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Business tips and tricks help save precious time and money. Learn about working with Generations X and Y, equipment leasing, women-owned businesses, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), and more! The complete library of articles is a benefit of membership. 

Whether you are attending the Awards and Personalization Association's International Awards & Personalization Expo in Las Vegas this month, sitting in the comfort of your store and browsing through industry suppliers' new catalogs, or enjoying a visit from an industry sales representative, one thing is certain–your excitement level is increasing as you view all of the new products available for 2017.

Clothes make the man, as the saying goes, but clothes can also help make the business, as some awards and personalization retailers have learned.

All the sublimation terms you need to know—and a few you may not even have known existed.

Just rain.” That’s what the local meteorologists said. No hurricane. No tropical storm. Not even a tropical depression in sight. When the forecast is “just rain” in south Louisiana, it means you might have to postpone mowing your lawn for a day. You can probably skip watering the flower beds. You take a rain poncho with you to the LSU football game. You wear old shoes to play golf. But you do not purchase extra canned food or bottled water. You do not rush to the station to fill your vehicle with gasoline. You do not take extra money out of the ATM in case power is lost for an extended period. You do not check the generators. And you certainly do not waste 1 minute worrying about rain in an area of the United States that gets more than 60 inches of rain in a typical year.

At Champion Awards & Apparel, “we do a lot of stuff to make a living,” summarizes President and CEO Mike Bowen. Champion comprises nine divisions in 40,000 sq ft in Memphis, TN, with $4.5 million in gross sales each year.
Over the years, we have all made decisions about our businesses that have allowed us to be more competitive. We have taken our brick and mortar stores online, allowing us to win customers on a much larger stage. We have gone from traditional marketing strategies like direct mail to social media marketing. We have transitioned from trophy dealers to personalization retailers.

Money talks. The question is what your money is saying to you. For most of us, it says, “Use me to grow the business,” or “Invest me for a more secure future.” But sometimes, in spite of your best intentions, it seems that your hard-earned cash is saying, “Bye-bye!” and being spent almost as quickly as it is made. Been there?

The green movement that was so en vogue in the 1990s and early 2000s took a backseat to the Great Recession. Companies struggling to keep their doors open had bigger problems than their environmental impact. Today, we’re working hard to get back to business as usual. It’s in this environment that buyers are motivated to seek eco-friendly products and spend with green businesses. Promoting the earth promotes profits, but you need to be armed with green products and knowledge.
Well, now it is official. I am old. I have come to this conclusion because in the last year phrases like “back when I was young,” “time goes by so fast,” and “the young people today” have rolled out of my mouth. This realization presented itself in full last month when I wrote “Build a Door” and used “the evolving profile of customers” as an example for reaching goals. That’s when it hit me that some of my friends now have grandchildren and many are looking forward to retirement. As my mother used to say, “Where has the time gone?” I used to roll my eyes when she said it (behind her back, of course), but now I understand.
Do you have your eye on a new piece of equipment for your shop—or have dreams of starting your own business—but have no idea how you’ll pay for it? Lease financing may be your answer.
Another busy season is in the rearview mirror. All of us made the deadlines, maintained great customer service, and worked until we were totally exhausted. The long hours, the weekends spent at work, and the many last-minute orders helped to ensure the 2015 busy season would be one of the best ever. We were all prepared, our staffs were well trained and at the top of their game, and everyone committed to going the extra mile. So, let’s take a moment and give ourselves a pat on the back for a job well done!
I had a weird dream the other night. I was sitting in a courtroom, in the defendant’s chair. The judge walked in and the bailiff said, “All rise,” and then the judge pointed at me and said, “You stand here accused of violent prioritization. How do you plead?”
The level of frustration some business owners feel when trying to raise capital through traditional commercial banking can lead one to wonder if it’s all worth the effort. Unless there is alternate financing available, a businessperson has to reinvent the process and try, try again. In his book When The Bank Says No!, author Lawrence W. Tuller writes, “As you delve into the world of financing, remember the cardinal rule: money is always available if you look in the right places.”
Most any business management book or website will offer the to-do list as one of the necessary tools for good time management. The to-do list is such a vital tool that you can find customized lists for performing necessary tasks as well as apps for keeping up with your list electronically. The to-do list is so important that Google has more than 2 billion listings for the tool.
Have you ever questioned whether symbolic awards such as trophies, plaques, and framed commemoratives must meet the requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA)? This is a question many suppliers and distributors of symbolic awards are asking these days; for this and many other product categories associated with the CPSIA, there are no clear answers. That being said, understanding the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s interpretation of CPSIA rules can help provide a sound basis for making informed decisions when determining whether CPSIA regulations may or may not apply to a symbolic award based on a given situation.
If you’ve never sold to a team or league, doing so presents some unique challenges that can make you never want to see another team or league. Knowing about them in advance will help mitigate problems. Selling to teams and leagues can result in lower margins and unique headaches, but it can be worth the trouble to grow your business by putting your name in front of many families at a time.
Should awards and personalization retailers enter the stamp market? Certainly, says Mike Fruciano of LaserBits, but an even wiser question is, why not enter the market with so much ready potential? He contends that making and selling stamps is a natural fit for industry retailers, particularly if they have lasers standing idle that could be used to make stamps—and build a new revenue stream and customer base.
According to the Center for Women’s Business Research, in McLean, VA, there are more than 10,000 companies owned by women in the U.S. Fox reports that never before in history have women been so successful in launching and growing their own companies. The Guardian Small Business Research Institute says women-owned businesses employ more than 13 million people and will generate 5 million new jobs by 2018. Together, women-owned businesses are successfully generating trillions of dollars in sales each year.
My basic premise for today is that most managers don’t manage very well—because they manage from the top, rather than the front and the beginning. I think this stems from a commonly-accepted definition of management, which most managers seem to think is about being in charge. Personally, I think management is more about being an enabler than being a boss. It starts with a clear understanding of goals and objectives. And it works best when managers don’t manage people, but instead create teams.
A couple of months ago, the last Blockbuster store in Louisiana closed its doors. The local owner said that over the years his business had gone from lines of customers waiting to rent movies to just a few loyal customers. The store used to be one of the 9,000 Blockbuster stores that employed more than 60,000 people. It used to be a part of a $4.8 billion a year industry. And now, the brick-and-mortar movie rental store has become obsolete.
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