Success at the Speed of Systems

When opening the doors of my business, in June 1988, I had no clue what to expect, as far as growth; no special vision for where we might be in five or 10 years. My first order of business was just to stay in business, by making a profit.

This is “Music City USA,” and I was fresh out of rock ’n’ roll music, trying to get my feet back down to earth in the “real” world. I was also still sporting a head of long, blond hair and enough confidence to think I could just about leap tall buildings, bringing in customers for my new shop.

I had hardly finished setting up my first printing press—a well-used Hamada 600—when I headed out the door, looking more like Mick Jagger than the owner of a small business. I went to a large, nearby company where the manager was kind enough to visit with a budding entrepreneur. If he was suppressing laughter at my lion’s mane and glittery shirt, he didn’t give it away.

Handing him my brand new business card, I boldly asked for ALL of his company’s printing business. But, the man didn’t laugh, even then; he actually gave me a small printing job to start with. I was encouraged—my venture was bound for success!

Back at the shop, I knew we would have to deliver a quality product at a competitive rate, and ON TIME, to gain even a small foothold in the market. I must say, that went pretty smoothly for the first several years we were in business. We were three employees strong then.

Thinking I was some kind of Superman, I moved around the shop faster than a speeding bullet (well almost)—handling all the issues, being in several places at once—even with everyone tugging on my “cape,” asking me umpteen questions. I’d fly to the back of the shop to rescue our one pressman from his quality and technical press problems and, with my sure superpowers, I was able to hear the phones ringing above the roar of the press and our small Balm folder, spitting out our latest product.

Philip Beyer, founder/president of Beyer Printing and Ebiz Products LLC in Nashville, TN, is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant, author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business," and an InterTech Award recipient for the design and development of System100™ business process management software. Philip speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses.
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  • Shirley A Burns

    When I worked in the corporate world, I was often the lone voice in the wilderness attempting to ensure we had well-documented, smooth-flowing systems and processes, especially at points where different teams had "hand offs" … and now as co-owner of a [very] small business, I still find that time after time, when we have errors, it is more often than not due to lack of formalized process and/or training. I do struggle, though, with finding the right balance of structure needed, with wanting to just fly using the cape! So often, we have one-off products and services created for our customers… I scribble down notes of what we did "in case we need it again", cross my fingers, and move on to the next task … so thanks for the timely articles each week, I get great ideas & motivation every time!