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new @ 50


New Member
Looking to start a new career. Am working part time in a sign shop and thinking eventually to start my own sign business. I am still in the market research stage so I am looking forward to getting a lot of use from this forum. With only planning on working another 10-15 years does anyone care to give me some real answers if this would be a viable career.


New Member
welcome to signs101!

ask away!

viable? ...yes, we seem to think so :thumb:

At least you are working in a successful(?) shop already which is an excellent step that a lot of new entrepreneur's arriving here have not done, and you mention "research" which is a good sign.

It seems that more & more folks pop up thinking it is a cakewalk/gravytrain (hmmm, not a tasty sounding choice of words together) ...but although it is not lowhanging fruit waiting for the lucky few to discover... it is an excellent career if you lovethe work. because there are a lot of worse jobs out there.

Speaking of jobs... in the sign business... there are two distinct things going on... signs... and business. You need to be good at both, & constantly striving to become better at both. If you can do that & you can enjoy doing that... go for it.

Like most business's you will want to plan on lots of long hours & possibly years of building up to a plateau where the monetary rewards begin to exceed those you could realize as an employee. If you havethe energy to take that on at 50... more power to you. I'll be 48 in 3 weeks & am celebrating my 10th anniversary in business. I still work 60 - 70 hours though & work on ladders, with power tools... carting heavy boards around... I've enjoyed having an employee who does more of that then I do now... but I did it all myself for 8 years & I'm not sure I'd want to do quite as much in the next 10 years.

I think the main thing I'm saying is, if you know what the "business' side of any business requires of you... beyond the 40 hour week of just making signs... then you will have a good idea of weather or not you will enjoy this career.
If you are not really cognisant of all that will be required outside of making signs... be forewarned, the business side of the sign business will consume a huge amount of your time in order to be successful. If you're lucky, you will enjoy that as much as you enjoy the sign part, like I do. Then you won't mind the long hours & yes, it is a viable career. I feel very well compensated for my long hours this year... on top of enjoying most of those hours... but it does take time to build up to feeling well compensated. The first several years it was only worth working thathardbecause I believed I would someday arrive at where I finally arrived, in terms of earnings.


New Member

Make sure you are comfortable selling, which is the most important thing for the small business owner to be doing most of the time.

The Big Squeegee

Long Time Member
Welcome from Oklahoma!

:Welcome: to :signs101:
Good luck!

Actually, you make your own luck. :Big Laugh

The best way to start out is to keep the initial investment low enough that the interest payments don't eat you alive.

There are a lot of vendors here that will help you get started by cutting or printing your vinyl for you. It is always good to test you marketing skills and market before you invest a lot into it. Once you find your niche you can decide on the equipment that will work best for you.

I thought I was going to be the only shop in a small town only to find out that another sign shop was opening up the same month as I started. He said that he had been planning to start for months and saw that it would be a good location because there were no other sign shops. The town was too small to support 2 sign shops. I also didn't know that there were quite a few independent sign painters and merchants did not know that vinyl lettering lasted longer. Educating the merchants became a task I had not counted on.



New Member
Hello and . . .



New Member

Your 50 and working part time in a sign shop, are you retired from another field? Have you had a successful career in another field? Are you secure with a retirement income from a previous career? Were you involved in sales or business management in your past employment history? Just trying to get a little more info to help you.

One thing I have seen with a few of the franchises or independent shops is that people who fail typically weren't a good fit. They didn't have the skills to handle production aspects, or they were lacking in sales skills or business management skills. I believe to be successful, you need two of the three and having all three will give you the best chance at success.

You can succeed in the sign business at 50 and when you retire have something of value to sell. This is a great forum to gain knowledge so use it to your benefit.


nice to see someone wise enough to go and work at a established shop to gain experience versus just opening a shop knowing nothing about the industry let alone the tools and materials. good luck to you this is a great industry if you have the knowledge and the drive...every day you are working on something different.


New Member
Another way of looking at it might be not so much "can" you succeed at 50.....but rather "will" you succeed ?

I play guitar to some level of expertise better than most but nothing compared to what I call 'real players'. From time to time I have people say....."I'd like to play guitar" and the first thing they do is buy a guitar.

The raw, bare facts are.......the odds are.....if a person is not playing guitar by the time they are a youngster.....then they are only remotely likely to ever play at all. Instead they will most likely just buy a guitar (a cheap lousy one at that) and plunk around on it and then put it away under the bed yet never sell it.....thinking one day they might play.

That's just the way it is. Raw truth. NOT SAYING.....it could not happen.....just saying 99 times out of 100 that's the way it comes down.

There's a certain psychiological profile that comes into play. It takes a certain psychiological profile for a person to do certain things in life like......eat healthy, exercise, play a musical instrument well, become good at a craft (like sign painting) etc.

That's the way it used to be predominately in the sign trade. I mean what's the odds of a person picking up a mahl stick and learning how to hand letter later in life?

The flip side is.......with the new sign making equipment available.......it attracts people to the business.....sort of like an electronic organ that plays music when you push a button.

No critism or discouragement intended. Just playing out both sides. It's just good to take inventory and decide where your strengths and where your weaknesses are before you sink a bunch of hard earned cash and life hopes into a new career. Count the cost and then "go for it" and make certain it's enjoyable because the $$ rewards might not be there for some time.

Hope for the best, be prepared for the worst and try to enjoy every aspect along the way.


New Member
Thanks to all that replied. I am pairing up with a partner who is an artist and I have experience in woodworking and electricity. We both are retired from a steel mill and although it does not seem to have anything to do with the sign business we are not afraid of work. It seems the biggest challenge by the replies will be the sales and business managment.
Thanks again. If we make a go at this you can feel partly resposible. And if we go belly up.....


New Member
First greetings from a former Ohioan. (grew up in North Central)

Agree with everything Doug from Isign said. In my mind the business side of things is the toughest. But you can learn it, and hire some of it, if necessary.

The other side of it comes more naturally for me. Crafting signs, layout, etc.

Good luck. And, oh....be sure to set up some sort of guidelines as to the partner's duties and compensation.