How to start a Laser Engraving Business the right way

All that you need to know to start your laser engraving business with the right foot!

Fernando Ramalho
4. August 2022 • 20 min

So you’re thinking about starting a Laser Engraving Business and are searching for a better understanding of the market, process, and possibilities ahead? You have come to the right place. On this page, you’ll not only find a step-by-step guide on planning your business but also some precious tricks to transform your idea into a one-of-a-kind project. Let’s begin. 

Start with the “Why?”

When giving the first steps on any new project is a good thing to start with the "Why?" Among all the technologies and market opportunities out there, what made you choose this one? What was the moment that you thought "Laser Engraving is awesome, I need to be part of this"? Understanding that feeling will help you to identify the trigger that catches your eye. And guess what? There are many people out there that can feel the same way about your brand products. 

There are many reasons to choose Laser Cutting as a business. The technology has become user-friendly allowing entrepreneurs from all over the world to run their businesses from the comfort of their homes, or build their own workshops. 

By choosing the right machine you can engrave and cut a project in a matter of seconds, turning an ordinary object into a custom-made product with great value and high-profit margins. 

The quality of Laser Engraved products is way superior to other types of engraving methods and the machines can last for years before needing any part replacement. 

And that is only looking at the technical part of the question, if you look through the possibilities of what a Laser Engraving Business can do you'll see that the growth path is clear and right ahead. Let's keep moving. 

A material World of Possibilities (Understanding the Market)

What a Laser Engraver Machine can actually do? If you're talking about materials then is best to know with which machine you'll be working, we have a complete guide to help you choose the right laser engraving machine, click here to check it out. 

Talking briefly there are two major types of laser engravers, the CO2 and the Fiber Machines. CO2 Laser Machines can work with a huge variety of materials like glass, wood, acrylic, fabrics, leather, and many more. But only Fiber Machines can work properly with metal engraving. 

If you have some specific product in mind is also good to know if your machine is big enough to make it and if it has the necessary tools. For example, to engrave bottles, cups, and other cylindrical products you'll need a machine with a rotary function. 

Here at Trotec, we have Flexx machines that work with CO2 and Fiber laser, helping you to keep your options open and offer even more variety to your customers. But if we go beyond the material topic to a more complete view of the market you'll see why I'm telling you Laser Engraving is a world of possibilities.

Find your Niche “What do you want to do?”

You already know that Laser Machines can work with many different materials, but what can you really turn into a source of income in your new business? You can take three different paths while planning your business.

Laser Engraving as a Service: 

Your clients will look for you with their projects and ideas, and it will be your job to bring those ideas to life. For example, customers might bring you their own jewelry pieces or favorite coffee tumblers to engrave, or companies can search for your services to engrave pieces of decoration for their stores. It's important to be very careful with this approach, especially when engraving pieces handed to you by your clients, they can be one-of-a-kind pieces with great sentimental value. 

Selling Products made with Laser Engravers and Cutters:

Sometimes the Laser Engraving process happens behind the scenes and your shop sells only the products you create in your workshop. You can be a trophy store, selling custom awards to companies and clients all over the world, an online shop that sells custom high-end wood cases for smartphones, a design company that sells wedding invitations, and the possibilities go on and on. 

Why not both? 

If you have the know-how and equipment, what stops you to make both ideas? If you have the time and means to do it you can offer laser engraving services and also have a catalog of self-made products that your clients can choose from. 

You can use Laser Cutting and Laser Engraving to:

  • Engrave company logos and promotional products;
  • Personalize trophies and awards;
  • Cut and Engrave Data Plates with serial numbers;
  • Make products such as Wooden Cellphone Cases;
  • Personalize acoustic guitars and other wood instruments;
  • Jewelry;
  • Leather cover for books;
  • Photo engraving;
  • Engravings on bottles, cups, and mugs;
  • Art;
  • Holiday decorations;
  • And many other ideas... 

With an open and creative mind and one production-level machine, you can even have multiple online stores working from the same place. 

Convinced that working with laser engraving is a good call? Well, we still have some ground to cover on this page, so let's make sure you're well prepared for the road ahead.

Have a clear idea? Time to write it down. (Business Plan)

Now that you already know why you want to start a Laser Engraving Business and How you want to run it, is time to organize all that information in a simple, straightforward format that you can use as a guide to your decision-making process. After all, a good business is a business with a plan. 

