December '16

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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5k, measure their time, and practice to make improvements on that time. Your business needs that same measurement. Do you know your sales each week, month, or year? If someone asked what your monthly revenue and profit was last month, could you give them a correct answer? You need to be honest with yourself here. If you can- not respond to that question, then it's time to start doing some math and writing things down. Not only should you know your total sales and revenue, but you should also be able to break that down into categories. How much was embroidery versus direct-to-garment printing? How much was sports apparel versus corporate wear? How much was new business versus repeat customers? Understanding your metrics will help you to make more money. Why? Because it will allow you to compare, contrast, and focus. You can look for areas to improve and recognize trends. You can also begin to notice that what you feel might not be the same as what is real. You may think that the spring is a great time for your business because you are very busy with embroidery. However, you may be much more profitable in the summer when you are doing more custom direct-to-garment jobs. It's imperative to run your business based on the actual numbers, and not just feelings. Begin now by getting all your stats organized and tracked. If you need help in this area, it's worth it to hire an accountant to help you build reports and understand the metrics. STOP TRIPPING OVER DOLLARS Have you heard of the saying, "Tripping over dollars to pick up pennies?" Being a small business owner, you need to understand this concept, because too many people don't. Don't focus on ways to save small amounts of money so much that you miss out on the opportunities to make large sums of money. Are you doing yourself a favor by wearing every hat in your busi- ness? Maybe as you first begin your journey, yes. In the begin- ning, you were probably confused about the direction in which you wanted to head. Nevertheless, there is a point where you need to start breaking things off so you can grow. You must have the foresight to see when you should take some responsibilities and pass them on to someone better suited for the job. This idea can go two ways: hiring someone who is better than you or hiring someone because the task is easy to pass on. Simply put, if you aren't an expert at running the numbers and metrics listed above, hire an accountant. Conversely, you can pay someone to do a simple task like fold, pack, and verify orders. Although you are increasing your monthly business costs, you have now freed your time to focus on doing the tasks more suited to your skills. You can spend more time calling customers, following up with sales, and attending events where you might meet potential clients. You will begin to see the dollars when you stop tripping over the pennies of these tasks. Also, evaluate how many hours a week you spend doing various tasks like ac- counting, updating your website, deliv- ering orders, cleaning your shop, picking up supplies, counting inventory, doing machine maintenance, or folding shirts. If you hired someone to do one of these tasks, how much extra time would you have? What could you do to make more money with that time? Even if it's just five hours a week, that is a lot of time to spend trying to get more orders. Fur- thermore, how many new orders would you need to gain to justify that cost? You might find that gaining just one or two orders a month can pay for the cost of hiring someone to do your monthly bookkeeping. Another issue with tripping over dollars is dealing with the cost of your wholesale supplies. You may spend an hour trying to figure out a way to save $20 an order of T-shirts or ink, when you could have just ordered the brand you trust, from the company you know. This may seem justified because you priced this order in a way where the margin was slim. None- theless, could you have done something MARKETING TIPS 82 || P R I N T W E A R D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 6

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