Before you make your decision, consider some of the pros and cons.
If you buy an established printing business, you are essentially buying a proven operation. Most, if not all of the major business details will have already been worked out for you. Your primary task will be to keep the business running smoothly and profitably. The drawback of buying an existing business is the purchase cost and the financial risks involved if the business should start to falter or fail. Moreover, if the business has unhappy employees, outdated equipment, etc., you will inherit these problems as well.
Which way you decide to go depends on many things, most likely the most important factor being financial considerations (how much money or credit that you have available). If you decide to start from scratch, write a well researched business plan and go from there. In preparation of your business plan, you will need to compile a list of equipment and supply purchases that will be necessary to get your printing shop into operation.
A good place to start is the ASPA Screen Printing Equipment and Supplies Directory. The ASPA Directory will help you source and determine the costs for all of the equipment and supplies you will need.
An excellent informational resource when planning your new screen printing business start-up is The Secret of Printing T-Shirts and How to Make Big Money training course by American Screen Printing Association, Inc. This E-book training course is one of the most comprehensive of its kind–over 47 chapters on every aspect of the t-shirt printing business from start-up planning to marketing, business procedures and fully detailed information on printing techniques and equipment.
If you have decided to purchase an existing printing operation, a good place to start is BizBuySell.com and related “businesses for sale” websites. Your local commercial real estate broker is also a good place to inquire about local businesses for sale.
Starting up or purchasing a business can be a life fulfilling venture. Do your homework thoroughly and decide what's best for your particular circumstances. Good luck!