I’ve spent years bemused, and sometimes amused at the decisions made by some small businesses. Up until yesterday, possible the greatest mystery has been why clients do not take advantage of an agency’s print management facilities. They commission us to design and conceptualise their brand – arguably a company’s biggest asset – then they take the artwork to a printer, often unknown to them, and think they’ve saved money. Beside their obvious inexperience at finding the RIGHT printer they also lack the technical know how and the inability to know what quality work is – yet they believe they are saving money.

I’ve asked myself time and again, “Why?”

Yesterday it became a festering wound and I sat down and considered the matter carefully and like a blinding flash of the obvious it hit me – it’s all about time. You know ‘tick toc – the mouse ran up the clock’ time. It should have been absolutely obvious all along. As an agency we have only one thing to offer – skill – and that is measured by guess what? ‘Time’ We live and breathe it – ‘Time’.

Small business on the other hand almost never values its time and like all things that can’t be evaluated it becomes worthless.

The time spent by clients to work through any process at which they have neither the skill or experience must be absolutely mind boggling, but can they see it? I would venture to suggest they can never hope to ‘see it’ until they realise that ‘time waits for no-one’. “Why pay a small management fee they ask when I can do it for nothing?” Trouble is it doesn’t cost nothing! Its cost is hidden because time to them is assumed to be unimportant in their business existence.
Every business is limited by time. With more time, comes the opportunity to use the skills you possess more profitably, so if your profit margin garners you X you need to understand that part of X or often all of X is worth something. If you spend 5 hours organising your printing, and that’s a very conservative estimate, you’ve just wasted 5X or part thereof. So time has value and businesses need to consider their time carefully. In essence business today is very good at accounting, but it still hasn’t learned to value its time, nor to account for it.

About six weeks ago we were commissioned by a large company to handle its print management as part of our agency contract. While arranging the agreement their CEO commented to me, “This is your baby, we’re too busy selling my products, we’re good at that. Why would I want to get into a new business – if I wanted to be a print broker I’d have made it part of our core business.”

As usual I’ll finish off with my customary slice of advice. If you think your time is worth nothing – it probably will be, but you can guarantee one thing, it will always be there and you can ignore it if you so desire, but it won’t ignore you and as it catches up with you, you’ll soon realise that time is a commodity and a valuable one at that. Don’t waste it! Have a good time folks!