Winning Strategies: 10 Practices that Derail Business Plans

This is the time of year when many print shop owners plan for the year ahead. There are many reasons that contribute to why a plan might not be well executed. The 10 most glaring reasons follow.

Missing Purpose

Most print shop owners believe that all of their managers are aligned to company goals. Elsewhere in the shop, when the focus is not strategic, the goal is to get to the end of the day. Vision, mission, and values statements are simply forgotten in the crush of daily activities. What works is alignment of purpose on a simple and short phrase called The Main Focus.

Lincoln’s “main focus” was to save the Union. NASA’s was to put a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth.

There is a lot of power in a boiled-down message. What’s your main focus?


No Road Map

Surprisingly, many printing companies go to great lengths to create plans and then keep them a secret. The plan should be broken down by department; each manager or lead person sharing their portion so that everyone understands his or her role.


Everything is Priority

The road map should include deadlines which set priorities. A lack of priorities means the plan won’t be achieved. The key is to take baby steps. Remember, it’s better to achieve two or three goals than work on 10 and achieve none.


No Sense of Urgency

Most print shop owners know their deadlines and they are great at getting things done. Unfortunately, many employees don’t have the same drive, therefore progress can slow to a trickle.

Most people focus on what is in front of them. It is the role of the owner/manager to communicate clearly what needs to be done, why it needs to be done, and when it needs to be completed.


No Follow Through

Most print shop owners assume that subordinates are following through. The reality is that they aren’t.

There is nothing wrong and everything right with meeting daily to check on the status of priorities. A 15-minute investment will yield dramatic improvement in getting things done.


Missing the How-to

When assigned a task that they do not know how to do, people procrastinate. It is necessary for print shop owners to make sure that those responsible for getting something done have the necessary tools, resources, and support.


Weak Accountability

Accountability cannot be just an annual review; it must be an all the time thing. It’s unfortunate that managers often judge a person based on whether or not they are liked rather than on whether or not they produce results. This distorts what is really important. Your employees are on the payroll to get a job done. If any of them are not doing what they are being paid for, they need to move to a more suitable employer.

Lack of Celebration

Most printing companies don’t appear to enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done. It is as if a voice is constantly saying, “What have you done for me lately?” instead of saying, “Great job, let’s enjoy this for a few minutes!”

There is no reason to party every day. But when something substantial happens, take time to celebrate.


Missing Rewards

“You are lucky to have a job in this economy” is among the most vulgar statements ever to be spoken. Paychecks are earned as an exchange of money for time, knowledge, activities, and results. If someone isn’t earning their paycheck, deal with it in private.

A paycheck is not a reward. A reward is a something given in recognition of service, effort, or achievement. Don’t keep rewards a secret. They motivate people to do more, contribute more, be more.


Poor Communication

The number one employee complaint is that they do not know what is going on in their own company. Print shop owners/managers simply cannot over communicate. While some employees will tire of the message, most won’t hear the message until it has been repeated dozens of times. Make the message short and clear and keep repeating it.


Mitch Evans is president of Mitch Evans Consulting, which is targeted to meet the needs of the small commercial printing industry. Contact him at 561-351-6950 or