Episode 82 – Lessons Your Kids Can Teach You About Owning a Business

Sep 19, 2018

This Episode

Mark Stephenson & Marc Vila

You Will Learn

  • How to learn from kids
  • How to master the power of habits
  • How to ask great questions to improve your sales
  • How curiosity can help your business grow

Resources & Links

Episode 82 – Lessons Your Kids Can Teach You About Owning a Business

Show Notes

They are relentless – ever see a kid play a video game 100 times in a night to beat it. Will swing a bat outside for hours. Practice dance moves all morning. Don’t give up on your business.

Creatures of habit – every night it’s bath, brush teeth, read a book, bed. Ever try to take a kid out of routine? Get them to use a different sipping cup cause theirs is dirty. Do you have daily routines for business?

Resist change, but adapt quickly – you can do the same. Be conservative in your operations but when it’s time to change. Embrace it.

If they want something they ask, and ask and ask – toy, stay up late, candy. Do you do this for sales / business ?

They know how to be cute – ever see a kid put on those sweet eyes and stick out bottom lip? They know how to butter up their parents to get what they want. Do you know how to put on a smile and be a good face for your business?

They get over things – a kid can go from crying about a broken toy to laughing and playing in 5 minutes. They don’t hold grudges. However, adults can allow a single bad event to ruin their entire day … and affect their business / sales / production.

Make best friends in 5 minutes – Kid goes to a park, plays with another for 5 min. Now they are best friends. You should be personable and meet people. Remember them and be remembered.

Extremely curious – if they see something new, they want to know about it. They will just watch an ant pile for 30 min. Do you strive to seek out new ideas?


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 82 of the Custom Apparel Startups podcast. My name is Mark Stephenson, from ColDesi.

Marc V: And this is Marc Vila, from Colman and Company. Today, we are here to talk about children, and lessons that they can teach us. So, lessons your kids can teach you about owning a business.

Mark S: Yes, although now that the podcast is 82, I don’t think we should be discussing having more children.

Marc V: Grandkids, then.

Mark S: Grandkids! Okay.

Marc V: Your grandkids are sweet, and your kids are sweet. They’re also tough, and they’re relentless. They can fall down and bust their knee, and get right back up, and jump right back on the skateboard.

Mark S: There are a lot of things that your kids do that Marc Vila pointed out, because he actually has one. It’s been quite a while since mine were munchkins. But I thought it was a great idea. They’re really, when you think about it, kids have a lot of traits that are worthy of emulating in your business.

I think they’ve got some approaches to life and what they do every day, that we lose over time.

Marc V: Yeah. Let’s just be frank about it. You get jaded, as you grow up. You’ve been dumped and fired, and you’ve failed 20 times. You’ve failed a test and you’ve failed a class.

Mark S: Or things have been great!

Marc V: Generally speaking, though, we’ve all had negative experiences and failures. Then, these turn into resistance to change, and fear and anxiety, and all of these things that we reflect into our businesses, sometimes.

Mark S: I agree. That’s why I think that we should jump right in!

Marc V: Alright. We’ve made a short list, here. Let’s start with the first on here. We put “They’re relentless.” Children are relentless. They don’t give up.

Mark S: When they see something they want, or there is something that they want to do, they really do just kind of dig their heels in. They’re not giving up on asking for something for Christmas. They’re not giving up on making it to the next level of the video game.

Marc V: If you have children, or remember back to when you were a child, even just a teenager, if you played baseball or basketball or football, how many hours did you spend practicing and practicing, and falling down, and swinging the bat? If you were into video games, how many times would you play that same level over and over and over again?

Then, finally you beat it, and the next one’s even harder, and you do it again!

Mark S: I think that’s missing in a lot of our businesses. One of the big points I think we hit on before we went live here, is that most of our customers, most of our new business owners never practice.

Literally, they come out of their training class on a piece of new equipment – and you probably have experienced this yourself, if you’re already in business. You get an embroidery machine or you get a Digital HeatFX printer or a DTG printer, or a screen printing device. Anything.

You go to training, you get trained up, and then you start doing orders. The only time you ever touch the machine is to do orders. That is like learning the basics of baseball, like “I know how to throw. I know how to catch, and I know to hit.” If all you do is play in baseball games from then on, you’ll be okay, but you’ll never be great.

Marc V: Never. A pro is never just, in any sport, in anything, video games, whatever it would be, is never somebody who just learns how to do it, and then shows up to play or shows up to do a job. They practice.

Mark S: Sometimes you need to force kids to do that. You have to make them go to practice and everything. Sometimes they do it themselves. But whoever motivates it, kids spend a lot of time learning, and practicing what they’ve learned.

So, what we’re saying here is that you should do your letters, too. Get those big pages with the extra spaces, and practice your lower case letters. On vinyl, or whatever your skillset is.

Marc V: Yeah. Give yourself homework. Be relentless about it. Don’t give up. The thing is – this happens all too often – somebody just starts doing, like you said, whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. Vinyl or embroidery or direct-to-garment printing transfers. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing.

Somebody is going to call in today, extremely frustrated because they messed up, and it’s like their third try. They’re ready to give up. That will happen, just frequently. You’ve got to be like that child, that inner child that you have, where it’s like you messed up, and you do it again.

Skateboarding kids, I see some kids skateboard in my neighborhood. They’re always trying to jump these curbs and miss these spots. I see them doing it every day.

Mark S: Wiping out constantly.

Marc V: And these few little boys, they never get it. But they’re still at it. Then, every once in a while, they can do something cool. Then rewind memories back to a year ago, and they couldn’t do anything. Now, the things that they’re doing that are simple now, just like going straight fast ahead, is easy.

