Posted in blogs, creative writing, Digital printing, graphic design, newsletters, paper, printing, publishing, small business, Uncategorized

Spring Fever: A Forgotten Love

Last year, at an art exhibit focusing on Iceland (“Due North”), held in, naturally, a converted icehouse in Philadelphia, I followed an old staircase down to the basement. At the end of a hallway there was a workshop that is part craft, part hobby, part business: Second State Press. Under the motto “Make More Prints!” young people keep the art of ink on paper going strong.
I walked around the presses, the stone plate-making, the silk-screening, the cutting and work tables. What may be considered monotonous drudgery for some is now a creative delight for a young generation.

Walking down the hallway, the samples of WallArtPhillyShowprint caught my eye.


I had forgotten the richness of print
I had forgotten the intensity of color under reflected light
I had forgotten the depth and beauty of ink on a textured paper
I had forgotten the striking effect print produces
I had forgotten the feel and scent of a printed page
I had forgotten the romantic side of the printing craft: using images to convince, to inspire or to inform by triggering emotions and a call to action.


amoreI had forgotten the pride in work that is so often missing or unsung in our industry.


It was a delight to be here.∼



Illumination or Reflection? Screens vs. Paper

Many of us endure a daily barrage of images from screens: TV, neon, smartphones, tablets, monitors, and more.





These use light transmitted from behind to project the image.

     Ink on paper is entirely reflective, depending on the external light source.

Flower in Relief, paper

Whether linen paper, a billboard or a label on a Budweiser bottle, the image is tangible and changeable by shadow or movement.

So, digital images are fine, fast and forward-moving; but I’ll never let go of the sensory advantages of print on paper. Others, I’m sure, agree. Last year Amazon. com reported a massive decrease in e-book sales and a surge in print book orders. My point exactly.

Thanks for reading.



Posted in blogs, creative writing, Digital printing, graphic design, newsletters, photography, printing, publishing, small business, small business sales, Uncategorized, video production, web design

Models, Images and Videos: How to do Your Best

Everyone is a designer. Everyone is a photographer. Everyone is a videographer. Or, so it would seem in the new tech world, where we upload and share 1.8 billion photos every day.

But, do you really want to be like everyone else? If you, design, edit or contribute to a newsletter, blog, ad book, webpage, technical report, or simply post on social media streams, there are a few things I’d like you to keep in mind.

The Subject Matters

© Capitol Copy Service 2014*

Sure, there are candid, in-the-moment photos you can use. And, there are millions of stock photos on the web. But to really illuminate your subject, a professional model is best. For a recent photo display, we used a model. Here’s why:

  • Easy to photograph and takes less time than amateurs
  • Prepares for the photo shoot with clothing, make-up and hair styled
  • Patient
  • Experienced in posing
  • Offers feedback and suggestions for improving results
  • Photos customized to our product or service

Top tips for taking photos (from award winning photographer, David Pratt- DSP Photos)

3d little human read an open book

  • Be aware of photo opportunities
  • Make sure subject has enough light or use flash on camera  and never shoot into the sun
  • Composition- Shoot images tight, fill frame with what is important
  • Keep it simple – Just because you have the latest and greatest camera with all the bells and whistles does not mean you have to use them all the time.
  • Be quick – Just shoot it, if you think about it, it will be gone!
  • Use a tripod or mono pod in low light situations.


Videos Add Dimension

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video with sound must be worth more, right? Videos done professionally assist your audience in many ways:

Encourage Action!

Sure, it’s very basic, but this 12 second video, embedded on our webpage, increased response more than 75%!


How-To For Making a Sale!


We produced a video for a product just released to the market. It needed to reach a global audience and we needed to show ease of use:



Sound was not necessary for the demonstration, as you can see.

Visit the full website here: Stethoshield

In addition to the website, the video was shown at several trade shows and at presentations to buyers. Within a month, orders for the product came in from across the US.



