You would be crazy not to!

Running a successful independent design and print business is not the easiest thing in the world to achieve. In the past, many would-be print entrepreneurs started by joining a franchise, but with the collapse of the Prontaprint and Kall Kwik franchise networks in 2011, choices in this area are severely limited. As a result of this, a group of experienced and successful former franchisees formed the UK Design & Print Network (UKDPN). UKDPN now comprises over sixty member businesses and now included members who do not have a franchise background.

Benefits of membership

Apart from the incredibly helpful on-line forum used to share ideas, best practice and provide assistance to each other the UKDPN group have worked hard to:

• Negotiate some great pricing deals in relation to the running of a design & print business
• Run an annual conference to help learn & share ideas
• Run events including product seminar days to help understand new ways of growing your business
• Provide a forum for help, advice and knowledge. Ask a question and someone on the forum will have the answer.

Last year we have run two training courses for members on AdWords and Cross Media which are also free of charge to attend (Birmingham location) and an annual conference at Coombe Abbey in Warwickshire. However apart from the paper and equipment deals that the purchasing team have negotiated as a bench mark for all our companies the biggest benefit is from the knowledge sharing. An example of this was when one member was purchasing a Xerox J75. Knowledge shared on the forum ensured that the member had the click price lowered by 0.3p fixed for 3 years plus a lower capitol purchase price. That deal alone would never have been achieved without being a member and will save him nearly £10K over the 4-5 year ownership. This is just one area where the collective wisdom of the members would help a good deal to be achieved.

As an example of how this has worked for the 2014/15 members there has been an offer on a trial pack of the new Multiloft paper which can be bought from Premier Paper at cost price (100 sheets) and on top of that on presenting your invoice to UKDPN there is an additional £65 rebate sent back which is from sponsorship funds.

What does all this cost?

Just £100.00 per year - but you can try it out for nothing!

Apply for a trial account (free for 3 months and no obligation) to check out the UKDPN forum to see if membership works for you. You would not have access to any of the members deals during the trial period.

To be honest anyone who is in our business (B3 / Digital / large Format / Design) would be crazy not to as the annual cost of £100 per annum is usually saved within a month or two. The criteria for being a member is simple and straightforward.

Please contact me on 07971 820 990 or
[email protected]

I would be pleased to answer any questions that you may have.
 
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Why every printer should offer web design

(If you don’t already do it)

Website design can not only be a profitable part of any print business, it also dovetails perfectly into the existing services that most printers provide. If you offer design services, there is really no reason not to offer web design too. I did this, in a small way, as long ago as the late nineties.

Back then, coding was a complete mystery to me, so we designed the web sites and partnered with another local business that did the coding, hosting and posting. We would supply them with visuals of the pages and jpeg files of the graphic elements, and they did the rest. We then put a markup on the (pre-agreed) fee they charged us. We even made (a little) money from annual site maintenance! This arrangement was working well right up until we sold the business in 2004.

When I set up Business Momentum, web design was not part of my business plan but I did need a website for myself. I bought an inexpensive software package called Rapidweaver (Mac only, £59.99 (December 2014)) and set about creating a website for Business Momentum. Using this simple template based system for website design. There are other, similar, systems available, but at the time, Rapidweaver seemed the most suitable. The original Business Momentum site has since been replaced by my current site.
Until recently, I have never offered website design as a service but I had been asked to design websites for several other businesses. Despite using this simple system, sites designed have included features such as videos, blogs, online forms, ftp uploads and even a shopping cart system linked to Paypal!

Any print business with basic graphic design skills could fill the website needs of most small businesses without much investment in time or software. Web design dovetails perfectly with graphic design and it’s easy to use design elements that you may have already created for your customers - very profitably.

As for me, I’ve just upgraded to Rapidweaver 6 (Dec 2014) and find, as with most things in life, the more I do, the more I learn.
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What has happened to Business Momentum?

Not so much a re-brand - more of a de-brand!

The web address for Business Momentum (www.bizmomentum.co.uk) now re-directs to my new web address, which is www.paulstokes.eu.

