July '22

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6 6 G R A P H I C S P R O J U L Y 2 0 2 2 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M I f you know me, you know I love small business owners. All the qualities you possess are attractive to me; industrious, hard-working, ambitious, resourceful, and most importantly, accountable. So, when I heard someone make a pretty frank com- ment about small business owners, I was a little taken aback. He said, "Everyone deserves to start a business. Not everyone deserves to stay in business." How dare he claim that not everyone deserves to stay in business. But once I let this frank com- ment sink in a bit, I realized he might be right. Quickly my problem-solving side jumped out, and I began thinking about what some small business owners do that gets them into the "deserve" camp? What allows them to grow and thrive? We know we have challenges to overcome, so what do the contenders do differently from the pretenders? I realized that we must hold up the pro- verbial mirror and ask ourselves the tricky questions that lead to; "Am I doing every- thing I need to do?" DIRTY LITTLE SECRET I believe in the good of everyone and have worked hard to surround myself with positive people. I even speak up when I feel like those around me are not being as positive as they could. ey are attracting exactly what they don't want into their lives. I'm left out of the industry's good ole boy network because I don't complain enough. Many friends from the 20+ years I have spent in this industry think I'm nuts for trying to teach business founda- tion, mindset, and success principles. ey know the turnover rate our industry strug- gles with and is honestly the dirty little secret no one tells the new people. Most of the training in the industry comes from the people selling equipment and supplies, and it is their job to get you excited about the latest and greatest. But the equipment and supplies do not determine success or failure. Otherwise, only the people who spent the money on the high-end prod- ucts would be successful. Anyone who used third-party ink and bought cheap presses would always fail. But we know that is not true. People with huge bud- gets have gone out of business. Other busi- nesses started with less than $500 and are very successful. e fact of the matter is our industry has so many new companies coming into the market that they never had to worry about creating good businesspeople. ey only have to get people excited about the potential. What is the difference between someone who is making it work and someone who is struggling? I know it is not the capital they have, the support they get, or even where they live. I hear those three "excuses" all the time, and I can't buy them. I have seen people do more with less. Out of the love I have for small busi- nesses, I will ask you to hold yourself accountable. So here is what I see sepa- rating the contenders from the pretenders. HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE Check your emails. Like it or not, email is an essential business tool. Many people are wearing the "10,000 unread email notifications" as a badge of honor and are missing tremendous opportu- nities. You need to learn how to utilize email. Start by figuring out what is going to your spam folder. en figure out how to safelist what you need for your business success and unsubscribe from everything else. You will find gold in your email only once you embrace it and use it how it is designed to be used. Use a calendar. I can't tell you how many times a day I hear, "oh, yeah, I for- got about that." You are a business owner, a single mom, or perhaps you have a day job. You have many other responsibilities, so use a calendar to keep track of your life. Be religious about getting appoint- ments, training, standing events, family time, work time, and other things in your calendar. en, review the whole schedule weekly and daily to make sure you are pre- pared for what's to come. For a business owner to be a contender, you need to be proficient in using a calendar, then email, and then spreadsheets. Uphold your commitments. Business is about building trust. And not only the trust of your customers but the other peo- ple involved with your business, your sup- port team, your mastermind group, your mentors, and your vendors. Do what you say you are going to do. Start with deliv- ering orders on time. en look at all the other commitments you are making. Look in the mirror and figure out what things are serving you and what things are just done to be a people pleaser. Once you can discern the two, learn to say no gracefully and keep your commitments. Get active in the communities that matter. I see many people who will post a funny picture, share some random quiz, or even jump into the fray when it comes to politics or religion on social media. Awesome! You do you! But what makes you a pretender is that you don't share nearly enough about your business in those same spaces. And if sharing your business there doesn't seem appropriate, should you be spending that time in that space? Look at the communities online or otherwise that you are active in. Are those groups overly moderated, about the latest copyright art someone stole, or honestly more for chit-chat? Spend your valuable time having helpful conversations, not just consuming algorithm feeds. Get engaged in the discussions if it serves all parties involved or get out. Know your numbers. What does it B U S I N E S S S T R A T E G I E S The Rising Tide of Business Hold Yourself Accountable AS A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER, ARE YOU A CONTENDER OR PRETENDER?

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