A Tough Beginning – But A Wild Ride!
This month Select Digital celebrates 10 years in business and what a rollercoaster ride it's been!
In 2003 I took the brave decision to start up my own print business. I applied for a capital grant with my local Enterprise Board and was turned down. Not to be defeated I appealed the decision and was offered instead an employment grant. Although it wasn't the ideal outcome - (I still needed the capital to purchase vital print and finishing equipment) - it did ease the pressure in that it enabled me to concentrate on finding those resources.
In the end I had to re-mortgage the family home, something the banks don't like doing. If the business had failed, we would have found ourselves homeless. Undeterred and determined I released some equity from our home and purchased my kit.
This consisted of a HP Designjet, Electric cutter, Seal Laminator, Javelin cutting bench and a Mimaki JV3, all of which are still operational today. The Mimaki JV3 was instrumental to building and growing my business. What I failed to mention was that I was the first person in Ireland to purchase one and in essence became the guinea pig for the Irish market. Although the JV3 was being used in the UK this was the first time it was installed in a premises in Ireland. Having operated various digital print machines in the past, Encad, Mutoh and a Raster Graphics Arizona, I didn't think the Mimaki would pose much trouble as it was/is a fine piece of machinery. How naïve I was. At the time I am sure Gerry McGivern and Doug in Millers would quiver when my name flashed on their mobiles.
During that first year we had teething problems with the machine, from banding to colour management. In fairness Millers were always at hand to assist and support and it's a shame the company is not in existence today. Millers, like many others became a causality of the economic crisis that hit the print industry particularly hard.
In 2004 Select Digital won its first Irish Print Award for Digital Print. What followed was a succession of Print Awards until 2006 when we took a break and did not enter for a few years (we felt it only fair to give someone else a shot at winning!). In 2006 I won the Young Print Manger of The Year Award and South Dublin Female Of The Year Award – I had arrived. By the end of that year we had outgrown our premises in Whitestown Business Park, so it was time to look for BIGGER premises to house our growing client base and kit. An opportunity arose early in 2007 to purchase premises in Southcity Business Park and we jumped at the chance. Once in, we set about designing our offices and work space to suit our expanding client needs and requirements.
This hub has now become the Select Digital HQ in Southcity Business Park, a hive of activity. To keep up with the demand for large format digital print in 2008 we added a Mimaki JV33, such was the velocity of print. We printed for signage companies, exhibition companies, design agencies, advertising agencies to name but a few, and were/are their secret weapon. Quality digital print is in our DNA, it's the foundation to which Select Digital is built upon along with honesty and integrity. The company prides itself in being an ethical business with a corporate social responsibility for the community we work in. This is reflected in the "Charitable Giving" campaigns we have participated in over the years.
In 2009 we set about further expansion and added small format digital print to our list of services. Prior to this, Select Digital specialized in large format, signage and display. Our customers demand for short run, small format digital prompted us to go in this direction. It simply complimented our existing services.
A Xerox was installed and we set about offering both large and small format digital print to our clients. Again growth caught us unawares; our quest for perfection led to the installation of a Konica Minolta Developer press 7000+ in 2011. 2012 was another great year for investing money in Select with the installation of a new booklet maker and binding machine along with a massive investment in building a NEW website. This was designed to showcase our products, services, achievements and talent in a more favorable manner but most importantly, it had to "reach" more potential clients and be fully search engine optimized. Our existing website was out dated and simply didn't perform in the Google statistics, nor was it directing potential clients to find us. 2012 was all about re-inventing Select and showcasing it in a way that would entice potential clients to do business with us. We succeeded, and that year Select became the print media partner for Dublin Web Summit, the largest technology conference in Europe. 8 Kilometers of digital print from a media card to exhibition, signage and display graphics came through our doors, on time and with the quality and expertise clients come to expect from Select. This was our biggest challenge and event to date and we delivered flawless graphics on time and on schedule.
A video of Dublin Web Summit can be found here: https://vimeo.com/52321112.
2012 was also the year we added video to our web site to showcase our work and client testimonials. This has been a huge success as potential customers get a clear indication of what they can expect when they partner with Select Digital for their projects.
Our client testimonial video can be found here: https://vimeo.com/54294222
Today Select Digital employs seven people directly or through contract and the team are growing. If the truth be known I'd say our competitors and some suppliers gave us 2/3 years max. We've outlived some of those competitors and suppliers. Today if you asked me why Select Digital is so successful, I'd say it's because of our attention to detail and our ethical approach to business.
