How To Start An Embroidery Business

Warning: Too many start-ups fail because they didn’t do their homework first. If you’re wanting to successfully start your own embroidery business… read this page!

“How To Start Your Own Embroidery Business And Finally Be Your Own Boss With As Little Risk As Possible!”

It’s ok if you’re tired of it.

Maybe you’re tired of hearing that most business startups fail within the first 5 years. Maybe you’re tired of the lack of positive news about how successful those embroidery businesses are that DO make it.

Or maybe you’re stuck in a day job, thinking about starting your own embroidery business and you’re sick and tired of answering to someone else – but the failure statistics about business startups are disheartening and you wonder if you can make the move out of your depressing day job into your own embroidery business that you have so longed for!

Well there’s no need to wonder about it any more.

The fact is, most embroidery businesses fail because they don’t have the right tools in place starting out on their business startup journey…I’m here to tell you that working for yourself IS a possibility. And being a successful embroidery business owner is definitely possible… even in TODAY’S economy!

How Am I Qualified To Teach You How To Start An Embroidery Business!

Before I get started I want to tell you a little about myself. You may have heard of me or you may know nothing about me and why I am qualified to teach you about creating A Profitable Embroidery Business.

I have NOT always been a success.  At one point in my business I almost lost it all because of the mistakes that I was making, so I just wanted you to know right from the beginning of this presentation that whatever you are going through or have been through, I have already been there and done that!  I know a profitable embroidery business can be created and when you take the right steps it happens much quicker, so here we go!

Over 30 years ago I started my own embroidery business as a result of a good friend asking me to put a name on some jackets. It was a very frustrating process at the time because I had no idea as to what I was doing or how to embroider, but after struggling through it, I really liked the end result and so did my friend.  After I finished the names on those jackets, I decided that this just might be a good way to bring in some extra cash!  After doing a little investigating I found out that there was no one in our area that was offering this type of service.  That was the beginning of my long career in this wonderful world of embroidery.

Can I Make Money With An Embroidery Business?

You may be like so many other people that want to start your own embroidery business but in the back of your mind you may be thinking, OK, that worked for her, but what about me?

  • I have never had a business! Will I be able to do this?
  • Can I make money with an embroidery business?
  • Where can I get the help that I will need to get me started?

The start of my own embroidery business was as the result of a good friend asking me to embroider a name on a jacket. He knew that I loved to sew and create gift items so he thought maybe I would be interested in putting names on school jackets.

That was the beginning of a very small embroidery business that started in my home, but grew very rapidly. I did no preparation and had no idea how to run a business. I loved what I was doing and it did not seem like work!

When I was asked to put that first name of a jacket, I knew almost nothing about
embroidery except that it could be done on my regular home machine. The manual that came with my machine said that it could be done but the instructions were very limited.

This was back in 1978 when they did not have home embroidery machines. This was a regular Singer home sewing machine that had a zig zag stitch.

There was no one that I could call on to give me any type of training or advice about embroidery and I look back and wonder how I ever made it!

5 Big Mistakes That Most Embroiderers Make!

I made so many mistakes in the early phases of my business and I want to talk about some of them and help you avoid the same mistakes.  I find other embroiderers making those very same mistakes as they are starting and growing their embroidery businesses.

  1. No Business Plan
  2. Not Focusing on a Niche Market
  3. Purchase Embroidery Machine and Embroidery Design Software by Price Alone
  4. Pricing Your Products the Same As or Below the Competition
  5. Try to Learn How to Run Your Embroidery Business Alone Without Any Guidance

These mistakes can be and should be avoided at all costs in order to have a thriving and highly successful embroidery business.

Here are the 7 Steps for Starting Your Own Profitable Embroidery Business!

  1. Create Your PreliminaryPlan
  2. Select Your Market
  3. Seek Professional Guidance
  4. Create  a Pricing Structure
  5. Create Your Business or Master Plan
  6. Start Your Embroidery Education
  7. Organize your Business & Plan for each Area of Your Business

Now I am going to start going through each one of the steps so that you will thoroughly understand and see how simple this process can be.

Create Your Preliminary Plan – This is not the final Business Plan that you will follow.  This is basically putting down your thoughts and thinking through very clearly about what you want to do.