Mark S: You really have to set aside time for this, whether it’s practicing your technique in actually decorating apparel or using the equipment. Whether it’s practicing your social media skills, or practicing your sales skills or your phone skills, you’ve got to identify each area that you need to excel in, just like your kids do in school.

They’ve got six or seven or eight periods in a day. They’ve got homework, and they’ve got to practice each one. You guys do, too. You just don’t do it.

Marc V: Yeah, and don’t give up. That’s the big thing. Don’t give up, whatever it is. If you’re not great at sales, actually decorating, whatever it is, you don’t give up on it. Be relentless, and do it until you become a master.

Then, you are the one who succeeds. That’s it. That’s the number one for me, and that’s why I put it first, because the folks who aren’t relentless, they’re going to give up somewhere. It doesn’t matter if it’s making the shirt, if it’s running the business, whatever it is. They’re going to stop.

Mark S: Those kids that ended up not being relentless in their practice of skateboarding, ended up doing marketing.

Marc V: Yes, exactly!

Mark S: Just think of the possibilities! Number two is that kids are creatures of habit. What do you mean by that?

Marc V: They feel great in habits. Anybody who has done any sort of studying on child psychology, teachers, whatever you are, it’s consistent that they say your children have to be in a routine, if you want them to behave well and you want them to excel.

Mark S: They wake up at this time, they brush their teeth in this way, they eat this breakfast, they go to school at this time.

Marc V: Yeah. At 7:00, it’s pajamas. At 7:45, it’s brushing teeth. At 8:00, it’s read a book. At 8:15, it’s lights out. They thrive in these environments. That’s why teachers and schools are very regimented in that way. They start, “The first thing we do is we stand up and do the pledge. Then, the next thing we do is we do the whole exercise. Then, we read this.”

They do it, and children just thrive in this environment. Adults do, too.

Mark S: It’s funny. I love the example that you put down here. It’s “Try to get them to use a different sippy cup than what they’re used to.” Or worse yet, don’t be able to find the stuffed toy that they like to sleep with, or try to skip reading a story right before bed.

Marc V: Try to skip a couple pages.

Mark S: Oh, yeah. We were talking about that. My daughters would both know. They’re starting to doze off, and you’re reading them the same book for the 500th time. So, you go from page two, they’re about to fall asleep, you skip ahead to page ten. All of a sudden, they’re awake.

Marc V: You’ve reset the clock. We need to do that. How do we do that, as business owners? Equipment maintenance might be one. That’s the perfect example. What do you do?

In the morning, you come in. You turn on the machines in this order. You oil this, you clean this, you wipe that, you set this. You do all of that.

Then, throughout your day, you might have like a mid-day maintenance type of thing. Then, at the end of the day, you shut it down.

The same thing with opening a store. Every morning, you sweep. Then, you wipe this down. You clean the window, and you check your register. You’ve got to have this routine.

This is a combination of just having worked for some really big companies, and working in retail. We had checklists. We had to do it every day. It was time to close the store, here’s the 14 things we have to do, in order. That’s how they run a big company, is making sure every store is doing it.

Mark S: There are a few small businesses that I’ve been in to, locally, apparel shops that have posted things to do, on the wall or on the whiteboard. It starts with machine maintenance, and ends with turning off the lights at the end of the night, and setting the alarm.

I really think that this is a worthwhile thing for all of you to sit down and do, is figure out what are the daily habits? First of all, the checklist of things that you physically have to do every day. Then, maybe the habits that you think you should do to be successful, every day. Make a checklist and go through them.

It could be that every day, you do these physical things to keep your business running. And then, every day, you spend 15 minutes reading about sales. You spend 20 minutes reviewing competition in the marketplace. You spend 30 minutes, on every Saturday morning, in making sure that you didn’t miss any emails.

Whatever those habits are that are going to serve you in your business, I think it’s important to write those down.

Marc V: And it’s whatever it would be. It’s doing the paperwork that’s going to be required, to do your taxes, or just communicating with your Accountant. “Okay, I’m going to communicate with my Accountant. That needs to be once a week.”

These habits are daily, weekly, monthly, annually, hourly, whatever they need to be. You’ve got to figure out that zone, and then build it into a habit. That’s the best way to succeed, because if you don’t build it into a habit and you don’t turn it into that, then you will routinely skip things.

Mark S: It’s really interesting, because I’ve been working with a local small business lately, and we’ve worked out a promotional schedule for when they come out with a new product.

“Here are the places that you post on social media. Here are the press releases that you send out, and where they go. Here is how to update your product on the product page, on your website. Here are all of these steps.”

You go along, and sales are good. They’re increasing and everything. All of a sudden, there’s a dip. So, you go back to the list. Talking to the business owner, it’s like “Oh, I guess I didn’t do those last week.”

There’s the habit that you need to get into, is to do those things, and have a way to catch yourself.

Marc V: Really, be the way that you either raise your children, or the way you remember being raised. Or if you don’t do either of those things, and it’s chaos, then here’s some advice. You could start doing that with your kids or your family, too.

But it helps. Businesses, really large businesses and really successful businesses typically have a series of routines that it might be, whether it’s opening a retail store, or things that they do for marketing every week. Whatever it is, they’re stuck on a schedule and a routine. That makes sure that they’re constantly doing it, and they’re always moving forward.

Mark S: We have talked about practice, and being relentless. We just finished talking about being a creature of habit. And I have not done my pitch yet, for the episode.

