This article is about stopping. Usually, I write and post articles that are based on the idea of starting something. Using a new technique, trying out a new decoration method, marketing idea, or sales approach.
This week, I’m taking a different tack.
This article is all about some things that you should stop doing. That’s right. Just call it quits.
It’s going to be some tough love.
Stop Posting On Facebook All The Time
Yes, this means you.
About once or maybe twice a day I do what I call a “drive-by” on Facebook and check to see what folks are posting. I have a love/hate relationship with that platform.
When I’m in between things or waiting a few minutes before a coaching call, I’ll click over just to see who in our industry is posting and what’s going on.
I swear, it looks like more than a few folks in this industry are professional Facebook posters. You are posting all day long! Holy smokes.
Facebook must really be paying you a lot of money to keep your engagement high! – *sarcasm
Imagine The Productivity
Just imagine the productivity your business could receive if you channeled that same energy into changing something that actually drove more money into your bank account.
I’m sure I’m going to get some comments or hate mail here.
“But Marshall, I see you posting on Facebook. Talk about a hypocrite.”
I do have posts push to Facebook. A good chunk of them are actually scheduled and are posted for me automatically using either Buffer or Zoho. Buffer is short-range, about two to three weeks out. The posts that show up with Zoho are scheduled for over a year out. (Trying to sell more copies of this book, buy one!)
Otherwise, if someone posts a question or looks like I can help with something I’ll jump in if I have a minute.
But more and more, I’m leaving Facebook alone. It’s such a time suck.
Maybe one day I’ll completely avoid it. But until then, I’m trying to limit the time I’m there and use that time for other purposes.
And, just so you know, this may be the greatest Chrome Extension ever invented. Remove All Politics From Facebook. This absolutely works. Just in time too.
Stop Making Excuses
Excuses are for lazy people. You aren’t lazy are you?
Right now, we are in the worst sales environment the world has witnessed for about 100 years. It’s no time for excuses about why things aren’t going your way.
Get off your butt. Do something different.
In March and April, about 80% of my coaching clients suspended their accounts. I totally understood. The pandemic struck everyone differently, and some of these businesses are not going to make it.
In July a good number of my clients came back. For a lot of them, I kept doing the calls, even though I wasn’t getting paid. For me, it’s about their long-term success more than anything.
But I wasn’t sitting around the house playing Madden all day. Nope.
This is what I did with my time and business:
Launched a new Q&A show for the decorated apparel industry with my friend Alan Howe.
Started a new interview series called Forward Progress.
I’m in the process of revamping my YouTube channel and started creating content just for it. Have you seen “The Best T-shirt I Ever Printed”?
And lastly, probably the idea I’m most proud of is my collaboration with my Shirt Lab business partner Tom Rauen on our new community for the industry called Shirt Lab Tribe. This one has legs and is making a tremendous positive impact on people and their businesses. It debuted on day three of our online Shirt Lab Summit, back in June. (That seems like a year ago already)
I’m not tooting my own horn here. Well, I guess I am…but you get the idea.
Now is the perfect time to experiment and do new stuff. Will everything I’ve built recently be around five years from now? Who knows?
Take some risks! Collaborate! Experiment a little. But whatever you do, stop using the “the pandemic has forced everything to shut down and sales just aren’t there” excuse.
You are better than that.
What could you be doing better with your time? (Hey, I care. Tough love here, remember?)
Stop Hiring The Wrong People
If there is one bright spot that has emerged from this pandemic lockdown that is going to be the realization that businesses everywhere can do the work with fewer people. After the shutdown, most companies brought back their rockstars first.
Most companies didn’t bring everyone back. Those staff members that didn’t really make the cut were left at home because the owners or managers decided, for one reason or another, that they weren’t going to put with whatever slacker habits they exhibited previously.
As sales scale up in the coming months, I want you to remember this. Who you bring onto your team matters. If a team member isn’t a good fit, find someone that is.
Be pickier. Have higher standards.
Stop Chasing The Wrong Customers
Sales are the lifeblood of your business. Especially now.
Here’s a question for you that I want you to answer honestly: Can you describe your best customer? With detail.
- What is their problem or pain point that you are uniquely built to solve?
- Where are they geographically?
- Where are they online digitally?
- When do they buy?
- What do they buy?
- Is there something that will surprise and delight them?
- Can you describe what success looks like to them?
- Do you know what failure looks like to them?
- How much do they spend per year?
- What is the profit margin on the work?
- Will they pay you 100% upfront?
For many businesses in this industry, they don’t know the answers to these questions. “We’ll take any order” is the marching orders of the day.
I get it. Times are tough.
However, not all orders are created equal. Especially from a profitability standpoint.
But if you are going to be building a sales process to go after clients and recruit them to hopefully be lifetime customers, why not do that work chasing higher value targets?
You want whales, not minnows.
Stop going after the smaller fish.
Stop Being A Bank
With the pandemic wreaking havoc in businesses everywhere the time to get 100% of your payment upfront is now. Stop being your customer’s bank.
When you get 100% of the money upfront you are in a stronger financial position to operate your business.
Back in March when the pandemic struck, businesses with a high accounts receivable list are now out of business. Their customers simply couldn’t pay up. Solid companies that have been around for years no longer exist due to financial issues.
Don’t let this happen to you. We are not at the end of this pandemic situation. If there ever was a time to move to an upfront payment policy, that time is now.
“Due to the pandemic, all orders must be paid 100% upfront at the time of placement. We accept credit cards, PayPal, checks, and cash.”
