’re not even set up as a business yet.
They don’t have a business checking account. You’re doing everything. It doesn’t cost a lot of money, and it doesn’t take that much work. What you want to do is, first of all, just visit your state website, and there’s probably an area. Hopefully, you have a good state website, and it might be simple enough.
Mark S: And if not, we actually had somebody from the Small Business Administration on the podcast last year. We’ll link to the episode, in the show notes. There’s a whole list of resources that you can go to. The government is willing to help.
The idea here is for you to get legal, for a couple of reasons. First of all, just don’t be afraid of it, because it’s not hugely expensive. There’s a little bit of paperwork involved, but there are tons of people that are around to help you, and it will make a difference.
It’s not going to be like you’re selling t-shirts out of the trunk of your car, and you can only accept cash. You’re not hiding from the local authorities. You don’t close the garage door every time the inspector drives by. Get legal.
Marc V: It’s really just a good idea for you, when you think about being legal in the long run, because what you’re going to do is you’re going to want to purchase from a place where you can buy wholesale garments. We’re going a little bit ahead, but you’re going to want to be able to do things that somebody is going to say “Are you a business?”
Mark S: Yeah. “Give me your business license, your reseller certificate.”
Marc V: You’re going to want to accept credit cards in a certain way, or not. Doing that, if you’re just taking PayPal payments or Cash App, or something like that, you’re going to want to do it a little bit more professional, over time. It’s all going to build upon having that business license.
Really, the biggest risk is in the end, after you set it up and pay the fees, and all in the end, if you decide in 12 months, to close that thing down, you’ve really risked a couple of hundred bucks. Not a lot of money. That’s on the high end.
And if you really need help with it, a little bit more of an investment is you probably know somebody who can refer you to an attorney who kind of does that stuff. Really, it’s simple work for them, so it would probably be a couple of hundred bucks to pay somebody to do all of it for you.
So, do it yourself, or for a couple of hundred bucks, they can do all of it for you. There’s also websites, like I was thinking of LegalZoom. There’s websites out there. I know there’s a ton of them.
Mark S: Yeah. The moral of the story is get legal, even if you are already an existing business, you’ve been in business for three or four years. Because I actually saw that on the Facebook group the other day, and you’re still looking for sources that you can buy from, that don’t require a resale certificate.
Just stop that. Just do it.
Marc V: Yeah, just do it, and it’s going to make you a real business. It’s going to make you feel good. There’s going to be paperwork involved and all of these things. But in the long run, if you’re serious about it, it’s the first step.
Mark S: You can always call Marc Vila. He’ll actually get on three-way calls.
Marc V: And I’ll just do it for you, meaning I will take your money, and then hire an attorney, and just have them do it.
Mark S: There you go! That brings us to number two, which is kind of a demarcation point for some, for having a business license. Usually, the first thing that you run into, if you are not a business, is when you go to look for blank shirts.
Let’s say you get that first big order mark, and you get an order for 60 shirts. You need them in three different sizes. You can no longer go to Walmart and buy these.
Marc V: That’s the issue, because right now, and if you’re listening to this, you have to have experienced this, because you’re in that place. It’s where you have a little order you’re doing. It’s for say brother and sister, brother and sister; two little families. So, you need two size 5s and two size 7s in gray, and you’ve gone to four Walmarts now, to get all four.
Mark S: Wait! Or Targets. We have fancy customers.
Marc V: Yeah. You’ve gone to Target, Walmart, you’ve stopped by TJ Maxx, or something like that. You’ve spent your entire morning shopping around, to get four or six or eight shirts. Massive waste of time and waste of money, because you paid tax on those goods, that you don’t get back from the state.
You could have ordered them all, and gotten them basically the next day, for cheaper, even with the shipping cost, even if you just ordered four shirts.
Mark S: Here’s the other thing. If that’s the way you’re doing business right now, you know a couple of things. You’ll never be able to find those same shirts again. Right? They’re going to bring them in for closeout, or it’s a brand that the retailer discontinued, or something. They’ll probably have somebody else’s logo on them, somewhere. It could be a logo shirt.
You don’t have any experience in actually heat-pressing stuff onto these garments, so you’re going to get variable results. You may decide on a different brand you’ve never worked with before, and who knew it had 20% acrylic in it? So, you get a nice box around everything that you heat press on there.
Marc V: Or just your heat transfer vinyl peels off or washes off, and you’re like “I’ve done this so many times!” It’s because of the garment. Nobody thinks about the garment. They go to forums, and they’re trying to figure out “What’s up with the material or my heat press?” And it’s just this shirt that you just randomly found.
So, you want to set up with actual suppliers that supply blanks. There’s a ton of them. You’re going to link to something in the show notes, you said?
Mark S: Yeah. What we’ll do is we’ll do a couple of things. First of all, I want to establish what blanks are. When we talk about blanks, if you’re in the custom apparel business, that’s usually referring to blank shirts or blank caps. That means there’s no logo. There’s usually a tag on it that you can tear off, and put on your own, if you want to. But typically, they’re called blanks.
What we’ll do is if you are listening to this episode, and you’re willing to go to the YouTube channel and see what Marc Vila actually looks like, I’m going to put a link to – we had somebody scour the universe, and create a list of not only blank suppliers, but ones that do and do not require a reseller’s certificate, just to kind of back up from everything we’ve already encouraged people to do!
There is a great list of suppliers on there. There is how to get in touch with them, and there are the requirements for signing up.
So, if you’re listening to the podcast, go to YouTube. I’ll link to that in our show notes. Watch at least 15 minutes of the video, and then scroll down and click on a link that I’ll provide, and you can download that.
Marc V: So, you can probably go to YouTube, and if you haven’t been on our channel before, you just go in the search box. “Custom Apparel Startups episode 90.”
Mark S: Yep. You can go to YouTube. ColDesi-Colman is the name of the channel that we post on. And if you do episode 90, it will show up.
Marc V: And then, subscribe and hit the little notification bell, too, so you’ll be notified when a new episode comes up.
Mark S: Share it, ask good questions.
Marc V: All of that good stuff. So, you want to find blank suppliers. Here’s why. It’s going to be cheaper, and you’ll make more money. It’s going to be easier to get those items again. Whatever color you want, you’re going to be able to get that color.
Mark S: And you’re going to have more control of the sale, because if you’re getting that stuff from Walmart, the next thing you know, what’s going to happen is somebody is going to bring you a stack of shirts that they bought from Walmart. So, you don’t get to mark those up at all.
You’ll actually buy these blanks at a great price. You’ll be able to mark them up, so you’ll make money on the shirt and on the design that you’re doing.
Marc V: And they’re going to go to Walmart or Target, and you can get a blank t-shirt there, of a reasonable quality, for like $5.
Mark S: You might pay $6 or $7, because of the size or whatever.
Marc V: Or you had a coupon, and you got it for $3 or $4. But whatever, you’re going to be able to buy similar quality garment for half of that price. Then, you can charge them the same amount of money. Then really, just tell them “I can get you whatever color you want in whatever size you want. Don’t go to Walmart.”
Mark S: And “I know it will work.”
Marc V: Yeah, exactly, whatever it is.
Mark S: Okay, that’s good.
Marc V: You could probably save them money, and still make money.
Mark S: We talked about making it a business, and then finding blank suppliers, real suppliers. And we told you a great resource, and how to get that. The next thing is social pages.
