In recent years, makers and creatives have been able to explore different ways to turn their craft into a profitable business. From Etsy shops to Facebook pages, these aspiring entrepreneurs have been able to establish a successful venture.
Laser engraving is an overlooked opportunity and a useful starting point for aspiring entrepreneurs. Here’s what you need to know about this business and how to get started with a venture of your own.
What is Laser Engraving?
Laser engraving is a method of etching using lasers to make a mark upon an object. Depending on the type of laser used and the goals, laser engraving can be done on wood, jewelry, metal, etc. For example, a laser engraving machine for jewelry is different than one that could etch glass or wood.
While engraving is nothing new, laser engraving is a relatively recent technology that’s far more accessible than previous iterations. In short, a small business owner or creative individual can access and use the technology to turn a profit relatively quickly. This is an excellent add-on for those who already have a business that focuses on personalization.
Where’s the Opportunity for Laser Engraving?
Laser engraving can be offered as an add-on service in B2C packages for those who are already making custom products. However, the underappreciated opportunity of laser engraving is within the B2B market.
Consider laser engraving jewelry, for example. While you might have a few customers who want their name added to the inside of a ring, the real opportunity is in adding a hallmark. The hallmark is an engraving on the inside that showcases the jeweler’s signature. For example, every piece that comes out of the Fireworks Gallery in Canada has a miniature dragon engraved inside.
The potential to form partnerships with custom jewelers and enhance unique branding touches on corporate gifts and offerings is a massive opportunity for entrepreneurs in this industry. The personalization and customization within the B2C market is just a bonus.
Skills and Learning Curve
One big difference between laser engravers versus traditional apparatuses is that they’re automated. Rather than holding an engraver by hand, the process is controlled by software and settings. As such, the majority of the learning curve is getting comfortable with programming the laser rather than working on developing steady hands. This development also makes it more time-efficient, allowing entrepreneurs to take on more projects.
Many laser engraver suppliers offer training to help you become comfortable with the apparatus. You should plan for some time dedicated to honing your craft before you can market yourself as an expert.
The real skills for starting a laser engraving business will come down to marketing and branding. You’ll need to consider what your business model will be, develop your target market, and determine how you’re going to reach them. If this opportunity is an add-on to your current offerings, such as personalization on handcrafted jewelry or more elaborate designs, you’ll need to consider how to convey the value.
The Business of Creativity
Since the term was coined in 2013, the Maker Movement has made a lasting impact on the economy. In a world where everything is mass-produced and overly accessible, the ability to purchase something homemade and personalized is appealing to consumers.
The challenge, of course, is finding your niche as an entrepreneur and dealing with the same competitive environment that all businesses face. As a maker, you’ll need to contend not only with mass-produced, affordable products but other crafters who are potentially more talented than you.
Laser engraving is an exciting business opportunity, both as a value add-on and a stand-alone offering. To understand this opportunity, conduct local market research and create a business and marketing plan that will help you get the best possible return on your investment.