Ten years ago, when the sale of our design and print business was imminent, I did not have a plan for life after Prontaprint,
Picture of Paul Stokes
beyond taking an extended holiday, but I knew that I certainly wasn’t going to retire! One thing I did do before the sale of the business was completed, was to design and print business stationery for myself, while I still had the facilities to do it. The Business Momentum brand was deliberately non-descriptive because, at that time, I had no idea quite what I would use it for.
As it happened, I wandered first, into a twelve month MIS project with a commercial printer, followed by just under four years as a salaried consultant with ODC. So five years later, having been made redundant from ODC, I had a ready made brand for the training services I offered. At that time I took it for granted that I would use the brand that I had ‘on the shelf’. However, since then, I have had numerous comments from clients and friends who say that they use my services because of my personal reputation. It now seems more appropriate to trade without the façade of a business name, so I will be de-branding and continuing in my own name from now on.
This website now reflects a variety of my activities, both business, and personal, so please explore the links below - I hope you enjoy it!
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Creating The Endgame

There are two personal questions that I am frequently asked. The first is "Why did you sell your business?" The second is usually a variation on the theme of "How difficult was it to sell?"

The answer to the first question can be quite long, as with any major decision, it was influenced by many factors, but the short answer is that Mary and I decided that we'd had enough of the pressures of running a business and decided to change to a lifestyle that involved shorter working hours.

The answer to the second question is that we prepared the business for sale over a period of about two and a half years, and when it came down to it sold far more quickly than we had anticipated. As with any sales process, you need luck, but there's an old saying that "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity".

In preparing the business for sale I had in mind the kind of person that I would like to take it on. This is contrary to advice in "how to do it" books and the like but there were two personal factors that were important to me. The first was a responsibility to my staff to bring in an employer who would maintain their prosperity. The second was simply that I had started the business from scratch, and wanted to pass it on to someone who would develop it. Never the less, with this in mind I went about maximising profit, whilst investing in the condition of the business and premises.

The 'received wisdom' at the time was that selling would take two to three years from the time we put the business on the market. We sold in ten months, and at a price that was toward the upper end of the valuation we had been given.

If you would like my confidential assistance in preparing your business for sale, please contact me on 07971 820 990 or
[email protected]
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A free six year warranty from Apple?

The screen of my Mk1 iPad failed recently. Apple’s guarantee is twelve months and my iPad is over three years old, but I decided to take into the local Apple Store to see what could be done, half expecting to told to buy a new one.
It seems that Apple have their own interpretation of UK consumer law, because although my iPad was not covered under Apple’s warranty, they gave me a new one free of charge! The staff in the Apple Store call this “The six year rule”, and it applies to any Apple hardware. The process (including deleting the data from my old iPad) took about ten minutes - no quibbles.
There seemed to be two factors that influenced their decision. I originally bought my iPad from the store that I took it back to, and my iPad did not look “knocked about”.
So if you have a Mac, Apple monitor, iPhone or iPad that has failed, but is in “good condition” - and is up to six years old - take it back!
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The joy of documentation

We all know how we do what we do, don’t we?

Or perhaps we wouldn’t be doing it.

The question is…

How does everything get done when we’re not there?

Does anyone in your team know how to do what you do?

Do they even really understand what it is that you do do?

They could - if you document what you do.

It’s a curiously liberating thing to do. Writing a step by step description of any task in a way that would enable someone else to do attempt the same thing.

In an odd way, you would show yourself just how good you are, and make a note of all the skills that are required to do what it is you do.

It’s said that running a small business requires you to be a generalist rather than a specialist, but doesn’t being a generalist require a multiplicity of specialist skills and procedures?

Write them down!

Simply making a list of the daily tasks that you carry out would be a great way to start. Doing this will help you to delegate parts of that list.

There’s a bonus…

Writing out procedures in this way often allows us to see how we could improve how we do what we do! - especially if you’ve been doing things in the same way for years.

So time invested in this simple process could have two benefits; Increased delegation, and improving your own ways of doing things.
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New EU Regulations that affect you

(This posting by courtesy of A. Wood)

Like it or not, our country’s membership of the European Union (EU) has a way of influencing almost everything we do.

A couple of new EU regulations collectively know as the EU Timber Regulations (EUTR), have started to send ripples of concern through UK companies who trade in or use materials which have their origins in forests. Paper and board can be traced back through pulp to the forests which grew the trees, so this affects you.
The UK Government has added EUTR requirements to our burden of red tape through a new statutory instrument (2013 No. 233) entitled “The Timber and Timber Products (Placing on the Market) Regulations 2013.