Marc V: Yeah. This is the next step, that’s the easiest to do. You want to go on, and start with Facebook, in this order. Facebook, create a business page. It’s very easy to find how to do it. It’s really easy to do, within Facebook.
You typically click on the little triangle in the top corner. Facebook wants you to do that. You make a page with your business name. It’s not your personal page. The other mistake people do is they go and create a new Facebook account, like a personal account, and just name it the business.
You don’t want to do that. For one, Facebook doesn’t like that. Whether or not your friend has had one of those forever, you are one employee, on Facebook, away from auditing your account for whatever reason. Then, just boom! Your business is shut down on Facebook, because you’re not a person. Facebook pages are for people. Okay?
Now, you have a business page, which is for a business. You can put apparel. Once you get in there, if you can put a picture or a description, or fill out something, whatever it is, fill it out.
Mark S: Fill in all of the blanks.
Marc V: Fill in all of the blanks. And the image on the top, in the square image – you’ve got your main image and your square image, those two – make sure they’re the right size, and fit.
Mark S: Which is easy to find. Never leave a spot where you can put a picture, blank.
Marc V: That’s true.
Mark S: If you have a company logo, or you don’t, or if you have a nice image for the background, or if you don’t, pick something. It’s got to be there, because when it shows up on peoples’ feeds or if someone recommends you, if they click a “share” link, whatever that image is, is what’s going to show up.
That’s why we’re so careful. We’re constantly going back, at ColDesi and Colman and Company, and revising the images. When we share something on Facebook, you might notice it. The first time we share it, it will be somebody’s face off to the side, and it will be like three letters over in the corner. The next time we share it, it’s going to be perfect, because we pay very close attention to that.
So, you’ve got to do what Marc said. Fill in all of the blanks. Make sure you have images up there. Now, how about people right now that are out there, that I know are saying “I’m not on Facebook?”
Marc V: Just get on Facebook, first of all. Alright? You don’t have to have – the cliché thing is “I don’t want to be on Facebook. I don’t want to share all of my things with all of these people. I don’t want to.” Okay, don’t do any of that.
Go on there, put your first name, your name, if you don’t have a Facebook. Facebook is going to ask you “What do you want your privacy to be?” Just hit “max level” on everything. “You can’t search for me by name, you can’t find me by email, you can’t find me by phone number.”
I promise you that everyone on the internet that cares to spy on you, and the government and all of that stuff, they already your phone number and email address.
Mark S: Or you could just relax, and fill out the profile. The other thing that I’ll say is after you’re over that, and that’s for the group of people that are really hyper-concerned about privacy, because they heard a story about something that happened ten years ago.
Marc V: And it didn’t actually happen.
Mark S: It didn’t happen. There are people with concerns about privacy. I get that. But there are also like the Gen-Xers, that think that Facebook is just for old people, and they live on Instagram.
Marc V: Yeah. Or like millennials. And that’s fine. Facebook grew like crazy, and now kind of everyone is on it, meaning like eight out of ten American adults are on it. But there is that 20% that are not, and they’re rebellious against it.
I’m just going to say, you own a business, you have to be where businesses go, and you should do it. It’s the equivalent of something like 100 years ago, somebody said “I’m not interested in that dang newspaper!” I’m sorry.
Mark S: You’re not open anymore!
Marc V: Yeah, you’re not open anymore. So, you get a Facebook page. You don’t have to put all of your information everywhere. You make it all private. Then, you make a business page. In that, you should put proper business information.
You can make a business email. Keep it simple, if you want. Start with a Gmail account, or something like that.
Mark S: With the business name.
Marc V: Yeah. You can start off simple, like that. Then, put that contact information now, and then everything is private. If you own a business and you’re interacting with people, and this is what you choose to be, you’re going to have to realize that you’re no longer completely anonymous.
Mark S: Yeah. You actually want people to find you, and this is one of the steps. You want people to find your business. This is what you’re going to need to do.
Marc V: Another thing with the images, I was thinking about, was you can go to a website like Fiverr. Just search, Google that, and you’ll figure it out.
Mark S: Two r’s.
Marc V: Yeah, two r’s. Google will figure that out for you. You go there, and you can find somebody literally for $5 or $10, to make your – “Hey, my business name is Joann’s T-shirts,” and they’ll just make you the simplest Facebook picture and image that will fit right in there. It will just be a stock image of a t-shirt and the text, and that’s good enough.
Mark S: I should do that.
Marc V: Yeah. That’s good enough. It will cost you $5. It will be super simple. If you know how to use any type of art software, of course, you can just make that yourself. Just keep it simple. Don’t spend a ton of time or money doing that. You’re not there yet.
Okay, so you do Facebook. Now, I think you should do Instagram. That’s the second most important. It’s the fastest growing. It’s really great for t-shirts, and this business, because you just snap a picture of what you made, or a video of it, and then boom! That’s pretty much it. That’s the end of it.
And there’s lots within that realm, of how to maximize these things. But when you have somebody that you meet, and they’re just randomly out somewhere, and they’re saying “Do you have an Instagram?” Because that’s what they like to do.
You get to say “Yes, you can find me on there.” Then, “I’ll follow you,” and you’ll end up in their feed, and they’re going to think of you, when they think of custom shirts. Even if your content is not the most amazing thing in the world, they’re still going to be thinking of you.
Mark S: This is the category that, if you were able to open up a retail location, like a retail shop, and you could be on every street in town, you would want to be on every street in town. Like if it was the same amount of money, and you could be on every street, so everyone in town would drive by and see you, that’s what it is, to have these different accounts.
Marc V: Yeah. Facebook is like your Main Street.
Mark S: Everybody that’s on Facebook, you want to be able to talk to them. People that are on Instagram, you want to be able to talk to them. People that are on Twitter, you want to be able to ignore them. Marc was very kind and put LinkedIn down. You probably don’t need a LinkedIn account. I mean, you can.
Marc V: I put Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. These are the order that I think is important for people who have money. So, I specifically didn’t say SnapChat, because it’s kids. And you can tell. I’m on SnapChat, and you can tell, just by reading the feed. Everything is geared toward high school kids. If you want to do it, do it for fun. I don’t expect you to make a million bucks on it.
Mark S: No, but like we’ve talked about before, I think that you do as many of these things as possible. You fill out the profiles properly for each. You make sure that you’re monitoring them all. Then, maybe you pick one to really participate in.
Marc V: Yep, and that’s going to depend on who you are and who your audience is. LinkedIn might be great, if you’re doing apparel for all small business owners, or people that are on LinkedIn.
Mark S: If you do funny recruiter t-shirts.
Marc V: Yeah. If you’re selling to recruiters and salespeople, and maybe marketers, and anybody who sells what they do as a service for businesses. If that’s who you sell to; mortgage brokers, realtors. If you sell to those people, go on LinkedIn.
If you sell to the average, everyday mom and dad, just regular folks, that’s Facebook. So, Facebook is your Main Street. It’s kind of your Broadway. Instagram is kind of your cool downtown.
Mark S: Cool downtown, I like that.
Marc V: Twitter is like the area of downtown that used to be a really bad area of town, but it’s been revitalized, and there’s lots of cool bars and restaurants there. That’s where they put the first Whole Foods.
Mark S: I feel like Instagram is the white Lexus.
