Welcome to the forums
It's great that you already have a niche in mind. And because your interests include fishing as stated in your profile, you already know your customer base and probably have some initial contacts for your first few orders. So you're off to a good start. Oftentimes, people start an embroidery business not knowing their target market; sadly it becomes an expensive learning experience.
Originally Posted by jwconnelly
Is a one head sufficient or should I start right with a two head?
A single head is fine for a startup embroidery business. When your business grows, you can add another machine--a multihead--to meet and exceed production requirements. Thereafter, your single head can be dedicated for producing embroidered samples and small orders.
As for the pros and cons of an Amaya embroidery machine, I really can't comment on that as my experience with it is limited to demos at embroidery trade shows and opinions of some people in the industry. However, one thing that impressed me about Amaya was its unique feature of having the ability to network with other Amaya embroidery machines. This feature of being modular is certainly a plus.
I'm sure somebody reading this post will comment on their experience with Amaya. I also found this Amaya Users
site that you can browse/search for users' experiences.
When buying an embroidery machine, people often overlook one crucial aspect in their decision-making process--reliable technical support. Whether it's the embroidery operator's fault or the machine, a busy business cannot afford to have their machine down or not functioning properly. If that machine is not stitching when it's supposed to, you’re simply losing money. You will find that embroidery machines tend to have issues when you need them the most! Reliable technical support is key.
Here is another post about buying a commercial embroidery machine
Embroidery digitizing is another issue for startup embroidery businesses. To digitize, or not to digitize: that is the question. You may be very excited starting your own business and it's natural to want to do everything yourself. You may get an offer to "save" money on a top-level digitizing software when purchasing a new machine if both are purchased together as a package/bundle. But are you really saving money?
If you’re new to embroidery, you will not be digitizing like the pros in a couple days, weeks, or months. I know plenty of people who bought top-level digitizing software that never used them; not because they were not capable of learning digitizing, but because they lacked the necessary embroidery experience. You have to be good at embroidery first before you really become a good digitizer, but this is another topic altogether.
Get a low-level digitizing software instead as a package with your machine that allows you to view, organize, convert, edit, and do lettering that can also be upgraded to top-level with full digitizing capabilities in the future if and when you do decide on digitizing designs yourself.
Outsource your digitizing needs in the beginning and spend your time marketing your business and focus on getting customers. Once you know how to produce quality embroidery, only then consider learning digitizing. However, you may find that your business would be better off if you continue outsourcing digitizing. Meaning, you may be more productive outside marketing and selling as supposed to spending hours in front of the computer digitizing. It all depends on the person and situation. Contracting digitizing also allows you to tap into that digitizer's resources and know-how which is a fantastic bonus especially to those just starting out.