A business plan is a document that serves as a roadmap for starting, establishing, and growing your business. Is also a powerful tool to help you foretell problems that could appear in your journey and help you plan ahead on how you should deal with them. 

The main topics you should cover in this document are:

  • What is the core purpose of your business?
  • Who are your ideal customers?
  • What problems or necessities do your products fulfill for your customers?
  • What is your long-term goal for this company?
  • Who are your main competitors?
  • Who are your main business partners and suppliers?
  • How are you going to position, price, and market your products or services?

I know, is a lot to think about, but give it time and attention and you'll receive clarity and predictability in return, and those are priceless when starting any new project. 

Time to talk about money “What’s your budget?”

No matter if is a side job or your main focus, starting a new business takes time, effort, and initial investment. To keep an eye on that, create a spreadsheet that estimates the one-time startup costs for your business. The following are a few examples of expenses you might want to include: 

• Licenses and permits 

• Equipment

• Legal fees 

• Business Insurance 

• Branding 

• Market research 

• Inventory 

• Grand opening event(s) 

• Property lease(s)

Also, consider the funds you will need to keep your business running for a while to cover ongoing expenses before you achieve profitability. This figure may include costs such as: 

• Rent 

• Utilities 

• Marketing materials 

• Production 

• Supplies 

• Travel expenses 

• Employee salaries 

• Your salary

Taking time to organize all that can avoid unpleasant surprises along the way. 

When talking about Laser Engraving Machines Trotec offers support for financing with a variety of payment models. Want to know more about it? Check this content. Or request a 30-minute appointment with one of our specialists. 

Let’s get technical. Registering your business

Turning a hobby into a business demands some important bureaucratic work like registering it. If you can, work with an attorney to cover all the details you need to figure out which business formation works best for you and which mandatory licenses and permits you may need. 

Depending on the nature of your business, there may be local, regional, or national regulations with which you must comply. This is also the time to check into insurance and to find a good accountant.

Already have a company name in mind? Is a good time to register a Patent and a domain, and to create a page using the name on the major social media you'll like to work with. That way you avoid problems when creating your website, and marketing your business.

laser engraved wooden wedding invitation

Time to give shape to an Idea

What is a Brand? If you immediately thought of a logo and a name I'm sorry to say, but you're wrong. Large companies around the world had change their logos over the years, but they were always the same Brand. 

A Brand is a way that people perceive, interact and understand your business. And that includes the things you control, and the things you don't. A Brand is something that differs between two companies that may sell the same service or product but reach out to completely different publics. 

Ok, so "How can I build a brand?" Let's talk about that. 

Know your public and your competitors

Emma is 34 and lives in Alberta. She decided to quit her job as an accountant to pursue a business of her own. She approached our team with a project to start a design company focused on weddings. 

In Emma's research, she discovered that the demand from young couples for outdoor weddings in Alberta was huge so she decided to focus on Boho and Rustic wedding decorations and invitations made with wood engraving. 

She made some internet research and talked with friends about the topic and discovered a couple of companies that made wedding invitations in the area, but none of them were focused on this outdoor boho aesthetic so she decided to pursue that as her brand focus. 

What Emma did was decide on a specific service or product, discover who would be her target audience, and which companies would be competing with her for that public attention. 

Now talking about your Laser Engraving Business:

  • What are your major products and services?
  • Who composes your main audience? Who's actually searching for what you want to sell?
  • Which companies around you will compete with you for this public attention?
  • How can you stand out from them? What details can make you look better, or different from the rest?

Answering those questions will build the very foundation of your Brand.

Brand Focus and Personality

Emma decided to build a brand around Outdoor Weddings using the Rustic Boho Aesthetic. She knew that her main audience would be young couples that love nature and are passionate about an outdoor way of life. 

So she knew that the personality and the "voice" of her brand must share that same passion. To help her visualize that personality she made a study about brand archetypes and choose to combine the Explorer and the Lover archetypes. 