  • Why do you want to start an embroidery business?
  • What do you want to get out of this business?
  • What does a successful embroidery business look like to you?
  • What is your goal or goals for the first year?
  • What would be your main goal 5 years into the future?
  • Which avenue are you going to take to sell your products? Retail, wholesale, website, or sales people?
  • If you want an on-line business you will need a website.
  • Who will be the right person to create the website?

Sign up for the FREE video At the top right corner of this page.  That video is an extended version of this article and I have many more questions that you need to answer in order to create your preliminary plan.  All of the questions should be answered very clearly in your mind before you even begin to think about starting your own embroidery business or creating a real Business Plan.

  • Select A Name for your business – Select a professional sounding name, not a cutesy name.  You want a name that will work as you grow that it is not outdated or outgrown after the early stages of your business.  You want people to know what you do by your name, this is very important, not only for the professionalism of it, but also for website optimization purposes. During your name selection process, check to see if anyone else has that name or if the .com is available for that name.  This will help people to find your business quickly on the internet.
  • Decide on the Location –Are you going to have a Home Based Embroidery business or do you want to start right out with a Store front?  I usually advise people to start as a Home Based business if at all possible to make sure that it is going to work for them and to save a lot of unnecessary startup costs in the process. Your customers are not going to care if you start in your home.  Their concern is quality and service.
  • Research Embroidery Machines & Embroidery Design Software
    Purchasing your embroidery machine and embroidery software are the two largest investments that you will have to make in either starting your business or increasing the capacity of your business. The equipment side of your business is the area that must be researched thoroughly! Your embroidery machine and your software will be your money makers and you do not want to skimp on these pieces of equipment.The lower priced machine salesmen will tell you that their machines are made just like the higher priced machines but will only cost you half the price.  Many times you are prompted to think that the most inexpensive machine that is available is the best one to purchase. After all; all embroidery machines do the same job and that is what is important! Right? Wrong!Many embroiderers listen to this and will purchase their embroidery machine and software by price alone and this is a huge mistake. This is another mistake that I made when I was expanding my business and so many embroiderers make when they are first starting out!  This was a very costly mistake for me!

When you are looking for Embroidery Software there are many questions that you need to ask yourself before you make your purchase.

  • What type of work are you going to be doing with your embroidery design software?
  • Are you going to concentrate on lettering and stock designs?
  • Do you want to be able to edit your designs?
  • Are you going to have someone else create all of your designs for you?
  • Do you want to learn how to digitize?

All of these questions must be answered before you decide which level of software you are going to be purchasing. Sometimes this is a tough decision because you really do not know most of these answers when you first start.

Purchasing your embroidery machine and embroidery design software by price alone is a mistake that is totally avoidable.  If you make this mistake, your business will suffer and you will be extremely disappointed with your purchase and the outcome of your embroidery business!

Select Your Market

It is easier to create sales and a marketing plan if you are focused within a Niche market.  You may be asking yourself, what is a Niche Market?  A Niche market is a certain group or segment of the population such as a club or organization.  They may require certain types of items that other people may not require.  By creating or finding a solution to answer a unique need in that segment you can develop your entire business around that certain group or segment.   This in turn can make you the expert in that field and the one business that they will naturally come to with any of their promotional needs.

In the embroidery business you cannot survive by producing the same type of work that everyone else is producing. The majority of embroiderers start out in the corporate market, golf shirts, t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, jackets etc. This is a huge mistake that so many embroiderers make.

Developing your own Niche Market takes a little time and a lot of thought. I wrote a book titled, “The Truth About Embroidery Business Success” “7 Elements To A Highly Profitable Home Based Embroidery Business”.  This book is all about how to run the business part of your embroidery business.  I have an entire chapter devoted to creating your niche market!

Seek Professional Guidance

When you re first starting a new business you need to seek out professional counsel in order to get this done right and not waste a lot of valuable time.

The 4 most important consultants that you will need are:

  • Accountant
  • Attorney
  • Business or Embroidery Coach
  • Insurance Agent

Accountant –An Accountant will help you decide what type of Business Entity you will form, help you make the decision as to how to finance your business, discuss which accounting software you will need and any other type of information that he or she can help you with to get started.

