Bruce Ackerman learned the screen-printing trade on campus, printing customized tees for University clubs and teams. After finding a gap in the market for simple and easy-to-use printing software he decided to create his own, and so Printavo was born - an online tool that helps shops become more productive and efficient. Here, Ackerman gives us his tips for growing your business, based on his insights from working with the Printavo community.
Hire with your gut
The first few people you hire are the foundation of your business - they shape the work culture and the way it's run, so as much as you might need someone right away, it’s always better to wait and find someone you know will be an asset to your company. My advice on finding that person is to go with your gut - if you feel unsure about someone they’re probably not going to be a good fit.
Don’t wait until you have four or five employees before you start to properly organize your business. People thrive on structure; they need to understand processes and expectations so they know when they’re doing well and when they’re going wrong. Have a proper organizational structure in place for when your first employee enters the building - it will make your life so much easier down the line.
Go to trade shows
Trade shows are often located a bit out of the way but they’re really worth making the effort for, especially as a start-up. You’re going to be blown away by the equipment and the knowledge that’s there. It really helps pull you out of your bubble and connects you with like-minded people and businesses.
Learn to step away from the press
It’s easy to get stuck printing or constantly doing art, but as your business grows you need to move from being within it to on top of it. This means taking more of a leadership role and learning how to delegate. It doesn’t mean that you’re not creative anymore, it’s just that your creativity needs to be focused on shaping your brand, not on individual prints.
Practice extreme optimism
As someone who has started a screen-printing business, you’ve probably taken the sort of risks that make you an extreme optimist. The important thing is to retain this sense of extreme optimism in your work culture, even when things aren’t going smoothly. A positive, problem-solving attitude will filter down to your staff and create a more effective business environment.