You don’t realize how much of your time is being wasted. As a business owner, your time is the most valuable thing in the company. How you use this time absolutely affects your business growth and how much money you will make. You set on a journey to live a dream, don’t waste time getting there.
Let’s go through some wasters and winners!
Solving a Problem using Google
Waster: Youtube, searching, forums and Facebook to try and resolve a machine issue.
Winner: Contact support FIRST. You may find your answer online, you also might not and make things worse.
Waster: Searching all over for ‘how to do XYZ in photoshop
Winner: If an art project is out of your reach, pay to get it done right.
Waster: Filing business / tax paperwork when you have no clue what to do
Winner: Get a CPA or use an online service. Its not too much money and it will be done RIGHT.
Catering to needy clients
Waster: Being at the beck and call of needy clients
The 80/20 rule is true – 80% of your actual sales come from about 20% of your customers – and they’re NOT needy
Winner: Help them understand your time is valuable too. e.g. “I have a meeting at 1 pm, I will address your issue after”
Waster: Dropping everything to fix a problem
Winner: How urgent is it? Does it matter if you wait an hour, till after lunch, or tomorrow?
TIP: Read the 4 Hour Work Week
Your BAD at Something. But you do it Anyway
Waster: You cannot digitize well. So you try, sew out, try sew out, try sew out
Winner: Hire a digitizing company to get it done right. If you want to learn to digitize do it outside of business time. like ‘nightschool’
Waster: You are an introvert and generally unlikeable… then you try to handle customer service
Winner: Hire someone to help you out. Talk to customers, handle problems etc.
Waster: You get a scary legal letter, then try to look up the laws. (or ask on facebook)
Winner: Send it to your attorney who will know exactly what to do.
Another book: EMyth by Michael Gerber
You Can’t Find Anything
Waster: Piles of boxes of shirts. Finding a “small” takes 5 minutes
Winner: Get creative with storage. Shelves, racks etc. You can even find used stuff like this on facebook or ebay.
Waster: No CRM, No Customer database. You will find yourself searching through emails and texts to find what you quoted someone
Winner: Use a CRM or other database to keep track of customers info and details.
Waster: No process from orders in to orders out.
Winner: Have an exact thought out process for your orders. This should include not only the method but the set up of your space.
Waster: Jamming vinyl designs or transfer designs so close, it takes 5 minutes just to cut them out.
Winner: Don’t worry about saving $0.50 in materials. If you get the job done faster that means you can do more to make $$.
Waster: Always price shopping supplies that cost almost nothing. e.g. thread
Winner: Buy from somewhere you trust and is consistent. Your inventory and results are easier to manage.
Waster: Trying to save money with lower quality materials.
Winner: Use quality supplies and apparel. Your customers will like it, they work better and overall you win.
You’ve got the opportunity to achieve and exceed your dreams in front of you. Don’t waste time getting caught up in the details of things that won’t help you achieve your dream.
Litmus Test: Whenever you are doing something that takes a long time. Ask yourself. “Is this task going to help me achieve my goals?” – if it’s not, don’t do it!
Welcome to the Custom Apparel Startups podcast, your best source for information, news, tips and tricks to get you off the ground running, and earn success with your custom apparel decorating business. So, get ready to soak up some knowledge!
Now, here are your hosts, Mark and Marc!
Mark S: Hey, everyone! Welcome to episode 109 of the Custom Apparel Startups podcast. My name is Mark Stephenson, from ColDesi.
Marc V: And this is Marc Vila. Today we’re here to talk about what you’re wasting your time on. You’re wasting your time, doing these five things.
Mark S: I am?
Marc V: Everyone is! Well, not everyone is. We made the list, so we stopped doing them.
Mark S: Good point.
Marc V: But you might be wasting your time doing these five things, and these are five things that are going to suck time out of your day, suck time out of your business, and ultimately cost you money.
Mark S: Yeah. Here’s the thing. Especially if you’re a solopreneur – if you’re a one-person operation or a two-person operation, you really don’t have a lot of free time to waste. So, it’s relatively easy to spot the things that you’re doing, that you shouldn’t be doing, or somebody else could do better, and make moves to free up that time for yourself.
Marc V: This is just an ego-boost thing that you need to have, as a business owner.
Mark S: I have that. I don’t know if you’ve noticed that.
Marc V: You have it. Your time is the most valuable thing in your business, really. Your equipment and all these things, they have monetary value to them. but your time is what you’ll run out of eventually, if you don’t do things right. Then, once you run out of time, that’s where you stop, give up, go backwards.
All of the bad things that happen to businesses is because there’s not an infinite amount of time. I think that’s one of the biggest killers of a business.
Mark S: And it’s amplified, I’m sure, in your personal life, if you’ve got kids and you’re doing the whole soccer mom or dad thing. You’re taking people to practice. You’ve got to help with homework, and you’ve got to run your business, and maybe even do a full-time day job, as well.
I know that you can look back at your day and not remember what you did. “What did I really accomplish today?”
That’s one of the reasons why Marc and I do this podcast, is because we can point to it when we’re done, and say “We did this today!”
Marc V: This is like 110 hours’ worth of stuff we did!
Mark S: You guys know what I mean. You look back at the day, and you’re not going to realize where the time went or what you actually did. We’ve got five things that we’re going to go through, that we’ve figured out are big time-wasters that you can do something about.
Marc V: If you follow these five things – I always like episodes that have actions and real results – if you follow these five things, I have no doubt you can catch at least an hour of your day back, minimum.
Mark S: An hour.
Marc V: A bare minimum of an hour, because any one of these things, in and of themselves, can suck an hour out of every day.
Mark S: You’re going to find one of them that is your whole life.
Marc V: You’re going to find one that’s going to say “That would have saved me four weeks this year!” So, let’s go into them. You take number one, please.
