A Business Plan for the Renton Printery (Conclusion)

This post is the conclusion of our series A Business Plan for the Renton Printery

Due to the sensitive nature of the sections of the business plan not yet covered (such as the Management Team and Personnel, Setup, and Financial Plan & Projections), I will be concluding my series here.

To go into more detail about the Renton Printery’s management team and personnel would require me to divulge certain private details, such as their specific qualifications and who they actually are.

I do not feel it is a good idea to name these private persons without their permission, and do not think it worthwhile to get all of their respective permissions ahead of time, like a chicken running with its head cut off.

I will simply say that we have plenty of people to fill the positions listed in the Executive Summary, and I have full confidence in their individual ability.

The Setup, that is, logistical matters such as our building, machinery, other equipment, and IT, are equally private matters. To put it simply, I do not think it wise to divulge operational details in a public forum.

At the very least, I would have to get my boss’s permission, which would be, for lack of a better word, an extended hassle.

Finally, the reasons for the Financial Plan and Projections being impossible and inconvenient to carry arise from two main reasons.

First, because I would have to consult heavily with my boss regarding the shop’s current operating costs. Again, more hassle, more in the public eye, and more conversations trying to convince the boss that it is plainly Not A Bad Idea.

Second, because even if I had all the permission in the world, I currently lack the expertise in accounting and graphing to present these findings in a logical manner.

I could theoretically do it, and even if it was done badly, it would at least be done. However, I would rather take some time to do it privately before showing it off to the whole world.

But such difficulties are the nature of business. Although I am dismayed to say that I cannot offer these important details, I can say with absolute integrity that I did, based on my limited knowledge of these matters, write up some things related to these matters on paper in my own time.

Perhaps someday a more complete version of those notes will see the light of day on this blog.

In the meantime, thank you all so much for reading this.

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A Business Plan for the Renton Printery (Part 3/3)

The following is the third part of our series A Business Plan for the Renton Printery.

Marketing and Sales Strategy

In this section we will identify our target market, why we want to reach this particular target market, and how we intend to sell our products to them.

Our target market is made up of:

  • The controllers and managers of large manufacturers.
  • The Executive Directors, office administrators, marketing executives, and and business development officers of large non-profits and B2C companies.
  • Similar such persons at large unions.

Why these persons?

Controllers and managers at large manufacturers frequently need stickers, labels, and the like, plus large quantities of signs, banners, and business cards. There might be an occasional order for other big-ticket items, such as company-patterned vests, hats, and shirts.

Various gate-keepers and decision makers at large non-profits are likely tasked by their bosses with finding printers for their events. Accordingly, we will want to target them too.

Similarly to non-profits, many large unions need much printing done, including mailers, t-shirts, signs, bumper stickers, brochures, business cards, stickers, newsletters, and more. The same people who buy printing for non-profits tend to also populate unions.

How do we reach these groups?

The relevant execs at large manufacturers can easily be found at Kent, South King County, and Auburn Chambers, along with certain local conferences of various manufacturing associations.

The problem is being able to make it to these events without stretching ourselves too thing. Another possibility is to become involved in the Kent Rotary, but the feasibility of such an idea remains to be seen.

It would be a simple matter to find clients from appropriately sized B2C corporations and non-profits by frequenting local Chamber of Commerce events in Seattle, Bellevue, and Issaquah, not to mention the Renton Rotary and Chamber of Commerce.

But first we must ask, do we want to extend northward into Seattle and the Eastside? Can we afford it? Is it logistically possible?

These are questions that continue to puzzle the Renton Printery’s management team. Until then, we will continue to focus on the south.

Speaking of which, we will be discussing the Renton Printery’s management team and personnel in the next post in this series.

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A Business Plan for the Renton Printery (Part 2/3)

The following is the portion of a Business Plan for the Renton Printery, Business details.

Business Details

We are a family of printers. My father, grandfather, grandmother, and two of my aunts are in the trade.

Situated in downtown Renton, we’re a family-owned and operated, locally based, union print shop. The shop itself has been in business since the 1950s, but my grandfather first acquired it in 1971.

We can offer a broad range of products, such as:

  • Brochures
  • Envelopes
  • Letterhead
  • Business cards
  • Booklets
  • Programs
  • Newsletters
  • Mailers
  • Signs
  • Banners
  • Stickers
  • Labels
  • Tags
  • Notepads
  • T-shirts
  • Hats
  • Bags

All this, along with many other things I may not have thought of.

