Case Study: Case of More Change

It is strange that my last article was about change in the printing industry while, in the meantime, change hit our magazine squarely in the jaw. Magazines are thinner now and some are combined with others (hello Printing News) while others fade away (RIP American Printer). The good ones have developed a significant online presence as Quick Printing has done with As a long-time QP columnist, I thought I’d mention a take-away that I think we can glean from this change and apply to our businesses.

When I started writing about business for QP (and other venues), I was in the eleventh year of operating my quick printing business. By the way, I never really wrote about printing per se, just applied business principles into printing examples. I sold the business after the 20 year mark and went on to retirement as a consultant, which I thought was a good title at the time.

That business (Crouser & Associates) eventually grew to be larger than my printing company. Along the way, I created a franchise in the printing industry (CPrint International), wrote a couple of business books (“Prospering” and “Dead Printer Working”), and published a Small Offset Price Guide which grew into numerous price studies and a Digital Printing Guide, with more to come.


Always Learning

I hadn’t finished my college education when I started the shop in 1966, so I returned to school part-time to study what I thought would reveal all the answers: accounting. Hmm…it answered a lot, but not all. I got my degree in that and a masters in business administration and even did advanced work. Enough work so that I could teach operations management at the graduate level.

What’s this have to do with magazines and take-away lessons? Just this, I was prepared for business at fast lane speeds, as I’m sure you were. But it’s no longer business in the fast lane. Sure, the principles are the same but—and it’s a big but—our products and services have changed. What we do to make money is changing. You and I and the magazine industry have been hit by a double whammy: the depression and technological change.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been training for the new world for some time. I learned HTML and how to set up websites. I figured out how to do email broadcasting and QR codes with little help. And then I completed studies on pricing websites, QR codes, and email broadcasting and more.

I learned about social media by doing it. I tweet (follow me at @TomCrouser), friend me and like our business page on Facebook, “Small Business Schmiznesswith Tom Crouser”. And link to me on LinkedIn. The point? If I can do it, you can, too.

Now, here’s the take-away I promised.

Always take charge of change you cannot control. Do not deny realities such as email broadcasting being a substitute for direct mail. Use it. Show customers how printed editions along with email enhance sales, and produce both processes for them.

Our friends at Quick Printing and Printing News magazines have taken charge of their change—and they are to be congratulated—so they may continue to be a valuable information source for all of us.

And with that change, there will be a change of schedule. I’ll be coming to you in print every other month, but you can still read my column every month at And, if you really want to keep up with my adventures while I struggle to survive all of this change along with everyone else, then come over to and sign up as a member of my business owner’s club.

I’m going to change its name one of these days to the Survivors Business Owners’ Club, but, well, we have a little surviving to do first.