The Umbrella has been around for several years and with each passing year, there have been significant and innovative improvements on umbrella designs and technology. This is all in an attempt to effectively shield us from the rain and the sun. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that you are actively thinking about starting your umbrella business — to meet the ever-growing demand of people who need an umbrella.
Many people have also had this dream of owning their umbrella business, but the lack of an all-encompassing guide on how to start, made their dream to remain a dream and not reality. HF Umbrellas has been a trusted brand in the umbrella industry for many years and we understand what it takes to build an umbrella business from scratch. Here are a few tips we have put together to help you as you plan to start your umbrella business.
1. Access the Existing Umbrella Market
Before you begin your umbrella business, the first step you should take is to become acquainted with the umbrella market. You can do this by carrying out a ton of research to understand the market better. You cannot own a successful umbrella business without first acquainting yourself with the present rules and regulations guiding the umbrella market and the complexities that surround the market.
Understanding the umbrella market involves looking at the requirements of the market and the level of the competition. Trade fairs, exhibitions, and related business journals remain good sources to find the information you need. Many people spend hours creating their business plans, but very few business owners find time to do proper market research as they strategize. For you to have success in the umbrella business, you have to access the market.
Another way to deeply grasp the workings of the umbrella market is to talk to people who are already in the business. And although most competitors would not be willing to help you become a better manufacturer than they are, you should endeavor to learn as much as you can from someone very familiar with the umbrella business.
2. Study the Climate and Weather Conditions of Your Preferred Location
As you study the umbrella market it is also necessary to take note of the current weather conditions of the location you wish to set up your business. The climate and weather condition that characterizes your preferred location would determine the level of demand for umbrellas. In India, for example, there is a higher demand for umbrellas because of the climatic condition of the country. They have their summer season spanning 4 to 5 months. This means that for about half of the year, residents would need an umbrella every time they leave home.
Considering how important the weather is to the umbrella business, you should keep yourself up to date with meteorologists and weather reports. Starting your umbrella business some months prior to the start of spring or summer (when there would be a lot of rain or sun, respectively) would be a very wise move.
3. Study Your Competition
Never assume that you are the only umbrella manufacturer in your location. China, for instance, has thousands of umbrella factories across the country as well as wholesale umbrella businesses, making them the largest producers and sellers of umbrellas. Imagine the amount of competition a new umbrella business would face as they venture into the industry in that location. Before you get your business running, it is advisable to check out the competition; study their modus operandi, and use it to map out your own business strategy.
Conducting research on the competition is a vital tactic that goes a long way to ensure the success of your business. When you take time to learn about the strengths, weaknesses, successes, and failures of your competition, you would know which steps to take, or not take or avoid as you run your umbrella business.
How do you study your competition? You can begin by making a list of most, if not all, your competitors. Then, you can speak with former employees from your competitors’ businesses; some of them could be really forthcoming with information about your competitors. Check out the website of your rivals and study their sales tactics. Highlight the aspects that seem to be working well and think of ways to improve this in your business. You may also employ the help of professional auditors to do a professional review of some sample businesses you would like to emulate.
4. Determine the Scale of Business You Would Like to Run
Before you begin your business, you should try to determine on what scale you want your business to run. In other words, do you want to run a large scale manufacturing company or a small scale “local” business? Knowing the answer to this question would help you in making several decisions concerning your business. For instance, when you know the intended scale of your business, you would be able to make a reasonable estimate of the cost needed to make your dreams a reality.
Many successful business owners advise upcoming business owners to start small, but plan for a big future. Starting your business on a large scale can be very expensive when you consider the various machinery, buildings, and manpower you would need to get that scale of business started.
And so, if it is likely that capital and funding would be a problem, start small and work your way to the top. As a suggestion, instead of buying expensive equipment, you can rent them or you can make use of manual labor. As the business grows, quite a number of these initial decisions would change, seeing that you would finally be able to afford these ‘luxuries’.
5. Outsourcing or Self-Made?
In the umbrella business, you may choose to outsource your designs to an already existing umbrella manufacturing brand and have them manufacture umbrellas for you based on your specified design. Alternatively, you can choose to manufacture your umbrellas in your company. That means that your umbrellas will be self-made. Your company would do all the work ; talking to suppliers of equipment, purchasing machinery, hiring the workers, distribution of the manufactured umbrellas to wholesalers and retailers, and a lot more.
