PDA

View Full Version : Need some input about my DH's new home based business!


CowboyCO
06-22-2006, 12:59 AM
Hi Everybody-- My husband is looking to start a home-based business and I am scared to death! He is looking at investing a lot (to me) of money on an expensive printer that can transfer color photographs onto special sports balls, like baseballs, soccer balls, footballs, hockey pucks, etc. Using this printer, he can permananetly put pictures of individual players or teams on balls as keepsakes of their little all stars, along with names, years team names, etc..

He will be marketing them locally and on a web site. Because it is home based, the printing machine would not be used very much until he grows the business.

Here's what I need advice on. His idea is to help soccer moms or other people wanting a home-based business by allowing them to start their own specialty sports ball printing businesses in their own towns. The soccer Moms could sell orders for team or individual player balls to their own leagues, schools (and other leagues if they wanted to). They could take their own orders, collect the prepayment, gather the pictures digitally and send the bulk orders in over the internet. He would then print up the balls and send them back to the moms. His wholesale cost per ball would be about $10 for the average ball after printing, and the seller could set their own price for the custom balls-- $15-$20 maybe. Other balls could be more depending on the sport and size. There would be no start-up costs for the moms at all, and they would be able to have their own business without investing $20,000 like he is... :thumbsup2

Do you think there would be any interest from stay at home moms to want to do this? He seems to think that hey-- they're already there, they already know people and that this would be an easy way for soccermoms to make some extra bucks without risk! The moms would make more money than he would on each ball, but he was hoping that the extra work would help to pay off the large equipment investment earlier.

BTW --this is not a home-based business offer-- I'm just wondering if he is crazy or not. :confused3


BTW only 4 months to our DW trip to ASMO!!!!

Cheshire Figment
06-22-2006, 03:31 AM
Two items to consider.

One is that most business will need to mark up items by about 100% of cost. If he will have an avarage cost of $10 per ball, he should sell them for around $20 per ball.

Second, without a financial backgound one of the ttwo of you should invest in a first semester accounting (not bookkeeping) course at a college. The reason most small businesses fail is not due to the owner not doing things correctly, but by not keeping good financial records and substituting cash flow for profit and loss.

Mike (CPA Retired)

java
06-22-2006, 06:03 AM
I am a soccer mom and I wouldn't want to sell them(sorry) but I would buy them and I think it is a great season end coach gift. I would think that most recreation programs have photo deals with local photographers- I would think that they would be a better opportunity to resell your product.

crisi
06-22-2006, 06:43 AM
My biggest concern would be competition. If this is a good market, Kinko's or SportMart will spend $20,000 on the machine and the soccer moms will run out over their lunch and do it locally. If the market is small enough for the "big guys" not to bother, he may have a niche.

(Not something I would buy or sell, by the way, but I think there is a market for it).

What's the capacity on this machine? That is going to tell you alot about whether you can ever make this profitable....

dodukes
06-22-2006, 07:22 AM
I have to day you had me convinced until you said that you are expecting others to sell for you. I have worked a lot at YMCA and most people liek another poster said would just ratehr do it with the league photographer or not at all. A typical team mom already has a lot on her plate. When you first mentioned it I thoguth it was a great idea. I am a photographer so to me an investment on a printer like that would be ideal becuase i could make money off of it myself. I would no longer have to send things out to the lab, cuttin gout thier costs and shipping. If you can find a local photographer who has deals with the local parks or is willing to partner up with you to market in the local sports that would be a better way to make profit.

imsayin
06-22-2006, 07:35 AM
another poster said would just ratehr do it with the league photographer or not at all

Also, I think most teams have a deal with the photographers and get a cut of what the photog earns doing team pix, etc. I would think you'd have to have permission from the leagues you were soliciting & give them a cut. I don't think random soliciting of the parents is allowed in most cases. If it were, I would be bombarded while trying to watch soccer, baseball,etc. and wouldn't be able to enjoy the game.

I do think the product would sell, just not sure of the marketing plan.

CowboyCO
06-22-2006, 08:34 AM
Thanks everybody for the great tips! I think that you may be right and that marketing them through the photographers would be the way to go.

BTW, there is not any direct competition for this product, because it is a patented process and you have to be licensed by the manufacturer to buy and operate one. What makes it unique is that it is the only system that allows you to make one, unique ball, rather than having to order large quantities. It is also the only technolgy to transfer an actual photograpgh onto a ball. Other printing processes use a 4-step process to print 4-colors on balls, so registration is a problem.