Mark S: Solving a problem using Google or YouTube. Solving a problem using Google is what you probably do in your home life. Right? Your toilet runs on, you need to fix the door on your fridge, so you go to Google and you figure out how to do it. In that circumstance, it might make sense.
But when you are looking for information about how to solve a current problem in your business – “I don’t know how to do this. I need to accomplish this. How do I get more sales? How do I market my business? How do I move this widget from one place to another?” – you’re doing that in Google. Then, you’re wasting your time, if you have a team like us to back you up.
Marc V: Solving a problem, also this includes forums and Facebook groups, and things like that. There are times where you start to research, to figure out a problem, and there are times when you don’t.
Example, real life: Car makes funky noise. You kind of know how to fix some stuff on cars, but not really. You’ve changed a battery and wiper blades. You go to the mechanic. They fix it. Right? However, you might go the mechanic, and they say $1,800. You say “Pause. I’m going to do some research,” and you figure it out.
That’s kind of what we’re talking about here. If you have a problem with your equipment, and you’re not an equipment repair specialist – you know how to run the equipment and you know how to change the thing – you contact ColDesi or whoever the manufacturer is of whatever equipment you have. You tell them what the problem is, first, before you post to a Facebook group, before you spend hours hunting and pecking.
Mark S: I’ve got the analogy for this.
Marc V: Okay.
Mark S: We all drive cars. Your car breaks down, or you hear a funky noise. You don’t go right to the mechanic. What you do is ask other people that also own cars what they think it might be. Because if you’ve owned cars for 30 years, you’ve got to know what this clanging sound in my Hyundai is. Right?
No, they don’t. You don’t even think about doing that. So, going into a forum or an online group, or something like that during the day, when you can access other people that know what they’re doing, and going “Hey, my Avance embroidery machine is making a clacking sound,” or “I can’t embroider, because I think this is broken. What do I do?”
Marc V: Chances are they’ve heard your question a thousand times, no matter how silly or simple it is. “No, that’s normal. Move on.” Or “Oh, no, that’s just tighten this screw.” They’ve heard it. They know it.
That’s why when you go to the mechanic who works on Hyundais all of the time, and you say “It’s making a clicking noise,” they say “Actually, it’s one of three things. I’ll be able to solve it for you right away.”
That’s the importance of it. As you mentioned, with people owning cars, this is where I get to tell a story. I know you’re excited.
Mark S: I can’t wait!
Marc V: I worked in an auto parts store for many, many years.
Mark S: What?
Marc V: I think I’ve mentioned this in a podcast.
Mark S: Is that where you came up with the battery and windshield wiper example? Flashing back?
Marc V: Yes, I did! Plenty of them. Now, come into the future. People come to me, and they say “Hey, Marc. When I go to start my car, it makes this noise. What do you think that could be?” My usual answer is “90 things. I don’t know what kind of car you have. Oh, it’s a new Mustang? I’ve never worked on one. I have no clue.”
That’s what happens when you go to forums and groups. They know the problem that they had one time, and what fixed it, and that’s all they have memory of. They’re sure that’s what it is. They have no clue if you have the same model.
Mark S: You may get lucky, and they may be right.
Marc V: Yeah, for sure.
Mark S: Or if it’s a Digital HeatFX system, you may waste $25 worth of paper on a solution that doesn’t even apply to your heat press.
Marc V: And now you’re mad, by the time you talk to the expert.
Mark S: But you can see how that’s a big time waster. Now, look. I’m not talking about if it’s 2:00 in the morning on Saturday, and you have a problem. If there are no car dealerships open, then maybe you do want to ask everybody in your neighborhood with a car. It’s not going to hurt.
Marc V: Yeah. You’re broken down on the side of the road, you call anyone you know, to find out an answer. That’s how we want it. The waster is hunting, pecking and searching, before going to experts.
Another waster is the same thing, using Google, searching all over how to do XYZ in Photoshop. First of all, there’s 20 ways to do whatever you want to do in Photoshop. You’re going to see all different answers. Some of them are going to be completely different examples than what you’re trying to do. All of this time!
If an art project is out of your reach, you probably should pay to get it done.
Mark S: Yeah. If you’re going to spend 90 minutes trying to figure out how to knock out the background on a photo that a customer gave you to print, then you probably need to farm that out. Then, maybe on that Saturday, at 2:00 in the morning, you can Google it and try to figure out how to do it yourself.
Marc V: Definitely, that’s what you want to do. If the job is due now, and it’s a customer, there are going to be circumstances where you do all of these things. But for the most part, what are two hours of your time worth? If you’re going to spend two hours trying to figure something out, that you may never use again, like how to do this on Photoshop, what I recommend is you outsource that work.
You get it done, you finish the job, you make the customer happy. You know the art is going to be great, because you used somebody that you know is a good artist, and you get the job done. If you want to learn how to do art, do it on your own time.
Mark S: Because a lot of you, and a lot of small business owners that I know, don’t ascribe a monetary value to their time, I’m going to do that for you. It’s $25 or more an hour. So, if you’re going to spend an hour trying to figure out how to do something in Photoshop, consider you just paid someone $25, to have learned to do something in Photoshop.
It would have cost you $30 to get it done. You would have spent that hour doing something more productive, which would have been worth $25 worth of labor. So, it’s $50 you wasted. It’s not just time. It’s $50. Also, it’s opportunity costs, because what else could you have been doing, that might make you money?
Marc V: It’s the hardest part, because opportunity cost doesn’t have a real value. But $25, when your business only has a few thousand bucks in the bank, -.
Mark S: It can be significant.
Marc V: It feels like a lot, and it’s scary. “Oh, gosh. Every time, if I spend this $25!” But you’ve got to be thinking that forward movement of “I’m going to spend an hour doing something to get another customer.”
So, the time waster, searching all over for how to do something in Photoshop, or digitizing, or whatever it is. The winner option would be, if it’s out of your reach, pay to get it done.
Mark S: Agreed.
Marc V: We’ve got one more in this category.
