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News: Screen Printing
Ryonet’s Ryan Moor Pens New Book
The first step toward establishing your company’s values is to brainstorm with your team. Once you have a master list, whittle it down to five or so core values. Photo courtesy of Ryonet, Vancouver, Wash
“Made To Make It: A Guide to Screen Printing Success” is a new book released by Ryonet founder Ryan Moor.
Geared toward educating screen printers about the art as it relates to business, it is intended to teach decorators how to build a business around screen printing. It was written for screen printers, but is relevant to any small-business owner in the decorated-apparel space, says Moor.
In an exclusive to Impressions, following is a question-and-answer session with Moor and excerpt from the book:
Why did you write this book, and why now?
We have learned so much in the past 13 years [that Ryonet has been in business] and my passion is growth and helping others grow. I started asking screen printers questions of what they wanted to learn in business and started interviewing a few shops in different niches to get some of those answers. Combined with our experience and tools we have used in the past, we put together “Made To Make It.” It’s as important now as it probably always has been; you don’t know what you don’t know. And if you can learn before you experience the pain of learning from experience, you’ll be way ahead of the game.
Why do you think screen printers tend to be weak in the business area?
Screen printing is a very low-cost business to get into. Low cost = low barriers to entry. No offense screen printers, but it’s about the lowest cost business you can get into and compete in. So to compete, most business owners focus on the process of screen printing, not the process of business.
Is the new “Vlog,” “Made To Make It,” intended to be a virtual extension of the book?
Yes, “Made To Make” is a content platform geared toward business. This includes the book, an audio version, workshops and classes at trade shows and throughout the country, online content and courses, and the Vlog.
In the book, you talk about establishing values. Why is it important that a company’s values stay consistent?
They are called CORE values for a reason. At your CORE is what keeps you sane and on path in the hectic world of business and consumers and competition.
In your hedgehog and fox analogies, how can companies avoid the temptation of being like the latter and ensure they are more like the former?
Focus on the niche of your business first — really dial in who your customer is and how you uniquely serve him better than anyone else. Be passionate about it, and be the best at it! Your position in one market will allow you to get to other markets in the future.
What do you want readers to get out of the book?
Most of us spend most of our days focusing and worrying about what we are doing or has to be done. In screen printing, for instance, it is so easy to get stuck in learning the latest techniques and processes to create a better shirt — that is what you do. We forget to look up from the press and focus on how it should all come together and, more importantly, sometimes we forget why we are there in the first place. “Made To Make It” is a content series that helps business owners and leaders change the focus and learning from what you do, to how you do it and why you work so hard in the first place.
Following is an excerpt: “Define Your Values for Long-Term Success.”
Define Your Values For Long-Term Success
By identifying core beliefs and principles about who you want to be and how you want to do business, you can avoid at least some of a newcomer’s mistakes.
Just because you know where you’re going, doesn’t mean you won’t get lost along the way. Your values serve as the compass for your organization—keeping you, your team, and your partners moving in the right direction. While you may instinctively know what these are, they need to be documented. Having a clearly defined set of values can help you:
• Stay focused and grounded.
• Make smart business decisions.
• Feel confident in your choices.
• Gain the respect of your partners.
• Attract the right team members.
Wherever you’re going, you won’t be going alone, so it’s important that you have a clear sense of direction to guide you (and the people you decide you’ll be taking with you). Even if you’re a one-man band, you’re still going to work with customers and vendors, without whom making it in this game is out of the question. Not only do you need to identify what your values are, but you also need to write them down. By sharing them publicly, you make them an integral part of the way you do business.
At Ryonet, I didn’t do this for my first six years in business. In the beginning, it wasn’t a big deal. Our team was small. I hired mostly friends, whom I instinctively knew shared my values, and everything worked pretty well. Until it didn’t.
Not having defined values made it hard to build a company and as a result, Ryonet lost its way many times, and truthfully so did I. I started a ton of side businesses that distracted me, conflicted with my team, and scraped money off the bottom of Ryonet’s margin.
I chose business partnerships that didn’t align with how we did business, leaving a wake of expensive confusion and waste for my team to deal with. I hired many of the wrong people who did many of the same things I was doing and further cost the company money, focus, and diluted performance.
At the end of the day, it was an initiative to get more targeted in our hiring that led to codifying our values. We began by evaluating what attributes we did and did not want, and what the company needed to bring to the table to build healthy, long-lasting relationships.
If vision + values = culture, we had, in essence, backed into our values! It was amazing as I realized that our values had been determined a full three years before we implemented them. I just didn’t know it was that easy OR important.
What’s important to understand is the inter-relationship between values and culture. And you’ll note I said “inter-relationship” versus “relationship,” because one cannot exist without the other. When we finally put pen to paper to write down our values, we took inspiration from Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos.
