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Taking the Jump


New Member

I've been in the sign business for 12 years, I've worked for big exterior companies, to little anything goes shops. I started as a painter, and have been doing the graphic end for 7 years now, more vector, but also have wide format printing experience.

Me an a friend, who has been a sign installer for 16 years, have finally decided to get our own business together, the city we live in is growing quick, and I think there is room for a couple of experienced sign makers.

Any advice is greatly appreciated, the first question I'd have is on a plotter, I'm pretty sold on graphtecs, but not sure If I should get a new one, or used one, and if used, were do you find one?

I can get a combo deal, graphtec and flexi for $4000, which doesn't sound like a bad investment, but like to know how others started out.



New Member
I have one bit of advice... Don't have a business partner!!!

I have one more bit of advice... Don't have a business partner!!!


It's better to have two hands than one glove.
If I might add to Doug's wisdom...Don't have a business partner.

Have a mutual coexistence relationship, have shared toothbrushes, have mouth to mouth symbiosis, but don't have a business partner.

Then go off and buy the Graphtec. New. Things that are used are used for a reason and it's seldom the reason given. Understand that I'm rather a snob in these matters and always buy everything new. Even our cat has papers. So temper your actions with this knowledge. That notwithstanding, a used thing may be the deal of the century or it might not. If it's not, you're hosed. The probability is equal for good or bad.


New Member
If you want a business partner, talk to your bank.
If you want a business, talk to yourself.
Works for me !


New Member
My $.2

Im going to have to vote on the NO PARTNERS .. especally friends.. I did that one time and it was a nightmare! I got stuck with all the problems and he ran away.. and as much as you try it allways is a power struggle..


On the equipment .. FLEXI has my vote.. if you can get a new plotter it would be worth the support.. if it breaks in the middle of a big job (and thats when they all break) the dealer you get it from , locally , will usually have a loaner for you so you have little down time.


New Member
I also agree. No Partners. Remember you already have one setting in the corner that contributes nothing. His name is Uncle Sam.


New Member
I will go along with everyone else here. Uncle Sam is the only partner needed, and he already takes more than his share. Go with the new Graphtec, buying someone else seconds isn't alway good. Just my 2cents


New Member
biz partners!?

Well I guess thru the years I have often thought about having a biz partner. Sometimes designing...making.....installing.....dealing with customers......getting supplies ...... doing books is a bit too much for one person. I think a partnership can work out. Give it a trial period. IF it doesn't work out... have it in writing who gets to keep the business, name, customer base and everything else. You never know til you try it! Each person is better at one thing than the other. Don't be a Jack or Jackie of all trades.....master of none. Do the things you do best, and hopefully your partner will have different strengths than you. Good Luck


New Member
I think Cheryl has some great woeds of advice. Put it in writing if you decide a partner is the route to take.

If the issue is money, I would suggest other avenues to gaining the needed funding. By taking on a partner as the source of funds, they will have the ultimate control of what goes on and you could be left out in the cold if things go sour.

I would highly suggest looking into the SCORE program and the SBA and getting help with a business plan. Statistics show a business with a written business plan has a much greater chance of success.

A source for insurance and other benefits is the NFIB an organization that is more political than anything but is a great information center for small businesses.

Good luck!

Oh yeah, in case you end up like me, get a great health insurance program and disability insurance just in case some unforseen injury robs you of your means of income. I'm glad I took the (anal retentive) steps I took to protect my family. I was disabled only a very short time after making the leap to full time and hadn't even made it into a permanent location yet. Be safe.

Arlo Kalon 2.0

New Member
The two richest, most successful businessmen I know personally have been partners since day 1 for over 25 yrs. now. They even built new mansions across the street from each other way out of town in the country. I asked one of 'em the "secret" to why it worked. He said "somebody has to own 51%, and you each have to bring different skills that are needed to the business". I too had a good partnership awhile - but my radical health problems became too much to overcome. The point is - making a blanket statement that a partnership can't work is like calling Eric Clapton a "guitar god" at this point, it is just a very tired cliche.


New Member
Sounds like your friend is an installer and you are a sign professional. You two could each start out separate but like attorneys or doctors work in a profession group, where you share certain expenses and incomes and some are total yours or his. You could even help him on the installs and he could help you on putting signs together. I have never triied anything like that but I have friends that are in those situations and it works for them. I even know a group of mechanic that do this. They each have separate businesses but have a professional group and share the receptionist, building expenses, business insurance but each provides their own tools and funds their own benefits, etc. I am probably in left field on this one but good luck any way and I really hope it works for you.


New Member
A DAVE 800 said:
...The point is - making a blanket statement that a partnership can't work is like calling Eric Clapton a "guitar god" at this point, it is just a very tired cliche.

since I was the first in the long line of replies advising against a partnership... I will reply first by pointing out that nobody here has said "a partnership can't work" ..I have always been the first to agree that generalizations are ALWAYS WRONG!! ...no wait... I mean "often decieving" :rolleyes:

OK... I went off to the internet to look for some kind of business partnership failure statistics to support my views... & guess what I found ??

I found information that opened up my eyes, by challenging (or correcting) my point of view. Well.. I'd rather learn & grow then pretend to already be "right" in my thinking. Here is the first paragraph:
As John D. Rockefeller once said, "It's better to have a friendship based on a business partnership than a business partnership based on a friendship." What he meant is that forming a partnership is a serious endeavor, and that a partnership must follow strict business principles to become successful. After all, statistics show that well over fifty percent of all partnerships end in failure. (However, statistics also show that partnerships are four times more likely to succeed than sole proprietorships.)

I didn't read further... but for anyone interested in partnerships, this looked to me like it may be a reputable source of info.



New Member
I'll only offer this on advice, ask LOTS of questions about a product before you buy it, I learnt the hard way.
Best of luck with your new venture wish ya all the best and welcome to signs101, damn great buncha people inhere.
PS You cant have my font collection in my will Stacey already has that!
PPS Have fun

Son Signs

New Member
I will add to Doug's info on this one...

Doug Allan said:
I have one bit of advice... Don't have a business partner!!!

I have one more bit of advice... Don't have a business partner!!!

DO NOT HAVE A PARTNER. No if ands or buts, partners only drag you down and unless he or she is your clone and you both are tied in at the brain you WILL have conflict that leads to distruction of your dream. I've been through this and thank GOD above I didn't get involved for more than 5 months. I guss I should have known when my dog bit him, HEHEHE!

Really though, do it alone, you can do it, if you need help hire help and help ONLY or get you wife to help out. Good luck in your decision.