Mark S: Yeah, and that’s figuring out how to file your own paperwork. I don’t care what it is. Maybe you’re Googling how to do bookkeeping, or how to do your taxes, or you’re trying to learn the tax software for small business, which is about 11,000 times more complicated than for your personal return.
All of those things that you’re doing, once again, you’re not going to do it that well. You can accomplish it. You can accomplish anything you want to. You learned how to use whatever machine you’re using to make custom t-shirts. You can learn stuff.
But is it worth that time, when you’re going to do something like that once in your lifetime, or once a year, or once a quarter? No, it’s not. What you should do is pick up the phone and call somebody that’s good at it, and write them a check.
You’ll be better off. It may look like you’re handing somebody money and that your bottom line is going down, but your human capital, your own time, is going way up. Like Marc said, you’re the most important person in the business.
Marc V: You’re the most important person in the business, and not only is something like this saving you time, but then you save future time. You didn’t file the tax paperwork correctly. Now you get a letter from the state government, that you did something wrong. Now you’ve got to figure it out again.
You’re doing all of this work again, where if you would have paid a couple hundred bucks to have somebody who knows the legal stuff do it for you. Then, you get a letter from the state, saying you did it wrong…
Mark S: “Here! Fix this!”
Marc V: Yeah. “I already paid you to do this right. Fix it for me.” And it’s done, so you have future time saved there, as well.
Mark S: Before we move on to the next section, which I’m really anxious to talk about, too, I wanted to say something about this category of things, because you may enjoy it. You may really want to figure things out yourself. This may be one of your things, that you enjoy figuring stuff out, you like to do it yourself.
It may be even what contributes to what makes you a successful custom t-shirt printer or embroiderer. But in this circumstance, you’ve got to watch out for using these kinds of things as an excuse not to do something that you don’t enjoy as much. Do you know what I mean?
Marc V: Yeah.
Mark S: I will catch myself doing it. One of my favorite things to do is write. So, if there is something that I need to do, that’s not writing – there’s a long list – I may all of a sudden have an idea for an article, and decide “Eh, I’m just going to write this,” instead of letting our inhouse content specialist write it, or hiring one of our great contractors to write it.
I may decide to do it myself, not necessarily because I’m going to do a better job, but because I don’t want to do the other things right now.
Marc V: It’s a good point.
Mark S: You want to avoid that, because again, at $25 or better an hour, you’re better off finding something to do that will make you money, even if it’s something that you want to avoid.
Marc V: What you mentioned before struck a chord with me, because I love figuring things out. I love it. Everything that I’ve ever done at my home, I’ve learned on the internet. Fix things, repair things, bake things, cook things, whatever it is, I love to do it.
It’s taken me years of practice, and still, in business. I’m getting ready to do something. I want to make an effect in a video, and I don’t know how to do it. All of the time, I say “I’m not going to look it up. I’m not going to look it up! I’m going to send it. I’m going to have somebody else do it. I’m going to do something that I’m better at, that I know how to do.”
When it’s all done, it looks exactly how I wanted it to look. I didn’t have to get stressed. That’s the other thing, is just the stress. It’s going to cost you time going to the pharmacy, to get blood pressure medication, when you stress yourself out.
Mark S: It does, some of us. I will tell you something specifically about video, because I used to be like that, especially with video. And then, I decided the only transition that I would ever use is a cross-fade. 100%, that’s all I will ever use, because once you decide on any other options, then you’re going to watch the same thing 57 times. “No, I don’t like this one. That was too fast or too slow.” No. Standardize. That’s my small version.
Marc V: I agree. The next thing that’s a time waster is catering to needy clients.
Mark S: Yeah.
Marc V: I love this one, in its own way. I love it and not like it in the same way. You and I both, we’ve been in tons of different businesses, and all this stuff. If you’ve been in business, if you’ve been in sales or customer service, you know that you’ve got this very, very small percentage of really, really needy clients, and they will suck all of the time out of your day.
Mark S: Yep. The 80-20 rule really applies to anything. We experience that, at ColDesi. There are some times we can tell, within a short period of time after somebody buys some equipment, that they’re going to take more time for our training staff, than others.
There are some times, if we have a particular vendor that we do business with, we know that we’ve got to set aside an extra set of time just to deal with this vendor, because they’ve got all kinds of rules and requirements, and special things we have to do.
In your business, especially if it’s just you, you really don’t have time for that.
Marc V: There’s something interesting you said there, and it made me think of this. Sometimes, people will waste their time with number one here, using Google, because they don’t want to be the needy client.
Mark S: Oh, good point!
Marc V: I want to say that a needy client isn’t necessarily negative, at that point in time. We’re talking about things that they do to waste your time, and how do you get that back. So, let’s talk about those.
Mark S: Now that you have me back-tracking my words a little, the way we handle somebody that needs extra support, is we put systems in place, so they can solve problems themselves, using the information we directly provide them. Like we just came out with the Avance Troubleshooter. Very specific problems that we will tell you to go there, because the solution is there for 90% of the stuff.
We have also built out a support department, and great customer service representatives, so we’re ready for you. We can handle that. That’s not really a time waster for us, because we know what’s going on.
You’re all by yourself, in most cases. You really can’t afford to spend – if somebody is going to order $500 worth of shirts once, you really can’t afford to spend ten hours with them on free design help. You really can’t afford to answer the phone three times a day, to tell them if their order is ready.
These are people that will just use your time, and not give you any [inaudible 18:15].
Marc V: Oftentimes, it’s not malicious. They may be super nice people. They’re chatty.
Mark S: They’re worried, too.
Marc V: Yeah. There’s all these great things. One is, the wasting time thing is just don’t be at their beck and call. You have other clients you have to help. You have a business to run. Don’t hurt other people, because of that.
We have like a ticketing system, and sometimes someone says “Can I get someone on the phone now?” But the person that’s on the phone right now, they’re just as important as you. That’s how you have to think of your customers, that they’re all really important.
