Has your business hit the “Glass Ceiling” yet?

One of the limiting factors for the development of a small business is the “Glass Ceiling” that prevents the business from growing past a certain point. The limiting point will vary according to the nature of the business, but will usually be somewhere between six and twelve employees.

There is no universal solution to this problem. The factors limiting growth will vary from business to business, but the most common reason for businesses staying small is because the owners try to do too much themselves.

Growing a profitable business is hard work, but business owners that are running around, opening the post, fixing IT problems, constantly involved in production, and are always the first person to answer the phone - are doing themselves no favours!

Most people are familiar with the pareto 80/20 rule which states that 20 percent of your effort produces 80 percent of your results. As far as many small business owners are concerned, less than 10 percent of their time is spent on marketing and sales so how will they ever grow?

By entering growth

Market - and sell!

Market - and sell!
You don’t need me to tell you how important this is. Perhaps you will be able to devote more time to this by using the items below.

Your time is extremely valuable. Failing to outsource non income-producing activities is simply a false economy.

Your time is extremely valuable. Recruiting, training and retaining good staff is the most important way to liberate more of your time, so that you can concentrate on growing your business.

Establishing a clearly defined operating system, based around a fully implemented MIS system, is the foundation of any successful print business.

Take a day away from your business to consider the business, and ask your self these two questions:
What would you do with your business if you could not fail?
What would you like you business to look like in five years time?
Then plan how you will get from here - to there!

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What makes some small printers more successful than others?

In the twenty years I spent running my own Prontaprint centre, and in the seven years spent visiting customer’s print businesses, I have been fascinated by the difference in sales success between different business owners.

If a franchisor is involved, they will typically have a series of marketing programmes, designed to drive customers to the business. This is a valuable activity, but should only be part of a sales and marketing strategy.

Sales training for customer facing staff is essential, but this usually concentrates on disciplines such as sales call rates and the basics of sales and negotiation techniques.

There is a missing link between the marketing and the direct sales activities that I have noticed is usually present in the most successful small print businesses.

Networking. The old saying that “People prefer to buy from people they know” is as true now as it ever was. Networking can mean different things to different people. It can be anything from joining a local breakfast club or business club to networking in conjunction with a sport or hobby. I know one small printer who, having had some success with customers in a particular industry sector, joined the trade association (for an industry that he wasn’t actually part of) - and achieved great success supplying that industry!

Supporting local charities and sports teams etc. is always good for public relations, and getting involved with local organisations will also bring you into contact with other local businessmen, and can provide another kind of networking opportunity.

Of course, as a small businessman, with so many daily urgencies, it’s difficult to get everything right. All one can do is to employ the best technology and staff that one can afford in order to release as much time as possible for gaining good customers - and to be lucky!

On luck. “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”
Seneca, 5BC - 65AD

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