T-Shirt Business Start-Up Tips

Things to consider when turning your hobby into a real business 

Printing shirts for family and friends is great, but maybe it’s time to earn some money? If you’ve ever thought of taking your hobby to the next level, here are some areas to consider as you get started. 

Location, Location, Location

Are you working from your home? Do you have a storefront? Do you sell online from a warehouse? Your business location will determine the taxes, business regulations and laws that you need to follow. 

Your Name is Everything

It may have taken you a long time to settle on the right name. Now that you have a name that fits, you will want to protect it. An entity name provides state level protection, and a trademark protects you at the federal level. To protect your new website, obtain a domain name. 

Select Your Business Structure

This decision is best made with advice from your attorney and accountant. The structure of your business will affect your personal liability, how much you pay in taxes, your ability to receive funding. Even the annual paperwork filings are based on business structure. 

Register Your Business

The type of business registration will be determined based on your location and business structure. You may not need to register if you are conducting business using your legal name. 

Obtain Licenses and Permits

t-shirt business start-up

Yes, even when operating from your home. The company location determines the licenses and permits needed to operate your business. Retail locations often have local regulations and licenses for operation. 


Apply for Tax ID Numbers

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is also called a tax ID number and is obtained through the IRS. This number is necessary to pay taxes, hire employees, open a bank account, and apply for licenses and permits. 

Open a Business Bank Account

Best business practices are to keep your personal and business spending separate. Most businesses have at least a business checking account. From a brick and mortar bank to one that is only online, there is a banking service mix that is best for your operation. Consider a merchant service account for customer credit and debit card transactions. 

Protect your Investment, Get Business Insurance

Your homeowner’s policy may not cover your home-based business and won’t cover anything off-site. A business policy protects your business’s assets and property from damage, theft, vandalism, and lawsuits. Some insurance is legally required coverage including workers’ compensation and unemployment. 

Ask For Help

Starting a decorating business is exciting! Most communities offer help to ensure you make good decisions for the successful operation of your new venture. The SBA Small Business Development Center program is one example of these resources. SBDC’s provide counseling, training, and technical assistance to new and prospective business owners in every state. Most of the services offered are low or no-cost. For details on where to access this program in your location, visit sba.gov and look under local assistance. Your local bank may also have a team member that can walk you through many of the financial set up procedures. 

Join an Online Community

t-shirt business start-up

Don’t forget you’re not alone. You should also consider joining an online Facebook community for T-shirt decorators such as Stahls’ Heat Press for Profit Facebook page. Everyone helps each other and you have access to great information and resources. 


*This article was written by Make-It Magazine’s contributing writer, Shauna Soom.

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