March '17

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 7 M A R C H P R I N T W E A R || 15 a business owner, you should expect to have your enterprise live long after you retire. Maybe the advice should read, "work like your company will thrive forever, and have a succession plan ready should you find yourself unable to lead it tomorrow." Unfortunately, long-term planning for many decorated-apparel businesses is, at best, what might happen next year. Do you have an exit strategy for your company? When you are ready to retire, will you just sell off the equipment, lay off your employ- ees, lock the doors, and walk away? Will one of your children want to—and maybe more importantly, be qualified to—take over the business? If your plan is to sell the company to a non-family interest, be sure to continue to grow it all the way up to the moment the ink dries on the deal. Strange things can happen in the 11th hour. If you continue to drive the horses until you hand over the reins to another compe- tent driver, no one can say you allowed the team to stumble across the finish line or end the race with a whimper. BEFORE YOU CAN HELP ANYBODY ELSE, YOU HAVE TO HELP YOURSELF In my years as a corporate trainer, I've dis- covered the variation,"Before you can teach anybody else, you have to teach yourself " to be quite true. Constantly be on the lookout for bet- ter, more efficient ways of doing everyday things. What you do for a customer to- day may not be good enough tomorrow. Dedicate yourself, your employees, and your company to continuous improve- ment. Do it in the way you serve your cus- tomers, how you manufacture your goods, provide your services, and in the ways you manage your business. Have an annual training plan and exercise that plan. View the expense of training your

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