He's got a lot of great ideas for his own local business about ways to make the balls even more unique, including "player of the game balls", where he could put a player picture, along with the date and stats for that game, championship team balls with season results, and autographed team picture balls for school/booster club fundraisers.

gottaluvdis
06-22-2006, 09:14 AM
It definitely sounds like a cool idea, and I would buy a ball or item, especially if it's targeted to a certain "moment in time" (i.e., like my DD making the critical basket in a game that won the championship). However, I agree with everyone else who says he should team up with the local photography company that has been hired to do the team pictures etc. Our local athletic program uses this company: http://www.sportography.com/ as an example.

Good Luck - sounds like a neat opportunity for you and your DH. Let us know how it goes.

Juliah
06-22-2006, 10:20 AM
I think one thing he needs to consider is who holds the copyright to the photos he uses. He could run into a legal problem if he reprints (on the balls) photos taken by professional photographers. This might be another reason to work with local photographers, as someone suggested.

I would second what was said about making sure you mark the product up enough to make a profit. There are so many costs besides the ball and even the printer that need to be factored into making a profit, including marketing, phone line, packaging, shipping, repairs to the equipment, mileage, etc.

grlpwrd
06-22-2006, 11:23 AM
Well, I have been an entrepreneur since I started delivering newspapers at age 10 and anything is feasible, but you need demand and you need profitability. I just read in Entrepreneur magazine how a man started up a company making mismatched socks :confused3 and he is making millions so anything is possible.

Has he done a business plan and consulted with a professional with SCORE for business advice? That is the first step. Like everyone has already mentioned, there is alot to consider plus you really need to run the numbers and be realistic.

GL! :wizard:

formernyer
06-22-2006, 11:23 AM
The idea is a good one and there is definitely a market for the product, but your target audience shouldn't be team moms. It should be all of the local sports photographers you can possibly track down within about a 75 mile radius of your house (to start).

The photographers offer a large assortment of "novelty" photo items, but this is one that I haven't seen yet (my neighbor is a sports photographer, so I know a little about the business). The photographers generally deal with just one or two companies to process their orders, but since you have a slightly more unique product (which is much nicer IMO than the typical novelty photo items) the photographers might agree to add your items to their order forms.

crisi
06-22-2006, 12:21 PM
Thanks everybody for the great tips! I think that you may be right and that marketing them through the photographers would be the way to go.

BTW, there is not any direct competition for this product, because it is a patented process and you have to be licensed by the manufacturer to buy and operate one. What makes it unique is that it is the only system that allows you to make one, unique ball, rather than having to order large quantities. It is also the only technolgy to transfer an actual photograpgh onto a ball. Other printing processes use a 4-step process to print 4-colors on balls, so registration is a problem.

He's got a lot of great ideas for his own local business about ways to make the balls even more unique, including "player of the game balls", where he could put a player picture, along with the date and stats for that game, championship team balls with season results, and autographed team picture balls for school/booster club fundraisers.

So what guarentee is the manufacturer giving you that he won't sell his patent to Xerox next year for $20,000,000? Or that he won't sell a machine to your local Kinkos? The process may be patented, but the manufactuerer wants to sell as many $20,000 machines as he can - and the more he sells, the more competition you have. This is a really low capital investment for someone like a Kinkos - which can spend that much on a color copier - all they need is the floor space.

DMRick
06-22-2006, 02:18 PM
Perhaps you are talking about something else, but I've been to the classes for sublimation (and there are a couple of big yahoo groups he might want to join first), and after doing the math, didn't go that way. The competition is fierce..just look at eBay, and web sites. Believe me, any one into sublimation can easily do just one ball. Just so you know, you can't use the sport pictures unless you have agreement with the company that took them. They usually do this, so they aren't too eager to let you use them. Sears, Olen Mills, Penny's etc, won't let you use their picture, so be prepared to take your own.
I make and sell on eBay and our website personalized items (not sublimation, but I have had a deal with the sports photographers, and more and more are getting into sublimation themselves, to keep their profits), and the price I've gotten has certainly dropped as more and more people get into this.
And do soccer mom's want to spend their time selling for you? Nope..they will buy, but collecting orders and money and delivering...I think you'll find less there than you think. It's hard work. I personally prefer selling direct, as I cut off problems, and I make the money, which gets less each year, as we have to lower prices to stay competitive. I'd be interested in an update in a year.
By the way, my grands think it's neat that I have boxes (supplies) all over the house. Doesn't everyone have a box for an end table?

kdtwiss
06-22-2006, 02:41 PM
Has he already made the plunge?

