Sunday, 21 May 2017

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You can start a printing business with N10,000

Oluremi Aboyeji is the Executive Director of Rare Associates, a registered business that’s into branding, advertising, printing and corporate gift items. He ventured into this business having put in

several years in a similar firm and armed with faith and determination that he could thrive on his own.
Typical of most start-up businesses, the journey was not smooth, especially concerning start up funds but with strategy and perseverance, his business is thriving. In this interview, he speaks about it all.
When and how did you start your business?
When I graduated, I was looking for a job with an OND in Public Administration. Initially, I was employed by Sprint Associates, a communication agency mainly into printing and advertising. I started as a client services officer and primarily looking for business for the firm. From there, I rose to become head of client services before I resigned in 2001 and established my firm.
What made you resign?
I got married in 2001 and I just decided I wanted to be on my own. I could see the future and had the faith that this business, I could do it myself and make it as well.
How did you get your startup capital?
That was the main challenge then. When I resigned, I had to go out to look for new clients and I didn’t have an office then. I just had a correspondence office where I retired to at the end of the day until 2003 when I got a small place I used as my office and a desktop computer before I hired a graphic artist to design some of my jobs for me. Thank God, today, I have at least seven people working for me.
It was a big challenge, no capital then and no bank would give you loan. Whatever job I got, I persuaded my client to pay me at least 75 percent of the total cost. Some obliged me and some didn’t but eventually I could rent an office and buy machines.
What was your initial challenges aside funds?
Whenever I woke up every day, without having a client, my strategy was to cover three areas weekly. For instance, I could target Ikeja on a day looking at billboards and signboards and writing out names of companies and the next day I would have prepared a letter of introduction to those companies I had seen the previous day. Some asked me to drop the letters with them and that they already had a printer they do business with. Some others accepted me but it was a huge challenge. Later, I could decide to go to maybe Lekki and that was how I built my clientele.
When did you breakthrough?
The first job I got was from Kwara State government through one of my friends who introduced me to the then chief of staff in 2002. I presented samples of my work, defended my proposals and the job was given to me. I earned some thousands.
As one who has been in the business for a while, can you talk about the printing business?
Printing business is a lucrative business which today I would advise any young man especially school leavers to venture into, because it doesn’t require so much capital to start up with. To me, if you have N10, 000, it’s something to start off with but you have to work towards it. The main ingredients are your faith, self-confidence as well as a mission statement. If you have your registered company and N10, 000 to procure 100 letterheads and complimentary cards, you’re set and moreover banks today open zero balance accounts for clients, so just have a bank account and hit the streets right away.
Some prospective clients will ask you for samples of your work   and the main thing is once you can defend them, you are off to a good start.
Which is your outstanding or biggest contract since you started?
Aside Kwara State government, I have worked for many others like Kwara Hotels, Anambra State government, Artlink Group, Ashmont and individuals who need corporate gifts for any occasion.
Why didn’t you go to Shomolu considering that it’s the headquarters of printing?
There are four places in Lagos reputed for   printing. Shomolu, Mushin, Surulere and Ikeja. I started from here and I want to remain here.
How have you been able to cope with stiff competition?
We have a lot of competition but I distinguish myself from other outlets around here. First we take the brief, send the visuals to the client and upon approval, we print a proof for the client and on approval by signature, we commence the job. Others don’t do so and that’s a big risk they’re taking. I also distinguish myself in the sense that I don’t do all kinds of printing. In printing, there are stages and when you come to my place, the first thing you see is the graphic artist. After the graphic artist is the lithographer.  I don’t do that; we commission it out to other people to do, then the impression running is also commissioned out to a good handler but the finishing aspect after the printing of the job is what we do. If I have a programme, once it goes out of my office to the graphic artist, after the printing, it’s brought back to me for the finishing and collating which are the sensitive aspects of the job. So, we handle it ourselves unlike other outlets that do everything and at the end of the day, make rubbish out of it.
What’s the success rate of running a printing press?
It’s a lucrative business like I said and it requires a lot of capital to import machines but I can assure every investor, once you have everything in house, from your machines to the graphic artist, to the binding, lithographic and finishing aspect, under two years, you have recovered whatever you invested. It’s very lucrative.
Among the different aspects of printing, which is more lucrative?
Yes, there are different stages and different aspects including the graphic, lithographic, offset and finishing stages. So, the most lucrative stage is the offset stage. Wherever you handle the printing, you must have the bigger machines with about six colours and run at once.
When is your peak season?
For every printer, we look towards the end of the year, because that is when every company is closing business for the year and they exchange greetings with their clients and customers using seasons greeting cards, calendars, souvenirs etc to say thank you to them. But if you have your normal client you service frequently, every day will be your peak season.
 What are the dos and don’ts of investing in printing press?
What you should do first is your feasibility study and ask yourself what areas you want to delve into. How much will it cost? How do you source business? If you obtain loan from the bank, how you’ll service the loan? You have to conduct a very good feasibility study before jumping in to the business.  You shouldn’t employ quacks. Those who operate your machines must be intelligent; at least they should have school leaving certificates and you must improve them by sending them for seminars, trainings and workshops constantly.
What has kept you in business over the years?
My business strategy is that every week, I must reach out to clients through calls, text messages, greetings, prayers, end of month wishes and at times, I pay them surprise visits to know of their welfare and it works.
In this time of recession how are printing businessmen coping?
Even before the recession, power supply has been problematic and giving us a lot of setbacks, because we consume more fuel and more money goes into it. With the recession, cost of inputs has doubled; so when you present a quotation to the client, they are surprised. What we produced at N10 per copy hitherto, is now costing N20 per copy.
 How has technology changed the printing business in recent years and what challenges has it brought as well?
Technology has really changed the printing business drastically. For instance, we did things manually but today, printing technology has evolved. We have digital machines, which are faster, less stressful and easier to operate. But it also comes with its own challenges. When these machines break down, you have to order the spare parts from abroad and when it comes, it’s another issue because as the parts come in, they have to be accompanied by an engineer, which also comes at a cost.
What can government do to ease problems in the business?
First, we consume a lot of fuel; power is the main thing in this business because we run 18 hours on fuel. So, whatever profit we make, 65 percent goes into procuring fuel and once you don’t have it, you are not in business. So, let government work on improving power supply. Secondly, let government give incentives through banks or create a programme to support and finance small businesses.

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