Mark S: I will cast back into one of my other businesses. Back in the 40s, I used to put together video editing stations.
Marc V: Yeah. We’re going to put that video editing, with the memory and the dream fade.
Mark S: I used to put together video editing systems, and it was hard back then. You had to build special computers and everything. They were easy to mess up. People were trying to figure this stuff out all the time, and it was just me. I had customers all over the country.
I would get these phone calls and these emails, a customer with a very important problem they needed help with, right now. I had a rule that I would wait an hour, before I called them back. 80% of the people had already moved on. They had already figured it out.
In that case, if I had been catering too much to them, then nothing better would have happened, and I would have wasted that time.
Marc V: The solution wouldn’t have changed.
Mark S: No!
Marc V: The winning solution to this would be, just help them understand your time is valuable. “I’ve got a meeting at 1:00. I’ll address your issue after that. I can’t stop what I’m doing, and come visit you now. I’ve already made an appointment with somebody else.”
Mark S: “I’m in the middle of production right now. I can’t come see you.”
Marc V: Yeah. Another waster is always dropping everything, when a problem comes. You have a problem, and you just stop the presses, can’t move on. Oftentimes, it’s in your own head. You’ve got to get over it. You just say “I’m not going to be able to get this out of my mind, until I fix the problem.” That’s you, hurting yourself.
Mark S: Give me an example. Are we talking about like I’m doing a DTG print run of 100 really profitable shirts, and all of a sudden, the phones aren’t working? Is it I’m talking on the phone with customers, and somebody walks in the door and says they have a tear in their shirt? What are we talking about?
Marc V: I would say a really solid one would be you’re in the middle of a production run, and then you’ve got a meeting with a client afterwards, to talk about a potential sale. You’ve got a packed day. The letter carrier comes in with a signed envelope. You open it up, and it says something like you tried to do your own taxes, and you messed up.
You’ve got a letter from the IRS or the state that says you’ve got 30 days to comply with this, or you’re going to be charged $200. What the freak-out person wants to do…
Mark S: Stop everything!
Marc V: “Stop! I’ve got to call my CPA right now!” You walk away from your printer. You get on the phone. You spend an hour and a half, trying to figure it out. You’re digging for the paperwork.
Really, what you should is you should say “Dang! This stinks! I’ve got 30 days. On Tuesday, I don’t have a lot going on. Tuesday morning, I’ll handle this.” File it away. Get back to your production.
Mark S: Yeah. Take care of the emotional reaction.
Marc V: That’s important. How urgent is it? Can it wait an hour, like you said? Can it wait a day? Can it wait a week?
Mark S: You guys may have heard of this book, the Four Hour Work Week. It used to be very popular, about ten years ago. This guy figured out how to only work four hours a week. I’ve read the book four times, and I still work like 65 hours a week.
Marc V: Yeah. Nobody actually worked a four hour work week.
Mark S: However, he had one great idea that I still see every once in a while. He blocked out a specific time to answer his emails, and it’s in his auto-response. “I answer my emails between 1:00 and 4:00 every day.” It’s kind of like you’re handling these interruptions in advance. You’re also planning out your day, to say “This is the time that I’m going to do these things.”
I’m not going to sit there and “Oh, look. I’ve got an email. I’d better answer it,” trying to print shirts. “I’d better take care of this, whatever happens.”
Marc V: We deal with it here all the time, in our business, big company. There’s a glitch on the website, maybe. It happens. All of sudden, somebody reaches out.
Mark S: There’s a spelling error.
Marc V: “Hey! We’ve got to fix this mistake!” I say “Wait. That mistake has been there for two years, and somebody just noticed.”
Mark S: Seriously, this happens all the time.
Marc V: Yeah. I’ll say “This is what I’m going to do. I’m in the middle of doing something, and then I’m about to record a podcast. I’ll do it before I leave. It will take me five minutes. I don’t have to do it now.”
This is an important thing. Don’t always drop everything to fix a problem, unless somebody knocks on the door here and says “Marc, the website’s down! Everything is crashing, and it’s redirecting to a competitor!” I’m going to say “Hey, guys. We’re going to pause the podcast. Then, we’ll come back and we’ll re-cut.”
Otherwise, if somebody just emails me and says there’s a spelling error, “Okay. I’ll fix it later. It’s fine.” So, do that. How urgent is it? Does it matter?
Actually, the example that I used, I wish I had used a needy client example, versus the IRS example. But it would work the same, with a needy client.
Mark S: I liked the IRS example, because it sounded very personal.
Marc V: Well, the needy client might send you an email or call you. You answer the phone, “Hey, t-shirt shop.” They say “I’ve got to change something on my order, blah blah blah.” They’re freaking out.
“Okay. Well, your order is scheduled for production in a week. So, no problem. We’ve got plenty of time to fix it. I’m in the middle of a production run, and then I’ve got a meeting. I can call you at 4:00, or I can call you at 9:00 AM. What’s better for you? We’ll work it out.”
You let them know you care, but “I’ve got to take care of this. I know you’re stressing about it. Let’s set a time. Put it aside, stick a pin in it, and we’ll take care of it then.”
So, let’s move on to the next one.
Mark S: I want to talk about how the next thing that is a big time waster is you’re bad at something, but you do it anyway. We kind of touched on this. You’re bad at something, honestly. I’m bad at stuff. Spelling is a great example.
Marc V: Transitions in video.
Mark S: Video transitions. I’ve got it down now, though. So, I’m bad at stuff. Everybody is bad at stuff. Stop doing that! Stop doing that stuff, because honestly, especially like you had mentioned graphics, earlier. Digitizing for embroidery looks easy to do.
You can learn the software, and it’s fun. I really like to work in spangles and rhinestones with graphics. It’s fun to do that stuff. I get really involved. No one pays me to do that, but I enjoy It. And I’m terrible at it. My designs are never right. They’re never the right size. They’re always skewed.
