Start a t-shirt business in 2024

Update: January 2, 2024

By: Tom Macken

How to start a tshirt business

The market for personalized t-shirt printing is expected to witness substantial growth, with a projected CAGR of over 11.1% from the 2022 valuation of $4.3 billion. In various industries, companies utilize custom-designed t-shirts as an integral part of their comprehensive branding strategy to enhance brand recognition and attract prospective customers. Explore comprehensive information on establishing your own t-shirt business.


What is a t-shirt business?
8 tips for opening a t-shirt business
Training needed to open a t-shirt business?
Regulations for opening a t-shirt business

What is a t-shirt business?

A t-shirt business is a company that specializes in creating, manufacturing, and retailing t-shirts to individuals. T-shirts are a versatile garment worn by people of various ages and genders, making them highly sought-after in the market. T-shirt businesses can range from modest startups to large enterprises, catering to diverse niches like sports, music, or social causes.

Initiating a t-shirt business involves fundamental steps such as designing or procuring t-shirt designs, partnering with manufacturers or printers for production, and establishing an online or brick-and-mortar store for selling the merchandise. Effective marketing and branding strategies are crucial for the success of a t-shirt business, enabling the creation of a dedicated customer base and distinguishing itself from competitors.

T-shirt businesses often offer customization options like screen printing, embroidery, or vinyl cutting to add a personal touch to the shirts according to customer preferences. Some businesses adopt a print-on-demand model, facilitating production and shipment of shirts only upon receiving orders, minimizing the need for upfront inventory.

8 tips for starting a t-shirt business

1. Form your Legal Business

When setting up a t-shirt business, you’ll need to think about what business structure will work best, including registering your company with the appropriate authorities, both locally and nationally. 

Many would-be company owners struggle to make sense of the differences among an LLC, a sole proprietorship, a partnership, and other business structures, much alone settling on one. 

A company incorporation service can help you determine the best business structure for your  company based on factors like the level of liability protection you require, the laws of the state in which your company will operate, tax filings requirements and the type of license you will need to legally sell your service and products. 

In the case of t-shirt businesses, we advise you to choose one of these legal forms:

  • An LLC might have a single owner or several owners.
  • A corporation

In the U.S, limited liability companies (LLCs) are favored over sole proprietorships because their owners are shielded from personal liability for corporate debts and obligations.

Naming your t-shirt business

The process of naming your t-shirt enterprise may be a lot of fun. Create a list of terms that best describe your company’s values and goals. Then, put those words to use in creating new, meaningful two-word and three-word combinations. 

Try mixing and matching words that signify the same thing to hear what you come up with. Last but not least, check online to see whether the company name you want to use has already been taken.

2. Setup your Business Bank Account 

Depending on your needs and the amount of money you want to deposit, there are different kinds of business accounts you can set up for your t-shirt business including:

  • Checking Accounts: The most typical form of business bank account. Opening a company checking account is simple and provides a number of advantages. Having a bank account means you may quickly and simply add or remove funds as your needs change. You may use your checking account to pay bills and vendors by writing checks.
  • Savings account: With the return you may receive on your savings, it’s a terrific way to build up a rainy-day fund for your t-shirt company. Savings accounts, on the other hand, may have withdrawal restrictions and provide lower interest rates than checking accounts.

Before deciding on a bank account, it’s a good idea to do a comparison of different business banks for features and fees, including FinTech banks with very competitive benefits of no monthly fees, no minimum balances and an unlimited number of transactions compared to traditional high street bank offerings. 

3. Organize Your Accounting, Taxes & Credit Card reader


Setting up a reliable accounting system will allow t-shirt business owners to keep tabs on all kinds of financial transactions from sales (income & invoicing), purchases (expenditure), liabilities (bank loan funding) to taxes due to the IRS or similar. 

The books for your t-shirt business can be organized in a few ways:

If you choose to handle things on your own, pick a system that is intuitive and simple to use. When your accounting system is ready, you can begin recording your earnings and spending. If you want to save money, you can now see exactly where it’s being spent meaning future budgeting is simplified as a result.

Business owners should be careful to maintain a consistent schedule of accounting maintenance. This calls for putting time in your calendar on a regular basis to check your books and make any necessary changes. While this may appear to be a lot of extra effort, it will ultimately save you time and energy.


Before you can start your own company, you have to get yourself registered for a number of different taxes, both federal and state, first. Your business has to submit an application for an EIN (Employer Identification Number), which is a simple process and is free of charge. Doing so will allow you to register for taxes.

Through the Internal Revenue Service’s website, you can obtain your EIN. There are certain taxes imposed by states that might be applicable to the operation of your firm. 

Credit card readers

T-shirt businesses will of course need to take payment for the services and products they provide. Having access to a low-cost POS card machine is essential to ensure your business can take payment from your customers in a quick and easy manner. 

