What Kind of Business Do You Run?

Business Lessons

Are you a business that screen prints or are you running screen printing business?

You took the plunge into this industry on a whim of hobby-searching, curiosity, craziness, and a little bit of creativity. Sounds familiar?

Can you remember purchasing your first single color press and figuring out how to coat a screen with a bucket of that colorful goop that was supposed to help create crystal clear designs?

Do you remember the struggle of learning what exposure time was?

What about the time your design wouldn’t wash out of a screen?

Can you think back to your first order you weltered through, learning the hard way what it meant to pull white ink through a screen on a dark garment?

What about the moment you realized you could make money decorating garments?

Lightbulb moment— “people will actually pay me money for this!”

Fast track a few months, even years, do you remember when you decided to make a career out of becoming a screen printer?

Do you remember when you left your full-time job to focus on your business?

Everyone has a different journey. You can go back in time like it was yesterday, reminiscing about the late night garage shop prints that you started out prying your way into this lucrative industry. Those are special— definitely.

But now you are an established screen printer, living the dream of being an entrepreneur, but your diploma probably does not read “Masters in Screen Printing Business Operations”

So we ask the question again— are you a business that just so happens to screen print, or are you a screen printing business? You see, these two things are completely different, and it is important that you understand the difference early on, as you establish yourself as an entrepreneur.

Let’s take a closer look at Apple, a company that has revolutionized technology at our fingertips and changed the way we operate on a day to day basis.

Apple started with computers, right? They were meant to be user-friendly, simple, aesthetically appealing, and functional for the everyday consumer.

Then they made a pivot to handheld music devices, the (archaic now) iPod! Do you remember your first 20 gb iPod, or even better when the iPod Nano came out? They were user-friendly, simple, aesthetically appealing, and functional for the everyday consumer. You even liked the packaging.

And then came iTunes, iPads, and now the Apple Watch, the Apple TV, MacBook Pro, and the self-driving car :). Anything Apple makes has a reputation. It is user-friendly, simple, aesthetically appealing, and functional for the everyday consumer.

So is Apple a computer company? Or a customer service, technology company that just so happens to make computers, iPads, Watches, TV’s and hopefully self driving cars?

Your business is similar, and you should take a closer look at what you value in your business and how you want your customers to view you. If you are just a screen printer, be wary because there are tons of them in the industry that can easily outbid you and steal your customers. Instead, you need to define your company by the values you have developed in the business and apply those to everything you do in your company.

This creates brand awareness for your business and gives your customers something they value you for.

Instead of just being a “screen printing company” you can create a list based on these few examples:

How about being…

Customer Service Oriented—  that just so happens to screen print.

Speed & Efficiency Focused— that just so happens to DTG

Quality & Creativity Oriented— that just so happens to embroider

Personal Relationship Driven— that just so happens to sell promotional material.

Why is this so important in today’s world?

Everything matters now. Every print matters, every customer matters, every word of mouth makes a difference. And the worst of it is you need exponentially more of them today, because of the digital world.

You go on OpenTable and Yelp to figure out where you are dining out, right? Scavenging through pictures and 5 star reviews, you decide to go somewhere based on how good it looks. When you search on Amazon you filter by PrimeNow and anything over 4 Stars.

If you catch yourself doing this, your customers will do the same thing when searching for you. Your Facebook, Google Listing, and Yelp page need to be jam-packed with 5 star reviews that are special and personal to your business.

In a recent Podcast called How I built this, an NPR podcast about business founders by the host, Guy Raz, he interviews Tony Hseih, founder of Zappos, an online shoe company acquired by Amazon for over a billion dollars.

In the podcast, Hseih says he knew nothing about shoes, he just ran a company that was laser-focused on amazing customer service, free shipping, free returns, and ease of use. He wanted to eliminate the friction in buying shoes online.

You should treat your business the same way and come up with specific values that define your company. If you don’t have them written down already, spend time with your team coming up with them and start living by them. Make sure they are on every flyer your company puts out, and at the bottom of every email. When an employee exemplifies one of those values, make sure everyone knows about it.

As we prepare for the new year it is important to look internally at how you and others look at your business. As you grow old, you want to retire, sell, or pass off a business that is worth something more than just the industry you worked in.

Image source: BBALL JUNKIES


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Printavo ​​is simple shop management software. Whether your shop works with screen printing, embroidery, signage, digital printing, or awards & engraving–we make your complex workflow simpler to manage and understand. Printavo keeps your shop organized by handling scheduling, estimates, quote approvals, workflow, payments, accounting and more. With Printavo, you’ll work smarter–not harder.

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