Interesting Summer Job Idea #1

Looking for a unique summer job idea? Have I got one for you or what! Now I know I have had my share of crazy ideas, but hear me out this time. First, a little background:

People often say that first impressions are everything, and I would tend to agree. The primacy effect is usually more prevalent than the recency effect. Having said that, I want to make a good first impression to the developers who will be lined up (haha) to attend an MSDN event at SilverCity on Thursday. Dickson and I will be in attendance promoting our .NET User Group, Edmonton .NET Wizards. I want to make a good impression so that they sign up for our user group.

So how do you get the first impression to be positive? Well as far as I am concerned, you do it with color – not black and white. So for Thursday, I created a nice little pamphlet with some brief information on our group, and all the relevant contact information. And of course, I made it in color. At this point I was thinking hooray, step one done, got the pamphlet, all I need to do now is copy it! Here’s where the job idea comes in!

I looked around for prices on color copying and was astounded at the cost! The first place I checked was Staples, where the price is 76 cents per page. For my double-sided pamphlet, that’s $1.52 per page – with no taxes or special paper. The cheapest price I eventually found was 39 cents per page, so 78 cents per pamphlet. Let’s say I wanted to get 500 copies; the best price I would get is still over $300! And that got me thinking…

Why is it so much? Well a number of reasons came to mind. Most companies offer some sort of guarantee on time, so tying up a machine is expensive. Most of these companies also cater to larger quantities of copies as it is more cost effective for them. Still I couldn’t help but think that it could be done for less! How to take advantage of the current market situation?

Well here are some economics for you. The most inexpensive color copier at Futureshop is the HP PSC1110 selling for $129. I bought 500 pages of Xerox Premium Inkjet paper today from Staples for $9.99 (this paper is 24 lbs, and 113 brightness, so its good stuff). The PSC1110 copies color pages at 6 pages per minute. So let’s say you purchased the machine, and two packages of paper. And let’s assume it comes with brand new ink cartridges (well we don’t need to assume, it will). Your total startup cost would be $148.98 excluding taxes. If you charged 20 cents per color copy, which is roughly half the price of the cheapest place I found and roughly one quarter the price of Staples where most people probably end up going, you’d break even after your first 750 copies. And it would take only 125 minutes of copying time, or slightly more than 2 hours. That, boys and girls, is a much better way to make a little cash than starting a painting franchise, let me tell you.

And as I mentioned above, you could cater to the smaller jobs, where time isn’t so important, and the need for 1000 or more copies just isn’t present. Of course, I have ignored marketing or other expenditures for this little example, but you get the idea. And marketing costs wouldn’t be that much anyway – just some use out of your new machine and your time to send out some flyers. And if you stressed that you are a student, etc, you’d do quite well I think.

So what did I end up doing? I decided to spend $30 for a new ink cartridge and print the copies myself. I found out after checking on prices that I only needed 250 copies, so I figured what the heck, $50 beats over $300 any day of the week. It’s kind of a pain though, so believe me, I would much rather have paid you the $100 (250 copies times your awesome price of 20 cents per page times 2 sides) for better paper and a quality job.

7 thoughts on “Interesting Summer Job Idea #1

  1. hey bro….remember paddle has a company too and hes got printing hook-ups…although i doubt you would have gotten a good deal from any print shop in town, keep in mind i’m just a click away!

  2. The only problem that I see with your plan is that you are still working with injet technology. Get the paper wet and the ink will run and ruin your work. Injet technology is still say slower than laser technology and much more expensive. The solution (although a little more expensive) is to buy a personal color laser printer to do the work. Your customer can e-mail you the file or you can scan the document and print it that way. The cost of color laser printing is definitely cheaper than the inkjet solution and your customer will be happier = repeat business and word of mouth business.

  3. True that laser would be better, but the example is still illustrative of what could be done.

    If you could find a laser printer cheap enough, it would probably work out similarly, just a few more copies before the break even point probably.

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