Even something inanimate benefits from video. The concept was to show the product as a shopper would see it on a shelf. (Package design and video by Capitol Copy)


Top tips for producing your own video (from “Social Media in a Nutshell” seminar, 2014)

  • Use the best equipment you can afford
  • Learn or understand editing
  • Use professional models
  • Give most attention to sound or don’t include it
  • Make sure your video plays on most major platforms
  • Keep videos short
  • Start your own YouTube page to upload, download and showcase videos


Legal and Ethical Issues

It’s happened to us hundreds of times………..

Customer: “Can you print this from my file?

Us: “Sure, we’d be happy to. I see you have photos and graphics in the file. Are they yours?

Customer: “No, I just downloaded them from some website.

Us: “Well, they will not print well because they are low-resolution. And, there are copyright issues.

Customer: <big sigh>

So, how do you avoid this conundrum?


Top tips for using images

  • Take your own photo (your smartphone camera can do it!)
  • Pay for professional design services (
  • Use a model
  • Buy clip art or photos from legitimate websites, like IStockPhoto or DollarPhotoClub


Thanks for stopping by!



*Contact information for Hulda Lind:


68051_10151509108346729_1731694342_aIcemodel Hulda Lind Kristins

Posted in blogs, Digital printing, graphic design, publishing, Uncategorized

The Top 10 Essentials for Scanning Documents

scannerA scannerB


The digital age sees movement of paper-based to screen-based documents. Our scanning services have seen more than 250,000 pages go in this direction. So, what are the essentials about this service that you need to know? We offer a few below:

  1. Surpise! Scanning is boring and tedious work. stressed businessmanThat means concentration is crucial if you want the best and fastest results. Not every page is simple black and white text. Some charts and graphs have color-coding, and must be scanned that way or the data is lost!
  2. Good Basics. Even a low-resolution scan will give you great results, because you can enlarge and manipulate the image.
  3. Paper Wrangling. Remember how annoying it is to copy a wrinkled original?
    english bulldog surrounded by pink feathers
    Got Wrinkles?

    Well, the same is true for scanning at high speeds. Poor originals mean poor scans, but at least the scan won’t degrade the same as paper.

  4.  Do it now. Planning to scan your paper records? Don’t wait! With each passing day, your paper files deteriorate; paper clips rust, rubber bands turn to glue and the paper yellows.
  5.  Media Expiration. First there were floppy disks, then magnetic tape, then CD’s, then DVD’s, then thumb-drives, then cloud computing. Who knows what’s next? Be prepared. Convert paper to digital then keep current with the latest method for file storage.
  6.   File Management. Almost as boring as scanning thousands of pages, but just as important. Organize your files as you would your file cabinet, if that’s what comforts you. Label and date each PDF or groups of PDF’s. A file scanned and saved that is impossible to find is really data lost!
  7. Back up Your Back up. Test your back up media, then shred the paper.
  8. Store your data safely. Keep your disks, thumb-drives, DVD’s, etc away from heat, light, magnetic influence, water and chemicals. If your data is in the cloud, retrieve and test it regularly.Clouds and Green Field
  9.    Scan Schedule. Plan to scan on a certain date or when paper files reach a pre-set size.
  10.   Enjoy! Open your file drawers with ease. Send digital copies by e-mail or ftp. Then, relax. (We have a free file transfer system, as well: Send BIG files! )


Ok. You are ready to scan, but what about the cost?

Over the past few years, we’ve found some interesting short cuts and money saving tips to take the pain out of the scan.

Size Doesn’t Matter. Taking odd size items, like maps, receipts, notes and the like and arranging them together on the scanner results in one image. HandNoteNo need to paginate them, correct?

Two for One. Our scanners will auto feed up to 11”x17” converting two 8.5×11 pages into one scan.

Scan as You Go. We scan in blocks of a few hours, then organize the files, copy onto storage media and test. ThumbdriveEasy to stop and resume.

Bad Scan/Good Scan. Sometimes the paper original is in deplorable condition. If so, we crank up the scanner to 600 dpi or more. The image will show every blemish, wrinkle and color. Sometimes the text or image is so light, it cannot be read. In that case, we lower the dpi and increase the contrast, thus eliminating the background and amplifying the image.

