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