Marc V: Oh, okay!

Mark S: Today’s episode is brought to you by the new Digital HeatFX i550! I’ve got this great shirt behind me. This is a new product from Colman and Company, and ColDesi. It’s a smaller transfer printer that we’ve come out with, in the Digital HeatFX line.

Marc V: It’s so cool! I love it. On the video that we shot earlier today, was how it’s got a changeable and swappable toner system. So, what we did was we did something that we might talk about in a podcast, where we got the printer out. We put regular black toner in it, and we printed flyers, and we went out and sold.

Then, we came back and we printed quotes, and we went out and delivered them to the customer. We came back with a sold order. We swapped the white toner in there, and then we printed t-shirt transfers. Then, at the end, we put the black back in, and we printed a thank you note and wash instructions, and a koozie and a hat, and boxed it all up.

It’s so cool, because this printer’s got this interchangeable toner system, where it becomes a true all-in-one for a small business.

Mark S: It’s a really neat product. Since not that many of you are watching the video, we can’t really show it to you. But I really encourage you to go to DigitalHeatFX.com. That’s all one website. And just look at the new choices on the front.

Because the original DigitalHeatFX system is still the flagship, because it will do 11×17-inch prints, and it’s much more cost effective, as far as supplies and paper [inaudible 14:13].

Marc V: Yeah. It’s faster and it’s more robust.

Mark S: Right. But this is a great kind of lower-budget product that’s a good way to get started, if you can’t get the big one.

Marc V: That’s “DigitalHeat,” and then the letters FX.com. So, DigitalHeatFX.com. Check it out.

Back to our list.

Mark S: We had a little conversation about this one.

Marc V: What I had written down was “Children resist change, but adapt quickly.”

Mark S: Right. I had kind of a problem with the resisting change part, because I think one of the things that we were talking about earlier was that a business owner has to be ready to change and open to change, if market conditions change.

Marc V: Yes. And I agreed with that 100%. The thought that I had, when I wrote down “resisting change,” was you have to be a level of conservative, in your business. Meaning that you have some rules, a routine that you’ve built up.

So, for customers, this is how you do it. They ask for a quote, you put it in writing, they send it in email, they respond back in agreement, they get a deposit. There’s this order, and you do it the same way every time.

Then, you have a customer that comes through and asks you to break your routine for them. So, resist it to a degree. “Okay, what are they asking me to do? Can I just push back, and just say it’s really a thing that we have?”

Mark S: It’s a process for a reason.

Marc V: Yeah, it’s a process for a reason. And maybe they’re fine with that, and all it took was just asking once. But at the same time, adapting quickly means maybe you’re realizing that this is the new norm, that most customers want to interact this way.

We can think about it, if you go back years ago, to email. If we use that as an example, or social media, even newer. Maybe some customers might say “Can you just text me that?” And you would never do that, before.

Well, maybe you’re starting to hear it more and more often. Maybe now you’re, “Okay, how can I text my customers a quote? Okay, well, I could put it online, and then share them the link. Or put it in like a Google doc.”

You start adapting to the change, but at the same time, being conservative about your methods. So, it’s not just willy-nilly changing at every drop of a dime. You’ll create disorder.

Mark S: Another good example of that would be if I’m a DTG printer, and I’ve got these five shirts that I recommend, because I know they perform really well. They’re really popular. You get a customer who wants to bring you a stack of 100 shirts they bought at Walmart. You don’t know what the material is. You don’t know how it’s going to print, or how it’s going to wash.

That might be a place to be conservative, and say “Really, I could try doing one of these for you, and you take it home and wash it, and see if you like it. Otherwise, we have these shirts for this reason.” That would be the conservative side.

The adaptable side would be that starts happening all of the time. Maybe you go to Walmart, identify that brand of shirt, and bring it in.

Marc V: That’s great. Children do this the same. That’s what they do. Really, just what we talked about before. They have a certain type of sippy cup they use. But now, they’re getting a little older. They’ve got teeth. You don’t want them sucking and biting on that sippy cup too much, because you don’t want them to damage their teeth, or anything like that.

So, you try to transition them away from that, to maybe just a straw cup. Well, they don’t like that. They’re going to resist it. However, they’re going to adapt quickly. If you throw all of those away, and give them the sippy cup, that first night at dinner, they’re going to be upset.

The second night, they’re going to be upset still, but they’re kind of thirsty. The third night, it’s going to be their favorite cup.

Mark S: It’s the same thing for any big change. One example that we used when we were talking earlier, is we get a lot of people that are screen printers, for example. When you try to introduce them to a new technology, they are completely resistant.

They’re not interested in talking about it. All they’ll do is they’ll see a video of a DigitalHeatFX system or a direct-to-garment printer, and they will just say to themselves, like a mantra over and over again, “Well, screen printing is better. I’ve done it this way for so long. All of the big businesses do it this way.”

What they’re saying, really, is they’re not interested in changing. They’re not open to adapting to the situation. They’re just stuck in that space.

Marc V: Yeah. You’ve got to find that zone when it’s right, between resisting change and adapting. That’s not a line that’s easy to draw. It’s really different for every business. I think the first step is just being self-aware of it, being self-aware that when I’m resisting something, it’s for a purpose. And when I’m adapting to something new, it’s for a purpose. I’m not doing it for principle.

Mark S: Do you want to be the kid who is brought in to a new Kindergarten, and sits in the corner and cries for two days? Or do you want to be the kid that goes in to a new Kindergarten, finds a circle with an empty spot, and sits down and starts playing?

Really, I would opt for option number two.