I know, I know. I can hear your argument now. “But the school district, marketing agency, company, or promotional distributor always pays with a Purchase Order. They won’t switch.”
Yes. But they also buy plane tickets. Shop on Amazon. Order from Custom Ink. Those companies don’t take PO’s.
Change your policy.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
We are all on a journey in business and in our careers. Skillsets, experience, mentorship, opportunities, successes, failures, and sometimes a bit of luck, all play a role in getting us down the road.
Comparing your life, career, and success to others may be tempting. It’s easy to get envious or even a little jealous looking across to the other side of the fence.
That grass certainly looks greener sometimes.
But what I’d like you to focus on more is you. What are you doing to improve? Here are some ideas:
- Read a book – ANY book.
- Take a class – ANY class.
- Try something new.
- Turn off your electronics for a day.
- Ask someone younger than you to mentor you in something.
- Ask someone older than you to mentor you in something.
- What is your kryptonite? Your weakest link? Improve that.
- Set a goal 90 days from now to work towards.
- Delegate something so you don’t have to do that task.
Remember this, it is always “How can I do this?”, not “Here’s why I can’t.”
Stop The Negativity
It’s easy to go down a negative path. Especially when things are going your way, or there is a struggle.
A shift to having a positive mindset can accelerate your growth and success.
Have you ever noticed that when you are in a good mood you are more productive? People engage with you more. You have a spring your step and your task list gets shorter by the minute.
Therefore, don’t embrace the dark side. Be positive.
Need some help with positivity? Try these:
- Say “Yes”. How can you make something work? Dig in and figure it out.
- Know your why. Why do you do what you do? When you understand this key point you are less like a cog in a machine and can see a higher purpose.
- Work/Life Balance. You need downtime. To spend time with your family. Your hobbies or other interests.
- Remove negativity. This could be negative people, situations, or environments. Replace with positive people, situations, or environments.
- Stop complaining. Teddy Roosevelt said, “Complaining about a problem without proposing a solution is called whining.” Fix what’s broken.
- Find victory in small things. Even if you made a mistake or things don’t go your way, the victory is in learning to do it better.
Positivity attracts. People want to be around positive people. This includes your customers.
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to not stop questioning.” – Albert Einstein
“Carving is easy. You just go down to the skin and stop.” – Michelangelo
“To get what you want, STOP doing what isn’t working.” – Earl Warren
Stop Pricing Incorrectly
Are you an apparel decorator that uses other people’s prices to build your pricing list for your shop?
Do you know why your shop isn’t as profitable as it could be?
If you want to learn how to price your screen printed jobs with more accuracy and dial in your pricing to accurately reflect your actual costs and efficiency, then grab my book, “Price for Profit”.
It is built to walk you through how to build a price matrix that actually works, and is based on the math behind your business.
Stop doing it the wrong way. This will be the best $59 you ever spent on your shop.
Thanks for sharing Marshall. It is the repeated reminders that help form patterns and create process. And also make you question why you are not doing it that way.
Great! Thanks for commenting Shawn. What is your number one challenge for making the change you need, actually stick? What are you doing about it?
OK, I read through the text. Agree with all of it.
I am in a weird place. I started in 1992, part time, on a self built 6 color, 1 station. Doing it mostly because I love the process. 2016, started to show an uptick in my financial curve. ’17, I bought a new factory made press, a 6/4 and ’17 was my highest gross ever.
2018 was even better, new highest gross. Also took a detour ‘job’ in another shop, that did all the wrong things listed in your various posts. I wanted to quit on day 2. Lasted 3 months. I was doing contract work, and they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: 50K/year plus access to the auto coming, for my own outside work. Days for them, evenings/weekends for my own jobs on their 8/10 at zero cost to me….seemed too good, and it was. It totally sucked and the auto didn’t arrive until long after I left. (did rent the auto for a 5c front 1c back 1900 pieces…on poly. $1000 for a weekend the job paid 5K)
2019, bought a used auto myself, had it set up in a shop, then city bylaws shut that down…back into storage it went. 2019, still turned out great, highest gross/profit ever. I earned my full time living printing shirts. It only took 27 years to get there…..
2020, I haven’t grossed 10K yet, living on government $$$ (Canada) Suddenly, I really don’t know what is going to happen, or if I even feel like doing this anymore. If I am starting all over, I feel like I should pursue my other passion, which is playing music. I would be back to just scraping by, but I can live extremely modestly. Maybe start a youtube channel, and sell really cool merch. I know a guy who can print killer sim process on black shirts on a home made press, let alone a 6/4 or 8/10 auto 🙂
Ok mostly posting as therapy…maybe someone finds this an interesting read. Cheers
Mick – Awesome! Thanks for reading the article. I knew you could do it. :). Also, thanks for sharing the story of your journey. More than ever, the main thing that is going to define your success is going to be your ability to sell. It’s great that you have the equipment and skill to do the production end, but without the sales and marketing chops, it won’t matter. I’d start by writing a business plan. You need to define your bullseye. It’s hard to hit that if it is a moving target or unfocused. If you can sell, you can outsource the production. Do that until you have enough steady work to launch your own shop. If you have built your business plan correctly, those costs are already in your pricing for your work, and you’ll have the cash in the bank to start. Your preparation here determines your outcome. Good luck! Plenty of resources on this site to help you if you need more info. -M
Here is a stop for Marshall: Stop using a Robot to do the talking. Only listened to the first 2 sentences….
Mick – Hey thanks for the comment! I’m trying out and using Amazon Polly which auto reads the blog articles. Sure, it isn’t perfect yet, but it allows people who don’t want to read the article the ability to listen. One day, it will be better.