Philie Group Blog

Five Factors to Help Your Printing Business Perform Under Stress
By Mike Philie

Performing under stress doesn’t mean it’s always a bad situation, it’s just a stressful situation. How well you are prepared will help determine how well you lead your business during stressful times. For example, when a surgeon is performing an operation, that can be a stressful time. But, because of their training and preparedness, they manage it quite well. Now if I was performing surgery, it probably would not end well because I have not had the proper training, nor would I have been prepared. You get the picture.

The graphic communication industry is undergoing yet another structural transformation. Challenges to supply chains, employment and wage issues, and market behaviors are unpredictable. The pressure to perform has never been more important. For many, generating revenue has not been a problem — making the money they deserve can be another issue.

During these times, your ability to communicate with your staff and stakeholders about what ‘s going on is critical. There may not always be a clear path forward, but that does not excuse the need to effectively speak to and listen to your teams. Avoid a staff member being asked by their spouse at the dinner table, “How’s it going at your company?” Your employee responds, “I don’t know, management has gone silent.” Regardless of reality, they will think the worst. It’s just human nature.

Busy times may not be the time to let up on the gas pedal. As busy as many of the shops are, most are still way below their full capacity. And while they are being challenged with lean staffs, they should find every opportunity to capture the business that comes their way. Be creative with scheduling, and be creative in your departmental staffing and workflow to minimize any bottlenecks and allow the work to accelerate through your shop.

Your decision making process will also be challenged under stress. It’s not uncommon, and the key thing is to be aware that it could happen. This is a good time to re-examine how you make critical decisions, who you make them with, and the timeliness of your actions. Learn from history. Get your team together, review past stressful times, and learn what worked well and what didn’t.

Another challenge for many entrepreneurs, is to fight off the “hero syndrome.” What I mean by that, is thinking that you are the only one who can solve the problem, the only one with the answer. Any form of delegating typically goes out the window under stress and you end up bearing the brunt of the headaches while your able team members stand aside. Delegating is hard to begin with, even harder when the pressure is on. Work to improve on it every day.

The last part is to make sure to take care of yourself. If you don’t remain healthy, both physically and mentally, then the company will suffer. By practicing good communication techniques, surrounding yourself with a good team, and delegating to them will go a long way and allow you to sleep well at night. Like the flight attendants say during the preflight speech, should you need one, an oxygen mask will fall from the ceiling. Make sure to apply your mask first before you help others. Make sure to take care of yourself!

Transformative shifts in the business can cause stress and an un-balanced feeling. Practice effective communication, take advantage of business opportunities that come your way, and make decisions based on a tested process—you can’t afford to make bad decisions during these times. Make sure to surround yourself with a good team and delegate, delegate, delegate! Make sure that people are doing what they are uniquely qualified to do. And finally, taking care of yourself will help ensure that your business and your stakeholders will continue to prosper regardless of the times.

A focus on these five factors won’t guarantee your success, but ignoring them will not lead to a good ending. If you have questions or insight into this topic, please comment below or reach out to me directly.

Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to CEOs and business leaders in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic advice, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.comLinkedIn or email at

Originally published in Printing Impressions.


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