Labels are everywhere as barcodes, delivery addresses, on sweet packets and on countless other things. Start your own business printing labels for people.

Label printing is a great business, modern label printers are able to print large volumes of labels, cheap and fast, and to keep up with this labels are disposable meaning repeat business. Here is how to get started.

Getting started
You will need at least one high volume label printer to get started, a desktop model is fine, the most popular brand for this is Zebra, but there are a few others. Afterwards you can add more printers to grow your business.

Label printing setup

Label printing setup

The type of labels you’ll be printing is self-adhesive paper labels. Depending your clients needs and on the machine you will either use direct thermal printing or thermal transfer. Thermal printing prints direct onto the paper without the need for ink. But the paper is quite expensive. Thermal transfer requires an ink ribbon which is transferred onto the normal paper label; this paper label is cheaper than thermal paper but has the added cost of an ink ribbon. Also normal paper labels with ribbon gives a more vibrant image and allows you to work with gloss or semi-gloss paper which looks nicer than thermal paper. Thermal paper has other limitations as well such as it cannot handle excessive heat.

Direct thermal printing

Direct thermal printing

Thermal transfer printing

Thermal transfer printing

Your machine will determine how wide you will be able to print, but rarely will you print wider than 10cm wide as the labels used for this purpose is rarely that wide, also that is the maximum width of most desktop label printers.

These labels are also rarely printed in more than one colour as the machine was made to print high volume single colour items. While you can use two colour ribbons in combination it is more popular to use a different colour sticker than to use a different colour ink ribbon.

Different colour sticker

Different colour sticker

If you don’t have a lot of capital, the best place to buy the machines would be second hand from classifieds as they are quite expensive new.

The business
With these machines the majority of your clients will be cottage industry who don’t need a full on label printer or who cannot justifying purchasing one. So people making their own jams, or paaper bites or sweet packets or for spice packets etc.

Printed 80x60mm label

Printed 80x60mm label

Cost management
Labels usually come in rolls of 1000 multiples, so you are going to have to stock a few popular sizes but the problem is some clients will come looking for unique sizes. While it’s advisable to work on minimum quantity runs, with popular sizes you can have a minimum run of 100 labels. But if it’s a unique size you should probably have a minimum quantity of 1000 as otherwise you will be stuck with stock that another client may not use and the current client may not come back in future. You can tell the client that they can have different designs on the label (easy to change) but they have to print a minimum number.

Roll of printed label

Roll of printed label

The main challenge in this business is getting clients, once you have the machine, these are high volume printers that can run and run. 1000 labels can be printed within seconds but you are going to have to keep the machine working to have a profitable business.

Suppliers
Second hand you can get from Gumtree https://www.gumtree.co.za/s-zebra+label+printer/v1q0p1, new you can get from the official distributor http://www.specsystems.co.za/zebra/


You have a business idea, where to next?
How to Start a Business from Business Idea