My only thought is - that your dh sounds as though he is not really into the selling part of the business - I myself have tried a few different things and involving selling and I just get nowhere. I am simply not a salesman - not comfortable in that role at all. So my suggestion would be - unfortunately - if selling is not his thing, then maybe a business that will only be profitable if he sells may not be the best idea. Not trying to be a negative nilly - just realistic.

shaylahc1
06-22-2006, 02:59 PM
JMHO, but I don't think it sounds like a very good investment. If it's something, say a SAHParent wanted to do to rake in a few extra hundred bucks a month, I'd say maybe. But I doubt this is anything anyone could make a living off of. The market is just too small.

I also worry when I hear about these "pass the buck" type things where 1 company sells to another, who sells to another person, who is then expected to sell to another....makes me look back at the original seller and wonder, if it is such a great investment opportunity then why didn't THEY do it?

I also agree with the copyright issue.

It just doesn't sound like a big money maker, JMHO.

imsayin
06-22-2006, 04:21 PM
The market is just too small.

I don't know about that. My 2 kids have participated in several sports over the years, and all sell pictures every season. A lot of parents (maybe not those on the budget board) are more than happy to purchase lots of the extras that come with the picture packages: plaques, fake magazine covers, etc.

DMRick
06-22-2006, 04:26 PM
While I don't think the market is too small, I think it has it's share of others already doing this. The school usually gets a cut, (and if you get permission to use the photog's photo's, he gets a cut), then you pay the person selling for you, and then your expenses, and the governments cut (the one I hate the most..they do nothing but get the biggest percentage with SE tax), and you just don't have a lot. There are a lot of people already in this type of field..and it's going up all the time. When I went to the sub classes, it was packed. They said only a few would be licensed, but I noticed while there, they were not limiting it to anything other than who had the down payment.

I don't know about that. My 2 kids have participated in several sports over the years, and all sell pictures every season. A lot of parents (maybe not those on the budget board) are more than happy to purchase lots of the extras that come with the picture packages: plaques, fake magazine covers, etc.

jam217
06-22-2006, 05:39 PM
Plus, it's not just the sports photographers that are doing this, but also drug stores that offer a variety of photo services. For instance, for Fathers Day, Walgreens offered a photo baseball and I didn't even have to leave my house to order it. Via the Internet, I sent them a photo of my son pitching and it was imprinted on the baseball. I think the whole thing cost about $20. Sounds pricey but my husband loved the gift.

ardig123
06-22-2006, 07:18 PM
Why not offer fundraising packages?? You could set it up that the teams buy the balls for $10 from you and then they sell them to family members/friends for say $15 and the team profits $5 a ball. I bet lots of Moms would be willing to head up a fundraiser for their local team... your husband would be making just as much profit and it would give the sports teams a new innovative fundraiser rather than the same old boring things they do every year! I would think at least every parent on the team would buy at least one from their own child if it was raising money for the team. I also think a mom would feel more comfortable "selling" them for you if it was for a good cause rather than lining their own pockets... If it were me I would feel uncomfortable profiting off of my childs teammates... This would also make parents less likely to use walgreens because now they are benefiting their childs team!

CowboyCO
06-22-2006, 07:38 PM
Lots of great input-- many thanks!

Hubby is a great salesman and will be out here in Colorado to do sales and marketing. He wasn't trying to pass the buck, but rather supplement revenue and cash flow by looking for ways to use the equipment and build a retail and wholesale base at the same time.

Those who brought up copyright for photographers and correct and he would have to honor those rights.

$15-20 retail is the going retail rate for a baseball. The printing and cost for supplies goes down by 50 percent whenyou can buy 1000 balls or more (baseballs). Another reason to add wholesale sales is to lower the cost on your own retail sales.

barkley
06-23-2006, 04:29 AM
i went through school with a girl who after graduating from college (bsns. degree) started her own bsns. it was back before home based copiers were popular and color copiers were the rage. she had a shop that did tshirts, hats (basicly anything fabric) and eventualy cups and the like. she did alot of group sales (sports teams and such) and made good money, but she did encounter a re-occuring problem-parents who had never given permission for an item with their child's likeness to be marketed.

while a person may participate in a group photo that will be sold, that act does not nesc. allow for that photo to be reproduced (i.e. the person's "likeness") for other marketing purposes. there are some parents who are adamant that they do not want their child's "likeness" marketed or otherwise made available for public access. this can get even more complicated with kid's sports teams that are sponsored by bsns. that have copyrighted logos that appear on the uniforms-while the local "pizza" parlor might not press the issue, corporate may have a major issue with someone else profiting from something that displays their copywritten logo or character.

it did'nt come up often, but enuf that she ended up doing only non photo shirts for teams, and if a person came in with a group team photo she would only do individual orders and not bulk (if it was a copywritten photo she referred them to the photographer to see if he had any type of release that allowed for her to do it).

it only takes one lawsuit to ruin a company.