The Best Time


There is an ancient Chinese proverb that goes “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The second best time is now.”

Think about that for a moment.

Without even meeting you or having a conversation with any employees in your company, I know there is something that you have been thinking about implementing…but you just haven’t gotten around to it for whatever reason.

I get it.  You’ve got a full day today.  Tomorrow too.  How are you going to squeeze in anything new?  Who needs that “tree” anyway?

Let me be clearer.

Maybe you have wanted to experiment with waterbase ink.  Or DTG printing.  Or laser-bridge embroidery.  Or writing that employee handbook.  Or adopting a new automatic timeclock system.  Or finally having the guts to call that account you have been dreaming about.  Or redesigning your company brand.  Or fixing your production schedule so jobs ship on time.  Or learning how to mix PMS colors easily.  Or hiring some help.  Or doing more with social media.  Or updating your tired, boring and nonproductive website.  Or…

Unless you plant that seed, those trees will never sprout.  You will just be looking back a few years from now wondering why you don’t have any shade.  Boy, that sun is blistering hot.

Do you want to know what’s worse?

Your competition.  They have a shovel and are now turning over some dirt.  Looks like a new sapling is going in their orchard.

Are you happy about that?  Your customers might be.

So how do you find the time?  Simple.  Just block it off like it was something for your top client.  You wouldn’t let them down would you?  If something was due for them, you work through lunch, stay late or come in thirty minutes early.  Right?  This is the same aspect, but your company is the client.

You do what it takes.

There’s one more thing that wasn’t included in that sage advice I led this article with, and that is you have to nurture and care for that “tree”.  You can’t just plant it and walk away.  Doing something new?  There is going to be a ton of failure and dumb mistakes along the way.  But you can’t give up.  The learning occurs in the doing.  Every time you work on the new, you are tending to your sprouting tree.

What if you need some help?  There’s that too.  In the decorated apparel industry there are plenty of resources that can help you along the way to make the job easier, including me.  Go to a trade show.  Watch a video or listen in on a webinar.  Read an article in one of the trade magazines.  Participate and interact with industry friends online.  Talk to your supply chain.  Discuss the situation with your staff.

So what are you waiting for?  Get that tree in the dirt today.  Twenty years from now, you’ll thank me.


“You don’t have to swing hard to hit a home run.  If you have the timing, it’ll go.” – Yogi Berra

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, “Don’t quit.  Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” – Muhammad Ali

“Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.” – Pat Riley


  • Marshall,

    I love this article. We wanted to switch over to water based and discharge printing and tried a few times and didn’t nature it enough or give it enough time. We then went to our buddies shop forward printing all the way in California and we are from Pittsburgh, PA and they took us on a crash course 5 day lesson on how to print and mix custom discharge pantone colors. Needless to say that was the best experience we’ve ever had an are now offering higher quality prints to our local and national clients. It has become our go to ink and our sales have increase, our reputation for quality has blossomed even further. It did not happen over night and we aren’t quiet “killing it” just yet but that will come in time. I also have a list of things I want to do and try to keep working on them when I make free time. If you are the type of person that says I’ll do it tomorrow, good luck. I am working on a rush order this weekend and it’s almost 12:30 AM. I was never like this before but when you see the rewards and hard work pay off it’s great. It does not always happen that easily but nothing does. Thank you for the motivation. In a cut throat business you have to try and be 10 steps ahead.

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