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We’re not going to deal with our industry’s bad reputation this way

We’re not going to deal with our industry’s bad reputation this way

Three years ago already, Adrienne Matei, writing for the Guardian, pointed out that glitter is “an environmental abomination.” She explained how it is made from a combination of aluminum and plastic and is a microplastic.

Microplastics have been found in Arctic ice, the seabed around Australia, has literally rained down on protected and otherwise pristine natural areas, and has turned up in our food, to name just a few problem areas.

More than three years ago, major British retailers such as Morrisons, Waitrose, and John Lewis announced that they would ban glitter. The New York Times, among others on this continent, has published articles about the the glitter issue. So, we all know about the problem by now, and yet at least one significant industry magazine, a major ink manufacturer, and an industry influencer, have chosen to ignore the issue and continue to promote the use of glitter in applications on garments. Not only that, but try raising it with them and, like me, you’ll have your magazine subscription terminated and your correspondence ignored.

As disappointing as this may be, those of us who are more responsible shouldn’t be discouraged from doing and saying what’s right for the sake of the reputation of our industry and for the sake of the environment. Glitter may be only a small part of the overall microplastic threat, but it’s the one where we can make a contribution, and we have no excuse for not doing so.

An organized business

An organized business

Going back to the book I mentioned in an earlier article, 101 Things I learned in Business School, there is some very good advice on running an organized business. It’s about the fact that businesses have departments, even one-person businesses. Understanding this allows for proper organization even for the smallest of businesses, in fact, particularly for the smallest of businesses where time is often in short supply and where good organization can save time.

As the authors note: “Many businesses have similar concerns and responsibilities, and therefore similar departments. A department in a large business may have hundreds or thousands of employees; in a sole proprietorship it may be represented by a folder in the cloud and a few hours of work per month.”

Then they go on to explain why this is important for the smallest of businesses: “Honouring the universality of departments is essential to setting up a business and facilitating growth. Putting standards and practices in place that others will readily understand anticipates the eventual hiring of employees. Even naming and arranging computer folders and files by a universal, rather than idiosyncratic, standard can help growth occur more naturally.”

It’s good advice.

Emergency and disaster planning

Emergency and disaster planning

I’ve written about emergency and disaster planning before and will again in the future because it is important; I know this from personal experience.

As I mentioned in the previous article, BDC has advice on all kinds of planning, including emergency and disaster planning. Again, it’s written for larger organizations that have enough people to set up teams, among them an emergency preparedness team. So I’m going to adapt the eight steps they propose for emergency and disaster planning to suit the more limited circumstances of smaller businesses.

Here are the 8 steps modified and abbreviated:

  1. Establish responsibility for developing a plan. In many small businesses this will inevitably be the owner.
  2. Identify the essential services and functions you’ll need in case of an emergency.
  3. Identify the skills at your disposal that might be needed in an emergency.
  4. Identify the types of potential emergencies.
  5. Prepare a plan for each type of potential emergency,
  6. Review the plan to make sure that all possible aspects have been addressed.
  7. Review the plan with employees and/or your preparedness team (if you have one).

And again, like all other plans, once prepared it should be revisited and updated regularly rather than being left to gather dust somewhere.

A plan for implementing your strategy

A plan for implementing your strategy

So this is the time of the year when business owners are urged to plan. And there’s no end to the types of plans. In my experience though, moist small businesses don’t have the time (or probably the need) to plan to the degree of detail some of the plan-crazy business writers urge. Of course there are those that don’t plan at all and fly by the seat of their pants, and that’s not good either.

BDC produces a lot of good material for small business management including, of course, planning articles. I’ve selected two of them from which to pick the best ideas for implementing a strategic plan. They state the obvious when they say that a strategic plan is essential for every business. It’s just a question of how detailed the plan needs to be, which in the case of a time-strapped small business is less important than at least doing some kind of strategic plan. You and your employees need a simple, clear roadmap of where you want to go and how you’re going to get there.

Then, having developed a strategic plan, it must be used and kept current and not stuck away somewhere gathering dust. As for an action plan, there are seven steps for developing one:

  1. Involve your team early on.
  2. List concrete actions for each plan item.
  3. Include timelines.
  4. Designate resources.
  5. Establish a follow-up and measurement process.
  6. Communicate the plan.
  7. Keep the plan alive.

That’s about as much room as we have space for here, so don’t let this be all the reading you do on implementing a strategic plan. You have homework to do.

Your people are capital

Your people are capital

Over the holidays I came across 101 Things I learned in Business School by Michael W. Preis and Matthew Frederick. It’s crammed with some useful ideas and concepts, much of it useful to small businesses such as the vast majority of textile screen printing shops in Canada. With that in mind, I’m going to be sharing some of this book’s useful contents over the coming weeks.

Here is the first of those . . .  It’s titled “People are capital” and lists the various ways in which your people are capital . . .

Intellectual capital is proprietary information and in-house knowledge of technologies, materials, processes, and markets useful to an organization.

Human capital consists of talents, skills, and knowledge among employees.

Social capital and cultural capital refer to established human relationships, both internal and external to a company, that create and maintain value.”

These are the types of “people” capital they list and I’m sure you will recognize them immediately. The point of course is that being reminded of them helps underscore the importance of preserving this “people” capital for the sake of the ongoing success of your business.

They go on to add an item about “institutional memory” which they say is ” . . . unrecorded collective knowledge, techniques, tools, values, priorities etc., developed in an organization over time.” And here’s the important bit, “It outlasts the employee(s) who first developed it as long as there is significant overlap between outgoing and incoming employees.”