Attorney -You need to establish a relationship with an attorney. They will help you set up your business entity and answer any questions that you have before you get started.  In many states there is a lot of paperwork that needs to be filed and they can get you started in the right direction for this aspect of your business.  You may even want to protect your business name.

Embroidery/Business Coach
This is an area in starting your business that you do not want to neglect.  A good business or embroidery coach will be able to help you step by step through all of the beginning stages of your business. A good coach will be able to:

  • Help you create your Business Plan
  • Help you with the right selection of machinery and software for your business.
  • Teach you all of the basics of the business
  • Guide you through the selection of tools
  • Show you many shortcuts
  • Help you with your pricing
  • Guide you over the many hurdles as you are getting started
  • Help you to create a web presence
  • Guide you through marketing your business
  • Save you many mistakes as you are learning your embroidery applications
  • Show you where to purchase your products
  • Help you with your selection of supplies

Insurance Agent
Your equipment will need to be insured along with software security device or dongle.  You may also talk to you agent about loss of income during disasters.  This is very important.  I had a very unexpected occurrence in my business that if I had that type of coverage at the time would have helped me greatly!

Create A Pricing Structure

Based on your actual costs or your projected costs, your market niche, the profit that you want to make and your embroidery machine –  Pricing your products correctly is an art that must be developed by you as an individual for your business and your niche market.  This is a process that will change for you as your business grows and you become more experienced.

  1. Most embroiderers start out gathering price lists from competitors or other people that they know that have started their own embroidery business. They will then develop their price list according to what everyone else is charging. This is another big mistake.  This mistake will quickly put you out of business!Pricing is a subject that is very scary and many times it is easier to work with someone else’s pricing than trying to develop your own.  While it sounds logical, it is a huge mistake!   No two embroiderers have the same expenses or circumstances and it is impossible to work with someone else’s price list and expect that you are going to make a profit. New embroiderers and even many seasoned embroiderers do not know where to begin when it comes to pricing their embroidery.Pricing is not as scary as it seems if you take into consideration all of the factors that go into doing business. What are some of those factors?
  • Overhead costs
  • Product Costs and Markup
  • Market Niche
  • Types of services that your perform
  • Your geographical location

There is also the factor of perceived value. Many products or items of service can be marked up higher than others because of their perceived value, such as a cap. A cap can be marked up 2 to 3 times what the cost is to you, but you would generally not mark up an expensive jacket or golf shirt 2 or 3 times unless of course; you were in that type of market niche. The large successful companies know what their costs are and develop concrete pricing structures that are required to maintain their level of profitability.

This is not always easy for a small company or a home embroiderer to grasp, but it is no different for you. You too must develop a concrete pricing structure and stick with it. Without this type of pricing structure, you will not grow or even survive.

You and you alone can create the pricing structure that will work for you and your business. I have created a program that will help you to develop your own pricing structure. It is an investment that will give you a price list that will work and make you a comfortable profit. You can find more information about this program at HowToPriceEmbroidery.com

I have heard many times that the standard for retail embroidery is $1.00 per thousand stitches.  This is only true if you develop your pricing structure and it says that you
should charge $1.00 per thousand.  In some cases this is a very low figure and in other cases, this will work just fine.

You cannot grow your business if you are not charging enough or making a profit!  It just does not work!  I was a perfect example of this scenario!

Create a Simple Business Plan or Master Plan

This is a big mistake that so many embroiderers make, no business plan of any kind.

Create a Simple Business Plan or your Master Plan that you be using on a weekly basis to actually run your business. The main purpose of having a business plan is to give you a clear direction and guidance of how you intend to run your embroidery business and plan for future growth. With this plan you will be able to analyze and measure each step along the way to ensure that you are truly on the right path.Writing a business plan is not as tough as it seems; the hardest part is getting started and knowing where to start. Many business plans look great on paper, but do not succeed in real life. Make sure that you are writing a plan that will work for you in the real world!|

Your plan will be revised many times and will always be a work in progress.  This is not a done once and you are finished.  If you will use your plan properly to run your business, you will be revising it on a monthly basis.

It can be a simple 5-10 page plan that will work for most small to medium sized embroidery businesses, or as complex as you want it to be. This all depends on your situation and whether or not you will need financing.

