When Stubbornness Drives The Car

Hear me out. Let’s pretend that your shop’s attitude is a person. And in this particular scenario, that attitude is one of STUBBORNNESS. (All caps on purpose)

Why stubbornness?

I don’t know. I could have used bullheadedness or inflexibility, or obstinancy, or pigheadedness. They all mean the same thing.

It’s your inability to change.

Driving Down the Freeway

Let’s say you are driving down the freeway. It’s usually clear this time of day, but it’s now backed up for miles due to a combination of an accident and some road construction.

Inflexible people will sit in traffic. It’s a parking lot. Nothing is moving. Stubbornness is driving the car.

Other, more flexible people, will take the next exit and get off that road. To keep moving forward, they are taking an alternate route. Or drive around the problem and get back on the highway.

That inability to change your pattern is the lesson in the metaphor here.

I’m Worried About This Industry

Right now, I’m worried about this industry. We are in unprecedented times. It is a perfect storm of labor shortages, inventory shortages, consumable shortages, and shipping delays.

Many shops are showing their stubbornness streak and are stuck in that traffic jam like everyone else.

We’re about to enter the fourth quarter of the year, and for some shops, this is the make or break period due to holiday season sales. Will everyone make it to January? I don’t think so.

I was talking with my friend Mark Coudray about this the other day. He had a catchy term for it. “Economic Darwinism.”

Is your shop headed for extinction?

Those that adapt, that are willing to change, that can pull off the highway and find an alternate route, are the ones that are going to survive.

You Need Creative Thinking

For every minute you are lamenting about why something isn’t working, or you can’t find shirts or ink, another more creative person is solving that problem.

Get focused on “how you can”, not “why you can’t.”

This next year, (yes, I said year) is going to be an exercise in leadership and creative problem-solving.

There are answers to your problems all around you. The problems that this industry will be facing are golden opportunities for companies that can adapt and change.

I’d start looking at these ideas:

  • New vendors and supply chain companies. Set up accounts now.
  • Different consumables. Start trying out new products and techniques.
  • New methods and techniques. Do you always need to print a shirt? What about embroidery or a heat transfer?
  • Find new customers and opportunities. Brand new companies are emerging every day. Have you met them yet?
  • What technologies, software, or ideas could make an impact?
  • How can you increase your bottom line profit?
  • How else can you ship? What if you offered delivery?
  • Could you partner or collaborate with another business?
  • Think about the difference between what people need and what you are trying to sell. Is there alignment?

Don’t let stubbornness drive your car. Start looking for the next exit and find a route that will work for you.


“Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” – Voltaire

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” – George Bernard Shaw

“No industry is immune and no occupation is safe. All of us need to begin to think in terms of our own inner strengths, our resilience and resourcefulness, our capacity to adapt and to rely upon ourselves and our families.” – Steven Pressfield


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Marshall