Marc V: It’s the same with everything. It’s resisting to have a Facebook page, because you don’t really like it, and you don’t want to be on there. Which I understand all of these things, and they all have reasons why you’re not into social media, or why you don’t prefer email, or you don’t want to text customers.

There are all very good reasons. Sometimes, it’s technology that holds you back. There’s a reason for resisting it. Other times, you’re resisting it just for principle. That’s not good. The same thing for adapting. There’s a new social media platform that just comes up, and you’re immediately on it. You’re all over it, and you’re spending all of this time there, and it doesn’t exist six months later.

Mark S: That never happens.

Marc V: All of those Vine videos that were created.

Mark S: That’s a great example.

Marc V: But there’s plenty of those. So, just be thoughtful on those things.

The next one is if they want something, they ask and ask and ask and ask and ask and ask. Try to go to Target or Walmart with a child, and you’ll learn this.

We have to do the same thing, too. They want a toy or they want to stay up late, or they want candy, whatever it might be. You’ve got to ask for business, the same way.

You go and you meet a small business owner. You say “Hey, can I make your hats and t-shirts?” They say “No, I’m happy with who I use.” The next time you run into them, ask them again!

Mark S: Maybe not pull on their shirt, and cry or whine. I mean, if it works, I’d test it! But I agree. I think one weakness that a lot of new business owners have is they’re not in that habit of asking for business. It’s asking for somebody’s name. It’s asking for where they got that shirt embroidered. It’s asking for where they buy their custom apparel.

It’s asking if they know anyone that buys sports shirts. Asking if they know a pastor at a local church, that might need some mission shirts, or something like that. This principle of asking, I think is something that kids do really well. It’s one of the biggest things that’s worth emulating.

Marc V: And they’re typically not afraid to ask. That kind of goes back to what I mentioned in the beginning. They’re not as jaded, to ask. They’re not as scared to hear “No,” because they hear “No” all of the time.

Mark S: I’m smiling now, because I keep remembering kids asking “Can I have it?” That was constantly the question. A bright red car would pull up next to you, a Jeep or something like that. “That’s pretty! Can I have it?” “No, you can’t, but good ask!”

Somebody could have said yes!

Marc V: Yeah! Do it with your business. Ask for that business. If you see somebody, and he or she owns a small business, or they’re in charge of the apparel, or they know somebody in the business who is, ask. And you don’t have to be relentless. You don’t have to be annoying.

You just say “Hey, remember, I make custom apparel. I know you guys use some all of the time. Keep me in mind, please!” Sometimes it can just be as light as that.

Mark S: You know what you could do? You could blame us! If you’re shy or you’re embarrassed, what you could say is “You know what? I listened to these two business guys on the radio, about marketing. They told me that I have to ask you, can I have that business? Can I have it?” Do the same exact thing.

Marc V: You know, people will say no, and most people are polite about it. We’ve had this conversation 100 times, about sales. You’ve got to ask and ask and ask, and just keep asking. If one person is always telling you no, you move on to the next one, and you ask them.

Then, you run into that other person, and you ask them again. One day, it’s just going to be the day where it’s just the right time, and they’re just going to say “You know what? You’ve been asking me for like a year. Three or four times, you’ve asked me over the past year, when I’ve run into you at these events. And you know what? I think I want to give you a shot.”

Mark S: I was little bit worried about the next one. The more I thought about your next [inaudible 23:35], the more it had a MeToo movement kind of a vibe to it, so I want to make sure. It’s the “Kids know how to be cute, and you should, too.”

Depending on who you’re talking to, that could be taken the wrong way. What do you mean?

Marc V: That’s why I let you read it. No. Kids know how to do the little pouty face and the smile, and give you the nice eyes. “Can I please have a lollipop?” They do this thing, because they know that being endearing, in a way, works.

Mark S: I like that. That’s a great way to put it.

Marc V: it works on humans, period. It doesn’t matter what it is. What does that mean for you? Be smiling. Dress with your attire. You talk about it all the time, you know, “Wear what you do.” If you do embroidery, wear embroidery.

Dress nice, smile to people, be friendly. It doesn’t have anything to do with what being cute means. It’s just the fact that you’re endearing, in whatever way that fits you or your brand.

Mark S: Think about everything that your kids do, to get noticed. Sometimes it’s jumping up and down. Sometimes it’s taking off their shoes, and running around outside. They’re doing all of these things specifically because they are the center of the universe. They are trying to get you or somebody else to notice them.

They’ll do a bunch of different stuff to do that. We’re not saying that you should take off your shoes and run around outside. But what you should do is you should do what you can do, to be noticed. And to be pleasant, while you’re doing it.

Marc V: Really, the big thing, when I first thought about this one, I just thought about the tons of times when I’ve run into salespeople or business owners, or whatever it is. I meet them, and they put on a big smile. “It’s great to meet you!” They shake your hand, whatever it is. And that’s it.

At that point in time, it’s just like “Okay. This seems like a pretty cool person. This seems like a nice person.” Then, they go into talking about “Okay, I sell this.” You’re like “Oh, okay. That’s interesting.” And they continue to be endearing.

This isn’t just physical and in person. It’s answering emails, and it’s on the phone. Ending an email with a nice regard. “Hey, Gary! (message) All the best! Marie.” Whatever it is, do it like that. And the same thing with whatever it is; text messages, phone calls. Be endearing. Be nice. Add a smile emoji at the end of a sentence.

All of these little things.

Mark S: Be noticeable. I’ll give an example. When I first moved into my neighborhood, I attended this big community meeting, a big neighborhood meeting, a couple of hundred people there. I only owned one red polo, and I wore it. Then, I wore it to the next meeting.

