We were delighted to welcome Stephen Shortland, Managing Director of New Vision Packaging, to speak at a recent Women in Packaging UK networking event held in Birmingham.
Having started a career in constructional design over 29 years ago, Stephen has worked with a wide array of manufacturers, confectionery and sourcing companies, providing him with ample knowledge and experience to share with our attentive crowd of packaging enthusiasts.
Stephen talked to his desire to support women in business and those entering the packaging industry, of either gender, where education and support can be sadly lacking, even in 2018.
Stephen’s insights to starting and growing a business are great tips for us all:
Businesses are driven by passion. When you set out to start a business your passion needs to be strong enough and evident enough that investors, new customers and your new staff buy into your vision and get behind you to support your business. Luckily, passion is contagious so if you believe in yourself and show that off at every opportunity you’re likely to catch the attention of potential business partners – nothing makes people want to invest, or customers want to buy, like passion.
Sometimes first-time business owners feel concerned about appearing too excited, or excitable, but this fear is unfounded. By believing in yourself and having the courage of your convictions you will spark other people’s interest and motivate them to help you achieve your goals, plus nothing is more off-putting or unattractive to customers than self-doubt… if you don’t believe in yourself you better get good at acting!
By having true passion for your business and believing in yourself you will also be much better equipped to deal with the more difficult days all businesses inevitably go through. Running a business is a long-haul game, so be prepared and hold on tight for the ride.
Sell like a maniac
Sales are where the rubber meets the road – nothing happens in business until a sale is made. It’s vital therefore to start building leads and nurturing a sales pipeline from the minute you take the leap and start your own business. By building your network and establishing a strong pool of potential customers, you give your business the best chance of not just surviving those vital few months but thriving.
The more you can nurture key client relationships in the early days of your business, the more likely your leads will convert into repeat sales further down the line.
“We were keen to embed an ethos of open communication and close relationships with our clients when New Vision Packaging first began, and we’re pleased to say that our first two customers, back in 2006, are still valued customers today.” said Stephen.
It’s a good idea to find a right-hand man or woman right at the start of your business journey, as soon as you can afford it. Even if to begin with you can only afford to hire one other person, as long as you choose wisely and it’s the right person the benefit of having someone else on your team is immeasurable.
As your business grows and you start to take on new staff, don’t lose sight of the passionate mindset with which you began. Passion is a vital quality in a good leader, so channel your conviction to inspire your staff and help them believe in your vision for the future as much as you do.
“At New Vision Packaging we’re passionate about putting the human touch to packaging, adding value by caring and striving every day to make the lives of our customers easy. The people we choose to employ therefore need to share this mission and I’m very proud to say every single member of the New Vision team holds this close to heart.
“In return, we work hard to support our employees in any way we can. For us it was particularly important to partner with Women in Packaging to support and empower our three-quarter female workforce. The packaging industry is still very much a male-dominated industry, so we feel it is vital to support our female employees and do all we can to increase female representation across the industry.” added Stephen.
Focus on quality
Quality is one of those buzzwords that can be thrown around all too much in presentations and meetings but when it comes down to it, providing real quality to customers is key for any business, large or small.
This means not just a quality product, but also quality communication, service and going the extra mile whenever you can. Quality can also mean the ability to adapt and be flexible, reacting to client requirements rather than assuming market demands.
Focusing on quality throughout every area of a business prevents standards slipping and shows customers that they can rely on you to deliver every single time.
Don’t discount, add value
It’s always better to add value rather than discounting. Though it can be tempting to discount when you need a sales boost, by doing so you are essentially taking money out of your bottom line profit.
Instead, look to create added value across your business by creating ever more innovative solutions and develop new ideas to show your customers, old and new, why they should invest in your product or service.
By showing your business is pro-active and committed to development, you can build a strong customer base that will stay with you year after year.
No matter how your business grows and changes over the years, hold on to your love for what you do and your passion. Nothing ever changes so keep doing what you do well and with passion to give your business the very best chance of success.
New Vision Packaging creates and sources high quality multi-substrate packaging solutions to protect, enhance and promote premium and luxury products in the personal care, confectionery and alcohol gifting category.
For more information on New Vision Packaging please visit www.newvisionpackaging.co.uk.
Those wishing to find out more about the Women in Packaging initiative can also contact the team via firstname.lastname@example.org.