Marc V: Sure. I like that, too. Anyway, do all of those. It’s great. And once you get into them, you don’t have to get sucked into it. If you’re afraid of the drama or the political posts, just don’t have any friends on any of these things. You don’t have to follow anybody. You don’t necessarily have to do all of that.
But having the business presence [inaudible 00:23:54].
Mark S: That’s why you and I aren’t Facebook friends.
Marc V: We used to be Facebook friends. I deleted you.
Mark S: Okay, so number three is social pages. The next one is a website. Are you going to sell online?
Marc V: It’s a good question. It’s something to think about. This is one of the steps I don’t think – you don’t have to do this step.
Mark S: You don’t have to, because you can, for most startup apparel decorators, you can be very successful using Facebook, instead of a website. You can definitely do that. You can put all of the same information there. You can link to shopping, inside your Facebook page, if that’s what you want.
A lot of people get a lot of business, just off of their Facebook page, and never have a website.
Marc V: You can also sell through other websites; eBay, Etsy. There’s a ton of them out there, places where you can sell. Facebook Marketplace, even. Facebook has like a marketplace.
Mark S: Yeah, you can do that. It’s a Craigslist on Facebook.
Marc V: There’s a lot of places where you can sell online, but what I would consider, if you want to have your own website, is a couple of things. One, are you willing to dedicate a little bit of money and a little bit of time? Even if you just start off with something simple; SquareSpace, Wix, – what’s another one that’s a nice simple one?
Mark S: GoDaddy.
Marc V: Yeah. GoDaddy has a service that they do. Google has a service that they offer. If you go to one of these, you get what they call the “what you see is what you get” builder. There’s a template, you pick a template, you type your name in, and you have an About Me page. You fill that out about your business.
You have a contact form, and then you have a place, a gallery where you can put pictures. If you’re willing to put that work into it, you’re going to spend, what? $20 a month, to keep that going?
Mark S: Yeah. I mean, there are going to end up being more expenses.
Marc V: There is. It grows, over time.
Mark S: So, $50 to $100 a month. The real question, though, is are you going to focus on it, at all? Because the worst thing that you can do is spend – it’s kind of one or the other. You do a very simple website. It gets very old and outdated, quickly. You put up product photos, and then you wake up the next day, and it’s six months later, and you don’t sell those products anymore, but that’s what’s on your website.
Or you do a website, and three months later, you look back at it and you can’t believe how ugly it is. That happens all of the time, because your skills will advance very quickly. Once you establish a business and you’re on social, your standards are going to grow very fast.
Marc V: Yes. And wherever you put your website, no matter what it is, they are going to change with the internet, which means that things are going to break, on your website. You’re going to have to just say “I want to have a website,” because it’s the first step of like a real storefront, meaning that you want to invest in the way that you look.
You want to be a step class higher. Just having social business pages is like a small level of business. Just having a website, being able to buy online, is the next level up. And then, you continue to go higher.
Mark S: And there’s lots of stuff in here, whether it’s an Etsy store, an eBay store, or Shopify, whatever you want to do, that kind of splits the difference between those two. You’re either selling your products on somebody else’s website, which requires just as much effort as doing your own, by the way, or you’re setting up your own.
So, that’s really – let’s say that number four is to make that decision.
Marc V: Yeah. Make the decision, if you want to do it. Make it a decision you’re willing to commit to, and don’t get sucked into this. You can really decide “I’m going to get a website, then I’m going to get this, and I’m going to get this. Now, I’m going to hire this.”
The next thing you know, you’ve spent all of this money, all of this time. There’s a little analytics place that means like statistics for your website. You go to look at it, and nobody is there. Nobody ever goes there.
Mark S: Okay, so I’m going to interject some impromptu warnings and commentary, since you brought it up. If you’re going to do your own website, I would prefer if you never hire anyone that calls you to improve your SEO, and tells you that they’re going to make you number one on Google. Okay?
Give that a couple of years. Make sure that you are established. Or get a recommendation from somebody else who they’ve worked with, who has done it right. If you get somebody that knows what they’re doing, that’s fantastic. It could be good for your business, in a year.
Those people, you can actually email us. If you’re in that situation, if you’ve already got a website, and you’ve got somebody that’s knocking on your door, saying “Hey, I can make you number one on Google,” or whatever it is, send us the email. And we’ll tell you to tell them to go away. 99% of the time, we’ll do that.
Marc V: But I don’t want you to get sucked into the website, is really the important thing. What is your motivation for having the website? “I want the website for vanity.” Okay, that’s one level.
Mark S: Yeah, so just own that.
Marc V: Just own that. “I just want to put it on a card, and for it to be really pretty, and put some pictures up there. I want it for vanity.” Cool! You don’t have to worry about anything else. You’ve got it for vanity.
If you want it so people can find you online, you’re really going to have to learn how to do that. If you want it so you can sell things online, you’re going to have to learn to do that. And these cost more money, as they build up.
So, figure out if you need one or not. But for now, play it safe. Don’t think you have to have one. Then, as your business grows over time, then eventually, you’re going to get to a point where probably -.
Mark S: It makes sense.
Marc V: Yeah, it makes sense. Next?
Mark S: I like this one. This one was yours. I wouldn’t have thought of it. It’s a really good thought.
Marc V: Okay. Do you want me to say it, then?
Mark S: I do, yeah.
Marc V: Okay, sweet! Start quoting and writing on a form, meaning that when somebody wants some t-shirts made, you’ve got a standard either Excel sheet or Google Sheet or Apple Sheets, whatever software you use. All of these can be done from a phone. You don’t even need a laptop. You can do them on a mobile device, on a laptop, whatever it is.
You want to have an official thing. It’s got your business name on top, it’s got your contact information, it says the word “quote,” or something like that. Then, it lists all of the details of the order; this many shirts, this many sizes, this is going to be the logo, whatever it is. You can even attach like a rough sketch to it, or however you want to do it.
But you want to have that in writing, and you want to send that to people before they give you money, and say “Yes, I agree.” Then, you start doing the job.
Mark S: Right. And you want to have a couple more things in there for your terms and conditions. You should have a conversation about who owns the artwork, if you do the design. You can make it clear that you do.
What are your payment terms? Do you want them to pay up front? Is it 50-50? And this, I think, especially goes, and this is later down on our list, especially goes if you are doing business with friends and family. I definitely want to touch on that, when we get there, because doing this also elevates you to that business level.
It’s like having a business name, “I’m a real business. I buy blanks from a blank supplier, so I get professional wholesale goods. I have a place where you can find my business location,” on Facebook or a website, or some kind of a social media profile.
The next one is “When you want to talk about an order, I’m going to give you a price. I’m going to itemize everything, and I’m going to write it down. I’m not going to just ‘I’ll do those for $10 apiece.’” Then, they come back and say “Well, you said you were going to do these two things, too.” Or “I really just want to pay $9.”
Or whatever that is, having a written quote and sales order gets you to that next level, where they realize that you are engaged in a professional transaction.
Marc V: Yeah. “You said you were going to do the front and back for $9.”
Mark S: Yeah, right. Like “No.” We just had this the other day. Unfortunately, pilfering artwork is very common. We had a lady on the Facebook group, that had done this vinyl design for a school, for years. She didn’t get an order one year, and she called up the teachers that she normally does business with.
They were surprised to find out it wasn’t hers. One of the moms had just copied her design, and went out and bought a Cricut, and did it herself. So basically, stole her work, stole her creative work. And there’s not a lot you can do about it. But at least, if it was on the quote, that said “I own that artwork.”