So, if you don’t digitize embroidery well, though, the amount of time that you waste is exponential!
Marc V: You don’t even realize it. You take the design, you export it, load it in your machine, sew it out. It doesn’t look good. You go back to the design, fix it, export it, load it, sew it out. You’re three hours deep!
Mark S: Oh, man! If it’s a big design, you’re hosed. You’ve got like a 25,000 or 30,000 stitch design, it’s going to take you 15 or 20 minutes to test it, and that’s just gone. So, it’s a great example. If you’re an excellent digitizer, by all means, you can make the decision to do it. But if you’re not good at it, then you’re wasting time doing that.
Marc V: The winning solution to this would be you hire a digitizing company to do your artwork for you. And if you want to learn how to digitize, because it’s your dream, it’s your goal, it’s fun, you want to get good at it, then do that as a separate task.
Mark S: Right.
Marc V: That’s digitizing learning time that you put together.
Mark S: It’s not business making money time.
Marc V: Yeah. It’s not business making money time. It’s learning, like night school. Because if you are taking those three hours out of your work time, then you’re going to make less money from it.
Mark S: If we have set your work hour rate at $25 an hour, it takes you two hours to digitize something and test it, that’s $50. Where if you’ve got a great digitizer, you could have paid them $30 or $50, and kept that time for yourself.
Marc V: The other thing you might do is you say “Okay, on my outside time, I’m going to learn how to do it, kind of like night school.”
Mark S: When you’re not paying yourself $25 an hour.
Marc V: Yeah. “I’m going to this night school to learn digitizing, so I can pay myself $25 an hour to digitize, because I like it, and I want to do it on my own, and I like the art.” Now, you’re good at it, and you get the job. You do it in an hour, and it’s worth it. That $25 you paid yourself instead of paying somebody else, however that goes.
Mark S: I really want to know if you had somebody specific in mind, for this next one. Because the time waster example that Mr. Vila had -.
Marc V: This is my favorite one, actually!
Mark S: If you are an introvert and generally unlikeable, then you try to handle customer service, that’s a time waster.
Marc V: Yeah. No, I didn’t have anybody particular in mind, but I had situations in mind.
Mark S: You can tell me later, if you have.
Marc V: No. I’d be happy to tell everybody, but no. It’s just that you’re not good at something. Right? You’re not good at doing customer service. You get irritated with people. You think people are stupid, and “Why would you ask me that question?”
That’s fine. That’s your personality, and maybe you do think that it’s silly that people ask silly questions. That’s you. Other people love that stuff. No matter what somebody asks, they love it.
If you’re bad at this stuff, then you’re spending your time making your customers unhappy. You’re wasting your time, doing that.
Mark S: It’s a good point.
Marc V: You’re losing money. Your customers are upset.
Mark S: Hire a friendly person, probably from the Midwest.
Marc V: Hire a friendly person.
Mark S: Here’s a good example. If you’ve been up at 2:00 in the morning, and you still have television, like regular TV, then you’ve probably seen a commercial for a small car lot that features the [inaudible 29:52] car lot. That guy is terrible at doing commercials! He shouldn’t be allowed to do commercials. He should have used that time for something else. Don’t be that guy.
Marc V: Yeah. The bottom line is don’t put time into things that you’re not good at, because you’re not going to get what you want out of it. You’re not going to get the good digitizing results you want. You’re not going to get the happy customers.
If you’re not a good salesperson, you can get somebody to sell for you. You’re going to sell more items. We’ve talked to so many small business owners over time, and so many of them say “I figured out that the one thing I wasn’t good at was selling, so finally I got so-and-so involved. Now, I’m so busy running machines!”
That’s how it is.
Mark S: I’m going to change this next one.
Marc V: Okay, change it.
Mark S: Because what you’ve got here is you get a scary legal letter. We’ve already sent them that letter. I don’t think we should do it to them again.
Let’s say that you have a customer come to you with a picture of Mickey Mouse, and they want to put it on a shirt. So, you go to the Facebook group and say “If I change the color of one of Mickey’s ears, is that going to be trademark infringement?”
Marc V: “If I make the ears triangle?”
Mark S: Yeah. Will that be trademark? Guess what? Not only is that a waste of time, but you’re obviously bad at doing legal research. And so is everyone that answers you. Nobody knows that answer.
Marc V: The only proper answer is to listen to the episode that we did on copyrights and trademarks.
Mark S: We did one. In that, they don’t give you any answers. They just say “Consult your attorney.”
Marc V: Yeah. He basically said “The answer is there is no answer. If somebody feels like suing you for it, they can, and they may or may not win, because it’s not a law.”
Mark S: This one kind of tails back to everything. If you spend four hours doing trademark research, to figure out whether or not you can poke the NFL in the nose with a logo that’s close, that’s a dangerous waste of time.
Marc V: Yeah. It’s a dangerous waste of time, when the better solution would just be give the obvious answer. “No. I cannot put a Mickey on there, but I’m happy to make a shirt that says ‘I’m going to where dreams come true!’ I’m just using a phrase. I’m not going to use the Disney font, but I’ll use a nice flourishy fun font. We can do it in gold, and I feel really comfortable doing that.”
Just go right there. Don’t waste your time trying to do something like that.
Mark S: I like that. And staying on the book trend, this is kind of a symptom that was first written about by Michael Gerber in The E-Myth. It’s the idea that as a one person business, you have all these individual roles that you take, whether you do it on purpose or not. You’re your own bookkeeper, you’re your production person, you’re your artist, you’re your receptionist, you’re your accountant.
The idea that you take the ones that you’re worst at, or that require the most time from you, and those are the first ones that you farm out. Those are the first ones that you either hire somebody to do for you permanently, or that you go out and hire somebody on an ad hoc basis.
Marc V: Yeah, like you do a contractor, use like Fiverr or one of those places.
Mark S: That was a good episode. it was episode 15, I found out, because I looked it up.
