How to start a printing business without owning a press

Running a commercial printing press can be a goldmine provided you understand how printing works and how customers’ demands can be met. Day in and out, thousand of printing jobs are being carried out; from Shomolu to Mushin; Ogba to Ijaiye and Mokola Ibadan, commercial printers are cashing out daily by running a commercially viable business with or without owning a press.  

One good thing about commercial printing business is that you can engage in it and smile to the bank without having a press. Commercial printing is such an industry that thrives on specialisation. This specialisation provides newbies with an array of opportunities to plug in easily without being an expert—you just need a good knowledge of the printing processes.  


So if you are considering starting a commercial printing business in Nigeria without having the required capital to acquire some of the expensive print technologies, this article provides you with some insights on how you can profitably run a printing business without having a printing press.  

First, you have to understand how printing works. This is pivotal to your success as commercial printing is wide and involves a number of activities. These activities are generally categorised into three basic processes namely; the pre-press; print production and post-press activities. 

Starting out as a printing contractor, you need a good understanding of these activities and processes as they would be helpful when interfacing with potential clients. Moreover, you need a good understanding of the basic areas of specialisations in commercial printing. Try not to specialise so you don’t limit the printing project opportunities that come to you.  

Have a good knowledge of commercial printing press within your location. A precursor to this is to have a good knowledge of the latest printing technologies, more importantly, the ones readily available within your location. This is essential because everything you need to execute a printing project is within your reach. As long as you know who has what machine, and where to execute the aspect of that printing project, and what materials are needed per project, you are good to go. 

How strong are your marketing skills? Marketing is the soul of business. You shouldn’t be winking in the dark, reach out to potential clients. Build valuable relationships with printing specialists as they are the needed backbone for the success of your enterprise. Most printing presses hardly go out to source for clients,  but they are busy with jobs almost every day. This is usually because they have certain printing machines and peoples know about them.

Get a good graphics designer to work with.  There are two ways to this: its either you do the creative designs yourself or hire a good graphics designer who understands printing to handle the creative part of your printing projects. Graphic designs for printing projects are quite different from the regular graphic designs. 

Ayodeji Adeogun is an avid print consultant. He is a co-founder at He resides in Lagos Nigeria.