Forever after, everyone knew who I was. I was the guy with the red shirt. It didn’t matter what I wore after that. That was something I did unintentionally, but it got noticed. Now, people identified me with that.

You know, I’m a nice guy. I was pleasant. I talked to people, so that reinforced that. But if you’re wearing what you do, and you’re friendly, and you take steps to be noticeable, it will pay off.

Marc V: Yeah. “Oh, you’re the t-shirt lady.” Because you’re endearing, and you always have a funny shirt on, whatever it might be. But yeah, kids know how to play to just the basic core things of humans, and you should do the same thing. That has to do with getting noticed, being friendly, and looking the part.

The next one is about, kids get over things. Basically, adults are incapable of getting over things.

Mark S: We’re trying to say get over it!

Marc V: Adults can’t get over things. It’s really hard.

Mark S: They hang onto them.

Marc V: Forever. They will take that stuff to the grave, before they allow anything to go on it. I mean, people will hold onto things. And really, for your business -.

Mark S: I’ve got three things, right way. I can’t help thinking about them, and getting angry, just thinking about them!

Marc V: When we allow that to creep into our business, where it costs us time and money and lost opportunity, then you’re not doing anything positive for your business that involves, whether it would be a grudge or just for the principle of it.

Mark S: The kid example is if they’re playing with a toy, you take it away, they cry for ten minutes, like it’s the end of the world. Then, they find a different toy, and they go and play. So, they’re over it. They don’t hate you forever. If you try to give them another toy, they won’t refuse you. Right?

Which is all things that a business owner will do.

Marc V: Yeah. If you go to your cousin’s house, and playing around, your cousin pushes you and you fall, and you scrape your knee, and then you’re really sad. Eight minutes later, they’re playing with their cousin again. Then, two weeks from now, you’re like “Hey, we’re going over to your cousin’s house again.” They can’t wait.

They forgot about the push [inaudible 29:02].

Mark S: Alternatively, if you have a piece of equipment, at some point, you are going to have a problem. Even if you buy equipment from us, you’re going to have some kind of a problem. You are going to maintain it improperly, there’s going to be a lightning strike, your kid’s going to spill something out of his sippy cup onto the mother board of the machine.

Something is going to happen. In spite of your vendor’s best response, you are not going to have a good experience. Maybe there was a lot of pressure, and you did something to the machine, and you couldn’t finish your order. So, it was a big deal. It cost you a lot, personally.

That doesn’t mean that you should never do business with that vendor again. It doesn’t mean that you should never use that piece of equipment again. And it doesn’t mean that you should never show your face to that customer again. Right?

You’ve got to have this ability to look at a situation, realize it happened, learn from it, wrap it up in a ball, set it on a shelf, and go make some money.

Marc V: Yeah. Really, that’s it. That’s the end of it. You put it away. There’s a difference between getting over things, and of course, being walked all over and trampled on.

Mark S: Absolutely.

Marc V: You’ve got to draw a real line on that, because that’s where the defense will go. Somebody will say “Well, I did business with this person. They didn’t deliver on time, and that was it. I don’t do business with people who don’t deliver on time.”

And it’s really like okay, was it a singular mistake, or do they normally not deliver on time?

Mark S: It’s like the one time, and it wasn’t even their fault. The UPS guy got a flat tire, and he couldn’t deliver on time.

Marc V: I can’t tell you how many times, over the years -.

Mark S: Oh, we get yelled at about UPS.

Marc V: Somebody will never do business with us again, because their UPS truck broke down on the way to delivering their package.

Mark S: Well, that is your fault.

Marc V: Now, what they do is they’re so upset, they have to take it out on somebody. Taking it out on UPS is going to go nowhere, so they take it out on their rep. “I’m never going to order from you again!”

Now, they’re having to find a new vendor, and match new colors, and a new inventory.

Mark S: And start the whole process all over again, until the UPS guy has another flat tire.

Marc V: Yeah, so don’t do this with your business on anything, whether it’s your customers or -.

Mark S: Especially your customers. For example, we talked about one of our pet peeves being those auto-response emails that we get, where it’s “Hey, thanks for emailing us. We’ll get back to you very soon.” Then, there’s the person’s name, and then there’s a 300-word essay about ways that they won’t do business with you.

That’s because at some point, they accepted a P.O. that came in late, or they got a late payment. Or they did business with a customer who decided not to give them a deposit. They took the order anyway, and they got stiffed. All of those things do happen. But that doesn’t mean that that person isn’t worthy of doing business with.

Because their version of the UPS truck may have gotten a flat tire. You shouldn’t lose out on opportunities, because you are holding onto something that happened in the past.

Marc V: From a large standpoint, it makes a lot of sense. But it really makes sense, I think even more, from an hour to hour standpoint. You’re in business, and you pick up the phone. It’s somebody you were going to do business with, and they say “I’m not going to do business with you. I’m doing business with somebody else. Sorry. I’m not going to place the order.”

You talk to them. They’re not going to change their mind, whatever the reason is. It doesn’t even matter. You’re upset, you’re hurt, you’re bothered, because you wasted a bunch of time with them. You’re frustrated, because you really thought you got that sale. All of these things.

Now, you’re really upset. You hang up the phone. You pick up the phone the next time it rings, and now you take it out on that person. This person was getting ready to give you money, but not anymore.

Mark S: Now, you’re opening up with “You know what? I’m not going to go through the process of giving you a quote, and go through all of that rigmarole, unless I know you’re going to order. So, give me the order, and then I’ll send you a quote.”