My top tips for success would be as follows:
LOVE WHAT YOU DO
Love what you do. Do it with passion or not at all. When you go into business doing something you love, success is imminent. If you love what you do, your passion for the business will drive you to be knowledgeable, creative and persistent. On the other hand, if your feeling for what you do is lukewarm, your success will be too.
DELIVER ON YOUR PROMISES
Always deliver on your promises, never let a customer down. A customer will remember the one time you let them down, over the 10 times you saved their bacon and got them out of a hole. Don't let that one time be the way the customer remembers you.
INVEST IN YOUR BUSINESS
Invest in your business, yourself, your ideas and your staff. We are always on the lookout for anything that will make running our business easier. Be it a new printer, booklet maker, updated software or person. It could be an extra pair of hands. Re-investing profits into our business is not only tax efficient it makes our job a lot easier.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH SUPPORTIVE PEOPLE
It is so important to surround yourself with positive people who love, support, nourish, and encourage you. People who believe in you will lift you higher. If you surround yourself with big dreamers and creators, the results will be exponential.
Be Your Own Hero. Don't wait around for a capital grant or your Fairy Godmother to arrive. Chances are she's too busy with people who have the balls to follow their dreams. Too many people I talk to are afraid to try doing what they love, because they are afraid they are no good, will make a mistake, or that they're not ready yet. Experiment in your quest for greatness and when you make a mistake, just keep going. Forget all the reasons why it won't work and believe the one reason why it will. You haven't failed until you quit trying! Captain your own ship, the universe favours the brave.
Walk into a room and see friends not strangers. In 2006 I set up Irish Women In Business, an online forum for like minded business women like myself to network, share resources, advice and exchange business contacts. Network, network, network – grow your contacts list and your business. Make an effort to go to social events, at least two a month and stand back and watch your business grow. Most importantly when networking ask, ”How Can I Help You?”,prior to expecting leads. Offer your services, your advice and your time. Networking is not a single transaction, both parties need to benefit.
PROMOTE WHAT YOU LOVE
Promote what you love rather than bashing what you hate. PR & Marketing is essential to any successful business. Promote the things you love about your business. Right now I'm loving celebrating a decade in print and you are reading about it. Need I go on?
GROW YOUR BUSINESS ORGANICALLY
Use internal funds to expand your business, it might take longer to grow your business, persevere and the results in the end will be worth it. I was able to guide and lead the business according to the strategic goals of the business and technology over the years. As a result we have few financial worries and a little more security. Set monthly goals and targets, when you achieve them, reward yourself and your staff.
WORK LIFE BALANCE
All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl. Just as I choose to set up a business I also choose to get married and have children. I have to take that responsibility seriously. Most weekends you will find me running for charity with my family cheering me on at the finish line. Keeping physically fit, helps my mental wellbeing and contributes to being able to keep up with the fast pace of the digital world. At the weekends I try not check my e-mail, the time I spend with my family and friends is "quality time". I work around my children's schooling, often attending meetings during the day. You need to be clear about what your priorities are. Taking time out to know what you truly value, and making sure your behaviour reflects that, is important.
BE HONEST, ALWAYS.
I cannot stress how important this is. People will try to cheat you, business aint all sunshine and rainbows. It can be a very mean and nasty place. That does not mean you have to participate, you have a choice. Be honest with every person you come into contact with, both customer and supplier. Honesty and integrity are genuine humble characters to have in business and when you have these qualities clients will seek you out and WANT to do business with you. Like attracts like.
Select Digital has also raised money for a number of charities over the years. The Irish Cancer Society, Beaumount Hospital Foundation and Debra Ireland are just some of the charities to benefit from Select Digital's charitable giving campaigns. Finally we would like to thank our suppliers and customers for their continued support and we look forward to working with you long into the future. With 6 Irish Print Awards to date, Select Digital is one of Ireland's leading and progressive digital print houses. So thank you to everyone who has contributed to Select Digital's success. We are simply gaining momentum, gathering speed and strength to bring fourth into the future.
By Tara Wilson-Black, MD.
Select Digital Print Group
Unit E11 Southcity Business Park
T: 00353 (0) 1 4628008
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