Some of the pros of manufacturing your designs in your company include the control you would have over the quality of the production. You also avoid the waiting period while your umbrella design is being processed for production and you have the advantage of flexibility. Outsourcing, on the other hand, could take off a whole lot of responsibilities and put them on this established manufacturer. You don’t do too much, once you receive your umbrellas you can go ahead to market them.
At HF Umbrellas, we take on the burden of manufacturing umbrellas for umbrella companies who prefer to outsource their designs. Since establishment, we have maintained our reputation and integrity as non-exploitative manufacturers. HF Umbrellas would never be a middleman that takes your profit. We try as hard as we can to manufacture umbrellas that embody our clients’ desires and specifications.
Some of the reasons why companies outsource some tasks are to reduce costs, to improve the productivity of the company, and to ultimately gain speed by skipping the self-production period.
6. Learn About the Umbrella Manufacturing Process
If you want to operate a successful umbrella business, you have to become familiar with the process of manufacturing an umbrella. This is most important for new umbrella manufacturers. Learning about this process would give you an inkling of what to expect as you start to operate your business. For example, it would help you to know the right people to hire, the right equipment to purchase, and how to do proper cost estimation. Let’s look at the process of producing an umbrella in a few easy steps.
● First, we’ll begin with fabric selection. Over the years, umbrella manufacturers have tested, tried, and used a wide range of fabrics for the production of the umbrella canopy; some of these materials include linen, cotton, silk, leather, taffeta, and others. Today, one of the most commonly used fabrics for umbrella canopies is nylon taffeta. As a manufacturer, clients would come to you with different fabric requests as they place their orders and it is left to you to be well informed to advise on more suitable choices for them if the need arises.
● After you have chosen the preferred fabric, you can dive into the fun part — the making of the umbrella. Essentially, creating an umbrella involves the joining of several parts, methodically, by hand. The parts of an umbrella are the canopy, the shaft, ribs, stretchers, runner, and handle. These, except the canopy, could be made of wood, metal, plastic, and many other types of material per request.
● Next is the cutting of the fabric. This is done in two stages. First, you have the “Large or First Cut”. In this stage, you cut the fabric into a suitable size and a rectangular shape with the aid of a machine or manually. The second stage is the “Small or Second Cut”, where you cut the fabric from a rectangular shape to a triangular shape. This is done by using wood, as a mold, to form a triangular shape and then hand-cutting the fabric to the desired mold. When the fabric is triangular, it is called “gores” and these are the panels of the umbrella.
● After cutting is the printing stage. But before printing, you should make a wooden flame that would be used as you print. Using a silkscreen as an example, you take the gores you cut out, place them on a long table, and put the wooden flame on each of them. And by doing this, you have printed your desired graphic onto the fabric.
● The next step is the canopy assembly. If you are making the regular umbrella canopy, you would need to sew 8 pieces of printed gores together using a sewing machine. When your canopy is ready, the next step is to install an umbrella tip, which is a piece of metal or plastic stick that is used at the end of each rib to stabilize the canopy and its ribs. A specialized sewing machine is needed for this step.
● This process cannot be achieved using a machine; it can only be done through hand-assembly. This process involves sewing the canopy to each rib (that is, the umbrella frame). This procedure is closely followed by the installation of the handle with the shaft. This could be done by screwing it on, heating the shaft, or gluing the handle securely in place.
● The last two steps are quality-checking and packaging. The Quality Control staff ensures that every step of the manufacturing process is done to fit quality control standards before the umbrellas are sent for packaging.
The process of making an umbrella takes a lot of work and effort; from the fabric selection to the packaging, several hours are invested in its manufacturing. It is necessary to understand these steps as you venture into the umbrella manufacturing world so that you have a good idea about how quality your umbrellas should be. You can check out our complete umbrella manufacturing guide to see more details.
7. Determine the Estimated Cost
Doing proper cost estimates before and even after you start your umbrella business is an important part of running your umbrella business. There are simply a thousand and one things to take into consideration as you begin to make an estimate and so you must do it right. Cost estimation is the proposed or estimated cost it will take to get the business up and running.
When you know the estimated cost of how much you would need to kickstart your company, you can now start to properly budget and plan the needed capital for your umbrella business. The scale of the business you want to run goes a long way to determine how much you would need and how extensively you need to prepare.
Cost estimation does not only become useful in the area of finances but also for the avoidance of risks. The process of cost estimation helps you to prepare for future risks and hurdles that you may encounter in business. Proper cost estimation adequately prepares you with options or alternatives to maneuver these hurdles. And when the business has already started, your cost estimation serves as a guideline that you stick to so that you do not exhaust your resources.