He is the author of the book “Delivering Happiness,” which is a detailed account of how Zappos built a thriving corporate culture and successful business on unique core values like “create fun and a little weirdness.”
After discovering his book, I was so enthralled with Hsieh and Zappos that we flew multiple groups from Ryonet to the company’s headquarters. We paid for private tours and tutoring sessions from some of the team leaders. The tours are free by the way, so the next time you’re in Vegas, I HIGHLY recommend it.
How To Define Your Values
To get down to the nitty-gritty of our values, we started with a list of 10 or so ideas I felt had been instrumental in Ryonet’s success to date and were core to my personal beliefs. Then we held several rounds of group feedback with different teams in the company.
We reviewed the lists, got feedback on concepts and names, and I took notes. Then I sent out a survey to the team via email to confirm the mini groups’ feedback to the entire company. Then we repeated the process.
I whittled down the list to five and wrote summations of each; reviewed them with our management team; sent them out to the team for one final survey. Finally, I wrote the Ryonet Values document.
Here is what we ended up with:
Be True To Yourself
If you are not true to yourself, everything in your life can be compromised. To grow as a team, we needed to be honest, respectful and accountable to each other. To our partners and vendors, we needed to conduct business with the highest standard of honesty and integrity.
Find value in what you do and your customers. Remember that even a $9 pint of ink can print 100 shirts that support a screen printer’s creative hobby, family, employees or community.
Work Smart and Hard
Work hard, learn from mistakes, find better ways to operate, and be a go-getter!
Be the Best at Being Better
Commit to continuous learning. Strive to improve yourself and the business in any way you can. “Live as if you were to die tomorrow; learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Ghandi
Embrace the craziness of life, work and the problems that sometimes arise. We are not perfect—our company, its leaders, and team members will make mistakes. But we will treat each mistake as an opportunity to create a stronger team, business and future for our company.
At Ryonet, we work hard to stay true to these values, although it isn’t always easy. Businesses are a reflection of their people, and people aren’t perfect. But our values hold us accountable. They help us learn from our mistakes. They motivate us to create a stronger organization and future for our company.
When you write your own values, I encourage you not to overthink it. For the most part, you probably already know what they are, so this should be an exercise of fine tuning for you and your leadership team.
A few other pieces of advice:
Realize Less Is More
If you want your values to stick, don’t make a list of 20. If you have more than six or seven, look for areas where you can combine. Truth, integrity, honesty, and openness, for instance, all mean about the same thing.
Focus On The Essence
It’s the principal, not the words. Make it crisp and powerful, like Zappos “Deliver WOW Through Service.” Originally all of our values had different titles, but we ended up making them short and sweet so people could remember them.
Make Them Actionable
Values are what you do, not what you aspire to do. Find out who is living your proposed values. If no one is, then they aren’t values, they’re aspirations. Choose principles you can expect your team to live by every day.
Consider Them A Work In Progress
Your business and team will grow and change. Make additions, delete or amend as necessary as you hone in on your vision.
Communicate Them Broadly
Put them in your lunchroom, your handbook, on your website, your packaging. Talk to candidates and new team members about them. Make them real by living them, and asking others to do the same. Remember, you are building a tribe with shared beliefs.
Something we did, and I recommend, is to make your values a work in progress so as you grow, your team changes. As you learn, you can amend them when needed. This doesn’t mean the core principles change, but maybe you expand on one, or rewrite another, or add on something that has become important since you originally started.
I got this idea from our country’s founders. Amendments were added as they wrote the Constitution of the United States. As of the writing of this book our values have not been changed. They have been challenged, however, and a slight amendment was made to one.
“Work Hard and Smart” became “Work Smart and Hard.” We changed the word order because we had already embraced hard work at Ryonet. What we needed to do was put the emphasis on “smart” and constantly be looking for a better way. The value amendment was unanimous.
Making time to do a task like identifying values and writing them down may be a challenge for a busy company or someone who is already overwhelmed with all the aspects of starting a new business. However, like laying a strong foundation for a house, it’s a task that must be done if you want to thrive and grow through the years.
I hope by sharing my experience, you will understand how to get started and make the time on a regular basis to review and update your initial statement.
The Power of the Written Word
“We didn’t start out with written values, but as we grew, we knew we had to put our ideas into words. Our three values are simple but important. The Golden Rule, ownership and innovation. These ideas drive our hiring and advancement decisions—ensuring a culture infused with our core beliefs.”
Marc Katz, founder of Custom Ink, a Ryonet customer, on his company’s approach to values.
As a way to get started, have your team put down in writing what they already hold true and feel are core to the company’s culture.
1. What values do you hold true to your core?
2. What values shine through your ideal team?
3. Do these values mesh with/or contradict how you do business?
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