A card reader such as the Payanywhere Smart Terminal offers a simple pricing model, next day funds in your bank account, integrates with your Quickbooks accounting software and can also provide valuable data insights into sales trends, inventory management and customer behavior.

4. Launch your t-shirt website & social media

A stunning site for your fresh t-shirt company can be created very easily via:

  • DIY building the business website yourself using a Page Builder or
  • Hiring a qualified web designer to build effective landing pages that can drive new leads for your business using high-quality photos, videos, and other visual components that are in keeping with your brand’s aesthetic.

Having a slick, mobile-optimized website has numerous benefits for any business including: 

  • Attracting new customers 24/7, showcasing your services and products at any time 
  • Credibility, making it easier to attract and retain customers 
  • Online presence for Google searches actively looking for t-shirt services in your area
  • Customer engagement by helping to engage with customers regarding business info, photos, videos, feedback forms as well as contact forms
  • Branding A website can help businesses establish and reinforce their brand identity, by incorporating their logo, color scheme, and other branding elements into the design.

Marketing & Social Media

Social media including Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and Twitter are powerful tools for a t-shirt business as they can increase your business visibility, ability to engage with customers, establish and reinforce brand identity, and gather valuable data insights to improve marketing strategies.

Platforms such as Instagram and Facebook alone have billions of active users, providing a  t-shirt business with an opportunity to increase its visibility and reach a wider audience.

Direct Marketing can also be used in the form of Facebook and Google online ads on these platforms to market services and products to potential customers. Backflow testing businesses can use targeted ads to reach specific demographics and interests and use the campaign data to make informed decisions about your next marketing campaigns to drive more sales.

5. Create a Brand Identity for your t-shirt business

To differentiate your company from your competitors, you’ll need to take some time to prepare and concentrate on how you want your consumers to feel & develop a unique personality for your t-shirt business. From the logo’s design to the brand’s color scheme, there is a lot to think about. 

A unique and memorable logo for your business can be professionally created by a talented Graphic Designer from a Logo Design service. 

Hiring a logo design service can save a business time and money by eliminating the need to spend hours researching and creating a logo and a high-quality logo can be designed quickly and efficiently.

The steps to think about include: 

  • 1). Establish the vision and values that guide your t-shirt company. What are you hoping to accomplish with your company? When people consider your t-shirt brand, what do you want them to feel? 
  • 2). Go with a color palette that conveys who you are as a business. Colors say a lot regarding a product or service. If you’re stuck for inspiration, research competing products in your field to discover what colors they’re using.
  • 3). Create a distinctive logo for your t-shirt line. This is the first thing that customers will associate with your brand, therefore it has to be striking. Get in touch with an expert designer to develop a logo that captures the essence of your company while also looking great.
  • 4). Make sure your branding is the same across all platforms. This should include your website banners to your business cards, your logo and color palette are always consistent with your brand. As a result, your brand’s identity will be strengthened and your company’s name recognition will increase.

Making a name for your t-shirt company is unlikely to be as difficult as you would think. Creating a brand that sticks with consumers requires zeroing down on the company’s raison d’etre and core principles. A distinct identity for your t-shirt business may be developed with some forethought and imagination. 

6. Develop a Business Plan for your new t-shirt

A well-developed business plan is a crucial tool for any entrepreneur looking to start a successful business. The plan should include your t-shirt company’s mission and vision, target audience, product offerings, marketing and sales strategies, and financial projections. 

The business plan should be regularly reviewed and updated to ensure that the business is on track to meet its goals.

A business strategy should cover the following:

  • Market Analysis: An in-depth look at how the market for bricklayers is doing now and how it could grow.
  • Business Summary: A description of your new t-shirt business, including its purpose, goods or services, and target market.
  • Business Strategy: A thorough plan that explains how the business is going to reach its goals.
  • Financial Strategy: How much money you expect to make, spend, and need for cash.
  • Marketing Plan: How the business will sell itself and what strategies and methods will be used.
  • Operations: This is an account of the business’s working methods and practices.

7. Get Financing for your t-shirt business

For your t-shirt business, you can use personal savings or decide to use financing solutions for your new venture and you’ll have different options to consider which may work best: A bank loan, crowdfunding, investors or something different. 

A clear, detailed, and comprehensive business and financial strategy is usually expected by banks or other partners from whom you seek for funding. To launch a firm, you could require funding from a bank, credit union, or the Small Firm Administration (SBA). 

The cost to start a t-shirt business can vary depending on factors such as production method, quantity of inventory, and marketing expenses. Generally, starting a small-scale t-shirt business can cost around $500 to $5,000, while a larger operation can require an investment of $25,000 or more.

Some of the major costs associated with starting a t-shirt business include production costs, equipment, website and e-commerce platform fees, Marketing and advertising expenses, business registration and legal fees and trademarking the brand name.

