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How to Start a Laser Engraving Business

Written by:

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Edited by:

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

How to Start a Laser Engraving Business

Fast Facts

Investment range

$11,300 - $23,300

Revenue potential

$117,000 - $312,000 p.a.

Time to build

3-6 months

Profit potential

$46,800 - $124,800 p.a.

Industry trend




Customized gifts show that the giver has gone the extra mile to personalize the item, whether it’s a pen, an award, or a set of wine glasses. Laser engraving is the most common engraving method, so by investing in a laser engraving machine you could start your own business and join a billion-dollar industry.

But before you hop online to find a machine, you’ll need to understand the business. Fortunately, this step-by-step guide details all you’ll need to know to start a lucrative laser engraving business. 

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons


  • Engraving services is a growing market
  • Bulk order possibilities with business to business sales
  • Good profit potential


  • Commercial laser engravers are expensive
  • Learning curve to use the machine

Laser engraving industry trends

Industry size and growth

Laser Engraving industry size and growth

Trends and challenges


  • Automation technology for laser engraving is rapidly advancing.
  • 3D laser marking is also an emerging technology that’s expected to become common.


  • Advancing technology is forcing laser engraving companies to invest in new equipment in order to compete. 
  • The vapor that comes from engraving some materials can be a health hazard.
Laser Engraving Trends and Challenges

Demand hotspots

  • Most popular states – The most popular states for laser engravers are California, Ohio, and Wisconsin.((https://www.zippia.com/laser-engraver-jobs/))
  • Least popular states – The least popular states for laser engravers are Vermont, Mississippi, and Montana.
Laser Engraving Business demand hotspots

What kind of people work in laser engraving?

  • Gender –  34% of laser engravers are female, while 66% are male.((https://www.zippia.com/laser-engraver-jobs/demographics/))
  • Average level of education – The average laser engraver has a bachelor’s degree.
  • Average age The average laser engraver in the US is 44.1 years old.
Laser Engraving industry demographics

How much does it cost to start a laser engraving business?

Startup costs for a laser engraving business range from $11,000 and $23,000. The largest expenses are the laser engraver and a shop space rental deposit. 

Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corporation$100 - $500$300
Business licenses and permits$100 - $300$200
Website$500 - $1,000$750
Laser Engraver$5,000 - $10,000$7,500
Store space rental and preparation$5,000 - $10,000$7,500
Sales and marketing budget$500 - $1,000$750
Total$11,300 - $23,300$17,300

How much can you earn from a laser engraving business?

How much you charge for engraving will depend on the item and the extent of the engraving but will probably average about $30 per item. Your profit margin should be about 40%.

In your first year or two, you might engrave 75 items a week bringing in $117,000 in revenue. This would mean $46,800 in profit, assuming that 40% margin. 

As you gain traction, you might engrave 200 items a week. With annual revenue of $312,000, you’d make a tidy profit of $124,800.

Laser Engraving Business earning forecast

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entry for a laser engraving business. Your biggest challenges will be:

  • Funding the startup costs
  • Learning to use the laser engraver

Related Business Ideas

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How to Start a Laser Engraving Business

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Step 2: Hone Your Idea

develop a business idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a laser engraving business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market. 

Market research could give you the upper hand even if you’ve got the perfect product. Conducting robust market research is crucial, as it will help you better understand your customers, your competitors, and the broader business landscape.

Analyze your competitors 

Research laser engraving businesses in your area to examine their services, price points, and customer reviews.

  • Make a list of laser engraving businesses that offer similar services. 
  • Review your competitors’ services– their features, pricing, and quality – and marketing strategies
  • Check out their online reviews and ratings on Google, Yelp, and Facebook to get an idea of what their customers like and dislike.
  • Identify your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. 

This should identify areas where you can strengthen your business and gain a competitive edge to make better business decisions.

Why? Identify an opportunity

You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a laser engraving business for jewelry, or that does bulk orders of trophies.

You might consider targeting a niche, such as silver engraving. This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away. 

What? Determine your products or services

In addition to engraving items that customers bring in, you could sell ready to engrave gift items to bring in more revenue.

How much should you charge for laser engraving?

Your prices should be based on market prices in your area, but also on your ongoing costs. 

Once you know your costs, use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

Your target market will be mostly people having gifts engraved, but it could also be businesses that want to have awards or promotional items personalized. You should market on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn to cover those bases.

Where? Choose your business premises

You’ll need to rent out a shop space. You can find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.

When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:

  • Central location accessible via public transport
  • Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
  • Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
  • Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
Laser Engraving Business idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Laser Engraving Business Name

Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better 
  • Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “engraving” or “laser engraving”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “AllMark Engraving Studios” and “EngraveExpand Solutions” over “PrecisionPulse Engravings” and “LaserCraft Detailing”
  • Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
  • Use online tools like the Step by Step Business Name Generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. 

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead and reserve your business name with your state, start the trademark registration process, and complete your domain registration and social media account creation. 

Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick a name, reserve it and start with the branding, it’s hard to switch to a new name. So be sure to carefully consider your choice before moving forward. 