PaperClipPaper Slow, Scan Fast. As in paper copies, scanning is delayed by the condition of the originals. Removing paper clips, staples, folds, wrinkles, binders, clamps, plastic covers, etc, all add to the cost of scanning.




High-Volume Pricing. stock investmentAs with printing and copying, scanning has economy of scale, that is, the more we scan, the lower the rate.


Thanks for scanning this article!


Posted in Uncategorized

QR Codes Being Scanned at Home


iStock_000020199699XSmall-300x211Want to hear a surprising statistic? New research by Nielsen (“Mobile Shopping Report” 2013) shows that two-thirds of smartphone shoppers and four out of five shoppers on tablets do their shopping at home.  That’s right — they are using their mobile devices to shop right from their couches.

Not only this, but these “mobile at home” shoppers are more likely than not to make their actual purchases from home, too. Ninety-five percent of tablet shoppers and 72% of smartphone shoppers who make a purchase do so from home, according to the study.

This is yet another reason to incorporate QR Codes with back-end shopping content or links into your printed marketing materials.

In fact, in a 2011 MobiLens study that still reflects consumers’ mobile behavior today, comScore found that 60% of people scanned QR Codes from home. The most popular hours of scanning? Midday and early evening between the hours…

View original post 163 more words

Posted in blogs, creative writing, Digital printing, graphic design, newsletters, printing, publishing, small business, Uncategorized, web design

I Like Cod Liver Oil and Ad Books

IMG_1050I pondered a good way to start the New Year: eat healthy while preparing to reduce stress at work.

First, have a shot of Icelandic cod liver oil with breakfast. Delicious, with a taste similar to a liquefied, low-salt anchovy. But, like many things and habits that are presumably good for you, this is not an experience I look forward to.

Second, write a guide to organizing, designing, managing, printing and distributing ad books for fund-raising. Delicious, and it helps strengthen the health of an organization. It’s good for me and you, but assembling ad books normally gives everyone agita.

So, as an expansion of our guide to “Program and Ad Books” page on our website, Capitol Copy Service, here are some observations and ideas that are good for you and the health of your organization:

Program books have the dual purposes of benefitting supporters and promoting your organization.

♦        Too often, ad book authors/compilers forget that it is about their company, organization or special event.guyreadingflop Would you like to read and keep an entire booklet consisting only of ads and promos? Neither would I. So, include something about your firm: history, goals, photos from the past, and, don’t forget to explain where the ad dollars will be going.

♦      Some advertisers and sponsors really don’t care about the ad; they just give you a dollar commitment so you’ll go away. But, I like to think they really do care, and for this reason we cheerfully design a basic ad for them. Then, when you solicit their support the next time, you can show them how wonderful they are!

♦       It’s a great idea to offer sponsorship “bundles” with each level of ads, giving sponsors key ad placement, extra recognition on signage or maybe carving their name in a watermelon fruit basket at the banquet table.watermelonshadow

♦       Always accept a paid ad, regardless of deadline. Sometimes printers (like us) can work miracles and squeeze in an ad. Or, do an insert. Or, design a small table sign for them. Or, make mention of the advertiser as part of the live program.

♦       Take a tip from public TV and radio: ask that everyone support the advertisers that purchased ad space. Connecting people as customers, vendors, advertisers and promoters is always a worthwhile goal! cheerleader

Program Books Want and Need a Healthy Dose of Planning

♠       Nearly every adbook we’ve done in thirty years concludes with crunch time at deadline. I guess it’s unavoidable but planning does help. Start with the date and time you need the adbook and work backwards. (We can help with production schedules: business concept.

♠        Have an awesome rate sheet. Not only does it give the ad shopper options, it also shows how serious you are about pursuing support. Sample ads, layout templates and previous adbooks help you sell. (We’ll customize one just for you:

♠       Payment in advance or with an ad order is the best policy but not always realistic. Go with an ad placement deadline, ad copy deadline and a separate or concurrent payment deadline and aim to wrap up everything before the date of your event.