Marc V: There you go! The next big time waster; you can’t find anything. Terribly disorganized. You’ve got piles and boxes of shirts, and then you have to find two small shirts. You’re just digging, digging, and it takes you ten minutes to find the small shirts.
Mark S: That’s our marketing closet, where we keep all of our blank sample shirts for printing.
Marc V: That’s a time waster. The winner answer to that is get creative with storage. Get shelves. Put stickers and labels on your shelves; small, medium, large. Organize things by color, whatever you can. Get creative, shelving and all of that stuff.
One thing I thought of that I made a note on here, all of that stuff is expensive, and it takes so much time to figure out what to get, and all of that. You’re on Facebook anyway, asking stuff on groups.
Mark S: Marketplace.
Marc V: Yeah. Go to Marketplace, “shelves,” and you’ll find some. Find storage for things. Label it. Organize your storage, and you’re not going to waste time trying to find shirts.
Mark S: Yeah. I like that.
Marc V: It’s true with everything you’ve got. Designs – you’ve got folders on your computer with designs. Find a method, so that you can find things.
Mark S: Yeah. Put them all in the same place. I know the ColDesi marketing team has about nine places you can look for a picture.
This other one, the next one is really close to my heart. I love that you put this in here as not being able to find anything, is you’re not using any kind of a CRM or customer tracking system. That’s like Zoho or Keep or Salesforce, or something like that.
The way that you figure out the last time somebody asked for a quote from you is you go through your email account. You type in that person’s name, and read all the emails.
Marc V: And find the email.
Mark S: That’s a waste of time. Right?
Marc V: Especially when you don’t remember how their name is quite spelled. “Is it Sara or Sari? Is it with an AH?” Now you’re digging and you’re digging. If you’re in your Zoho database, it’s a lot cleaner, because you search “Sara” in your email, and you’re like “Dang! I forgot my cousin’s name is Sara, too, and there’s 3,000 emails from her! And I have another client at a school, who is named Sara. This is going to take forever!”
If you have a nice way to organize your data, then you can keep track of customers, you can keep track of details.
Mark S: There are tons of free CRMs.
Marc V: Yeah. You can do this for free. A waster is no process from order in to order out.
Mark S: I loved when I went to One Stop, Lori Consoli’s place, and she’s got her board up there, where she moves jobs. It’s like a scrum board. She moves jobs from one slot to the next. It’s good stuff.
You have to have some kind of a way that you organize the process of your job, from getting that first email to the order placed, to you order the t-shirts, to you’ve got all of the supplies inhouse, you’ve scheduled the production run, it’s ready to get boxed, you’re ready to ship it. You’ve got to have all of those steps.
Marc V: And the best time ever to start that is when you’ve got like almost no business, and almost no orders.
Mark S: Yeah. Start it when you don’t need it. Imagine when you’re going to get a 200-piece order. What do you need that to look like?
Marc V: Start it then, because for one, you’ve got lots of extra time at this point in time, to tweak it and move it around. You’re not scrambled with a bunch, that it falls apart on you. You’ve got two or three orders, and put them through. You can do it however you want to do it, obviously.
However you want to do it, just write it down. Have a path. Have a magnet board, with different color magnets. I don’t know what you do, but you organize between how it goes in and how it goes out. This is not just organizing the thoughts, but it could be organizing your work space, too.
Mark S: Good point.
Marc V: I remember a friend of mine years ago, he had a really, really small t-shirt company. It was in half of the office in his house. The other half was something his wife did, I forget. So, it’s half of an office, and he had a little tiny cutter, whatever it was, a heat press, and then he had his computer. Then, he had the cutter, and then he had the heat press.
Then, he had his packing station, and then he had his scale, and then he had his printer. He had this tiny little space. What he would do is he would make the art, send it to the cutter, go to the cutter, pull it out, weed it, put it on the heat press, put it in the packaging, put it on the scale and weigh it, hit Print on this thing, put the sticker on it.
On the floor, he had a little basket that he dropped the t-shirt order in, to mail it to somebody.
Mark S: Do you want to see what handling that kind of thing will do for your business? Listen to the episode that we did with Mark Biletnikoff, because he’s got the process down pat. It’s a huge difference between when you have your information and your physical processes all matched up and working properly. It’s a big deal.
Marc V: Yeah, it’s great. Just have a process for that, and organizing all of that stuff. You can’t find anything, you’re disorganized. When you clean all of that stuff up, it’s amazing how quickly you just find hours. It’s really true, because you’re not thinking about the eight minutes you were sifting through a box of shirts. You don’t think about that time. That just goes into “Oh, it took me two and a half hours to do this production run.”
Mark S: It took you 20 minutes to find the stuff.
Marc V: It took you 20 minutes to find the stuff, and then it took you five minutes to find the file. And then, between going back and forth in your disorganized work space, you’ve wasted five minutes walking around tripping on stuff. You probably would have been done in an hour and a half, versus two and a half hours.
Mark S: I like the last one, penny pitching, because we are very creative about thinking of like 100 different ways to say the same thing.
Marc V: We talk about it a lot, actually.
Mark S: We talk about it a lot, and it’s because it makes a big difference in your time. We still see it, so we’re still going to keep talking about it. We see it all the time. That is two things.
Use the example of making vinyl designs, and spending so much time trying to figure out how to engineer, using the maximum amount.
Marc V: You don’t waste a single piece of vinyl, because it feels bad to waste it.
Mark S: Yeah. It’s free! It’s fundamentally free, to waste that vinyl, because your time is so much more important, and the cost of the vinyl is so small. But people will do it anyway.
Marc V: If you’re going to print a transfer sheet – whenever I’m going to something, when I’m going to do it for a video, and this is exactly why I do it this way. Because say I’m making a video. We just did one where we put 12 logos on a sheet of transfer paper.
While I’m putting it up, I said “I have to bring this thing to my cutter, the table cutter, the paper cutter, and I want to make sure I can actually cut it in a way. I can cut it in half, then I can cut three columns. Then, I can cut that in half, and those two columns,” just doing snip, snip.
