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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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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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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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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FAQ: FSC Certification

“What is a ‘Chain of Custody’?”
The FSC® define this as ‘the path taken by raw materials, processed materials or finished products from the forest to the consumer including each stage of transformation, manufacturing, storage and transport where progress to the next stage involves a change of ownership of the materials or products’. So a chain of custody is essentially an audit trail, all the way from the forest to (in our case) the printed product. Each link in the chain needs to be certified so that it can be audited on behalf of the FSC.

“Are there any benefits to my business?”
FSC Certification can help your business to:
  • Win business
  • Retain existing customers
  • Comply with tender criteria and legislation for the environment
  • Take the first steps for an environmental certification
  • Discriminate your business from the competition
  • Establish credibility in an increasingly competitive and environmentally aware market

“How much does FSC certification cost?”
Printers with more than 15 employees will need individual certification. The cost of this will be from about £1,300 per year but will vary according to the size of the operation. If a print site has 15 employees or fewer, membership of an FSC group scheme can cost as little as £670.00 + VAT per year.

“What are the reasons for certification?”
I often ask my customers why they’ve gone in for FSC certification. The most common answers are:
“A large customer required it”
“It’s a less costly way to add some credibility to our letterhead/website/business than an ISO or more exacting standard”
“It may help us to win business with bigger clients”
“We work with a print manager that was putting FSC jobs elsewhere. Being certified has gained much more work from that customer - most of which is non-FSC”
I have yet to hear anyone say they did it for the environment.

“Which is better, FSC or recycled?”
FSC Mix or FSC 100% material categories are made from pulp from well managed forests. As more trees are planted more carbon dioxide is absorbed. This makes the use of paper environmentally friendly. Wood is a renewable resource; when forests are well managed, with consideration for the environment, the wildlife and the people who live and work in them, harvesting timber can actually be an effective way of safeguarding the forests for future generations. Choosing products sourced from these well-managed forests and from recycled post-consumer waste allows businesses and consumers to support the world‘s forests. Products carrying the FSC Recycled label have been made from at least 85% post consumer waste. Other recycling standards may not be as rigorous having as little as 25% recycled content.

“How difficult is it to manage chain of custody in my business?”
Not difficult at all. Any modern MIS can be configured to insert FSC claim information into job descriptions (on job sheets, delivery notes and invoices etc.), when claims are made, and produce the required annual reports. Once certified you can make claims on as many, or as few jobs as you like.

“If the paper is FSC Certified, why does the printer need to be as well?”
FSC has produced standards which
  • Make sure that FSC wood is accounted for as it passes along the supply chain
  • Make sure that when FSC wood is mixed with other wood, this does not come from undesirable sources (see FSC Con- trolled Wood)
  • Make sure that recycled/reclaimed material is acceptable (see Recycled Material)
  • Enables FSC certified products to be produced or stocked as well as uncertified products
  • Provide a range of labeling options
It is only by becoming part of a certified chain of custody that a printer can make FSC claims and apply FSC labels it’s products.

“If one member of The Group Scheme fails an audit, does it affect the rest of the group?”
The answer is… No.
The Group Scheme could only fail if the certification body identified several members failing (i.e. systematic rather than isolated issues). We manage the members to pre-empt that. If a member consistently failed to correct issues identified we would suspend their membership.


“Why would my customers want me to be FSC certified?”
It is a very cost-effective way for them to demonstrate their commitment to the environment. FSC have been very effective in communicating their message to government, big business, and the public, so businesses see a benefit to their brands in being able to say that their suppliers are FSC-certified, or to buy FSC certified products and have the FSC trademarks appear on them. 
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Working Hours

In print, employees are far more likely to complain that there is not enough overtime than that they are getting too much.  Many companies, though, are not compliant with legislation.
 
When the European Working Time Directive (which restricts working time to a maximum of 48 hours per week averaged over a 17 week period) was translated into U.K. law (The Working Time Regulations 1998), our government negotiated an opt out whereby employees could choose to
voluntarily opt out of this limit and work more hours.
 
Even companies with opt-outs in place can have issues when inspected in business continuity or social accountability assessments; the assessor may not consider it “voluntary”:
 
- if the opt-out is a standard clause in a contract, or is a separate document signed at the same time as the employee starts work;
- if there is no clear mechanism for employees to change their minds and opt back into the limit; or
- if production employees always work five 12 hour shifts a week.
 
Best practice is for employees to be given the option to opt out only after they have completed their probationary period.
For the opt-out to be separate document that clearly states that they do not have to opt-out.
That this document states that they can opt back in at any time after giving reasonable notice (maximum 3 months).
 
NB it is the company’s responsibility under The Working Time Regulations to keep records to demonstrate compliance with the legislation for a period of at least three years, though in theory an employee could bring a claim against a company that they had been
allowed to work excessive hours up to seven years after the event.

