It’s a feeling shared by a lot of small business owners: You work tirelessly and put a tremendous amount of time and energy into your business, but it just doesn’t seem to be growing at the pace you expect it to. It can be defeating and make you feel at a loss for how to move your business forward.

No doubt, owning your own print shop, or any business, is a challenge. You invest in top of the line screen printing equipment, carefully organize your workflow, and hire and train a capable team – but you’re still not achieving your goals. If you’re not growing the way you want to, you may need to take a step back and evaluate your operations. It’s likely there are a few common mistakes that are slowing or stopping your business growth. Let’s take a look at some common issues that could be holding your screen printing business back.

1. Not understanding your competition

Many screen printers — and, in fact, many small business owners — are quick to blame a competitive market when business stagnates or doesn’t grow as fast as planned. Undoubtedly, we live in a competitive world where consumers have thousands of options at their fingertips via the internet. It’s not the competition itself that holds your business back, however; it’s a lack of understanding the competition and how your business differs. To remain competitive you have to do some research. Understand your competitors’ products and know their pricing. When you have a good understanding of your competitors, you can work to better evaluate your pricing and to better set your business apart through your marketing efforts.

For some tips on setting your business apart, check out: Make Your Screen Printing Business Stand Out from the Competition

2. Pricing

Properly pricing your product goes hand in hand with understanding your competition. In the age of internet shopping, it can feel impossible to compete on a price point, and often, it is. The best solution to help your business move forward is simply to not compete based on pricing alone. Of course, you should price your products competitively. Take the time to research your production costs — from rent and electricity to ink and labor. Really calculating and understanding your production costs helps you to know precisely how much it takes you to turn out a finished product so you can better determine how much you should be charging your customers. Knowing all of the costs involved in your production process also allows you to evaluate your costs and potentially reduce costs to maximize your profits.

The most important advice when it comes to pricing your products is: Don’t undervalue your products and the services you’re providing. There is something your business is doing that the value printer down the street, or online, isn’t doing. Don’t undervalue the service you provide to your customer. We advised you to know your competition: So what does your screen printing business offer that your competitors don’t? Do you focus on eco-friendly printing? Do you have a faster turnaround than other printers? Do you carry a wide range of screen-printable products that allow you to cater to each client’s individual needs? Knowing what value you provide that your competition doesn’t can stop you from undervaluing your products and services, and it can help you market to potential customers so they don’t see cost when it comes to your business; they see value.

3. Lack of marketing

Many screen printers and small businesses fall behind due to their marketing strategies, or their lack of marketing strategies. Hopefully, you have taken the time to understand what sets you apart from your competitors and to understand how you are uniquely positioned to meet your customers’ needs. When you understand that, you have your product differential and your value proposition, which then becomes the basis for all of your marketing efforts. From your website to your print ads, your marketing should be aimed at helping your potential customers understand what sets you apart and what they stand to gain by doing business with you. Unless you are marketing these things clearly, many of your marketing efforts will be wasted.

To move your business forward with more effective marketing, first make sure you have come up with a good product differential and value proposition. It can be helpful to draft a mission statement for your business and identify some of your business’s core values. Next, understand your audience. Who stands to be best served by your unique business? Focus your marketing energy and dollars on the platforms that are most likely to reach that target audience. Speak in a tone and use graphics that will resonate with your most likely customers.

Finally, when it comes to marketing, don’t neglect your website. The vast majority of customers are finding products and businesses through web searches, often from mobile devices. Have an attractive, easy-to-navigate website that is mobile enabled and, preferably, search engine optimized. Be sure that visitors to your site have a clear path from the homepage through the ordering or contact end point. You don’t have to invest a lot of money into creating an attractive and effective website, but putting time and some money into developing a solid website can go a long way toward moving your business forward.

4. Not evolving over time

Businesses change as they grow. Often, what is holding a business back is that business leaders don’t take the time to stop, evaluate how their business is changing and adjust operations to keep the business moving forward. Make sure you take the time to regularly evaluate your screen printing business so you can adjust your business plan to reach your business goals. Regularly evaluate your competition, costs and customers so you can be sure that your pricing, operations, product offerings and marketing fall in line with where your business is now and where you want it to be in the future. When you are mindful about your changing business and your business’s goals, you can let go of some of the things that are holding your screen printing business back so you can continue to grow.

Want some more tips on how to grow your screen printing business through marketing? Download our helpful free eBook here:

Free eBook: Successfully Marketing Your Screen Printing Business