The study of Archetypes was developed by a Swiss psychologist called Carl Jung in the 1940s. He believed that some personality concepts existed all over the world transcending language, culture, and even time. His study was integrated into several Marketing strategies as a way to position your brand in an aspect that people would recognize and like. There are 12 most-used Brand Archetypes, let's talk briefly about each one of them. 

laser cutting wedding invitation

Brand archetypes

The Innocent 

Brands of the Innocent appeal to the happy, light, positive and protective side of people. They usually communicate in a ludic, fun, and sometimes even childish way. Like those PetShop brands that invest in big googly-eyed puppies playing in every commercial. You just want to grab them and take them home, am I right? That's the purpose of this archetype. 

The Sage

Search for knowledge and it will guide you towards the future. In any major storyline before going out searching for adventures the hero searches for the teachings of the sage. Companies of this archetype position their brands as a center of knowledge and a center of empowerment. Like that website that answers all your questions with the press of a button. Ok, goo... Let's go to the next Archetype. 

The Explorer

The first of Emma's Archetypes. The Explorers are all about adventure. Always searching for renewal and new experiences to live. Brands of the explorer create products and services that appeal to explorer people. The adventurers and brave in the eternal pursuit of freedom and new horizons. Emma believes that explorers don't fit on those big fancy indoor weddings, so they are the perfect audience for her brand.

The Outlaw

Boats against the current. Brands of the Outlaw are disruptive. Thinking different is what drives them forward. They actively try to disrupt the niches they're in, sometimes focusing their communication with a specific audience creating the sense of being part of an active group. Like that energy drink that just loves radical sports.

The Magician

The power of creating inexplicable sensations, results, and effects at the snap of a finger. Brands of the Magician are all about the wonder. Like real magicians, they usually dazzle their audience focusing on emotional and wonderful stories. Escape reality and make your dreams come true. Orlando is beautiful this time of the year if you know what I mean. 

The Hero

The power to be the protagonist of your own story. Brands of the Hero appeal to the emotions of people, pushing them forward toward the path of success. They have the drive to inspire people and empower them to take the steps they need to fulfill their goals. After all, sometimes you just need someone to tell you to stop thinking and just do it. Right?

The Lover

The second archetype that Emma choose is all about sensations, desire, and love. Brands of the Lover appeal to the passion of the audience, sometimes in a romantic way, but sometimes in a spiritual and family-orientated way as well. Emma believes, that she can combine the Lovers and the Explorers to create a storyline about two adventures that find each other and go together towards the biggest journey of their lives. She thinks that is a story that her public can relate to, and that isn't hard to portray in social media and marketing campaigns.

The Jester

Pure joy and laughter, no worries, and don't even think of taking things too seriously. Brands of the Jester are all about getting a smile from everyone watching, and some of them go wild and beyond to make that happen. Is almost like a po..po..po..po..power!! 

The Everyman

If the outlaws and the explorers are all about being different, the everyman is the complete opposite of that. They thrive on being the friendly neighbor relatable and approachable brand. That relatable friend you want always by your side. Or that food chain that you can find on each and every corner, and it always tastes the same. 

The Caregiver

One good deed goes a long way. If you need a hand, caregiver's Brands are there for you. They position themselves in an always approachable way, ready to help you to take over the world. The secret of those brands is to really understand the struggles of the public they speak to, and always search for a good way to help them out feel secure and nurtured. If they sell you a car, it will be the most secure car you will find, full of gadgets to make your life easier, cause that's how they do it.  

The Ruler

For all things, there's someone that is the best in it, the MVP. Brands of the ruler don't hesitate to say that they are at the top of the game. And that's not an easy task, among all the competition out there. They love to set rules and tendencies for the world to follow, and they do it with such confidence and wit that sometimes just the fact you have something of that brand is an act of status. 

The Creator

Last but not least, brands of the Creator are all about creativity and innovation. How can I do better? Different? More than a pursue, that's almost a ruleset. Create new solutions to help others achieve their full potential. What's the smallest, most resistant camera that people can wear on hikes to record their adventures? What is the best tool to give artists the means to express their work without the need for any ink, or canvas? iCould stay here all day bringing more examples, but I think you get it, right? 

Wow, that was a lot of information. But you see why Emma choose the Lover and the Explorer to be the archetypes of her new brand? Defining that, she could visualize the story behind her brand and the approach that she needed to take to get closer to her public and speak to their hearts. 

Now it's your turn. Which archetype do you think fits your project better? 