Thanks to Simon Edkins for this article.
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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
MODE:

Market - and sell!
Outsource
Delegate
Establish

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.

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

Delegate
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.

Establish
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!

Need help with this?
Then please click here.
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Fly - or roast?

Don’t you just hate those business clichés, the ones used by trainers and consultants (like me!). I can’t say I like them much. They usually sound a bit worn and hackneyed, but occasionally I hear one that makes me smile - and pause for a moment to question the intent of the metaphor, just to check that I’m not missing something.

Here’s one you’ve probably heard - maybe smiled at - and then dismissed.

BUT…

Perhaps it’s worth another look? Maybe it’s more significant now than it was previously?

“You can’t fly with the eagles if you work with the turkeys!”

The eagles referred to here are talented (having talons,) flying in a direction determined by vision and intent. Making opportunities. Soaring over the competition. Taking the prize.

Turkeys always have their heads down, struggling and scrabbling for whatever comes their way, stuck in the moment of the days routine.

So what are you, high flying - or oven ready?

Oh good!

I’ll see you in the air then!
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Why conventional training doesn't work

As anyone who delivers training courses (and follows up afterwards) will tell you, the limitation of most conventional training sessions is the human brain’s capacity to retain information. Most of the delegates at a typical one day training event will only remember a small proportion of the information imparted in the training session. 
 
There are two solutions to this problem. One is to follow up the training remotely. The other is to re-think the training strategy and, if practical, deliver it in a series of shorter sessions. This is why, where practical, most of the training delivered by Business Momentum consists of one hour, direct, on-line sessions.
 
These sessions are highly cost effective because they are customised to the customers requirements and delivered over a series of weekly sessions. Prepaid, one to one sessions, delivered in this way can cost as little as £65.00 each.
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Ten things to do when times are hard

It seems that the past couple of months have been particularly tough for small printers. I always found that when business was slack I was personally busier than ever. It can be hard to keep a sense of perspective when times are hard.

Here’s a short list of actions that I found useful in hard times:

  1. Get on with it! The good decisions you made when business was good are almost certainly still good. Don’t allow procrastination to get in your way.
  2. Make sure that all your regular sales and marketing activities are proceeding as normal. It can be hard to maintain your momentum in these activities, but it’s more important than ever. I know this sound obvious, but I’ve seen how difficult it can be to achieve.
  3. Be open and honest with your staff, but be positive. Let them know that times are hard everywhere - without scaring the proverbial out of them!
  4. Don’t sell too cheaply - you’ll only regret it later.
  5. Create special offers, perhaps offering more for the same price, to stimulate business without cutting your base prices.
  6. Follow the 80-20 rule and make sure your top customers are happy. They’re the one’s that will carry you through to better times.
  7. Consider re-negotiating your rent. For an informative article on this, click here.
  8. Talk to your suppliers. I don’t mean to say that you should tell them everything, but you are more likely to get an extension of credit (if you need it) if they don’t feel that you are avoiding them.
  9. If business is so bad that you need to make a redundancy, do it quickly. There is absolutely no point in prolonging the agony.
  10. Have the weekend off! Try to involve yourself in a non work related activity that will absorb you and allow a fresh start on Monday. If you don’t look after yourself, whose going to look after your business?
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"Why oh why do they believe someone else?"

I was with Bob, a business owner the other day and he asked:

"Paul, Why is it that when I suggest and idea to my staff, they don't act on it – then you or someone else tells them the same thing and they act as though it's the first time they've heard it?"

"Bob" I said. "Have you ever heard the saying that a prophet isn't recognised in their own land" Well; it's true!
1. When the boss tells his or her people that a certain way of achieving more is brilliant – some of the people think that the boss has a hidden agenda.
2. When someone from outside the business explains the same ideas they usually come at the problem from a different perspective.
3. The person from outside the business may be (or should be) skilled at presentations.
4. People believe authority figures.

You see; part of the problem lies within the inaccuracy of the old expression which glibly states: You have to be heard to be believed

When the reality is: You have to be believed to be heard

So can you be more effective in communicating new ideas to your staff?

1. If the idea came from a book – give everyone a copy of it. That's what I did with a book I was so taken with about business organisation. It was called "The E-Myth Revisited" the author is Michael E. Gerber. And, I so loved the ideas that I bought all the members of my team a copy and we used some Gerber's ideas to help re-organise , and improve the efficiency of our business.
2. If the idea came from a TV or radio programme – play the programme at a team meeting.
3. If you have yearly meetings – get a professional speaker to present their (and your) ideas at that meeting.
4. Get recommendations from others who've used the ideas.

Two of the key factors in persuasion are authority and social proof. If you can use those, perhaps you can get your people to believe.
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