Because if I’m doing a video, and you see me take out the scissors, and I am crafting around like I’m cutting out a map of the United States around every one, so I can fit in one more logo on that piece. You would look at the video and you’d be like “This looks like a huge waste of time! Why would I want to do that?”
Versus me taking the paper, bringing it over, cut, cut, cut, cut, the transfer is ready to go. Eight minutes of cutting versus 15 seconds on the cutting machine.
Mark S: That’s awesome.
Marc V: That drives me nuts!
Mark S: Yeah. The other one is probably the classic one that we talk about a lot. It’s stop shopping for embroidery thread. It’s a ridiculous waste of time, seriously. Buy the thread. Just buy it. Even if you’re not using Royal thread, don’t switch. I’m going to tell you that right now.
Like if you need some white thread, and you’re placing an order with Colman and Company, you don’t have any and you need some, buy that, no problem. But don’t spend your afternoon on the web, trying to find a cone of embroidery thread that you can buy for $6, instead of $6.25. That’s ridiculous!
Marc V: Because every stitch is just fractions of a penny. I understand that you’ve spent $400 on thread this month, because you do a lot of embroidery. But the shaving down of that, versus all the other troubles. You found this company had it on sale, so you bought it off Amazon. Well now, you’ve got white of one brand, and the other colors are another brand.
You’re having to adjust the tension on your machine. You’re messing up.
Mark S: The biggest disaster is if the white isn’t the same color.
Marc V: Oh, yeah. It’s a different white, because whites are different. There are shades. And black, too. This is something that is just in general. In general, people will do this. They treat buying supplies the same as going to the grocery store. You have to think of it differently, because the time isn’t worth it, to save a quarter or fifty cents.
Remember the couponing craze? Then, you had all the analysts analyzing. A lady is like “I get all of my groceries for free!”
Mark S: Really?
Marc V: Yeah. There was a whole TV show on it.
Mark S: It takes you like 30 hours.
Marc V: Yeah. They will spend 70 hours a week doing this stuff, and they’re paying themselves $20,000 a year, working 70 hours a week. Then, you realize that you’re not getting anything.
Mark S: Here’s what I would recommend. If you have identified that supply cost is important for your business, which as an aggregate, it’s going to be, -.
Marc V: Especially as you grow.
Mark S: So then, maybe set aside a time every 90 days or something like that, where you open yourself up to the idea of different products and different vendors. You take a look at them, you order some samples in, make sure they’re good. You’re doing all of this on purpose, not because you need a 4×4 piece of backing, and you’re going to shop around for the best price for a stack.
You understand the difference, right? I’m being clear? Individually, it doesn’t matter. But occasionally, it’s probably a good idea for you to take a look at all of your supply costs.
Marc V: Just check everything out. “Am I doing the right thing? Am I having problems? Is there something I should be doing differently?” This is a great on purpose thing to do, when you’re looking at the whole picture.
Mark S: And the first thing that you should do, if you’re shopping for embroidery supplies or something like that, is call Colman and Company, like you’re a brand new customer, and talk to us. Then, call everybody else. Then, you’ll realize that it doesn’t matter what we charge for thread. You’re going to want to call us. We’re just going to do a better job. It’s going to be a lot more efficient for you.
Marc V: Of course, we run into this all the time. Apparel suppliers run into it, too.
Mark S: You mean like blank shirts?
Marc V: Yeah, blank shirts. You normally buy this District tee, and you’ve been using it for the past six months. Then, you get a flyer in the mail or you get an email. This black t-shirt is 50% off. So, you order 25 of them. You get them, and the DTG print doesn’t look good, or you realize it’s thinner.
Mark S: It shrinks by 50%.
Marc V: Yeah, it shrinks. It’s thinner. You were embroidering something on it, and the embroidery doesn’t look good. Now, you have to get the embroidery re-digitized, because it’s a thinner fabric. You’ve got all this stuff, all to save $20 in t-shirts, over an order that’s $400, $500, $600. Saving $20 is nice, but at what point in time in wasting time, and giving yourself headaches and troubles, was it actually worth the $20?
Here’s a story about what things are worth, a true story. I call up to switch my internet provider. I’m just going to save some money. I was like “You know what? My neighbor switched. They said it was easy.” It wasn’t going to cost any time. I did my own personal time analysis, because I always do.
I said “This will be easy. I’ll call them up.” They come out, and they did it. I wasn’t even home. Done. Then, I call up to cancel, and our IT guy walks by, and he hears me saying I’m about to do this. He goes “Just tell them you’re moving out of the country. They won’t try to sell you.”
Mark S: That’s great!
Marc V: So, I do that. I was like “I’m moving out of the country.” “Oh. Is anyone going to take over the service?” “I don’t know anyone else who lives here. Sorry.” Done. Off the phone. That’s not the point of the story.
Mark S: But that’s a good tip! We’re going to add that to the show notes.
Marc V: The point of the story is I get an email that says “$8 cutoff fee.” I was like “What? They charged me $8 to click a button, to cancel my service? What the heck is that?” So, I was telling the story, and someone says to me “Call them up. Tell them that you’re not going to pay that $8.”
I said “Alright. If you were to say ‘Marc, for $8, you don’t have to call your cable company and internet company. You give me $8, and you don’t have to call them,’ I would give you the $8!” So, I said “I would pay the $8, so I’m not going to bother, because I know I’m going to be on the phone.” “I can’t do anything.” “Give me your manager.” “No, I can’t do this.”
Finally, 45 minutes later, I saved $8. I’d pay the $8, to not do that.
Mark S: It’s the principle!
Marc V: It’s true. I don’t want to give them it, but honestly, they don’t have my business anymore anyway. They made too many mistakes, and they don’t have my business.
Alright, so what do we have? Is there any other?
