Archive for Better Business

Forget Your Weight and Focus on A Healthy Business

2012 just came to an end, and the New Year brings the same old question – What is your New Year’s resolution? Let me guess… lose weight? Well have you joined a gym yet? Have you thrown out all your left over holiday cookies and cake? Good news: Don’t!

I am a health nut, so I will be the first to tell you how important it is to take care of your body. BUT weight isn’t the only factor to your health. If you ask me, I’d rather lose a few levels of stress than lose a few pounds! So let’s give ourselves a break this year, take the pressure off our guts and put our energy to good use. Now is the perfect time to reflect on your business’s progress over the past year and plan how you want it to develop. Of course we all want to increase our success, but what about the chance to enjoy the success you’ve achieved a little more?  Here are some resolutions that may help create a more healthy work-life balance and ultimately lead to a more satisfying 2013:

  1. Delegate. With so many important things to do at work, it is easy to convince yourself that you need to do them all. Then you wonder why you are so exhausted at the end of the day. Delegating does not make you lazy; it does not make you demanding. What it does is give you the freedom to pass along some tasks and free your mind and schedule.
  2. Plan and promote your business regularly. If you want to attract new customers, you have to make promotion a priority. Take the time to create a marketing plan, set new directions and adjust old goals. A strict plan that consistently endorses your business will keep you focused and relieve stress.
  3. Learn something new. Anything, really! Ideally, it should correlate to your business; but no matter what, learning something new will always add to your skill set. Even if it doesn’t directly relate to your business, it will add a new dimension of interest to your life and give you the chance to meet new people. New people can potentially turn into clients!
  4. Network. Whether it’s a business organization tailored to your type of business, a community event or even over the web, making an effort to talk to people will revitalize you and your business. It gives you a chance to make contact, discuss new ideas and refine old ones.
  5. Recharge yourself. This is the best resolution, as you get to plan time to do absolutely nothing! It is important to take the time to recharge and refresh yourself. Otherwise, all work and no play will lead to a mental or even physical disaster. If you feel guilty about taking time off, think of it this way: if you won’t invest in yourself, why should others?

No matter what you decide to focus on in 2013, just remember to set realistic goals. If you make an impractical New Year’s resolution, you are only setting yourself up for failure, frustration and disappointment.  Each of these five goals are very reasonable and can be achieved. Start with number one and you will be amazed with how much more time delegating will give you!

Here’s to wishing you a happy, healthy work year! We’ll hit the weights next year!

- Kate Vasvatekis

Connecting on Social Media

Yesterday I was greeted in my office by a warm smile and great big hand shake. It was my high school graphic arts instructor. My wife, Nancy, had contacted Jack Condon on LinkedIn and secretly arranged the meeting of Jack and myself. This was her birthday gift to me. I hadn’t seen “Mr. Condon” since I had just recently started my printing company.

Jack credits me for saving his job. That’s a much longer story about his first heart attack while teaching and when I, as a student, kept the presses rolling for the school department in his absence. I don’t know if it’s true about saving his job, but I do know that I would not be where I am today if it were not for Jack. Jack was responsible for introducing me to this business and to my first employer in the printing industry.

After catching up on old times and giving Jack the tour of the plant, he had to go and when we parted ways and with another big hand shake, he said “I’m proud of you”. This coming from him somehow validates these years. Catching up was nice and it caused me to reflect on the last 25 plus years of my life. Specifically with regard to where I am now and how far I have come since I’ve known Jack.

I remembered what it was like starting a business, as a kid with absolutely nothing, and fast forwarding through the next twenty five years of my life.

I suppose it was because Nancy found Jack through LinkedIn that I started thinking how twenty five years ago we did not have electronic media and LinkedIn. No email. No Facebook. No Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest or the thousands of other social media outlets we have today competing for our time and attention. Twenty five years ago we did not have computers at our disposal that were of any use to our daily lives. If someone said Blog, can you imagine the confused looks they would have gotten?

Today, social media is transforming and touching the lives of almost every one of every age virtually everywhere. It cannot and, dare I say, probably should not be avoided, but rather used sensibly in conjunction with more personal marketing pieces that people can still touch and feel. Yes. Absolutely embrace the present and all of its technology, but don’t let go of the past. Even if I had found and connected with Jack myself through LinkedIn or other social media, nothing beats a solid hand shake and a face to face “Hello!” It’s something so simple, yet it makes this world come back around to a place that is still personal, a little smaller and a little more connected.