Our reason for being is simple: To make a spit-load of money.

To be more specific, to do so while being known for honest, efficient service and high quality products.

Our customers are chiefly other businesses. Our ideal clients are people who put a lot on a lot of events or spill a lot of ink, or else need a lot of words attached to things.

Accordingly, we will seek the business of:

  1. Large to mid-sized manufacturers.
  2. Large non-profits
  3. Large unions
  4. Large-to-mid-sized B2C* companies.

These clients will ideally be located in the South King County area, within the vicinity of Renton, Tukwila, and Kent. We will discuss this further in the next section, titled “Sales and Marketing Plan.”

Our Key Employees will not be named here, but they will include:

  1. The President or CEO
  2. A pressman
  3. A bindery man
  4. The Marketing Director
  5. The Goodwill Ambassador

Our accounting will be subcontracted to a local accounting firm, and we will occasionally hire freelancers to help with graphic design work and bindery. The permanent employees will also find themselves wearing a lot of different hats.

In the next post, we will go over my favorite part: The Sales and Marketing Plan.

* B2C meaning, “business-to-customer.” The Renton Printery would fall under “B2B” or “business-to-business.”

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A Business Plan for the Renton Printery (Part 1/3)

In this post we will detail the Executive Summary of the Renton Printery’s Business Plan.

Executive Summary

My grandfather, a pressman by trade, first acquired the Renton Printery in 1971.

Little did he know that eventually, his business would grow into one of the most respected institutions in the city of Renton, now run by his son (that is, my father.)

The Renton Printery can profitably deliver printing services to the South King County area by marketing to key figures in our target audience and by commencing operations with the right personnel.

Under the management of my father, the shop has cultivated a specific customer base who are willing to buy our shop’s products.

My father, along with myself and several other employees, currently operate the shop, bringing our accumulative expertise to making sure the shop stays profitable.

The financial and logistical affairs of the shop, such as our accounting, facilities, equipment, and IT, are matters which are too sensitive to discuss in his post series, but are nonetheless very important.

In this business plan, we will examine all of these and how they will be melded together to form a clear pathway to prosperity for the shop.

The Renton Printery, steeped in family history, craftsmanship, and service to the local community, can bring all of these strengths to bear in the tough and competitive printing market of today.

In the words of Benjamin Franklin, a personal hero of both myself and my father: “By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.”

Thanks to this business plan, we will not fail.

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Building my Own Threshold

Early on in the maintenance of this blog, I planned a series of posts centered around Joseph Campbell’s monomyth.

The monomyth (more popularly known as “the Hero’s Journey“) was supposed to guide my own endeavors as I sought to succeed in obtaining employment.

The problem with my original set of posts regarding the subject was that my presupposed outline for my life hinged on me being accepted into the Praxis program.

After being tossed off the metaphorical threshold steps (twice!), I sank into a period of aimlessness. I took whatever work I could, trying to make sense of everything.

In many respects, I was quite lucky. I had no debt and my friends and family supported me.

Looking back on this period in my life, trying to track my life-goals according to a mythological theory was quite foolish.

Life, quite obviously, is not a story. I believe it was in the recent film Their Finest that one character stated: “Stories have structure, purpose, and meaning… unlike life.”

I should really watch that movie.

So what am I doing now?

For one thing, I have recently enrolled in fall classes at a local community college.

I’m doing administrative, marketing, and sales work at my family’s business.

I’m researching possible careers to pursue and the best course of academic study to fit such a career.

I’m reading a lot of old books, working on several creative side projects, and am writing this blog.

In a word, I’m building my own threshold, where the only threshold guardian is me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Joseph Campbell’s theory of the monomyth, as espoused in The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

As a guide for story structure and dramaturgy, it’s an excellent tool.

But regrettably, it’s a pretty suckish model to plan your life around.

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Why Read Old Books?

Note: This post is adapted from a speech I gave to my Toastmasters club.

Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov once said, “If you want new ideas, read old books. If you want old ideas, read new books.”

Following this observation, I have made a point to read old books.

Pavlov’s maxim applies to both fiction and non-fiction, from the epic poems of Homer to the stories of Washington Irving to Greek philosophy to the Bible.

Picking up a dusty copy of The Iliad will transport to you the world of raging Achilles and bold Hector in the carnage of the Trojan War.

Or you could make a trip to rural New York, circa 1790, and become acquainted with the fearful Ichabod Crane in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Either of these books would excellently reveal to the reader that the heroes and villains of the past weren’t so different from us.