Step 4: Create a Laser Engraving Business Plan

Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:

  • Executive Summary: Summarize your laser engraving business plan, highlighting key aspects like your niche market and revenue goals.
  • Business Overview: Provide a brief description of your laser engraving business, including the types of materials you engrave on (e.g., wood, metal, glass) and any unique offerings like custom designs.
  • Product and Services: Detail the specific engraving services you provide, such as personalized gifts, industrial marking, or promotional products.
  • Market Analysis: Analyze the demand for laser engraving services in your target market, considering factors like competition, customer preferences, and emerging trends.
  • Competitive Analysis: Identify and evaluate competitors in the laser engraving industry, highlighting your competitive advantage, such as cutting-edge equipment or exceptional craftsmanship.
  • Sales and Marketing: Outline your strategies for reaching potential customers, including online marketing, partnerships with local businesses, and trade show participation.
  • Management Team: Introduce key team members responsible for running the laser engraving business, emphasizing their experience in laser technology and design.
  • Operations Plan: Describe the day-to-day operations of your business, covering areas like order processing, production workflow, quality control, and shipping.
  • Financial Plan: Present financial projections, including startup costs, revenue forecasts, operating expenses, and expected profitability for your laser engraving business.
  • Appendix: Include supplementary materials such as samples of engraved products, customer testimonials, and photos of your engraving equipment.
what to include in a business plan

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business! 

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to laser engraving businesses. 

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state. 

Choose your business structure

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your laser engraving business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely. 

Here are the main options:

  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts. Here’s how to form an LLC.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation. Read how to start a corporation here.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
types of business structures

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have. 

Form Your LLC

Choose Your State

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Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN. 

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

  • Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best option, other than friends and family, for funding a laser engraving business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept.  

types of business financing

Step 8: Apply for Business Licenses/Permits

Business Licenses and Permits

Starting a laser engraving business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits. 

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your laser engraving business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account. 

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of the above insurance types.
types of business insurance

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

Launching a Business

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business. 

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.  

You may want to use industry-specific software, such as Printavo, or shopworks, to manage your orders, inventory, work flows, and sales. 


  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero
  • If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.

Create a website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism. You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

Your customers are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. 

Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Order Now”. This can sharply increase purchases. 


Here are some powerful marketing strategies for your future business:

  1. Local Partnerships: Forge partnerships with local businesses, such as trophy shops, gift stores, or event planners, to offer personalized laser-engraved products, expanding your reach within the community.
  2. Social Media Challenges: Launch engaging social media challenges that encourage users to share photos or stories of their laser-engraved items, leveraging user-generated content to showcase your craftsmanship.
  3. Demo Days: Host live demonstration events at popular local spots or markets to showcase your laser engraving process, allowing potential customers to witness the quality and precision of your work firsthand.
  4. Corporate Gifting Programs: Approach local businesses with corporate gifting programs, offering customized promotional items or awards for employees and clients, establishing long-term partnerships and recurring orders.
  5. DIY Kits and Workshops: Create DIY laser-engraving kits or host workshops to empower customers to personalize their items, establishing a connection with your brand while tapping into the growing trend of DIY culture.
  6. Seasonal Promotions: Develop seasonal promotions tied to holidays, weddings, or other events, showcasing unique and timely laser-engraved products to attract customers looking for special, personalized gifts.
  7. Loyalty Programs: Implement a loyalty program that rewards repeat customers with discounts or exclusive engraving options, encouraging customer retention and word-of-mouth referrals.
  8. Collaborate with Influencers: Partner with local influencers or content creators who align with your brand to showcase your laser-engraved products, reaching a wider audience through authentic and relatable content.
  9. Trade Shows and Exhibitions: Participate in relevant trade shows or exhibitions to showcase your craftsmanship to a targeted audience, network with potential clients, and stay abreast of industry trends.
  10. Referral Discounts: Establish a referral program offering discounts or incentives to customers who refer friends or family, leveraging word-of-mouth marketing to expand your customer base.

Focus on USPs

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your laser engraving business meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire. 

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your laser engraving business could be: 

  • Elevate your gifts, keepsakes, and products with our custom laser engraving services.
  • Discover the artistry and meticulous craftsmanship of our laser engraving techniques.
  • Make a lasting impact with our premium laser engraving solutions.
unique selling proposition


You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a laser engraving business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in laser engraving for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections. 

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in laser engraving. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. 

Step 12: Build Your Team

Building a Team for a New Business

If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a laser engraving business include:

  • Shop workers – engrave items, customer service
  • Marketing lead – create and implement marketing strategies
  • General manager – scheduling, accounting

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need. 

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent. 

Step 13: Run a Laser Engraving Business – Start Making Money!

Running a Business

Gifts, trophies, plaques, jewelry – the possibilities are endless. Starting your own laser engraving business could be fun and quite profitable in a billion dollar industry. It’s a business that could even expand and become a franchise.

Now that you’ve got the business tools, you’re ready to get your successful laser engraving business started!

Laser Engraving Business FAQs

Is a laser engraving business profitable?

The profitability of a laser engraving business can vary depending on factors such as market demand, competition, pricing strategy, operational efficiency, and marketing efforts. However, laser engraving businesses can be profitable as they offer unique customization services for a wide range of industries. Thorough market research, identifying target customers, and delivering high-quality services are important for maximizing profitability.

What happens during a typical day at a laser engraving business?

A typical day at a laser engraving business involves administrative tasks, production operations, and customer interactions. Activities may include receiving and reviewing customer orders, preparing design files, setting up equipment, running engraving processes, inspecting and packaging finished products, interacting with customers, managing inventory, marketing the business, and handling finances.

What is the growth potential of a laser engraving business?

The growth potential of a laser engraving business can be significant due to increasing demand for personalized and customized products, advancements in laser technology, growing e-commerce platforms, diversification into new markets or sectors, expanding service offerings, developing strategic partnerships, and continuous innovation to stay updated with design trends and techniques.

What type of business is a laser engraving business?

A laser engraving business falls under the category of customization services or specialty manufacturing. It operates in the realm of personalization, catering to individuals, businesses, organizations, and industries looking to enhance their products, branding, or promotional efforts through laser engraving. The scale of the business can range from small local enterprises to larger production facilities serving national or international markets.


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How to Start a Laser Engraving Business