- Dan Sawyer

A Well Deserved Vacation

It’s like this every June. With graduation ceremonies, fundraising walks, summer camps starting and the tourist season beginning, business is… well, crazy good. We’re the printers, and it’s our job to make sure all orders get out on time so our customers don’t miss their window for business, miss marking those important milestones or miss that opportunity to raise money for their cause.

We get it. We are the ones who have to make up for time lost by committees delaying projects in the reviewing process. For the great new coworker that was hired, but didn’t know to order the business cards right away. For the late registrants in your fundraising walk who didn’t get their application and requested t-shirt size in the mail in time.

June is always like this. And we always pull it off. We make you look great and make sure you don’t miss your deadlines.

Our dedication runs right through to all of our employees. From Kate driving to Dorchester to deliver last minute graduation invites to a client, to Jeff H staying until 8 PM to be sure all the shirts are printed. From Hank putting in extra hours to insert all the appeal mailings, to Jeff P coming in 5 nights in a row to work a second shift on the offset press. And let’s not forget Christine coming in on her day off for a staff meeting that had to be rescheduled due to client deadlines. Thanks to our amazing employees who always chip in wherever necessary, we can be sure everything gets done for our clients.

It’s now the last day of the month. Whew! And because every June is like this, we take the first week of July off every year. A well-deserved vacation to recharge our batteries and get ready for all the new deadlines we’ll have to meet.

Enjoy your week and the 4th of July Holiday. Image76 will be celebrating right alongside you! See you on July 9th, when we reopen.

- Nancy Sawyer

Going the Extra Mile (or 60…)

The importance of networking, nurturing relationships and following through…

One evening, not so long ago, I was traveling from Cape Cod to Boston for a new studio opening of one of our clients, Callaway Photo, and it was raining… raining buckets… and there was traffic… Boston traffic… enough said.

We had printed new business cards, envelopes, notecards and notepads for this event and were invited to celebrate the accomplishment of our client. I could have turned around. We had shipped most of the job early so she would have plenty of time to inspect and display her new business cards and notepads. The notecards I was bringing wouldn’t be needed for a few more days. They could be shipped. Would I really be missed? Would anyone even show up in this weather?

I didn’t turn around though, and after a stressful hour (or two) I arrived and was glad to have done so. The new studio looked amazing and the turnout was great! It was wonderful to see how many people turned out to support Callaway Photo and recognized the opportunity to network for their own businesses.

Honestly, it was my friendship with Ellen Callaway that drove me to follow through; but it was only to my benefit and the benefit of Image76. I handed out and received a bunch of business cards and had the opportunity to discuss design, marketing and printing with many of Callaway Photo’s colleagues.

I knew making it to the event would strengthen my working relationship with Callaway Photo but I had underestimated the value of networking with potential clients. I met some great people and made some valuable business contacts. With that, and the delicious appetizers from Bakers’ Best Catering and desserts by Sweet Solutions, I happily made the drive home.

- Christine Halunen

Can a Large Company Have Good Character?

Is it possible to be a large company and have good character? I think so, but it seems to be rare. I’m not sure if it’s the size of the company that matters so much as a commitment from the top down towards quality and excellence.

There have been a few things recently that have me thinking about this. Here is one example and I won’t mention the organization, but when I was trying to mail a letter with my seven year old daughter, we needed a stamp. We drove to a local branch office of the super-mega-I’m-too-big-to-care-about-you-conglomerate and we were evidently one minute too late. I know this because a women in a blue uniform told us, “You’re one minute too late”, while tapping her wrist as if there was a watch there, pulling the door closed and locking it in one motion. I’m thinking she’s done this before. At a minute past closing, we were cut off from buying a single stamp and the excitement of dropping a very special letter into the mystical mail slot and being robbed, at least temporarily, of the joy and wonder of that new experience.

I’m not necessarily saying that it was wrong for them to shut and lock the door in our faces. They have their rules and I respect them. I’m sure they have their reasons for being the way they are. I just can’t imagine doing this myself. Not as a business and not as a person. If it were stamps that I was selling, I would open the doors and take out the whole lot of them. I would lay them out on the table for our customers to take their time to look through and let them pick out the one that is just right for them. And if you know me, you know I’m not exaggerating. My staff would do the same thing and not because I make them or tell them too, but because this is what good, decent people with respect for themselves and others do. As businesses…neighbors… friends… as people. In my world, this is what we do.

Incidentally, there was a very kind elderly woman that dug deep down into her purse to offer up her only stamp so that the dreams of a little girl would live on. This woman made our day and provided a happy ending to a life lesson that I hope will make an imprint on my daughter that she will someday aspire to live up to.

- Dan Sawyer