Whether it’s the wearied prince Hector’s longing for peace, or the hapless Ichabod’s unrequited affections for Katrina, we can all see something of ourselves, both admirable and repellant, in these imaginary characters and the eras they inhabit.

Reading old books is beneficial because it allows the reader to glimpse into other worlds, in order to better understand the past and to apply it to the present.

When I say you should read “old books,” I generally mean you should read the classics. That said, what is a classic?

Orson Scott Card, the author of Ender’s Game (an excellent read, by the way), once defined a classic as stories that are so good you want to share them with your children.

When I was seven or eight years old, my mother gave me a new set of books to read: The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis.

I loved those books dearly, reading them and re-reading them, and being overjoyed to hear the audio drama versions of them, before being crushed when the films failed to meet my expectations.

I later read The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, eventually finding my way to Shakespeare’s plays Hamlet and Macbeth, and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. By the time I was 18, I had read the entirety of the Bible ten times.

All of these aforementioned books, written across multiple continents in the span of dozens of hundreds of years, have been passed down through the centuries to us. We can read all of them at any time on our cell phones.

But why read them at all?

The first reason to read old books is that it provides a window to the past.

At some point in time, the author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving, sat down and thought up his story.

Irving was an American, influenced by stories of European folklore that he had picked up during his travels through the continent in the nineteenth century.

Reading his story allows us to get acquainted with his thought process and walk around in his mind a little.

Imagine what could have inspired passages such as this one, describing the town of Sleepy Hollow:

“However wide awake they may have been before they entered that sleepy region, they are sure, in a little time, to inhale the witching influence of the air, and begin to grow imaginative—to dream dreams, and see apparitions.”

You see that this is a time when the majority of people took the reality of the supernatural for granted— whether that idea lay in base superstition or religious faith.

To look back on such a concept with disdain would defeat the purpose of reading old books. Our ancestors were no more ignorant than we are, and in many ways were our intellectual betters.

Instead, our goal in reading old books is to look into the past, seeing a world that is very much like ours.

Take The Illiad for example. This epic poem is one of the foundational works of the western canon.

In Homer’s poem, the warriors on both sides of the war, the Achaeans and the Trojans, frequently blame the gods for their troubles, and the gods are shown meddling in human affairs quite frequently.

This human tendency to want to assign direct blame for misfortune and injustice to an ethereal, all-encompassing source is not new.

If there’s one thing that I took away from listening to The Iliad on audiobook, it’s that people have been saying, “It’s not fair!” since 800 B.C.

So whether you’d like to peruse the works of Washington Irving, Charles Dickens, or C. S. Lewis, or perhaps more ancient writers like Homer and the multitude of authors responsible for the Bible, I cannot recommend reading old books more than enough.

For there is no better way to enrich your mind, discipline your imagination, and open your eyes to another way of life than to turn the pages of a classic tome.

If any of you have children, grandchildren, or young nieces or nephews, your duty to pass on these great books is crucial.

The older generation must teach the younger generation of this important pastime. Otherwise, we face a new age of darkness, chained in the bonds of ignorance.

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Fiverr Fail

A wise man once said, “Experience is a hard teacher. It gives the test first and then teaches the lesson.”

Following this principle, I now know that in the future, I must read the fine print. As a general rule, you should read everything. Just in case.

Case in point, I recently opened a new page on my blog, dedicated to my Freelancing ventures via Fiverr.com.

It’s a fun little website, where I can sell my services to others and get some extra cash.

But unfortunately, my first real investment in the platform resulted in a Fiverr Fail.

To cut a long story short, I purchased on Fiverr a beautiful video explaining my service as a ghostwriter for comics, meant to service artists who can’t write.

Unfortunately, the Fiverr team did not approve my video, as it contained the web address for this blog, in violation of Fiverr protocol.

But it wasn’t a total loss. I may have spent forty bucks on a video I can’t use on Fiverr, but I can use it here.

I do hope you all enjoy this lovely video, created by a Mr. “Artwong.”

Please see my new Freelancing page for more information!

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My 11 Process-Oriented New Year’s Resolutions for 2017

In keeping with Derek Magill’s advice, I have decided to go about my New Year’s resolutions for 2017 with a different approach.

Mr. Magill states that the best way to accomplish a goal is to focus on the process, not the end result. It’s more efficient to focus on working a little bit of the way toward your goal every day than to be constantly trying to charge ahead all at once.

