January is here and with it comes the standard resolutions for reflection, growth, change, and a plan. As a business, the main question is how can we reflect, change, and plan in the face of the unprecedented times we’re living in? In the stationery and printing industry, we’re already a creative group. One of the strong suits of the people that choose this line of work is a creative, agile, and solution driven mind. How can we capitalize on these attributes?
Meeting your client’s needs in a flexible manner is the main approach that can reap the biggest rewards. As Alexander Hamilton sings in the Broadway musical, we need to be “…young, scrappy, and hungry”! How hungry are you to find creative solutions to issues like paper supply shortages? As anyone in the industry can testify, the supply and demand for materials like premium papers has been extremely hit or miss for the past year. Challenging yourself to be scrappy and solution oriented can lead you to innovations you may not have previously have had to consider without the pressure of adaptation.
As an example, we recently had a stationer whose client’s project required a critical component; in this case,a particular shade of Mohawk Keaykolour paper. Our normal vendors were completely out and had no ETA of when that particular paper was going to be available again. By doing a little digging, we were able to eventually source the materials at a paper company. However, there was one little hitch: they didn’t ship. Their closest location was in Houston, about four hours away. Time for a road trip!
We loaded up and drove to Clampitt Paper’s Houston warehouse during a substantial rainstorm for most of the way, but we were able to successfully purchase the exact materials our client needed. Now, is this a solution we would be able to tap into every week? Probably not, but in this case, we dug deep and found our inner Alexander Hamilton. The sale was made, the project was printed successfully, and we added a supplier we had never worked with before to our list of vendors. Not a bad way to spend a weekend. (As an added bonus, we got to check out a restaurant featured on “Diner’s, Drive-Ins, and Dives” called Niko Niko’s. Highly recommended if you are into gyro’s the size of your head!)
Another way to look at the supply chain issues we’re facing as an industry is to go into every project with an open mind, allowing for some flexibility. Offering more than one paper choice in a proposal to a client is a good way to go, in case one or more materials is currently on backorder. Having a working knowledge of multiple suppliers and paper lines comes in handy, because you have the ability to offer similar solutions to desired colors and textures.
Another way to build on the New Year’s resolution of growth is to reflect on the kind of business you are and the kind of business you want to be. We have found that it is both vital and motivating to reassess every so often and redefine our mission statement. Taking a step back to really evaluate your goals and what your core objectives are can help streamline your business as a whole. As an example, maybe you’re a stationer who started off working on designing wedding invitations, but have lately taken on more business doing product branding and design, and it’s something you want to do more often. Your objectives have changed and therefore, your mission statement has changed. Putting your values and goals down on paper, so to speak, can help align your business more closely with your intentions. Intentionality can cut the fat from your business, trimming away the distractions that are keeping you from your goals.
That takes care of the resolutions for reflection, growth and change, but what about a plan? There’s no denying that we are currently living in a tumultous time, where so many plans have been completely thrown out the window. So, maybe the smartest plan is to have an extremely flexible and creative plan for issues that might arise during the designing and printing stages.
It’s mid-January already and December will be here in the blink of an eye. However, we can’t let the bizarre passage of time that we’ve been experiencing the last couple of years during this pandemic detour us from our goals. Printing is still needed, that hasn’t changed but it’s possible that our approach needs to be tweaked a bit. Diversify your solutions and dig deep for some of that scrappiness and hunger.