This contains a number of new offences for failing to comply with the following:

a) Article 4 (1) of the Timber Regulation (prohibition on placing illegally harvested timber on the market);
(b) Article 4 (2) of the Timber Regulation (obligation to exercise due diligence);
(c) Article 4 (3) of the Timber Regulation (obligation to maintain and evaluate due diligence system);
(d) Article 5 of the Timber Regulation (traceability obligation);
(e) Article 5 (1) of the Implementing Regulation (record-keeping obligation);
(f) Regulation 10 (obstruction of an inspector); or
(g) A notice of remedial actions.

These regulations place particular pressure on companies bringing timber or materials containing forest products into our country from outside the EU, paper companies and merchants for example. The regulations also have implications for companies using these materials.

Government powers available to deal with failure to comply with these requirements include: remedial action, seizure of material, fines and imprisonment.
In order to protect your company from prosecution, you must be able to demonstrate that you have assessed the risks associated with your supply chain, have exercised due diligence in the procurement of materials and have records to support these actions.
Those members of the forum who are also members of The Group Scheme will have a Chain of Custody manual, policy, procedures and records already go a long way towards demonstrating compliance. Our documentation is being updated to provide better protection. Updates will be rolled out in the New Year.

If you are not a member of our FSC Group Scheme and would like to know more, please contact me for more information.

There was an interesting article about this in Printweek, Which can be read at
this link (you may need to register).
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A free six year warranty from Apple?

The screen of my Mk1 iPad failed recently. Apple’s guaranty is twelve months and my iPad is over three years old, but I decided to take into the local Apple Store to see what could be done, half expecting to told to buy a new one.

It seems that Apple have their own interpretation of UK consumer law, because although my iPad was not covered under Apple’s warranty, they gave me a new one free of charge! The staff in the Apple Store call this “The six year rule”, and it applies to any Apple hardware. The process (including deleting the data from my old iPad) took about ten minutes - no quibbles.

There seemed to be two factors that influenced their decision. I originally bought my iPad from the store that I took it back to, and my iPad did not look “knocked about”.

So if you have a Mac, Apple monitor, iPhone or iPad that has failed, but is in “good condition” - and is up to six years old - take it back!
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Why FSC?

Business Momentum can provide highly cost effective training in FSC® Chain of Custody, allowing you to achieve rapid implementation of practical and simple systems in order to meet the requirements of the FSC Chain of Custody standard. The process is quick and easy, using ready-made templates to set up the system, hence minimising costs. Only those organisations that have FSC chain of custody certification can legally use FSC labelling on their products.

Why FSC?
Increasingly, printers are being asked by their clients to secure responsibly sourced materials and, more specifically, paper and timber which is Forest Stewardship Council® certified. Whilst anyone can claim to purchase FSC certified paper, only those printers that operate within an FSC certified chain of custody can actually verify this to their customers.

FSC certification helps small and medium sized print businesses to:
  • take the first step for an environmental accreditation
  • win business
  • to comply with tender criteria and legislation for the environment. It is now becoming more and more essential for business to achieve the FSC Chain of Custody standard

Paul Stokes, of Business Momentum, is also a director of The Group Scheme, the UK's fastest growing FSC Chain of Custody group scheme for the Paper, Publishing and Print sectors. Membership of The Group Scheme is open to print related businesses with 15 or fewer employees. Fees for membership of the group scheme are available on request.

Who are FSC?
FSC is an international, non-governmental organisation dedicated to promoting responsible management of the world’s forests. It was founded in 1993 in response to public concern about deforestation and demand for a trustworthy wood-labelling scheme. There are national working groups in more than 50 countries including the UK. FSC UK is a registered charity. It is supported by NGOs including WWF, Greenpeace and the Woodland Trust.
FSC is not responsible for the content of any training offered by Business Momentum
Where companies fall outside the Group Scheme criteria above, Business Momentum can prepare them for compliance with the standard, and can arrange for assessment via an FSC accredited certification body.

To download our membership information pack, click here.
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Marketing for small printers

(If you don’t already do it)

Many of the small print businesses that I know rebranded at the end of 2011. Some of them have spun out a marketing programme from their rebrand, but many have not, perhaps only running a limited “Anniversary” campaign after their first year as an independent printer. Some have done nothing at all, and have recently been noticing the effect of this lack of marketing activity.