With that in mind, here are my eleven process-oriented New Year’s resolutions for 2017:

1.) Exercise 30 minutes a day every day.

I’ve managed to get in at least a little bit of exercise every day since the last day of last year. I haven’t engaged in serious cardiovascular exercise due to the icy weather preventing running.

However, I have done a set amount of weight-lifting and push-ups every day, plus a up to 2 miles of walking on a good day. Not quite 30 minutes, but I’m working towards it.

2.) Write 1 post on the Comics Experience boards every day.

This is a relatively easy goal to accomplish, considering that it’s pretty hard not to look forward to.

The purpose of this resolution is to improve my standing on the Comics Experience message boards and establish myself as a well-to-do member of this little online community. So far, so good.

3.) Write an 8-page comic and get it drawn, inked lettered, and posted on the internet.

This resolution is interconnected with another one I have that’s further down the list.

The comic I have in mind is a prelude to The Overlord, meant to build anticipation and demonstrate my skills as a comics writer.

Having nearly completed the script already, all I have to do is find a set of collaborators who can help with this.

(To achieve this, I intend to attend Emerald City Comicon this year to do some networking. There’s also a collaboration forum on Comics Experience, both of which sound promising.)

4.) Drive 30 minutes a day every day for 30 days.

This one… has gotten off to a decidedly rocky start. I drove home from church on Sunday without much of a hitch, but I haven’t driven since.

For those of you who know me, I have been struggling to obtain a driver’s license for some time now. I’ll just say I’ve had a devil of a time learning to drive.

Luckily, new developments on my side of the internet could prove beneficial in getting that the skills I need to be drive safely. I just have to remember: it’s all about the process.

5.) Write a new blog post every day for 30 days.

This resolution is taken directly Derek Magill’s linked post.

In his original post, he suggested that if you want to become a well-known blogger (goal), then you ought to write a new post every day for 30 days (process).

Therefore, I’ve been plugging away for the past three days, and I believe I’m on a role.

Here’s hoping I haven’t spoken too soon.

6.) Finish the Constitution 101 course by watching 1 lecture per week until completed.

One of my pastimes is watching these free online courses offered by Hillsdale College.

I swept through the course on American history, but I’ve been stumbling in my efforts to complete the course on “The Meaning and History of the Constitution.”

I think this is mainly because it’s mostly theory, as opposed to the rich, detailed story of a survey of American history.

But I am confident that with a clear objective and method at my disposal, I can get back into my groove and finish this informative course.

7.) Read the 100 shortest books on my Goodreads to-read list in a year.

Having read 50 books last year, I narrowly met my Goodreads objectives. But now I am ready for a more ambitious goal.

I have over 500 books in my to-read list on Goodreads, and of those that have listed pages numbers, I intend to read a good deal of those ranked the shortest.

The idea is to prioritize quantity. I’ll have read a lot of very short books, but I won’t have learned nothing.

There are plenty of books that are a joy to read because of their concise genius. I look forward to reading them, particular several penned by C. S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer.

With luck, maybe I can bang out this batch within a hundred days.

8.) Finish reading the complete works of Bastiat. Read 2 pages a day for the whole year.

For those of you who’ve been keeping an eye on the Goodreads tab on this blog’s sidebar, you’ll notice that The Bastiat Collection has been there from the beginning.

This 1,000 page eBook is a real monster of a text, the densest thing I’ve taken on since I read The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell. That beast clocked in at more than 600 pages.

But now I’m about halfway through Bastiat, so I calculate that if I read 2 pages a day every day for the rest of the year, I can wrap it up by September.

9.) Watch a classic movie every week and write a review about it for 50 weeks.

Not really that hard of a goal to meet, all things considered.

All I have to do is make sure I have a couple hours to myself every weekend and then spend five minutes writing a quick review on my Letterboxd account.

This will also provide lots of fodder for my posts related to old movies. I’ll be glad to see what bits of wisdom I can glean from my efforts to watch every old movie available.

10.) Write 2 pages of comics script every day for a year.

Now we’re getting to the meat and potatoes of my New Year’s resolutions.

Thanks to this simple, process-oriented goal, I have nearly completed the script for that 8-page comic I mentioned earlier.

With luck, I’ll be able to continue in this manner as I work on both this and other projects. Once again, so far so good!

11.) Read and study a chapter of the Bible every day for a year.

For ten years, I read a daily entry of a One Year Bible every day. The result was that I read through the entire Bible some 10 times.