Marc V: Yeah, you kind of have something in writing, that’s been acknowledged, to where you can, you know, there’s a bunch of legal stuff.
Mark S: You can tell them it’s a federal crime.
Marc V: Yeah, but most importantly, it makes you look professional. It keeps what’s going to happen in writing, so when you deliver, and the person says “Wait a minute. I thought you said,” “Well, let’s go ahead and take a look at the quote that you agreed to.” You can find your own nice way to say it.
Usually, I say it in some sort of snarky way, like “Let’s find out what you agreed to. You agreed to ten shirts.”
Mark S: “You agreed to listen to the podcast.”
Marc V: But it’s important to do that, and just say “Let’s go ahead and review the quote. I want to make sure that I did it right, because if I didn’t do it right, I’m going to feel bad, and I want to fix it for you. Okay, blue shirts, ten of them, just on the front. I think we’re good, so far. What else were you expecting?”
“I thought on the back, you were going to do this.” “We didn’t agree to that. That wasn’t on here. I’m happy to take them back and do that. It would cost you this much more.” This way, it’s hard for somebody to say – and believe me, by the way, somebody still will say, even though it’s not written down, that you promised it. We deal with it all of the time, here.
But when it’s written down, it keeps it professional, and that’s good. Don’t let somebody try to talk you out of it, like “Come on, I don’t have to do that.”
Mark S: Just an email is not the same.
Marc V: “I don’t have to do that. You know me. We’ve never done it this way before, right? I don’t have to.”
Mark S: And you can say things like “You know, my Accountant demands it. I have to, for accounting purposes.”
Marc V: Yeah, you can blame someone else. “I know your Accountant!”
Mark S: “Marc Vila said – I listen to this podcast.”
Marc V:: Blame me!
Mark S: Okay, that’s number five, and I like the way it is part of number six.
Marc V: Yeah. Next is actually, invoice the same way, in writing. What you do is you have a quote that they agree to. Then, in the end, once they pay, it’s like the receipt, basically. You give them an official receipt that’s in writing, that is just – the version is, maybe it says “quote” on one form, and you change the word to “invoice” on the other.
That’s like the official receipt. It goes in the box. It’s what officially happened, and everyone agreed on, and it’s the end of the transaction.
Mark S: This is kind of a lead-in to using some kind of payment processing or accounting software. If you’re using SquareSpace, or you could use QuickBooks or FreshBooks. There are tons of little accounting softwares out there, payment processing softwares that will have quotes and invoices built right in.
They work together. So, if you create a quote in your software, you can hit a button and it will convert it into a sales order. Hit another button, and it will make it an invoice that you can mail to a customer.
Again, it’s not a lot of money. You are investing a little bit more, though. As you move up this scale, and do more things right, the perception that your customers have now, are that you are a pro. You may drive the minivan up to the school that your daughters go to, and come out with a box full of shirts that you made at home.
But man, on top of it, you’ve got the quote that they signed. You’ve got an invoice out of your accounting software. You’ve got a business name and a Facebook page or a website, and a card with it on there. You’re a pro, that just happens to work from home. You’re not somebody doing a favor for someone.
Marc V: And you know what? These things all add value to your business. This isn’t part of this podcast, but there are plenty of them that you can go back and listen to, where we talk about making money and charging enough, and all of these things.
Part of the value that you bring is that when you’ve got all of these things so far happening, and there’s somebody else who kind of is just on a phone call or a text message, like “I can do them for $9,” they start looking at that. They look at you, and then they look at the person who sent a text that “I can do them for $9.”
They look at you and say “They’ve got terms they said they were going to do. They promised a delivery date in writing.” They look back and forth. When you’re talking about a business owner or possibly a school, or something like they, they’re going to look at that stuff, and they’re going to lean over and say “This is the way to go.”
Mark S: Yeah. “This is a better way.”
Marc V: “I know it’s a dollar more, but this is professional. This is the right way. This is going to cover myself, because I have a boss,” to maybe deal with, and things like that.
Mark S: And you know what else I like about all of this? It causes you to treat people differently, as well. Like you’re not in business to do people favors. Because I know that’s what you do, now.
I know that your neighbor has got a daughter, and she just got this award. “I want to make her a t-shirt.” You’re like “Okay, it’s only going to cost me $1.50 in glitter vinyl, to do that. Let me just go ahead and do it.”
That all goes away, when you have your Facebook page, and you’ve got to do a quote and you’ve got to do an invoice. You’re using accounting software. You start to value yourself differently, as well. It’s a big deal.
We didn’t just make these steps up. I mean, we did, but we thought about them.
Marc V: I just made them up. But let someone else do it for free. Next step?
Mark S: Credit cards.
Marc V: Yeah. Find a way to accept credit cards. This is how I think about it. It’s not about everyone takes credit cards, and nobody carries cash. It’s not really about any of those things. It’s making it really, really easy for somebody to give you the money, because that’s when everything is official.
You want to be able to easily go onto your mobile device, create an invoice – you mentioned FreshBooks or something like that. Create an invoice. You’ve got a PayPal account that’s a business account. Because you set up a business, now you can have a business bank account. You linked it to like PayPal or CirclePay, or one of these payment gateways.
Then, you click on that, and you click “send invoice,” and the person gets a notification in their email, or a text, or however it is, in their app, their PayPal app. Then, they click “Okay,” and they click “Pay,” and now they’ve given you money. It’s just boom, boom, boom, done, and then you get a notification that you’ve got money.
Mark S: It is so frustrating when you can’t pay the way you want to. I mean, just think if you use credit cards all of the time. When was the last time you went into a place that didn’t accept the card that you’re using?
Like I use Discover card every day, for a bajillion dollars’ worth of stuff. If I go into a place, and they just don’t happen to take Discover, now I’m digging through my wallet, looking for another card. I’m never going back there.
Marc V: How many things do you have in your wallet? Take it out. Let me see.
Mark S: No. Now, the other thing I have in my wallet, that I know my kids don’t have, is they don’t have cash. They don’t carry a checkbook. What do they have? They have a debit card. Literally, no money in their pockets. Nothing but a debit card.
What are you going to do when that segment of the population wants to buy something from you? Are they going to go home and get money? So really, it’s just like being on those social media platforms, except it’s even more important.
You need to be able to take credit cards, to make it easy, like Marc said, for people to give you money. You want it to be easy.
Marc V: What happens is, and I’ve been in sales for so long – I’m gladly not in sales anymore – but what you do is you talk to somebody, right? And they say “Yes, I want to buy this. I want to buy this from you.” “Okay, great!”
You fill out this form, then you drive to the bank, and all of these steps happen. Right? Then, halfway to the bank, they have the revelation that they no longer want to do this. Then all of a sudden, it’ gone. It’s not going to happen.
Mark S: They want to buy something else.
Marc V: They decide to buy something else. They drive by, they see Target or TJ Maxx, and they’re like “You know what? I’ll just go into TJ Maxx and just get a couple polo shirts. I don’t need to do this whole thing.”
Then, they go in there, they spend half the money, and it’s gone. It’s gone for you, and they just say “Never mind.”
So, when they’re standing in front of you, and you guys are making the deal, and you send the quote. “Okay, I sent you the quote. You like that? Alright, good.” You’re right there on your phones, next to each other. “Alright, I’m going to send you an invoice through this app that I have, my FreshBooks app. Do you have PayPal?”
