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Do you really need to know the difference between a mission statement and a vision statement?

Do you really need to know the difference between a mission statement and a vision statement?

A recent 16-page article written specifically for small business owners, attempted to explain the subtle difference between a mission statement and a vision statement. My Immediate reaction upon seeing the article was that the author didn’t have much experience dealing with small business owners. If he did, he’d know that his business-school theory may look good in print, but it’s chances of being read by the target audience were slim, and it’s chances of being implemented, even slimmer.

This doesn’t mean to say that it wasn’t a good article or that the theory wasn’t sound; it was a good article and the theory was sound. However, in practice, the average small business owner is a very busy person usually taking one day at a time and, under the circumstances, disinclined to take time out to read management theory articles.

But that doesn’t mean that small business owners shouldn’t be encouraged to consider missions and visions. However, they need to start wading at the shallow end. Expecting them to jump in boots and all at the deep end will only scare them off, and then an opportunity to implement a good business practice will have been lost. I consider it a success if I can persuade small business owners to take time out to just think about what they’re doing and where they want it all to go. Getting off the treadmill, standing back and calmly considering what they’re doing, what they want to accomplish, and what they’re going to do to get there, is a great start. That basic understanding and vision can then be built out gradually with the assistance of a consultant or accountant until it shapes up as a mission statement and even a vision statement to live by.

If this sounds like you and your business, you really need to take the first step on the way to developing mission and vision statements. Get off the treadmill for a couple of hours, go somewhere quiet and think about where the shop is at and where you want it to go. Then take that to an expert and get some help refining and formalizing it. It only makes good business sense.

Managing staff — Sometimes you just have to be an a******

Managing staff — Sometimes you just have to be an a******

There are many, many books, articles, and blog posts on how to manage staff. But sometimes you just have to be an a******. Well, at least that’s part of the management philosophy of the now ex-owner of a very big Canadian shop. I’m not going to name the shop or even the city because I haven’t specifically asked for permission to share this story. So let’s just call him Bob.

Bob is a mild-mannered, personable, considerate, unexcitable person—what most people would call an all-round decent guy. And this was reflected in his management style too. This is why when I heard this story years ago it tickled me then, and still does today.

Bob had established a designated smoking zone behind the shop for those essential smoke breaks that a number of his staff members apparently needed. He only had one rule—they had to place their cigarette butts in the provided bin. However, much to his annoyance the rule would be ignored and he’d find butts littering the ground. After repeatedly reminding the staff to use the butt bin, he apparently uncharacteristically “lost it” one day when he again found butts lying around.

He called the crowd of smokers into his office and shocked them by “going nuts.” As the saying goes, he went up one side of them and down the other. I understand that this was the end of cigarette butts on the ground. As Bob explained, “Sometimes you just have to be an a******!”

Coffee shop warning . . . again!

Coffee shop warning . . . again!

Here we go again . . .  I’ve been reminded that the warning about coffee shop business meetings is worth repeating. Today I was in our village coffee shop hoping to find a quiet table in a corner to spend an hour or two editing a document. For some reason, coffee shops and libraries are good for this kind of activity—a good portion of my book was written in coffee shops and libraries.

Anyway, I found a table, settled down, and started working. Then I realized that two guys at a nearby table were having quite a serious discussion about a business deal, and they didn’t seem to care that I and others could hear everything they were saying. This is risky in a big city, but in a small village where almost everyone knows almost everything about almost everyone else, it’s a huge risk. They were plotting a takeover against someone called Peter. If I’d known who this “Peter” was, I could have possibly caused some serious damage to their plan.

In retrospect, I should have referred them, as I’m going to do for you now, to a story I wrote a few years ago. Here’s an excerpt:

“I’ve been telling people for years to be careful about the business they discuss in public places like coffee shops. Now, thanks to a recent report in a British newspaper, I have a classic example to illustrate my point . . .

A patron was having his coffee shop experience ruined by a group of people loudly discussing a new business venture. His 26-word tweet from the coffee shop tells the story:Coffee shop. People next to me are loud and rude. They just found the perfect name for their new business. I just bought the domain name.’ “

So, the message is clear—don’t discuss business in public places like coffee shops.

Microplastic update — A prize for a glitter print right here in Canada!

Microplastic update — A prize for a glitter print right here in Canada!

At a recent Canadian show a shirt won for it’s producer the title, “Canada’s Greatest Screen Printer” (yes, I know, but that’s another topic for another day). For now the point is that far from joining international fashion retailers and the entire European Union in banning glitter, a glitter print has won a competition. The printer earned a lofty title, albeit a bit presumptuous.

The print was described as follows: “The design featured numerous special effects such as suede base, puff base, silver, gold glitter, fluorescent ink, and even glow-in-the-dark! The design also had embroidery over some of the screen printed elements . . . ” Sounds interesting but why, oh why, the glitter?

I emailed the printer via the contact information on their website, but, as in so many of these instances, there has been no response. After I contacted the show organizer, the sponsor of the award was advised of the microplastic concern too but, again, there has been no response.

We have to do better than this. Our industry is in the spotlight as a major polluter. We can’t carry on as if the environment is not our problem. It’s irresponsible and it’s bad business practice.

Please refuse to print with glitter.

A warning

A warning

I’m going to start with the last paragraph of the latest newsletter from my favourite IT company, RGCS of Edinburgh . . .

“Businesses should, therefore, make sure that they are well protected for 2024 from a wide range of common cyber-attack methods, including malware, phishing, distributed denial of service (DDoS), man-in-the-middle (MitM), and many more. “

Yes, it’s about cyber security and no business, big or small, can afford to be complacent about it. I don’t need to reproduce the rest of the article here to make the point that you must make sure that you’ve done what you can to protect your business.

Doing nothing is not an option.

UPDATE: See more on this topic posted today as well on the Stanley’s digital and graphics site

That potentially expensive under-cure gremlin

That potentially expensive under-cure gremlin

An under-cure gremlin might catch you out only once in a while, but when it does, it can be an expensive proposition if not remedied early. What you definitely do not need is to discover a curing problem after the whole order has left the shop. So, the obvious advice is to check for proper curing regularly throughout the run.

If or when the under-cure gremlin does catch you out, here is a reference list of possible causes and solutions:

The dryer temperature is too low. Use a thermo-probe to check the temperature at every point on the journey through the dryer. If it is not reaching cure temperature then turning up the heat is the obvious solution. This is a good test to do at least every morning as a matter of routine.

The dryer temperature is fluctuating. Check for open doors or windows that might be allowing a cold draft to flow through the dryer. This cause has baffled more than a few printers over the years, it can happen in summer when the shop can get very hot and doors or windows are opened to provide some relief, and it can happen in winter if you have cold drafts.

The dryer belt is overloaded. Reduce the number of garments on the belt at one time.—space them out more.

The garments are being placed on the belt improperly. Make sure that each garment is flat on the belt so that its imprinted area is fully exposed to the heating elements.

There is excessive moisture in the garments. Run the garments through the dryer before printing them. A forced-air dryer is best for this.

Ink additives have been used improperly. Make sure that ink additives (type and quantity) are used strictly according to guidelines.

The prints have been over-flashed. Over-flashing can adversely affect inter-layer adhesion thereby causing the layers to peel or flake.

Hopefully the under-cure gremlin doesn’t ever sneak up on you, but if it does, these suggestions could save you a lot of stress and money.