I switched to a more in-depth study, meticulously making my way through various sections with a commentary on hand.

However, the lack of process-oriented focus which accompanied the use of my One Year Bible left me struggling to stay on task with my studies of the Scriptures.

Therefore, I have now resolved to tackle it in a more concentrated manner, as stated above. That is the bare minimum. I may or may not study more than that on a given day.

These are my resolutions for 2017. I now hope that I can stick to them!

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Thursday Roundup

Sorry for the irregularity of posts lately, but I’ve been distracted by other concerns.

I recently did a brief survey of the works of Gail Simone. I never paid much attention to her work before, but when I found out about her unused “Angel of the Bat” idea, I began to wonder why she was such a “fan favorite.”

After consulting a list of her best stories and doing some reading, I was left thinking that perhaps Simone is more of hit-or-miss writer similar to Judd Winick. Combined with her admittedly genuine love for the characters she writes, and she’s not exactly bad at her job.

I would wager that she’s earned her status as a “fan favorite” primarily due to being an outspoken feminist. That, I believe, appeals to a certain quarter of comic book fandom which I do not claim an overall familiarity with.

My Goodreads.com reviews for the three stories of hers that I read are here, here, and here. If any in the audience would like to suggest any further reading of Simone’s works, please comment below.

In other news, I’m making progress on a webcomic I’m working on. I’ve finished the second draft of what I hope will be the first chapter of an ongoing webcomic, titled “The Overlord.”

Now all I have to do is find an artist, an inker, and a letterer. I’ll have to start putting together a marketing plan to start promoting it. In terms of story, I’ll have to start mapping it out a little further, but I’ve got a lot in mind.

In addition, I’m getting feedback on my scripts in the workshop forums of Comics Experience. It’s been very encouraging, getting honest advice from fellow comics creators.

I even got a question answered by the one and only Chuck Dixon! Man, that was a dream. That month-subscription has easily been the best thirty bucks I’ve spent in a long time.

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Want to Understand How the World Works? Read History!

In a letter to someone asking for a good source of information about politics, Thomas Jefferson once wrote:

“I will add, that the man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors.”

In this rather cynical and barbed letter, Jefferson makes several reading suggestions to his correspondent, also giving his opinion on the popular press:

“General facts may indeed be collected from them, such as that Europe is now at war, that Bonaparte has been a successful warrior, that he has subjected a great portion of Europe to his will, &c., &c.; but no details can be relied on.”

Jefferson was smart enough to know that newspapers (and their 21st century counterparts) are engines fueled by sensation, wild speculation, and excitement above all else. I don’t believe that much has changed.

Many people my age who go to college enroll in a “political science” class in a misguided effort to gain an understanding of how the world works. In reality, this rather dubious field of study is hardly up to the task. Even the realm of economics falls short.

The best way to understand the way the world works, the way that all of the great men throughout the ages did so, from Alexander the Great to Jefferson himself, is to read history.

History shows how the world works because it shows what happened that resulted in how things are today.

The press is a constant stream of random facts, many of them false.

“Political science” is little more than a term used to legitimize the idea that politics can be reduced to a uniform set of scientific principles. No term should have “science” put after it unless it involves a lot of math.

But history is different. History is the story of the world, the grand, mindbogglingly complex saga of what’s been happening on the face of dear old Earth.

There are plenty of authorities who will say silly things like “History repeats itself” or “History is written by the winners.” Neither of these are true.

But as Mark Twain, another great man from American history, once (but not really) said: “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”

The meaning of these wise words is that there are patterns to be found in history.

This isn’t because there is some inexorable force causing all the events of time to periodically go around the merry-go-round in some fashion or another which we decide to call “history.”

No, it is because history is the unpredictable story of a subject which is absolutely predictable: Man.

Man, mankind, humankind, humanity, is entirely predictable. By this I mean that human nature never changes, one of the only things that can consistently be relied upon.

And inevitably, because human nature is inclined toward evil, history can be very ugly. Conversely, because history is so ugly, it naturally follows that mankind is inclined toward evil. Both statements prove each other.

The point here is that learning history is important, because otherwise you’ll go looking for answers about how the world works from your Political Science 201 professor.

He will proceed to fill your head with nonsense about how human nature is on an upward march toward a classless utopia as envisioned by Marx. Trust me, your instructor’s predecessors have been saying that for the last 125-plus years.

Instead, please turn off the news, politely filter out your professor, and pick up a history book instead.

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