“Yeah, yeah. I have PayPal.” “Okay, cool.” You hit it there, notification. “Alright, hit Pay, and we’ve got some t-shirts made!” They hit “Pay, go, go.”
Mark S: And you’re done.
Marc V: Their login recognizes their face, and the resistance is gone. There’s no resistance to them paying, and that’s the whole point. As soon as you add resistance, you get a bigger percentage of people who kind of just disappear along the way.
Mark S: Agreed. So, the moral of the story is you need to take credit cards, at least. And you should do your best to make your customers feel good about giving you money. Make it easy for them.
Marc V: Yeah. Make it easy for them, and they’re happy to do it. Then, they get to tell these stories, like “It was so easy! I met this person, and we were at the baseball game together. I said that I loved the hat that they made for their kid, and they were ‘Oh, did you know that I make those?’ The next thing you know, she’s on her phone and she takes an order for me. I get an email and I answer it, I pay for it, and then she said she’s going to have three hats for me by the next game!”
Mark S: That is my favorite story, of all of the stories you have told. On the 90 hours of podcasts that we’ve done, that’s my favorite story.
Marc V: Really? I’m going back in the archives, and see if you’ve said that before.
Mark S: Okay, so thing number eight. Remember, what we are doing here is we are taking you through the steps from your cutter or Silhouette or home embroidery, your home-based consumer equipment business. We’re taking you through the steps to get you to go pro, to become serious about it, and start making some real money.
We’ve talked about making it an official business. Do the legal stuff. We’ve talked about blank suppliers. I told you to go to YouTube, watch at least 15 minutes of the podcast, and then scroll down, and magically, that link to the list of blank suppliers will appear, after 15 minutes only.
Marc V: Interesting.
Mark S: Then, you can download it. Then, you’re going to do your social pages. You’re going to give some serious thought on whether or not to do a website, a Shopify store, or any of those options.
You’re going to start quoting in writing. You’re going to start invoicing the same way, hopefully with some kind of an accounting software in between. And you’re going to accept credit cards.
All of these things seem like very basic steps, but we do run into people at different stages of their business, that have not done one of these.
Marc V: And this is all going to take you a little bit of time to kind of get into, too. Do these one step at a time. Don’t do it all in one day.
Mark S: Right.
Marc V: So, number eight. I like this one. Treat every customer like a customer, even if they’re friends and family. It goes back to kind of number six and number seven above, that you’ve got somebody who is your cousin. They always buy the shirts for the Disney trip that they’re going to.
They always buy them from you, and you do it the same way. Then all of a sudden, you’re like “Okay, I’m going to send you a quote.” “Well, you don’t have to do that with me.” That’s kind of what we joked about, “Well, my Accountant says so. Marc Vila said so, in the Custom Apparel Startups podcast.”
But you’ve got to treat the whole process like that. You want to treat them like customers, because the way I look at it is they are more dangerous than your regular customers. Your customer that you meet at a ballpark one day, because your kid’s baseball game was the same time as their team, they were the opposing team, and you ran into each other.
You probably don’t have to deal with that person, maybe one more time this season of the game. That’s it. But when you have bad business deals with friends or family, even if it’s over $20 or $40, you’ve got to see them at the barbecue. Now, it’s Timmy’s birthday party. “Oh my gosh, I’ve got to see so-and-so again, over that $40.”
Mark S: I would never go to a birthday party for a kid named Timmy.
Marc V: Why not?
Mark S: I don’t know. I would maybe call them something else, like “T Vila.” I like that, instead of Timmy.
Marc V: You do have interesting names.
Mark S: I need to do that. So, treating every customer like a customer is important, for just what Marc said, to establish the fact that this is a business relationship. It will keep you out of so much trouble. What I’ve found is that the things that you do as a favor, what you give away for free, people are honestly more likely to be unhappy with it.
Marc V: Yep.
Mark S: They don’t appreciate the value, the time that goes into it. Especially if you’re banging this stuff out on a Cricut, that stuff takes a long time. You’ve got to do somebody’s name in script, and a phrase underneath, and there’s lots of letters and spaces and things, you know you’re going to be on that shirt for 15 or 20 minutes, to make it look good.
They’re going to look at it, and they’re going to say “Oh, I really wanted this part in blue.” And you can’t punch them in the mouth. You can’t! You can’t! That’s why you have a quote in advance. You can even put that on the top of the quote, “There is no violence between us.”
Doing this is important, because it establishes “Okay, maybe I’ll give you a little bit of a deal, because you’re a friend or a family member. I’ll give you a deal, but this is still a business transaction. I’m going to report it on my taxes. I’m going to order you blank shirts. I’m going to take time away from the rest of my business, to do this.”
Marc V: Yeah.
Mark S: “That’s what I’m doing. I’m not doing another job while I’m doing this, so I deserve to have these things happen.”
Marc V: You balance all of that stuff. You don’t have to do it for free. You don’t have to charge them cost. One thing that I’ve seen a lot of business owners do – a friend of mine helped me out with something that I needed done, fixed on my house. He happens to own a company that does this.
So, he was like “Oh, yeah. My super friend family best friend discount. Not the person I kind of know, I knock 10% off the top of. But like my best friends and my brother discount are my cost plus 11%.” The 11% is not money he’s really keeping. It’s the other costs.
Mark S: It’s the overhead that he’s not counting.
Marc V: Yeah. It’s all of the stuff he’s not counting, like the time that his crew has to take away and drive, and things they miss. So, that’s what you do. And you could just say that to somebody. “It’s all of the materials, and I charge 10%, just because I’ve got to do paperwork and stuff, because I’m serious about my business.”
Mark S: And you can’t feel bad about this. I know a lot of you, what you do is you try to find ways to do things for as cheap as possible. You can’t do that, and have a business. Because I guarantee if you’ve been doing this kind of home-based thing for a while with craft equipment, I guarantee that if you added up the hours that you’ve spent producing goods, you’re probably making $5 an hour. It’s not worth it.
Marc V: You’re paying yourself below minimum wage. So, yeah. Joking about the friends and family discount and stuff, it’s like you’ve got the friends and family discount, which you might give or might not. But the ultra-discount, which is like the best deal is 10% above cost, is only for the super close people.
If you have a giant family and you say you’re super close with all of them, then you’re never going to make any money.
Mark S: That’s great.
Marc V: This goes to number nine. Number nine is creating a price book or a price sheet, something that – you start with levels on this. First, you just write it down. “This is what I’m going to charge for this many shirts, these jackets.”
Mark S: At this stage, it’s for you.
Marc V: It’s for you, yes.
Mark S: You don’t have to publish it. That’s a little controversial. Some people like to do that. Some people don’t. But yeah, you’ve got to know how much you’re going to charge for what.
Marc V: You just say, if somebody wants a basic shirt with one color vinyl on the front, and that’s it, and the design is -pick a size, too. Seven inch by seven inch, “This is kind of what I’m going to charge. I’m going to charge $12 for that, $15 for that.” Whatever the numbers are.
“If they order ten of them, it’s going to go from $18 to $15. If they order 40 of them, it’s going to go from $15 to $13.” Whatever your numbers are, make a little chart. It’s not stone. It’s made out of clay, so you get to write this down. Then, you go to take your first order.
Mark S: They could just type it onto a spreadsheet. That way, if they wanted to change the pricing, they would just change it.