8. Business setup essentials

There are a number of different considerations which t-shirt businesses should keep in mind when setting up including:

Business Planning and Legal Setup

When establishing a t-shirt business, it’s essential to develop a comprehensive business plan and ensure legal compliance. This involves registering the business with relevant authorities, obtaining permits and licenses, and acquiring a tax ID number. Depending on the business’s location and structure, specific permits like sales tax permits and home occupation permits may be necessary.

Location and Equipment

The location and equipment requirements depend on the scale of the t-shirt business. Small operations can often operate from a home-based studio or garage, while larger ventures may require dedicated production or retail spaces. Acquiring reliable equipment such as heat presses, screen printing machinery, sewing machines, and cutting tools is crucial for maintaining product quality and efficiency.

Staffing and Training

Staffing needs will vary based on the size and scope of the t-shirt business. Smaller enterprises may function with a limited number of employees, while larger ones may require teams consisting of designers, printers, and sales staff.

Adequate training should be provided to ensure that employees are well-versed in production methods and quality standards. Customer service training may also be beneficial, especially for businesses directly interacting with consumers.

Product Offering and Marketing

The product offering and marketing strategy play a pivotal role in a t-shirt business’s success. This involves designing or sourcing appealing t-shirt designs, establishing appropriate pricing strategies, and formulating an effective marketing plan.

Businesses can opt for direct consumer sales through online platforms or physical stores, or focus on wholesale or custom orders. Employing marketing tactics like social media campaigns, influencer collaborations, promotional events, and advertising will help establish a strong brand identity and reach the target audience.

Financial Management and Operations

Efficient financial management and operations are vital for the smooth running of a t-shirt business. Implementing a robust bookkeeping and accounting system, closely managing inventory and production costs, and monitoring sales performance are essential.

Regularly analyzing financial data enables informed decision-making, including adjustments to pricing strategies or marketing approaches. Developing a budget and consistently tracking financial information are key components of effective financial management.

Training needed to open a tee shirt business?

Operating a t-shirt business necessitates acquiring specific skills to ensure the production of high-quality products that meet customer expectations. Here are key areas where skill development is crucial:

  • Design expertise: T-shirt businesses thrive on unique, creative, and visually appealing designs. Training in graphic design software like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop is essential. A strong grasp of design principles such as color theory, typography, and layout is vital.
  • Screen printing proficiency: Screen printing is a popular technique for printing designs on t-shirts. To achieve exceptional prints, training in screen preparation, ink mixing, and printing techniques is necessary.
  • Embroidery mastery: Embroidery is another favored method for decorating t-shirts, especially for intricate designs. Proficiency in embroidery software and machine operation is required.
  • Business operations competency: Launching and managing a t-shirt business demands a diverse range of business skills, including financial management, marketing, and customer service. Training in areas such as bookkeeping, social media marketing, and sales is invaluable.
  • Industry awareness: Staying informed about industry trends is crucial for remaining competitive in the t-shirt business. This may involve attending trade shows, networking with industry professionals, and keeping abreast of fashion and design trends.

Regulations for opening a t-shirt business?

Establishing a t-shirt business necessitates adhering to various regulations to prioritize customer safety, environmental protection, and legal operations. Here are some considerations regarding regulations:

  • Business registration: Prior to commencing operations, it is vital to register the t-shirt business with the appropriate government entities. This may entail acquiring a business license, registering for taxes, and obtaining necessary permits.
  • Environmental compliance: If the t-shirt business involves fabric printing or dyeing, it may be subject to environmental regulations. This could involve obtaining permits for wastewater discharge, adhering to air quality standards, or managing hazardous waste responsibly.
  • Consumer product safety: T-shirts are classified as consumer products and must meet specific safety standards. Compliance may entail adhering to labeling requirements, flammability standards, and other safety regulations.
  • Employment regulations: If the t-shirt business employs individuals, it is essential to comply with employment regulations, including minimum wage laws, overtime regulations, and workplace safety standards.
  • Intellectual property: T-shirt designs are considered intellectual property and may be protected by copyright, trademark, or patent laws. It is crucial to ensure that the designs used by the t-shirt business do not infringe upon the rights of others.


How can I start a t-shirt business with no money?

Beginning a t-shirt business with limited financial resources necessitates leveraging freely available online tools for design and marketing purposes, utilizing dropshipping services, and adopting a gradual approach by initially targeting sales within one’s personal network, including family and friends.

How many t-shirts should I start my business with?

Commencing with a modest initial production of 50-100 t-shirts enables you to assess the market and improve your designs before committing to larger quantities.

How profitable is selling t-shirts?

The potential profitability of selling t-shirts can vary significantly, typically ranging from 50-80%. However, this is contingent upon several factors including product quality, pricing, marketing strategy, and target market. By adopting a strategic approach, a t-shirt business has the potential to yield substantial profits.

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