Marketing Plan –As part of your business plan you will need to create a Marketing Plan that you will follow.  How will you reach your target market?  You need to create a simple plan that you will follow for 1 year.  List all of the events during the calendar year that your target market will participate in and events for you to participate in that will take you to where they are.  It is very important to be present where your market is hanging out!

In my book, “The Truth About Embroidery Business Success” “7 Elements To A Highly Profitable Home Based Embroidery Business,”  I have an entire chapter on Marketing your Business.

Without a Business plan and Marketing Plan, your business will flounder!  I have had that experience, it is not fun!


Start Your Embroidery Business Education

Embroidery Machine Company & software Company education– Make sure that you take advantage of all of the training that is provided by your Embroidery Machine distributor and the Embroidery Design Software company.  This is very important.  There is a lot of practical training that they do not provide, but they do give you the basics and it makes it much easier for you to start out with this basic information.

Join TheEmbroideryTrainingResourceCenter.com.  This is an embroidery video training website with 4 different membership levels.  You will join the level that is right for you to get started.  You can join for as little as $10.00 per month for the Basic Bronze level.  This is for the brand new embroiderer that is just wanting to learn the skill of embroidery. If you are serious about wanting to be a success and get started fast, you will need to join at a higher level such as the Gold Level. This will give you access to several other training programs that will help you improve your lettering skills and many design skills.

Start Working With your Embroidery Coach – Working with an Embroidery Coach will shorten your learning curve by several months, this is very important.  Many embroiderers make one of the biggest mistake of all, Mistake # 5 of trying to learn everything on their own and it takes months before they can really produce a high quality product and many of them never do!  This is very unfortunate.  I did not have anyone to help me and I made so many costly mistakes that could have been avoided if I only had the proper guidance in the first place.

Trying to learn all of the aspects of the embroidery business at once can be very overwhelming.  Many new embroiderers think that they will seek help after they have reached a certain level or after they have enough money coming in to pay for it.  This is the exact time when you need the help.  You will be wasting a lot of precious time if you purchase your machine and software and then try to learn how to embroider, how to run a business, how to market your embroidery and how to price your finished products without any guidance. This greatly increases the amount of time that it takes for you to start seeing a return on your investment.  This is a very costly mistake!

I offer many online programs and webinars to teach you all aspects of your business such as the fundamentals, design creation, and even marketing your business online.

Top Experts Agree: You’ll go farther, accomplish more, EARN more, and struggle less with the help of a coach!  Do not make the mistake of trying all of this on your own.  You will lose too much precious time that cannot be recovered!

Organize Your Business & Plan for Each Area of Your Business

After creating your Business Plan or Master Plan it is very important to go back and start planning out each are of your business. You have many individual departments within your business, even if you are a 1 person business.

To start planning each area, you must go through each of your processes for that area, 1 by 1 and write down your process step by step. As you are doing this, think about what you are doing and ask yourself a question. Is there an easier or quicker way that I can perform that same task? Write it down in a step by step fashion and create an actual process manual out of it. A process manual needs to be created for everything that you do from taking an order from a customer to shipping your products out the door and even creating that invoice and sending it out.

Planning out each area in your business is just as important as your Master Plan. This may mean that you have to rearrange your office or your workroom or showroom so that it is more efficient. This is a very smart move! I have done this many times as I grew my business. Each time you add a new process or piece of equipment you have to go through and rearrange your floor plan for efficiency. Without a plan in each area, you waste time and too many steps.


I have gone through the 7 Steps of How To Start an Embroidery Business and they are simple if you take them step by step.  Starting a new embroidery business today can be a challenge but it is exciting and if you do your homework before you start; you can make the journey to success go a lot smoother and save yourself a lot of time and money.

Embroidery is Fun! Embroidery is very profitable! And today, Embroidery is booming! You can do this and I am here to give you all of the guidance and direction that you need to get you started and grow your own embroidery business.

In the video version of this article I have also created a Quick Start Guide and a Check list that will help you  as you go through the steps.

Joyce Jagger
The Embroidery Coach

I would like to send you the video that will show you the all of the steps to start your own profitable embroidery business!” Fill in your name and email address into the form at the top right of the page  and I will get the video, “7 Steps To A Profitable Embroidery Business” to you immediately!  You will also receive a Quick Start Guide and a Check List to help you on your journey to starting your own successful embroidery business!



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