Although this is more useful after your business has kicked off, it is still important to note. When you do a good cost estimate before the business starts it helps in the long run, even after kickoff. It aids profit analysis by telling you which costs are contributing to the profits of your business. Also, cost estimation gives you a proper idea of your business’ financial state. It also helps you to reduce those overhead costs that your business could incur.
Overhead costs are indirect expenses such as power, insurance, advertising, etc that come up in the running of your umbrella business. A huge percentage of overhead costs can be avoided with proper cost estimation. As you estimate and calculate costs, some major factors should not be left out. They include the equipment or machines needed to manufacture the umbrellas, the manpower, the intended company location, and certain service providers.
8. Determine the Type of Umbrellas You Would Like to Sell
In ancient times, umbrellas were created for the sole purpose of creating shade from the elements of the weather. But, in recent times, quite many umbrella designs, with different uses, have emerged. There are numerous types of umbrellas in the umbrella market today and you have to determine which side you would be leaning towards. Choosing to manufacture all the different types of umbrellas as a startup business could be very overwhelming and sooner than you can imagine, you would be in over your head.
There are two main categories of umbrellas — the straight umbrellas and the foldable umbrellas. The straight umbrellas are the traditional types of umbrellas made up of four parts, the canopy, handle, runner, and tube; each part serves its function. These straight umbrellas can be used as the perfect walking stick or doorman umbrella. The foldable umbrellas, on the other hand, can be easily carried in handbags or glove compartments, making them handier and more practical. The foldable umbrellas can be classified according to the number of folds they deliver. There is the 2-fold, the 3-fold (which is the most common, the 4-fold and the 5-fold (the shortest) styles of umbrellas.
Aside from this broad classification of umbrellas, there are other types of umbrellas. And from this list, you can confidently choose which umbrella(s) you would be manufacturing. Major types of umbrellas include the classic umbrellas, parasols, bubble umbrellas, wind-resistant umbrellas, golf umbrellas, beach umbrellas, paper umbrellas, artistic umbrellas, automatic umbrellas, child umbrellas, street umbrellas, pointed edge umbrellas, blunt edge umbrellas and so much more.
No matter the design or designs you end up adopting for your umbrella business, always remember that a quality umbrella should be comfortable and serve the purpose for which it was made. Ensure that the handle of your umbrellas are ergonomic; that the umbrellas have superior opening and closing technology; and finally, that the canopy’s segments are well connected to the ribs.
9. Reach Out to Umbrella Manufacturers or Material Suppliers
In tip 6 above, we discussed choosing between outsourcing your design and manufacturing them yourself. If you decide to outsource your designs to other umbrella manufacturers, you should gather a list of prospective and trustworthy manufacturers that you can depend on.
After you have done this, you can then sample each of their prices and offers to give you an idea of a company that is best suited to do your manufacturing. At HF Umbrellas we offer businesses the opportunity to place orders for customized or bulk umbrellas at subsidized prices. Our products are quality, affordable, and reliable. We deliver only the very best designs to you.
Alternatively, if you want to go down the self-made path, you need to source for the contacts of suppliers that would provide you with the necessary equipment, machinery and materials for the job. And just like for the outsourcing option, you need to compare the prices of each supplier to ensure that you get a fair price before you begin.
In general, you have to ensure that the suppliers or manufacturers you choose are a good match for your business; they must flow well with the idea you have for your designs. Before you begin the umbrella business with your agents, you must have the necessary legal documents, to ensure your interests are protected.
10. Put in the Work
After ensuring that all items previously discussed have been put in place, our next and final tip is for you to start your umbrella business! The umbrella business is lucrative and many people are also interested in starting theirs. If you delay the process and fail to start your business in a short while, more competition will spring up. You do not have to wait till you have a ton of money; put in the work and start now. The steps have been laid out in simple and clear terms. Utilize these steps to put you ahead of your competition and dominate the market swiftly.
Starting an umbrella business is no easy feat. We’ve been there and we understand this. This is why we have put together this guide for you to navigate through this industry with minimal hitches. Ultimately, the choice to self-manufacture or outsource your designs remains yours. At HF Umbrellas, we are available to manufacture your preferred umbrella designs in bulk. We can also supply already manufactured umbrellas if you have a difficult time choosing a design that suits you. Simply contact us through our email address at [email protected] If you have any questions, our umbrella expert will help you through.
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