Marc V: Yeah. You can’t hold on to things hour to hour. This turns from business to just in general. If traffic was bad, and somebody cut you off, don’t let it affect the meeting you’re going to go to. All of these things happen.

Mark S: Especially if it turns out to be with that person! What happens when that customer that Marc talked about, that cancelled the order and said they’re not going to go with you, calls back the next day and says “You know what? I’ve re-thunk it. This company is failing me. Can you still take the business?”

Well, get over yesterday, and take the business today! Because now, you get the opportunity to be a hero.

Marc V: Because that customer might call you back the next day, just like that, and say “I made a mistake. I want to do business with you.” And boom. Don’t hold grudges on things. Don’t hold them from hour to hour. Don’t let one upset customer take you to another one.

Mark S: Feel free to do that in your personal life, just not in business!

Marc V: Sure! So, get over things, whatever they be, short-term and long-term. Again, I think everything is about just having a mindset of these things. Sometimes you shouldn’t get over things, and you should fire that customer or that vendor.

Mark S: But that’s a different podcast.

Marc V: That’s a different thing.

Mark S: I like this one, because a lot of what we’ve talked about up until now, can be boiled down into this one.

Marc V: Okay. What have you got?

Mark S: Kids make best friends in five minutes. You drop a kid in a room full of people, full of kids, full of dogs, full of trees. It doesn’t matter what it is. They are going to find someone, something to do, or to play with, to make themselves happy for a certain period of time.

They make best friends very fast.

Marc V: You bring them to a park, and they play for 20 minutes. You call them over, “Hey, come back! We’re going to leave in about 15 minutes or so.” “Oh, great! That’s my new best friend out there. I’m going to go play with them.”

Mark S: I do want to specify something. I should have said this up front. We are not talking about teenagers at all. It’s completely different.

Marc V: Don’t be like teenagers. They just hate everybody.

Mark S: Yeah, don’t do that. But the best friend thing is true. It’s because kids will go into a group, or they’ll go into a situation a lot of times, just with this idea that they’re ready to play. They’re ready to have fun. They want to be interested. They want to be entertained. They want to do something.

So, for you, if you walk into a room full of businesspeople that are potential customers, do the same thing. Look for somebody to play with. Look for somebody to connect to. See how many people that you can connect with on different levels.

Get their names. Do something together. It all works the same way it does for little kids, in your business.

Marc V: Actually, what’s funny about it is it’s so hard for adults to go up and break the ice. And kids just don’t care at all. They just walk up, and they’re just like “Do you like fruit rollups, too?” It doesn’t matter what it is. They just walk up to a complete strange kid, and just say whatever it is. They just say “I had ice cream for dinner last night.” That’s their opening line.

Then, the little kid’s like “I love ice cream!”

Mark S: You should try that! That’s a great opening line!

Marc V: Don’t tell somebody you had ice cream for dinner last night.

Mark S: Come on! What are they going to say?

Marc V: Actually, that is a great opening line. That’s funny.

Mark S: “And I make t-shirts. Which one of those do you want to talk about?”

Marc V: If you go to these events, we talk about them all the time; going to the Chamber of Commerce events and the BNIs and the singles get-togethers and the church group meetings, and all of these events where you’re going to be with other adults who are potential business owners and decision makers. Just make sure that you introduce yourselves to people.

Just say hi. If anything, it can be the simplest things. “Hey, my name is Marc. We’ve been to these meetings like ten times before. I’ve never met you, so I just wanted to say hi. Two seconds about me; I make t-shirts, and I love to eat ice cream for dinner.”

Mark S: I love that.

Marc V: And give them your card.

Mark S: “I printed a fresh t-shirt just for this event. What do you think?”

Marc V: For sure. People will reciprocate with the same thing back. They’ll tell you “Oh, yeah. I work for such-and-such company. We order custom t-shirts. I don’t know who we use.” “Well, here. Who makes the decision?” “That’s Mary, I think.”

Mark S: Or better yet, “Can I have that business? Can I have it?”

Marc V: Yeah! Just make some friends. It doesn’t have to be really awkward or weird. It’s just “Hey, I just came to this event for the first time. I don’t know anybody. I just wanted to say hi and introduce myself, so I could know one person here, and that will be you.”

Mark S: I love that.

Marc V: And you just say hi.

Mark S: “I see you like water. I like water, too.” You know.

Marc V: That person might be unfriendly, and they might “Oh, alright. Okay,” and just walk away. Then, go up to the next person. “I met one person here. He wasn’t really talkative, so I’m going to meet somebody else.”

Mark S: Those people are mostly just really more nervous than you are, that don’t talk. Because no one that goes to those places doesn’t want to talk. 100%, they want to connect with people.

It’s a little off-base, but if you treat everyone like they’re your friend, or you would like them to be your friend, and that goes not just when you’re prospecting for business, but also with your current customers, with your neighbors.

If you are as friendly and outgoing as possible, you will meet more people. You’ll have more conversations, and that will just lead to more business. It’s just the way it works.

Marc V: You could do little exercises, if you’re going to go to an event like that, where you have to meet some new friends. Really, you’re just trying to get business. That’s why you’re going, ultimately, right? Is to network and get business. Have a few things that you plan to say, ahead of time.

Mark S: I was hoping you weren’t going to say like pushups.

Marc V: You could do pushups in the middle of an event. You’ll get noticed. But really, just maybe a few open-ended questions. “What do you do? How long have you been in business? How did you get started in your business?” Ask some people.

