How to Start an Alteration Business

If you want to make extra money on the side and have unique sewing skills, you can start an alteration business. People will always want their favorite clothes adjusted to fit them well. Alteration saves the client money because they don’t have to buy new clothes. However, before you start your alteration business, you should be aware of the following things.

Write a Business Plan

If you want your alteration business to be successful, you need a roadmap of how you’re going to get there. Estimate the start-up costs. How much is the sewing machine going to cost you? Other items to include in the expenses list include measuring tools, a table for measuring and cutting fabric, mirrors, an ironing board, and an iron and fabrics. You should include recurring costs such as rent, supplies, water and electricity bills, and employee salaries.

In the business plan, identify your target market and how much you intend to charge them. The price is determined by the time it will take to make the alteration and the availability of the fabric. Include some information about the competition and how you’re going to beat them.

Get the Right Equipment

To make multiple alterations, you need a commercial sewing machine that can work with different fabrics. Before you purchase the machine, make sure it’s in good condition. Ask the supplier if they can offer maintenance services. If they can’t, they should refer you to someone that can do it for you at a fair price.

Since your alteration business depends on the sewing machine, you should buy a second one to be used during emergencies. You can operate the second machine if the first one is under maintenance or if you have a large number of orders to fulfill.

Open a Business Account for your Venture

You should not use your account for business transactions because you’ll be tempted to misuse funds. In the process, you may use up all your revenue for personal expenses and forget about operational expenses. As a result, you may cripple operations and force the business to shut down before the end of the first financial year.

You should open a separate business account for all company transactions. Maintaining a separate account protects your assets from business liabilities.

Learn Accounting and Practice Proper Bookkeeping

If you don’t have a background in finance, you should teach yourself accounting for beginners. Learn about the laws of double entry and the importance of recording all transactions. You can pursue these courses for free online.

When you keep proper and accurate records of all your financial transactions, it becomes easy for you to monitor your cash flow. The records also make it easier for you to file taxes.

Choose a Prime Location

The good news is that customers are not used to traveling long distances to get their clothes altered. Therefore, you can commence the business from home as long as you have a ready market. If you live far away, you should lease a shop near the central business district to get customers.

Advertise your Business

Although a prime location is good for bringing in traffic to your shop, you need to advertise if you want your alteration business to grow. Get your business listed on local search listings so that people can find you on the internet.

There should be signage outside your business premises that states what you do. Host local promotional events to get more people to know about you. Put discount signs outside your business premises.


Your customer service should be top-notch if you want to survive in the alteration business. There are other tailors with the same skills as you after your market. Therefore, make sure you stand out through your customer service. For example, offer waiting customers drinks.

When you give customers a time frame, make sure you complete the job on time to avoid inconveniencing the client and wasting their time.

After you’re done with a job, follow up with the client and ask them if they’ve had any issues. Ask them to give you a rating online if they were satisfied with the work.

Brett Sartorial

Brett is a business journalist with a focus on corporate strategy and leadership. With over 15 years of experience covering the corporate world, Brett has a reputation for being a knowledgeable, analytical and insightful journalist. He has a deep understanding of the business strategies and leadership principles that drive the world's most successful companies, and is able to explain them in a clear and compelling way. Throughout his career, Brett has interviewed some of the most influential business leaders and has covered major business events such as the World Economic Forum and the Davos. He is also a regular contributor to leading business publications and has won several awards for his work.