Mark S: Did we talk about trying to save money with cheap materials?
Marc V: We talked about the t-shirts.
Mark S: I think also that there’s a convenience factor there, too. Just like Marc would not call somebody different and spend time on the phone for $8, you should think about that. You should really think about that in your daily business.
If you are already ordering something from Colman and Company, like let’s say you don’t buy blank t-shirts from us yet, or you buy your thread from one place and your needles from another place. If you’re already on the phone with us, just place the order, even if it’s a little bit more expensive or a little bit less expensive.
You’re not even going to notice at the end of the job, but you’ll save that time. Everything will be on one packing slip. It will be one order placed. You’ll have one person to call.
Marc V: One less receipt to go through and deal with.
Mark S: One less receipt to deal with. Think about this $25 an hour thing when you’re ordering stuff, too.
Marc V: That’s good. Also, on cheaper materials, this is another thing. I remember a customer a while back was buying vinyl from us consistently. This guy came in every week, twice a week sometimes. We didn’t see him for like three weeks. We were like “Maybe he’s on vacation or whatever.”
He comes back, and he said “Man, I had the worst couple of weeks with work!” We’re “What is it?” “Well, I saw a friend of mine on Facebook said that he buys vinyl from this other company, and it was like half the price. I said ‘I’m getting ripped off!’ So, I buy the vinyl for half the price.”
He gets it. He’s like “This thing, it didn’t cut right. There were areas where it wouldn’t cut, and then it would. Then, I put the blade out, and then it would cut through in certain areas, and not. It was so hard to weed, I messed up tons of designs. Normally, I’d be done in an hour. It took me like three hours.”
“Then, I was trying to put them on this shirt. Some of them weren’t even sticking. The whole design wouldn’t stick. Then, I’d take the next one. The same exact vinyl. It stuck.”
Mark S: This is not a made up story.
Marc V: Yeah. Just all of this frustration, to save like $20 in the end. Still, he made $300 on that order.
Mark S: Exactly.
Marc V: It’s not like he couldn’t afford it.
Mark S: He would have, if he hadn’t wasted four hours at $25 an hour. Now he only made a couple hundred dollars.
Marc V: When you use a cheaper product, typically, most of the time, when something is cheaper, it is cheaper because it was cheaper to make it. There was less put into it. That’s just typically the way things are, in general.
Mark S: It’s not cheaper because it’s magic.
Marc V: Yeah. It’s not cheaper because it’s magic. If you buy donuts that are prepackaged in a bag, from the grocery store, versus going to a donut shop where they hand make them, the taste of that pastry or whatever a donut might be, is going to be significantly different. Because one is just built in a factory. It’s meant to be fast, cheap.
The one that’s local, local sugar is in it, and all that stuff. So, there’s a difference in cost on purpose, on things. You’ve got to decide when it’s right to pinch pennies.
Mark S: I think we need a recap before we wrap up. We’ve got five things that we’ve figured out that you’re probably wasting your time doing, that you should reconsider.
That is going to be solving a problem using Google, instead of expert sources, like us. Catering to needy clients, and not taking control of your time in how you deal with all of your clients, not just the easy ones. You’re bad at something, but you do it anyway.
You’re not going to avoid things that you don’t want to do, by doing things that you’re bad at. And you can’t find anything. You’re so disorganized, every job takes you more time than it should. That doesn’t get better by itself.
The last one is penny pinching, not taking your time into account and the consequences into account, when you’re looking for opportunities to save money.
Marc V: Perfect summary of that. If you pick one of those and hyper-focus on it in your business for a handful of days, you’re going to find an hour. Just one of them. You’re going to see “Oh, my gosh! I can’t believe that I actually do that t-shirt thing! I do that hunting and pecking on Google thing!”
What did I do? I didn’t go on Facebook. I’m sure I drive people crazy all the time, because as soon as I see a Facebook post with a machine problem, I just say “Did you put in a support ticket?” “No. I was going to do that next.”
Do that first. Then, post to Facebook. That’s fine.
Mark S: Not in the CAS group. I’ll delete it.
Marc V: No, no. You get what I mean. So, let’s go ahead. We’ve got a closing statement that we wrote here.
You’ve got the opportunity to achieve and exceed your dreams. It’s right in front of you. Don’t waste time getting caught up in all of these little details of things that are roadblocks to achieving your dream. Why are you doing this? Why are you listening to this podcast? Why did you buy all of this equipment?
You bought it because you had a dream. Then, you sit there and you’re destroying yourself with time wasters!
Mark S: Yeah. I love your litmus test here. That is basically look at what you’re doing right now, even keep a notepad. Look at what you’re doing right now, at the activities that take your time every day. And ask yourself that question. “Is this getting me closer to my goal, to achieving my dream?”
If doing taxes is not, then find somebody else to do it.
Marc V: Yeah. If you’re hindering yourself, if your dream is to have this happy, fun, cool business, and you do a bunch of things that are making you miserable, then say “How can I get these things off my plate?”
Okay, hopefully the time you’ve spent on this brings you enough value to save you a ton more time.
Mark S: 100%, we deliver more than $25 an hour worth.
Marc V: I’ll tell you what. Plenty of these things right here, I’ve been guilty of doing here, at my home, in all of my businesses. We didn’t write these things together, off of a list off Google. These are real things that we’ve done, and we know our customers do. And if you can cut some of these out, you’re going to save time. You’re going to make more money. You’re going to achieve your dream better, all of the good stuff.
Mark S: I love that! Hey, thanks everybody for tuning in! Once again, this has been Mark Stephenson, from ColDesi.
Marc V: And this has been Marc Vila, from ColDesi, and check out ColmanAndCmpany.com for all of your supplies. If you haven’t been there in a bit, go check it out. Look at the menu. There’s some new stuff on the menu. You have to go and look, though, to notice. If you can’t notice, then let me know, because I’ve done something wrong.
Mark S: I love that! You guys have a good, not time-wasting business!