Mark S: “Have you ever gotten any good leads or good sales from an event like this?”

Marc V: That’s a good one, too.

Mark S: “Because I haven’t yet, and I’m interested in your business.”

Marc V: You’ve got some good ones.

Mark S: I like “make best friends.” It’s one of my favorites, I think, on the list today. I also like that kids are extremely curious. This is kind of one of the last ways that you thought of for us to talk about how you can emulate little kids, or what you can do to get all of the advantages of being a little kid, and apply it to your business.

Marc V: This one is one of my favorites, because I think being extremely curious is almost part of all of these other things. Like the curiosity in kids leads them to be relentless about things. The curiosity in kids leads them to go meet new people, and find out. “I just wanted to know if that kid liked ice cream.” These are things kids think and say.

They’re asking to do something, because they really – “I really want to know what that candy tastes like! Can I please get one?” So, they ask and ask and ask. That’s why I think it’s an all-encompassing one.

When you’re with your business, and you’re thinking about it, you’ve got to be curious about whatever is coming up next. Don’t let things pass you by.

Mark S: Oh, yeah. Also, you can apply that curiosity principle – it’s a good way to approach your existing customers, and the people at those networking meetings, and the businesses that you go and visit, is to be curious about the business, and those people, personally.

Because if you are, then you’re asking all the right questions. People love to talk about themselves, so be the version of the little kid that walks up to somebody else and says “Why do you have red hair?” You know what I mean?

Be like that, when you go to the meetings and when you talk to your customers. “I want a price on 12 black hoodies, with my company logo.” “Why do you want a price on 12 black hoodies, with your company logo? What are you doing?”

“We’re going to have an event.” “What’s the event?” “It’s this.” “Where is it going to be? When’s it going to be? How many people are going to be there? Are they going to bring their parents? Are they going to bring their kids? Is it going to be sunny outside? Is it going to be raining? Are you going to have to walk? Are you driving? How big is your business?”

If you approach this with maximum curiosity, I really think there’s a kernel of genius in there, to be successful.

Marc V: I think that’s great. I loved everything that you said there, throughout like a sales cycle. Don’t rapid-fire it like that. You’ll be a freak.

Mark S: Right. But I have had a lot of coffee.

Marc V: But yeah. You go into the conversation, “We need 12 hoodies.” “Okay, great! We can do 12 hoodies. What are these for? What kind of event?”

Then, if you get some pushback on that, then let them know why you’re asking. Let them know why you’re curious. So, “Okay, what are they for?” “Oh, well, you know. We just get them.” “Okay. The reason I ask is because we’ve got so many different things and types of hoodies. I’m curious if it’s legitimately to keep warm, or if it’s just because in your office, everyone wears hoodies and rolls the sleeves up, and wears tank tops underneath, because it looks cool.”

Then, it’s like “Because I’ve got a really good hoodie for that.” Versus “I’ve got a good hoodie for being warm, and I’ve got another one that’s good if it might be raining outside.”

Mark S: It’s great, because you’re learning the maximum amount that you can from potential customers, so that you can kind of fill in their order. You become the expert. You make sure they get the right product. We’ve done tons of podcasts on that.

And when you’re out prospecting, or meeting people in the public, you’re asking questions about them, so you can kind of both ferret out an opportunity and, because honestly, people like to talk about themselves, so if you ask them questions about themselves and their business, they’ll probably be excited to answer it.

Marc V: And you’ve got to be curious about everything. That’s what is going to keep you questioning what’s new. So, be curious about social media, social media marketing.

Mark S: I got this awesome ad on Facebook. Why did I get this ad? Why is this being shown to me?

Marc V: Should I be doing this?

Mark S: Yeah. This is a video. Should I be doing a video? Or I got another one with a shirt picture. Should I be doing that? These are things that you should be curious about.

Marc V: And as you start to question things, and start to strive for knowledge, strive for new ideas and new technology in apparel decorating, do you know what [inaudible 44:21]?

Mark S: Honestly, I think that’s the most important one. We should have started with that. What you should be really curious about is whatever ColDesi and Colman and Company have coming out.

Marc V: That is true. I love that idea! And why I love it is because if you’re in this business, there is going to be one or two maybe people ever that have the same equipment, and they’ve never upgraded for the past 25 years. That’s basically nobody.

Mark S: Well, they’re screen printers, and they have Toyota embroidery machines.

Marc V: Yeah, they’re good. But a lot of folks are, if they want to really grow, and you want to take advantage of being a bigger business, making more money, whatever your goals are. Then, you’ve got to consider, “At what point in time do I need to move to a newer technology?”

Because like you said, there’s some old Toyota embroidery machines out there that use tapes and floppy drives, and their business is surviving on a computer that’s 18 years old. And it’s just waiting to die. So, at that point in time, they’re frugal, maybe. And they’re still in business. They’re still making money. But are they prepared?

Mark S: Right. And they’re not curious. Honestly, that’s the way – you don’t see a lot of rapidly growing businesses that are using the same equipment that they’ve always used. That are using the same software that they’ve always used.

They’re curious about what comes out next. They’re researching online. They’re reading magazines. They’re going to shows. They’re in the Facebook group, asking people what’s new, what the latest thing is.

Or they see something, maybe a customer brings you something, “I’d like you to do this.” Don’t say “I don’t do that,” right off the bat. Take a look at it, and find out “I wonder how they did this.”

Marc V: It’s great to shop for what is happening. I love technology, and anything computer, phone, tech, videogame related. I love all of that stuff. I rarely buy stuff like that, big dollar tickets. I usually decide on one big dollar ticket. I own it for a long time. I know everything about it, and I love it.

