Philie Group Blog

Three Challenges to Master in Uncertain Times
By Mike Philie

There are three challenges that will continue to cause business leaders to stand out from the others. They include creating their own handbook for dealing with a changing marketplace, accelerating the pace and improving on the customer experience that they deliver, and effectively managing risk. While the future of how we work seems to be up for grabs, staying focused on keeping the “main thing” has never been more important.

Handbook for a Changing Marketplace

If you were going to build a house or building, you would have a vision of what you want it to look like at upon completion. You might even have a conceptual drawing of it. But one thing you would certainly have, is a handbook, or blueprint for how to get to your vision. You would first establish a clearly defined outcome, and then allocate the proper resources needed. You would also create a consistent work schedule and timeline that you’d need to follow.


We see the changes in the marketplace every day. Between the ever-changing customer expectations, the work from home movement, and the nagging start and stop of a business recovery, conventional thinking and planning is being put to the test. Gather as much market information as you can and revisit what you want your house or building to look like. Based on any new facts or trends in the space you are in, make sure that you have the right handbook, resources and timeline in place.

Customer Experience

Customer expectations are changing — this isn’t a new revelation. The pandemic though, has accelerated many of the trends that were already present. While it may be hard to anticipate where these trends will end up, the biggest hurdle that I see is in the acceptance of the fact that there are any changes at all. Where can we see these trends occurring, and how can we anticipate how they may affect our business? Begin by looking in our daily lives.


Changes and trends that affect our personal lives have a way of meandering into the business landscape. In my opinion, the expectations we have as a consumer, begin to translate into expectations we may have as we conduct business in the print world. Take a hard look at how clients interface with your business. How easy is it for your clients to give you their business, and get status updates on your progress in meeting their expectations? This could lead to several to-do items.

Effectively Managing Risk

As an entrepreneur, risk is your middle name. You eat risk for breakfast, and all those other popular clichés. You’ve been effective in managing risk thus far, and the plan is to continue down the same path. If you are looking for ways to increase your effectiveness though, there may be a couple of things to consider.


In the heat of the battle, the print world can be a high stakes, emotion filled, fast paced business with tons of uncertainty. How would you articulate your process for managing risk in this environment? Identifying the steps you typically take throughout this process is the first step for making improvements. While many will respond that they use their gut instinct, there typically is a (repeatable) process linked to that as well.


Like a golfer keeping stats on their performance, the intent is to learn by understanding what works and what doesn’t work. It’s also helpful to know that while many days will be pars, there will be that occasional birdie or double bogey thrown in just to keep you on your toes. The key point, is to understand what works for you. Learn what you can control, and what elements of your game you can work on to improve. And some days, as Harvey Penick writes, “sometimes the answer is to try less hard.”


These challenges aren’t going to go away anytime soon. Have a process that enables you to identify the issues that are important. Understand what has worked for you in the past, and know how to build the steps that lead to improvement. These will be key elements of your continued business success.


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 owners and CEOs 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, LinkedIn or email at


First published in Printing Impressions


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