Marc V: Oh, you mean rather than making it out of clay. I was imagining like music in the background, and a ghost helping you create it.
Mark S: That’s terrible.
Marc V: Yeah, you go into Excel or Google Sheets or Apple Sheets, or something like that, and you make a little sheet. You kind of just guess. This is your first time doing one. Just say “Okay, what would I charge if somebody wanted one shirt?” Start thinking like that.
Mark S: Or you could go into the Custom Apparel Startups Facebook group, and you could just search “price.” You’ll see these questions over and over again. “How much would you charge for this? How much would you charge for that?” You can plug those numbers in.
What I like about this, doing a price sheet, is that you’re going to also think about actually doing that job. So, one shirt, $20. No problem. Two shirts or ten shirts, $15. Okay. “How long is it going to take me to do ten or 12 of these? Is it worth this?” 40 shirts, $12. “Okay, if I got an order for 40 shirts, would I really want to do it, if they took me 25 minutes apiece, for this price?”
Because you’re going to look back at your week, especially if this is a part-time gig or a side hustle, or nights and weekends, whatever you want to say. You’re going to look back at your week and look at the time invested. Look at the money in your bank account, and you’ve got to be happy with that. That’s another reason why this price sheet or price book is really important.
Marc V: That’s fantastic. So, create this. Then, down the road, you can decide if you want to put this online, or if this is something you want to hand to people. You at least want something that you can look at and be consistent about, this way. It’s nice to be consistent about it, too.
This way, if you do shirts for one person, then you can kind of charge the same price for another person, because they might talk to each other and say “Oh, yeah. Go to so-and-so. They’ll do the shirts for $20 apiece,” or whatever the number is. If you are charging the same thing, basically for everybody, then there’s no “Oh, $18?”
Mark S: Yeah. “What’s the deal?”
Marc V: Speaking of the time it takes to do this stuff -.
Mark S: Yeah, and let’s kind of draw a line here in the podcast, because everything that we’ve talked about so far, numbers one through nine, for the steps you need to take to have a real business, if you’re starting with a Cricut or Silhouette or something like this, they’ve all been about you with that small machine, working into a business.
Now, what we’re going to do is take, after that’s done, after you’ve taken a look at the price book and looked at your numbers, and you really have an idea of what you want this all to look like, now you’re going to take this next step, which is number ten. That’s what we’re going to talk about, for the next little bit.
Marc V: Yeah. The next step is to get commercial equipment. Get equipment that is designed for a business, which means it’s not a $150 heat press that you bought off of Amazon. It’s not a $200 or $300 or $400 small little hobby piece of equipment.
Mark S: But when we say commercial, we’re not talking about you’re going to have to put another wing on your house, or empty the barn or your garage, to be able to fit this stuff in there. We’re just talking about equipment that is designed for doing just what you’re doing for your business. Not designed for working three or four hours a week, on scrapbooking.
Marc V: Yeah. So, you bought this hobby machine for say, $200, $300, $400, $500, is what you’ve put all into it. And the heat press, you maybe spent $100 or $200, something really cheap like that. And you’ve got this set up. That whole setup cost you, let’s just say $600.
The commercial version of that, you can get for maybe two or three times that. So, $1,200, $1,500. Of course, it goes up infinitely.
Mark S: And I’ve seen a disturbing trend in the people that I’ve talked to recently, where rather than going commercial at this point, they just buy more of that same equipment. So, they’re slow.
Marc V: They’re twice as slow.
Mark S: Or three times. They’re wasting three times as much time!
Marc V: And that’s true. There was a conversation with someone with someone here today. You don’t want to spend the money. You think about this money that you’re spending, it’s not money that you’re investing. And this is the problem where you break.
We’ll make a case for why this is important, but we had a gentleman buy $8,000-$9,000 worth of printing equipment, all of this stuff, and was still using this heat press that was like a $100 thing from Amazon. And none of it was working, because of that.
So anyway, there’s a lot of reasons behind this, and I think it comes with a story.
Mark S: I’ve got an analogy, first. Think about going to get your clothes pressed. At what point do you take everything to a dry cleaner that’s got a professional press? They can knock this stuff out. They know what they’re doing. They’ve got real equipment. You go there, you take your clothes in, and everything comes out looking great.
Versus having one lady with an iron on an ironing board, doing the same thing, and when she gets busy, she just brings over another lady with another iron, or has one iron in each hand. That’s kind of the way I want you to picture this, in your own life. When are you ready for a real press?
Marc V: Yeah, for a real heat press, or a commercial cutter? Something that is bigger, better, faster, and designed to be run.
Mark S: Here’s what I would like. I would love for you to tell us about the differences. Like what are the numbers? Make me believe that I can’t just keep running my Cricut forever.
Marc V: Sure. I’ve got notes here, if you’re watching the video. If you’re listening, you may or may not hear a couple of [inaudible 00:55:58].
Mark S: It’s actually weirding me out a little bit, if you’re watching this on YouTube. I think this is the first time where we’ve actually gotten a table in the video, so I’m a little self-conscious.
Marc V: So, let’s see. First of all, what I first did was I was wondering how fast these hobby grade cutters were. The reason why you know they’re really slow is because they do not put that anywhere on their website, with an actual speed, like inches or centimeters per second. However, they do provide a couple of designs, and how long it would take to make that one design.
It’s like a triangle and a figure eight. It’s shapes, and they said how long it would take to make this. So, we kind of take that, and we do some math on how many – I was just doing a bunch of cool stuff. I had triangles out, and I’ve got my quadratic equation, and “Okay, this is 21 linear inches.”
Mark S: You’ve got your Texas Instruments.
Marc V: Yeah. I was doing it, because I wanted to get you guys really ready. So, a linear triangle, that means if you took a triangle and you took a ruler, and you measured side one plus side two plus side three, all three sides. That’s the linear length of this triangle.
A 58-inch linear triangle, so that’s 11 and a half inches on the bottom, then 23 and a half up one side, 23 and a half up the other side. That takes, if you have a hobby machine that has a fast mode, it’s about 15 and a half seconds, according to, I believe it was Cricut’s website.
And if it’s not from there, then I’m legally removing that comment. But it was from a reputable source.
Then, they had said that the standard model was about 30 seconds. So, 30 seconds, to cut this 58-inch triangle. It sounds kind of fast.
However, if you were to do that in a commercial cutter that we have here, that’s about a $1,200 investment, the same machine, rather than the $400 fast mode one that took 15 seconds, the $1,200 takes two and a half seconds, to do that. That’s 12 times faster than the standard one, at 30 seconds.
Mark S: So, hey. You might not care if you’re only doing one, unless you’re very annoyed at the sound that those machines make. You might not care, if you’re doing one. But let me tell you how much you would care, if you’re doing 12.
Marc V: Yeah. It adds up.
Mark S: And I don’t know if you’re going to talk about this, but the size difference between the two units makes a big difference in how many of those triangles you’re going to be able to fit, and do at one time.
Marc V: There’s one thing that – I’m going to get a little technical here, but it’s important to understand, because if you’re about to spend $1,200 to invest in something, you should know about it.
A hobby cutter, you’re going to be able to cut, typically, like a 12 by 24-inch square. That’s generally speaking.
Mark S: That’s a rectangle.
