Saturday, February 21, 2009

Celebrating 10 Years in Business

An old version of my Doodads Logo

This year, I'm celebrating 10 years in business.

I started Doodads Promotional Products when I was 19 years old. I was working at an advertising agency in St. George, Utah, and going to school full-time at Dixie College. I had a customer looking for imprinted brochure holders, business card holders, t-shirts and mugs. 10 years ago we didn't have the resources on the internet that we do now, but even still, I was searching online for a promotional products supplier that could get me all the products under one roof. I found a man by the name of Bob Spooner in the Mid-west who was willing to help. After rounds of quotes and samples, he did what I least expected: he encouraged me to start a company of my own and connected me with the distributor so that I could manage the orders and make the profit myself. He became a mentor and a dear friend. The agency, TenneyClemons Advertising, became my first customer, and they are still a customer today.

Times have changed. There are hundreds of promotional products suppliers on the internet now, and it would be easy for me to find one. Now I have to work harder to separate my business from my competitors (and I'm sure you are looking for ways to do the same for your business). I've made a lot of mistakes over the years - I'm not perfect, but my dedicated efforts to grow my business have been spent in client retention, not finding new clients. And it has paid off:

- On average, 97% of my business has come from repeat customers or referrals every year for the last 5 years. That last three percent is new customers that I had to pay for, meaning that I bought advertising or paid to be a member of the chamber of commerce. I've slowly learned I need to pay less money on getting new customers and more on keeping my current customers happy.

- Doodads Promotional Products has run profitably every year since it began back in 1999. I used my own money to start the business, made that money back in the first 6 months and have used that money to grow the business over the years. It was a very slow growth process, but it was worth the wait.

- Everyone is talking about tough times, but I'm grateful for a solid business structure and practices that will keep me afloat. In all honesty, it's been the slowest three months I have ever had. I won't lie, it's been painful. But I'll make it.

I wanted to do a post in celebration of 10 great years. Not to boast, but to give you an insight into Doodads Promotional Products and how we do business. We'll be celebrating on this blog over the coming months. Giveaways, events and more - stay tuned.

In the interim, if you want to know more about what we do, give me a call.


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Jamie said...

Cheers! Experience is the best teacher in business, don't you think? It is difficult to compete in a field where you can quickly lose to the competition, but in the end, you can only say that it's a failure when you give up. Here's to hoping that you learn more to keep your business thriving, ten, twenty years from now!

- Jamie Shellman