Starting Your Glass Etching and Engraving Business

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Laser cutting and engraving machine

You still remember that field trip in high school. You were taken to a company that specialized in creating laser markings on stainless steel, from coffee mugs to trash bins. Serendipitously, you’re now working as a marketing manager for a company that supplies swag articles, including mugs with company logos. You’ve worked your way up, and you currently deal with clients and vendors alike, including companies that do engraving. You’ve managed to nurture your contacts over the years. On occasion, people from these suppliers would give you some knowledge about the trade or the latest in engraving or etching technologies.  You would listen intently. These conversations planted a seed in your brain, about going into business yourself.

Your idea is to start a glass engraving and etching business. Will the insights from your friends help? What are the things that you need to know when starting your glass engraving business?

Engraving Industry Overview

The engraving industry doesn’t look good now, but it still earned $1 billion in revenue as of April 2019. The number of businesses has plateaued to 501 for the past five years, but the industry still employs nearly 5,000 people.

engraving machine

Getting Started

The figures in the preceding discussion might be a good indicator of what the competitive business landscape is. Experts advise that one of the first things that you need to do is find out who your competitors are. Given that the number of businesses has declined, maybe it’s an excellent opportunity for you to start your own. Here are a few things that you need to bear in mind:

  1. Learning. You need to learn the craft. There are at least two ways by which a pattern is etched on a piece of glass: using etching cream and sandblasting. Both use stencil patterns, and in the former, the etching cream is brushed on the stencil. When the stencil is removed, the cut portion will reveal the frosted design on the glass. Sandblasting uses a machine to blasts the glass with tiny pieces of sand. The part unprotected by the pattern shows the etched portion. There are various 2-year certification programs to learn glass engraving. School fees vary and can be as low as less than $1,200 to northwards of $4,000.
  2. Business model and product line. Decide if you’re going to focus on glass etching or engraving services or both. Creativity and imagination are key driving factors for the success of your business. Creating unique and customized designs are what you are aiming for to attract customers. Any home or business establishments, like a bar or corporate offices that use a mirror requiring a logo, will need your services.
  3. It’s all in the name. Select a business name that customers will be able to relate easily. They should be able to know what your services are about. “Custom Glass Etching, Inc.” is a good example.
  4. Pushing your product. Yes, you want to promote your product. But you should be promoting your creativity and ability to offer custom design and services instead. You can explore this through several channels—online selling, seeking corporate clients to do their giveaways, and a tie-up with event organizing outfits like wedding planners.

You are going to have to write a sound business plan where you will outline your financial strategies. That is always a given when starting a business. With these four pointers, you’ll be heading in the right direction.