Marc V: Actually, technically, it’s a square in my mind, because that’s how I visualized it. But a 12 by 12 square, or a 12 by 24 triangle are the two things you’re going to be able to cut, and that’s about it. Which means every time you’re doing a design, say a design you could fit one of them on this, or two of them on that, you have to hit Start, load it up, pull it out, put a new piece in, and start again.
Mark S: That’s because most people that are using these hobby cutters are buying sheets.
Marc V: They’re buying sheets, yeah.
Mark S: You guys know. It’s like putting paper in a copy machine one page at a time, and getting it to come out the other end.
Marc V: Yeah, it’s slow. So, the commercial grade machines, you can track anywhere from six to 16 feet of this. So, you buy a roll of it, which we’re not even getting into how much cheaper that’s going to be.
Mark S: It’s a lot cheaper.
Marc V: It’s going to be like ten times cheaper.
Mark S: Yeah, it’s a lot cheaper. And it feeds through.
Marc V: It feeds through, so you slap a roll of this stuff on the back, that costs you like $30 for a whole roll of it, which is just going to last you forever, compared to the sheets that you buy. Then, you hit Go, and you can just – 16 feet of this stuff can roll out the other end. That’s less time you’re spending on [inaudible 01:00:30].
Mark S: So, it’s like 400 to 500% faster, something like that. And you don’t have to stop in between.
Marc V: You don’t have to stop, which means you get to do other things, like you’re pressing stuff on shirts, you’re weeding vinyl, you’re talking to somebody on the phone about another deal, you’re invoicing.
Mark S: Or you’re busy not making the mistake of putting the vinyl in upside down, or not putting it in quite straight.
Marc V: Yeah. So now, I’ve written down –. If you have a hobby cutter, I’m imagining a seven by seven-inch design. That’s about how much space it takes. If you have a 12 by 24 piece, you’re going to fit three of those seven by sevens on that sheet, right?
So great, you fit three of them on there. That’s cool. It’s not a big deal. When you get over to the commercial one, and you’re getting into – let’s see. You put two of them wide, if you’re doing a larger commercial machine. And about 27 of them long. So, you’re cutting over 50, in one go.
You hit Go, and you’re tracking 50 of these things, compared to three. Think of all of that time that you lose. You load the machine, you take it out.
Mark S: Because the way that that process works is you’re standing at the cutter, watching it cut, hoping it doesn’t make any mistakes. Then, you’re taking that out, and you’re loading up the next one, and you’re waiting for the next one to cut.
You’re not doing anything else. The kids are screaming in the background. It’s time for bed. You’ve worked an eight hour day. It’s now 11:00 at night, and you’ve got five more designs to do. This is what you’re doing. You’re married to that machine.
Marc V: And it might only take you 10, 15 seconds to weed it, but the machine is taking three minutes to get the design done. Because also, by the way, cutting a triangle, that’s not a real shirt. A shirt has letters, so the amount of linear inches that you are pushing through, if you do it cursive -.
Mark S: It’s a lot more.
Marc V: It’s going to take 34 minutes.
Mark S: I guarantee you, you’ve never done a triangle design like that.
Marc V: If you’ve done a triangle shirt, please send it in.
Mark S: Now, let’s just talk about some times. The story is that the family, they do their annual kind of Disney trip. You always wear matching shirts when you go to Disney. It’s a thing. I don’t know why. I participate, sometimes.
Marc V: They’re full of trademark infringements.
Mark S: Yes, but they all want to wear shirts that they can wear. And you are not going to do a trademarked Mickey ears for them, but you’re going to do something else, that kind of lets them feel proud and happy, and let them all wear it.
But say these families, it’s ten kids, ten adults. They’re going for three days. So, you’re going to add this up. It’s 60 shirts; ten, ten, times three. 60 shirts!
Mark S: That’s a great order.
Marc V: It’s a great little order, but they don’t mind doing it, because it’s kind of their family thing. This is kind of a story I’m telling, which is real world stuff. I go to Disney a lot, and I’ve talked to people who have said “We brought shirts for every day, and we’re here seven days!”
Mark S: That’s cool.
Marc V: Anyway, that seven by seven-inch design that you’re making, how long is it going to take you to do?
For a hobby cutter, if it takes five minutes to make a shirt, times 60 shirts, that’s 300 minutes of run time on the machine, 300 minutes that your hobby cutter is running.
Mark S: So, you think that it will be five minutes a shirt, for the hobby cutter to run.
Marc V: Just running.
Mark S: That’s not somebody standing there, because we didn’t do a production line.
Marc V: No, that’s literally just how long it takes to cut this design out, times three. And you just figure, why? Because it’s letters it’s cutting out. It’s slow, when you’re talking about how slow it tracks that triangle, that 58-inch triangle taking 30 seconds to do. Imagine that being letters. It’s not 58 inches. It’s hundreds and hundreds of linear inches.
So, let’s just say it’s a five-minute design. And really, the purpose that we’re creating, is to compare it to the commercial. It doesn’t matter if, “Well, I did a design that took four minutes.” The math still works. Just take a minute off.
Mark S: Because you probably didn’t. It was probably 12. That’s probably it.
Marc V: So, five minutes for each design times 60 shirts is 300 minutes. Plus, that’s reloading and un-reloading, just like you mentioned. Alright, that’s five and a half hours of your hobby machine running. That means if you started at 8:00 at night, it’s post-midnight, just the machine running.
A commercial that’s 12 times faster than that, is closer to 45 seconds. So, 45 seconds times that, 45 minutes of run time. So, the equipment is done running. If you start at 8:00 at night, it’s done before that episode of Real Housewives is over. I’m just saying that.
Mark S: I feel like you’re stereotyping. I feel like you’re profiling customers.
Marc V: Actually, you guys said that I watch Real Housewives, last episode.
Mark S: I did, but you also drive the white Lexus SUV. Okay, I like where you’re going with this. You are saying that you could do – it would take you 45 minutes to do all of the shirts?
Marc V: Just to run them on the machine. So, the machine is done, before that episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, with Guy Fieri, is – actually, I think it’s only a half hour show. Your second episode.
Now, you’re ready to kind of put them on shirts. By the way, with a commercial cutter, you can also separate it into multiple runs, so you can weed while you’re running. But this thing is so fast, you’re never going to weed before the manchine is done. It’s blasting through, so you’re really efficient in your machine.
Now, you’re finally ready to put them on shirts, right? So, your job goes from being done in a few hours – you’re talking about like your kids are going to bed, or friends are going out, friends leave your house, after hanging out, all of that.
So, you’re going to stay up all night with this five and a half hours, plus all of the press time and all of that stuff, until you finally pass out. Then, you pass out asleep. You didn’t finish the job. You wake up Sunday, in the morning, and before you go to church, you’ve got to finish the next six shirts.
Mark S: Honestly, you’re going to end up hating your business. The more you grow, the more you’re going to hate it. Look at this difference! That’s incredible. 45 minutes versus five and a half hours.
Marc V: And just in the machine running. When you’re thinking about it that way, no matter how fast you are at weeding, no matter how fast you are on a heat press and folding shirts, it’s still going to take you five and a half hours, just to run and cut those.
And this small kind of hobby equipment is not designed to run for five and a half hours in a row. Then, you start hearing people like “Oh, mine makes grinding noises,” and all of these things. Well, you are running something that is not designed for commercial use, in a commercial way.
Mark S: Agreed.
Marc V: Now, this is an interesting point. Besides the fact that you get to actually go to bed at a reasonable hour, and you actually get to go out to dinner with your friends, or whatever you were going to do, instead of staying up until 2:00 in the morning making t-shirts, how much money are you going to make an hour? Right?
