Have you ever seen an upside-down turtle?
From looking at them, you’d think there was no way they’d ever be able to right themselves and get going again on their own.
Yet, they do.
Like the world’s best breakdancers, they r..e..a..c..h as far as they can with their necks, turn their heads, and push off with the leg on whichever side is sloping downward.
What’s most amazing about turtles is they never believe they’re stuck. You don’t see a bunch of turtles lying around upside down feeling hopeless. They simply take a few minutes to assess the situation and recognize they’re “temporarily delayed.”
Recognizing if You’re Stuck
How about you? Has your print business been “temporarily delayed” in its forward progress, and it’s beginning to feel stale or stagnant?
Recognizing you’re stuck isn’t as easy as realizing you’re viewing the world upside down like a turtle. Instead, it’s disguised by thoughts of “this is the way we’ve always done it,” or “it worked last [month, year, decade], it should work again.”
In reality, if you want to bring new life to your print business, you first have to recognize which way is up and if you’re looking and pointed in the right direction.
Here are five ways to tell if your print company is in (or headed for) a rut.
1. There’s No Plan
It has been said that “a goal without a plan is just a wish,” and wishes don’t grow print businesses.
There are typically two ways printers with no plan approach things:
- They simply go about their day-to-day business, cross their fingers, hope for the best, and wait for things to happen for them or to them. Or…
- They have zero expectations for their future.
Neither one of those sounds like a great idea, right? Getting unstuck, and keeping yourself unstuck, means you need a goal, and you need a plan. You need to be prepared for those “what if…” scenarios, so you can hit what you’re aiming for.
2. Trying to do Everything Yourself
Nothing will suck the life out of you and your print business more than trying to do everything yourself.
You’re not a superhero. You may be the hardest-working printer there is, but even if that’s true, you still can’t do it all on your own.
To avoid the ruts and keep yourself and your business from getting burned out, remember this: major on the majors and minor on the minors. Helping people look their best on paper is important, but not at the expense of your health, your marriage and family, your employee’s morale — you get the idea.
Focus on what you do well and let go of the things that aren’t your passion or you’re not good at. Learn to outsource or supplement your marketing with things like direct mail or social media subscription services. Put systems in place for easy reordering and customer retention, so you don’t have to be selling all the time.
There’s only one of you and your time is valuable, so make sure the people, processes, and things that are getting your time are worth it.
3. The Sales Pipeline is Clogged
Zig Ziglar once said, “Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust.”
Do you recognize the obstacles your print buyers are facing?
Stagnancy will quickly come to knock on the door of your print company if you haven’t been able to identify where the cracks are or where the sales pipeline is getting clogged.
Do potential print buyers come to your website but not make a purchase? Where and why are they dropping off or getting stuck? This might be as simple as a scary-sounding, call-to-action button on your website, or it could be that you don’t list your pricing online and they assume they can’t afford you and move on.
If you’ve plateaued in your online orders, examining some of these questions will help explain why.
4. Lack of Process
There are four words in the English language that when put together could be the death of almost any process. Know what they are?
“When we have time.”
The “when we have time” file in a small business contains ideas that very rarely come to fruition. Why? Because there’s no consistency and no expectations.
If you want to meet a goal and move beyond what you’re doing right now to something bigger, you have to implement consistent, scalable processes for the things you want to accomplish.
Missions are won with clear boundaries and clear divisions of responsibility. Without those processes in place, it’s easy to look up one day from your day-to-day tasks and realize that your print business is no longer growing.
Lastly, your print business might be stuck if you find yourself avoiding things out of fear of the unknown.
Take marketing, for example. How many times have you heard yourself saying something like, “I’m not a marketer.”? That kind of a statement reeks of the fear of feeling like you’re treading water in a pool of inexperience and leaves many printers choosing to avoid marketing altogether.
In reality, though, if you really think about it, marketing is just communicating with others and having enough empathy to put yourself in the shoes of your audience.
So, if you’re thinking:
- “I’m not an innovator,”
- “I’m not a salesperson,” or
- “I’m not a [fill in the blank],”
remember that fear gets you nowhere, and change is scary, but staying the same is scarier. You don’t have to eat an elephant, but even if you do, all you need to do today is take the first bite.
If you want to keep your print business from becoming stuck, remember that you’re stronger than you think, and you have a wealth of resources, people, and companies (like ours) that aspire to help you and walk along beside you in your journey to print success.
After all, no one spots an upside-down turtle and keeps walking.