You can choose more than one, but remember, the point of that is to create a personality that will be familiar to your audience, if you mix too much it kinda misses the point. If you need a little more knowledge about archetypes, check out this awesome content made by March Branding. 

Naming and Tagline

Ok, now you have an understanding of your project, the market, your brand personality, and your archetype. I think you're ready to take the next step. Let's give it a name. 

There are a few types of brand names:

Descriptive Names - This is the kind of name that talks it all. Just reading it you know what to expect from that Brand. The bad part is that it can become too common, if you enter a street full of "Good Food Restaurants" which one will you trust? If Emma would choose this type of name she would pick something along the line of "My Boho Wedding - Invitations and decoration for your big day".

Ludic Names -  Moving to a more creative lane, Ludic names try to evoke a sensation or idea in the mind of the audience. They leave room for interpretation and may not be so literal and quick to identify, but they have the potential to be the starting point of powerful brand stories. If Emma choose this type she would pick a name like "Sunset dreams - wedding invitations and decoration". Even if the name alone "Sunset dreams" doesn't deliver the core business you can always count on the tagline to help with that. 

Invented Names - Sometimes you search tirelessly for the perfect word to name your brand but fail to find it. The good part is: you can always invent one. A good tip if your going for this one is to mix with words that can relate to your core business, that way even a brand new word can bring a sense of identification. Emma could make a lot of new words related to nature, love, weddings, and things like that, I think she would pick something like "Wedventure - Outdoor wedding decoration". 

Acronymic Brands - Sometimes your name is so big that is easier to abbreviate with simple letters. That way you can turn My Dream Outdoor Wedding into MyDOW - Wedding invitation and decoration. Many great companies out there use this model, some of them I confess I don't even know what the letters stand for, but I sure remember the name.  

Founder Names - The easy and fast path, sometimes we just want to sign our products with our name, as artists do. The problem is there are a lot of Emma's out there in the world, and if some of them had the idea to work with weddings it may be a problem. And of course, if someday Emma decided to sell the company and move to a little house in the wilderness, someone will be using her name for her. If that is a possibility, I think is better to avoid "Emma’s Outdoor Wedding Decorations".

Hannah Nunn laser cut art onto lampshade

So you have 5 types of names to choose from. Time to put your mind to work. 

  1. Try to come up with up to 5 ideas for each of the naming types. (You can call friends and family to help with that, and you can skip Founder Names if you like.)
  2. Search the internet if someone is already using the names you came up with. Is a good thing to search for website domains and social media tags. 
  3. Try to reduce the list. Cut down the names you like the least. 
  4. Get feedback. Ask friends, family, and even potential clients if you have access to them. Ask which name they like the most. 

Building a Visual Identity

If you are having problems finding a good name, don't hesitate to find help, there are a lot of good branding and design studios out there that can help you out.

Now that you have a name, is time to give it a face. With all the work we made understanding the audience and creating a brand name and personality, this process may be a lot easier. 

The logo can be an "All Type" with the right font that fits your brand profile or have a "Symbol" to give it a more visual look. But remember, a visual identity goes beyond the logo itself, choose a color palette and a design style that help people to identify your company in a glimpse of an eye. 

If design isn't your strong suit, you can search for studios or freelancer designers out there or even find websites that help you with that. 

Brand's Core Story

The last task I give you on this Branding topic is to truly understand your brand's core story. Is a phrase that can help you steer your marketing decisions always in the right direction and create a consistent and cohesive concept people can relate to. 

Emma's "Sunset Dream" was "The story of two adventurers that together went on the most amazing adventure that is, start a life together." 

What story your brand tells? 

How to get started with a bang!

You have a business plan, a strong brand idea, and all the equipment you need to start your business. Now what? 

In the last part of this article, I will focus on 8 strategies you can follow to make a strong first impression and start your business with a bang. I'll bring a full content about "How to create and follow a strong marketing plan for your Laser Engraving Business" but this one is already way too big for that. Let’s get going.  

1. Build a Strong Social Media Presence 

These days is very difficult to start a business without relying on social media to reach clients. Of course, there are other ways of marketing and communication. But most of them demand time and money, and we know that for a starting up business these two things may be scarce. 