If we’re going to add, let’s just say it’s a few hours to do all of the other work that you’re going to do. You’re going to heat press the shirts, you’re going to fold them up, you’re going to put them in a box. You’re going to do all of this other little work. You do the final invoice, put a thank you note, all of that stuff.
You’ve got five and a half hours on the machine, plus like three hours’ worth of work, with all of the other stuff you’re going to do, to finalize the job. That’s eight and a half hours of work, for 60 shirts.
Mark S: Okay.
Marc V: A commercial cutter, less than four hours of work, for that same thing. Half. You double the amount of money you make per hour.
Mark S: You double the amount of money you’re making per hour, or you’re making the same amount of money every week or every month, for half the time. So, here is where your priorities come in. What’s more important?
Is the extra $600 you would spend on a commercial cutter and heat press, maybe a little bit more, is that worth that 50% of the time? Or, 100% more money?
Marc V: Yeah, because what you’re doing now is, it took you four hours, instead of eight hours, to keep it simple. Right? So, let’s just say you do most of your work on Saturday mornings. You wake up early, you kind of get going, and then come the afternoon, you do your other things.
If the job takes you eight hours, it’s not just Saturday morning anymore. Now, it turns into Saturday afternoon and Saturday evening, or it turns into “Now, I have to leave the house at noon. When I come back, I’ve got to restart the job and finish it.” And it’s going to get worse and worse.
So, what you do with that time is you miss out on the family and fun and friends. You miss out on that. The second thing you don’t do is you’re not selling your business. You’re not on Facebook, networking.
Mark S: That’s right, because you’re exhausted.
Marc V: Because you’re exhausted. You promised yourself you were going to build that website and do a blog post, and do a video blog, and all of these cool fantasies that never happen, because you’re attached to a machine.
Mark S: I just want to point out something I just realized. The scenario that Marc Vila just painted for you guys is a one color design. Right?
Marc V: Oh! I didn’t even think about that.
Mark S: Because you’ve got to reload. You’ve got to heat press twice. Everything that you do is going to be more problematic. It’s just going to make everything slower.
Marc V: It continues to go up. There’s a case to be made for a better heat press, too.
Mark S: Absolutely.
Marc V: You might use something that’s like a 12 by 12, and that’s fine, but when you’ve got the larger heat press, now you can do larger designs. Or you don’t have to heat press something twice.
If your heat press is small, and you do a big design, you’ve got to do half of the design, then the other half. So, you’re going to have efficiencies, there. Besides the fact that better heat presses just deliver better heat.
Mark S: More consistently.
Marc V: So, think of it like why is a commercial oven able to produce a cake better than a cheaper oven? You know, the cheapest oven you can buy at home? It delivers heat better, it’s more consistent, all of these things. It’s all relative and equal.
But in the end, what you’re going to be able to do is you’re going to be able to save some time and make more money, and that really is when you are going to love your business.
Mark S: Yeah. I would say think about everything that you’re doing now. Because you’re listening to this podcast, because you’re probably making a few bucks already. Think about if you could make twice as much money in the same amount of time. Think about if you could save half the time, and just do the same amount of work.
Both of those are great options, depending on whether or not you want to spend more time with family, if you want to replace your current full-time job. If you want to rearrange your life, so you can focus more on this kind of creative success, then if not your first piece of equipment, your second piece of equipment, if you’re going to make this a real business, should be commercial.
Marc V: Yeah, and we have so many people who have invested in commercial equipment like that, because they used to run hobby equipment. Then, they get the commercial equipment. At first, they’re terribly scared. “I’m spending $1,000!” Or “I’m financing it and I’m taking on a little $50 a month payment for my business. This is getting real!”
Then, all of a sudden they start using it, and they’re just like “I can’t believe how much faster this is! How much more accurate it is! How much more I’m getting done in less time! How beautiful this heat press is, to work with! I’m not breaking my back!”
These are all little things you don’t think about, like the sore back you get from a heat press that’s so hard to close down.
Mark S: Listen. If you are a regular listener of ours, you know that while we both pretty obviously represent ColDesi and Colman and Company, and we’ve got a bunch of stuff to sell, we really don’t proselytize like this. We really don’t push you into making a decision to get this piece of equipment or that piece of equipment.
But this is really the exception. If you’re using a hobby cutter, and you want to be a real business, you need to get a commercial one. You have to. You have to get a Graphtec from Colman and Company, a commercial cutter from somebody else. We feel terrible, but that’s still okay.
It’s still okay, because you really need to make this step. I promise you that you won’t regret it. We have never heard anybody say “I wish I had stuck with my Cricut.” Nobody says that, because it’s never true.
Marc V: Well, one person did say it.
Mark S: What?
Marc V: But they never opened the box.
Mark S: They don’t count.
Marc V: They don’t count, no. I’m kidding. But the people really get into it, love it. Once you get that itch for the commercial stuff, then you really start diving more into your business. You want to invest more, because you start freeing up this time you never had.
Really, it snowballs. It’s an amazing thing. I don’t know how long this podcast is, because the new software doesn’t have a cool timer on it for me.
Mark S: Bummer. But I think we’re done, anyway.
Marc V: Yeah, we’re done. So, the next steps are going to be go to YouTube, because Mark is going to put some stuff up there for you.
Mark S: Blank suppliers list. You’re going to love it!
Marc V: And please, if you know somebody who is in this business now, or in the same position as you, listening to this. Or you just happen to run a business, and you listen to us, thank you! But you know somebody who does the kind of Cricut/Silhouette type of thing, or even a small hobby embroidery machine, share this with them, please!
Tell them. You’re going to improve somebody’s life. It’s an altruistic thing you’re going to do, when you share this.
Mark S: This is the episode to do that with, really.
Marc V: Also, if you’re listening to this, and maybe now you’ve got this idea in your head, like “Okay, I want to do some of these things. I’ve got to save up some money,” or whatever it might be. One of the things you can start doing right away is you go to ColmanAndCompany.com, and look at our Triton heat transfer vinyl that we sell.
It’s going to be way better than what you buy right now.
Mark S: You won’t believe it!
Marc V: I’m sure of that. And you’re going to save a ton of money. You are going to have to buy like $30 worth of white.
Mark S: What?
Marc V: Yes, I know. It’s mind-blowing. You’re going to have to buy like $30 of a color. It’s not that much money. You’ve spent $30 or more on probably coffee this week.
Mark S: That’s true.
Marc V: So, you buy that, and you’re going to save so much money, compared to the sheets. And by the way, we have sheets, too, which are cheaper than typically what you would get at like a local store, too.
Mark S: Yeah. You’ll start to feel that commercial vibe, when you load up some Triton vinyl.
Marc V: Some commercial grade vinyl, too.
Mark S: It feels great, it weeds like nothing.
Marc V: Yeah. You would be really surprised at the difference it makes. So, share this with folks. Go to ColmanAndCompany.com, and try some Triton vinyl. That’s what I’ve got to leave with.
Mark S: Yeah. Everything is in the show notes.
Marc V: Okay!
Mark S: Alright, guys. Thank you very much for listening, and for watching us on YouTube. This has been Mark Stephenson, from ColDesi.
Marc V: And Marc Vila, from Colman and Company.
Mark S: You guys have a great business!
Marc V: Thank you!