It turns out that the one thing that some of you actually miss from the franchise days, is having a BDM! Now we all know that the value of individual BDMs varied enormously over the years. Some were greatly appreciated, and some, not so much. The better ones were good at encouraging franchisees to see the value of marketing their businesses, and to get on and do something about it. Everyone has experience of how the important, but non-urgent task of promoting our businesses can be a near impossible discipline to maintain on a regular basis. The ‘urgent’ has a nasty way of overpowering the ‘important’.

I have been asked by a couple former franchisees to provide some BDM style marketing support. The travel costs involved in supporting businesses that are not local to me would be prohibitive, so I have devised a remote support programme, which includes.
  • One-to-one on line collaboration with the business owner to produce a marketing plan.
  • Extracting customer data from PrintSmith.
  • Setting up templates, and managing data for Mailchimp (or similar) emailing programmes.
  • Compiling ’Lapsed’, and more importantly, ‘Lapsing’ data from PrintSmith.
  • Analysing the success of marketing activities.
…and more.
Are you conducting structured, regular marketing activity? Can I help?

Contact me
[email protected] for a quick chat about your requirements.
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Contemplating a rebrand?

Contemplating a rebrand? - Some things to ponder…

The new brand should advance customer perception of your business in line with the businesses next stage of development.

Identify core business offering and efficiency areas
What are the most profitable or successful aspect of your business? Is there a product or service that takes up a disproportionate amount of your time? Can you use the rebranding (and possible repositioning) of your business to improve this?

Plan any repositioning of the business
What direction do you want to take the business in? Is there a service that you don’t offer, that could be making you money? Could rebranding be used to also launch additional services such as web design or cross-media? Would you have the expertise for this in-house, or could part of the new service be sub contracted until you do? From a marketing point of view, launch any new service two to three months after the rebrand would make sense (it could be pre-announced in the the rebrand).

List admin tasks
Inform suppliers, banks, telecoms, insurers etc.

Include all employees in the plan
Vital. Particularly important that all your team ‘buy in’ to your plan. Include the whole team in discussions. Give ownership of certain aspects to individuals or groups of your staff. Keep them informed.

List Marketing tasks/make a plan
Plan
and budget for the re-launch. Plan post launch continuity. Making a splash with a re-launch is relatively easy. Continuing to build awareness of your new brand locally is an entirely different matter. Three months after the launch (when it’s old news) you need to continually find innovative ways of bringing your business to peoples attention - on a regular basis.

Design new logo
Not as easy as it sounds - The new logo will be something you should not change for at least three years. Is it a good idea for it to be reminiscent of the old one? - Or is a complete break desirable? There quite a few design tricks that can be used - I know of one company that changed it’s logo from a stylised ‘E’ to an ‘M’, simply by rotating it!

Assess signage requirements
Premises: It’s easy to overspend on signage. Carefully consider the benefits depending on location etc.
Vehicles: If you have a van I think the options here are either a plain van or a vehicle wrap, depending on whether you deliver on behalf of customers. If you don’t have a van don’t bother. Sign written cars just look tacky!
Sometimes a minimal approach can be just as effective as an extravaganza!

Plan web presence
Link your web activities. Plan a scaleable website. Can you support a blog in the long term? Will it help your bottom line? Is yours the kind of business that would benefit from using Twitter or Facebook? If so, who would keep it up to date?

Business Momentum has already assisted several businesses with rebranding. If you have any questions about what we can do for your business, please use the contact us page. All enquiries will be treated in confidence.
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On being welcome…

I was recently chatting with one of my customers. This is someone who has taken a failed print business and really turned it round, but he was having trouble arranging meetings with customers or prospects.

This fellow was finding it difficult to get appointments with his customers and prospects in order to develop relationships and increase sales. I had two questions for him:
How do you feel when a friend in business, or someone you feel will help your enterprise calls for an appointment? - or - How do you feel when you receive the same call from a sales rep?

Clearly, it depends on whether you think the appointment will really help your business. So what can you do to make your customers actually want to meet you?

Add value! One way of adding value to your customer relationships is to offer practical advice that will benefit their business. I used to offer free marketing advice to small businesses. As my business came to be perceived locally as successful, I was able to offer sales and marketing advice by giving examples of things that had worked for me. I found that I no longer had to sell to these customers. As we built their marketing campaigns together, I designed and printed whatever they needed!

So before you pick up the ’phone to call a customer, ask yourself about the value of the call for them.
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