A good social media strategy can go a long way with just a bunch of good ideas, a smartphone camera, and the aid of family and friends. You don't need to post every day, but try to be consistent, and use the best tools of each social media to your advantage. 

Emma could use Instagram Stories to post photos of wedding inspirations and interact with her public asking them to vote for which one they like the most. 

On Instagram Reels and TikTok, she could make some fast-paced videos of the laser machine working on a piece of wood, ending up with the revelation of the finished piece. 

On Facebook Groups and Subreddits about weddings, she could post photos of her projects, and guides on making easy homemade decorations that follow the aesthetic of the outdoor wedding. 

Find the best format for each social media you are on. Again, you don't have to be on every social media, just focus on creating good content on the ones you choose. 

2. If you think you need help, don't hesitate to ask

I know that sometimes it can be overwhelming to handle a business and take care of marketing. If you think you need help, don't hesitate to ask, sometimes a friend or family member can assist you with that, and sometimes you can reach of for a freelancer designer or even a marketing agency. Just make sure to account for all that in your financial planning. 

I know it may look bad to have one more expense, but if you can't reach your audience it will be even worse. Especially in the beginning, you need the driving force to conquer the attention of your clients. 

3. Reach out to the right audience

Speaking of clients we have talked about social media and the importance to gain public attention. But you need to have a clear image of who this public is and especially where they are. 

If your audience is more focused on business and corporations maybe Instagram isn't the right social media to be, you can try Linkedin. In every decision process you take as a company you have to recall, who am I targeting with this? Does it make sense to them? If the answer is no, It's time to think of a new approach. 

4. If you don't have an audience yet, borrow one

One good way to start to reach your audience, in the beginning, is Influencer Marketing. There are public persons on social media that have a good solid audience and sometimes talk about topics that you care about. 

For example, Emma could search for Instagram Profiles that talk about Wedding Inspirations in Canada and have a good and engaged audience. Then she may get in touch with them about creating a strategy together. 

She could send them a laser engraved gift or invite them to meet her workshop and record content about it. 

There are agencies out there that can help you find good content creators to make Influencers Marketing, but you can reach them yourself as well. 

When they post content with your brand their followers will get to know your work and that will generate followers and visibility among other benefits. 

5. Follow the trends, but in your own way

I know many people out there will tell you to keep an eye on Instagram and TikTok music and trends and just copy the content to generate views, and that is not entirely wrong. But there's a way you can make it better. 

By all means, use the trending music but give the videos a meaning that fits your Brand Story. 

If the trend is a collage of photos Emma could use photos of couples doing hikes together and finish up with a beautiful outdoor wedding photo. 

If the trend is a revelation she can use the strategy of showing the wood pieces before and after the engraving as a decoration for a beautiful outdoor wedding. 

You can follow trends, but try to make them your own. 

6. Build an active social proof strategy

When a friend tells you that a new Pizza Place around the corner makes the best pizza he ever ate, it calls your attention, right? Much more than any ad the Pizza Place could ever do, cause it came from a person you trust. That is called Social Proof, and the good part is it doesn't even have to be by someone you know. 

Just seeing real people talk about a brand give others the confidence they need to approach and become a client themselves. Every time a client leaves your workshop, make sure they have the link to your google business profile, where they can leave a review. Also, if you can, ask them to tag your brand when they post photos of the product, is a simple request that goes a long way. 

7. People love novelty, take advantage of that

People love to discover new things, so in your first year make sure to give it your best to take advantage of that. Try to participate in events, and appear where your clients are. And don't forget to mention that you're the new brand on the block. 

8. Don't stop after the sale

My last tip is simple but precious. Don't stop communicating with your client after the sale. Reach out to them and ask if they liked the work, you can send useful pieces of information, like tips on how to conserve the material or give it an extra shine. Showing your client that he is not only a number to you and that his success matters, goes a long way in building a real long-term relationship and creating an authentic brand as well. If this client ever needs something you sell, or if he knows someone who needs it, it is most likely that he gives his stamp of approval to you. 

And that is it! I hope you finish this post a step closer to being a successful Laser Engraving Business. Want to know more about the topic? Check this complete eBook we made for you!

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More about the author: Fernando Ramalho

Fernando Ramalho works with Trotec as a "creative mind" content creator and SEO specialist consultor.

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