However, I’m always looking at like what’s the new iPad look like? What’s it got? Because I want to know. The day that I’m ready to move on from the device that I’ve got, I want to be educated on it.

Or the day that I say “You know what? I want to expand my business. It’s time to bring on a new technology or a new piece of equipment or a new piece of software,” you’ve been so curious, you’ve got four or five ideas driving in your head, already.

Mark S: I like that idea.

Marc V: It’s all of the above. It’s within selling, it’s networking, it’s new technology, it’s new software, it’s new ways to market and advertise. Should you be doing text messaging advertising to your customers? I don’t know. Do you even know how it works? Those are all things to be curious about and think about, because that’s where ideas come from.

Mark S: Let’s just recap the things that we’ve talked about. We’ve talked about that kids are relentless. Alright? And that impacts on practice.

Marc V: Yeah. They don’t give up.

Mark S: That’s right. We talked about that they are creatures of habit.

Marc V: Consistency is great for success.

Mark S: We mentioned, we kind of honed in on the checklist, when we were talking about that, as well. They resist change, but adapt quickly. I’ve come over to your way of thinking on that. I appreciate that.

Marc V: They find that line between changing and keeping order.

Mark S: Right. If they want something, they ask and ask and ask.

Marc V: Yeah. Don’t give up on asking for business. Don’t give up on asking for success.

Mark S: I’ve written “Can I have it?” on my pad here. That’s going to be my big word. What else do you have?

Marc V: Then, we put, they know how to be cute. They know how to be noticed. They know how to be endearing. You’ve got to do that. That’s all about smiles and smiley-face emojis and high fives.

Mark S: Being noticeable in whatever platform that you deliver yourself.

Marc V: Exactly. They get over things.

Mark S: Oh, please. Get over it!

Marc V: Don’t hold grudges. Don’t let bad traffic affect the sales meeting that you have in the morning. Don’t let one bad customer ruin the experience for the next group of people. Don’t let a mistake that you made ruin something for later on. That’s what happens. You can make a mistake, and then you let that ruin it.

“I’m never going to do that again.”

Mark S: I don’t care what you say. I’m never shopping at Sears. It’s been 30 years.

Marc V: I was really surprised that didn’t come up earlier.

Mark S: I tried to hold it! I tried to hold it!

Marc V: There could be a really good deal. I’m glad that none of your business you do involves Sears.

Mark S: Make best friends in five minutes.

Marc V: Yeah. Make best friends in five minutes. Go to places. Ask people questions. Say hello. Introduce yourself. Hand out business cards. Tell people what you do. Do like a kid does, where you just walk up and just say “I watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles last night!”

Mark S: Make friends. The more friends you have, the more people know what you do, and the more people buy stuff from you.

Marc V: Yeah, network. It’s great for you. And then, be extremely curious. Know what’s coming up. Know what’s coming new. Know what’s going on with your customers. Know why they’re making the decisions, who is making the decision, where it’s being done. There are so many things to be curious about.

Mark S: I think that the day that a customer comes in and shows you a glitter transfer, be curious about that, and realize that with the Digital HeatFX i550, that you could do glitter transfers! That’s my last one.

Marc V: We just did – did you see the glitter transfer I made the other day?

Mark S: I did, spectacular. It’s great.

Marc V: It looks so cool. If you’re curious about that, you know how to reach us.

Mark S: Yeah. DigitalHeatFX.com. Go to CustomApparelStartups.com and listen to the other podcasts. 82 episodes means that there’s about 82 hours’ worth of reasonably or occasionally good content that you can learn from.

Marc V: A few people have commented, or made some reviews and comments, or sent us some messages kind of saying “I know how hard it is to do that,” or how much research and thought. So, if you’re new to this, then we really do spend a good amount of time trying to research things.

We read articles. We take practice from the real world, and bring it here. We take conversations with tons of customers over social media, emails, phone calls, in person, and we turn it into this podcast.

The folks who listen to it consistently, that we talk to, are often folks still in business. The people who have listened to all 82, maybe they’re not rich yet. Maybe they’re still trying to get to that next level. But they’re still in business, because they’re constantly aware and practice.

I think I’ve talked about it before, on why I think the podcast is a great thing to listen to. I saw a quote that said something to the effect of “There’s no good parenting books. If you buy parenting books, you’re automatically going to be a better parent.”

Mark S: That’s great.

Marc V: If you’re listening to these podcasts and you’re watching our videos, and you’re reading the blog posts on ColDesi and Colman and Company, then you are setting yourself up to be a better businessperson, even if there’s only a handful of things you really take into practice.

Mark S: It’s the habit. I’ve got it written down. So, last thing, and then we’ll sign off.

Marc Vila is typically sitting in our Dale Mabry campus. Mark Stephenson, me, I am typically sitting in our Westshore campus. If you have the opportunity to visit, if you come in for a product demonstration, we love to hear people that come in for training, because they bought equipment.

If you’re here to pick up supplies, just stop in and say hi. We love to meet you, love to talk about the podcast. And if you can think of ways that we might be able to help your business, just let us know.

Marc V: And for sure, we’ve talked about before that if folks have questions or if they’re going to do their first email marketing, and want to email it to us, to ask what we think, or if they make a website, send it to us. We’re happy to help with little tips and tricks and critiques. And you take it for what it’s worth to you.

Mark S: Okay! This has been Mark Stephenson, from ColDesi.

Marc V: And Marc, from Colman and Company.

Mark S: You guys have a great business!


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