Being Profitable in Unprofitable Times
by Steve Dick

I’ll admit, this is the last topic I ever thought I was going to be writing about. Normally, I’m explaining various facets of the printing world, and how to squeeze every dime out of your printing capabilities. Now, I’m looking at my current sales versus my bottom line, and I don’t like the way it is trending.

As I’ve been watching the COVID-19 crisis unfold and its impact on businesses worldwide, not the least of which my own, I’m coming to realize I haven’t been leaning on my entrepreneurial side nearly as much as I should. I’ve found myself going from entrepreneur mode into administrator mode. Let me explain…

When I first purchased my business, the person I bought it from was solely an administrator, by his own admission. His normal thought process was, “I’m making $100 less dollars this month, therefore I need to cut $100 in expenses.” In other words, the administrator mindset was, “This is what I’ve been given, so how do I make the best of it and just keep things running?” Unfortunately, that kind of thinking often leads to a downward spiral and is very difficult—if not impossible—to escape. It was that downward spiral that lead him to sell the business to me in a very down and unprofitable state.

As a new owner, I was filled with ideas of how I could make the business transform into so much more. I immediately wanted to change prices, methods of doing things, revamp outdated equipment, add new services, and expand in ways the previous owner never considered. That’s the entrepreneurial spirit: the belief one can make something out of nothing if one works hard enough and has good, relevant ideas. As an entrepreneur, I was dedicated to learning, changing, and moving forward.

The administrator and entrepreneur sides of me are always at odds. The administrator side says, “Just ride this out, keep things running, and it will all be better soon.” The entrepreneur side says, “Let’s make something positive happen … now!” The administrator side says, “Don’t rock the boat.” The entrepreneur side says, “Let’s get a new turbo charged motor for the boat.” It’s like the lil’ devil and angel on each shoulder trying to battle it out—a true dichotomy.

I read something recently that helped me a lot: there is often a direct relationship between being uncomfortable and being a great success. I’ve thought about that and realize that I tend to get too comfortable too often. That entrepreneurial fire tends to fade as complacency sets in. But, right now I think it’s fair to say that very few people are comfortable with the status quo. So, as long as we’re uncomfortable, let’s fire up our entrepreneurial spirits once more! Let’s innovate, rethink processes, and reinvent the wheel if we must, in order to find a way to serve our communities in new ways through this new normal that we’re all still adjusting to.

Here is my commitment to myself and my challenge to all of you reading this: go home and research what it means to be an entrepreneur. Find words that inspire you. Remember what it was like the first day owning your business. Step out of the administrator mode you can get stuck in, then come back with fresh eyes. Look around. What do you want to change? How are you going to make improvements that make your clients’ experiences and your employees’ lives better?

Get back to being the entrepreneur. Do something uncomfortable and find greatness in that. The profits will come.

Steve Dick is a store owner, efficiency proponent, and food truck lover. He serves on the AMBC Board of Directors as Director of Print for Profit and Board Treasurer. When he’s not spending his normal 50 hours per week at Box King – Pack, Ship, Print, he’s probably looking for the next food truck gathering he can attend. #TacosBeware

This is a sneak peak of an article slated to be published in MBC Today Volume 22, Issue 3 (May / June 2020).