♠        Allow yourself some sit-down time to assemble the book. paperpileWho gets the center-spread? Where does the event program go? Should a menu be given a page? Will there be stunning photos of me on the outside back cover? Can I find text and logos for ads on the advertiser’s website? No need to sweat the details at this point; just get a feel for the elements of your booklet.

Multi-Source; Slice and Dice Your Booklet

♣     No reason to keep your ad book a secret. Plunge it right into social media, as a polished PDF or in bits and pieces.

♣      Recent trends show that some print adbooks are less of a focus, favoring a PowerPoint or video showcase of advertisers. (We’ll design one for you.)

♣        Build momentum by thanking newest sponsors on your Facebook page.68051_10151509108346729_1731694342_a I’m sure they’ll agree to that. It can’t hurt to reciprocate endorsements, either.

♣       Write a blog article on how you blossomed as an ad book orchestrator.  conductor

I’ll read, follow and recommend that!

♣       Post stories, photos or comments from your ad book on other blogs, LinkedIn LinkedIn_Logo60pxor sponsor webpages.

Follow-Through and Follow-Up

♥       You are a considerate person with a pleasing personality. So, I know you’ll send thank you’s to all your advertisers, supporters and participants! Tell them how well the event fared and how much you value their contribution. You’re welcome.

♥    Like Dickens said of Christmas: the spirit is not what comes for one day alone, but throughout the rolling year..  And so it is for your sponsored program book; plan for the next one as you conclude the present one.

Now, I’m off to have a second shot of Cod Liver Oil. It’s good for me.

Thanks for reading.

Posted in blogs, business lunch, creative writing, Digital printing, dining out, graphic design, printing, publishing, small business, small business sales, trenton nj, trenton restaurants

Highlight of My Day? Lunch!


Well, not really. But it is something I look forward to each business day. While pondering this blog title, I stumbled upon an old review by Small Business Trends:


Matchmaking business lunch.

The recent expansion of LetsLunch builds on the fairly common blending of eating and doing business. What’s not to like?

You Can’t Eat Social Media

So, either you or your organization has an awesome social media strategy. You’re immersed in LinkedIn updates 24/7. And, you cross-post on a variety of platforms. Is there something missing? As we stress in our Social Media seminars: “never forget you are connecting with people. It’s hard work making and keeping friends on line or off.”  Here are some reasons to try LetsLunch, or something like it:

  • –        People like doing business with people they know
  • –        Lunch helps a conversation blossom in a way the web-based cannot
  • –        Networks will expand through mutual introductions
  • –        Conversations are more confidential
  • –        Real connections mean better understanding
  • –        Opportunity to sample new restaurants and foods

Often, lunch is brown-bag or fast food, as time permits. But, they can be shared as well. One of our paper sales reps dropped by and we both brown-bagged lunch, chatted about new products and services and saved the time and expense of a restaurant.

Martini.jpgThe Three Martini Lunch

Because we use a variety of machines in our business, it’s not a good idea to operate them “under the influence.” But, there are many other options for the business lunch. Our local Downtown Deli is a favorite spot for a meet and greet. Despite being busy and crowded, there is always a place to talk without shouting.

More formally, Trattoria Rosa Bianca  in Yardley offers a relaxed atmosphere where you are certain to linger, (if only for the fresh and unique dishes they create!)

Are You in Silicon Valley?

If so, we’re not having lunch anytime soon. But, if you are within the Mercer County, NJ area, why not form a local chapter of LetsLunch or something similar, like Highlight, Banjo or Grubwithus? LetsLunch emphasizes the business/professional purpose of the midday repast, as compared to the others. Truthfully, you don’t really need a social media platform to organize a business lunch. For about two years, I was part of an informal business lunch group we called TABLED: Trenton Area Business Leaders Eating and Drinking. Appointments were made by e-mail blasts and texting, with good results.

Restaurants, of course, should have a vested interest in social dining groups, and we should encourage them to develop geographic loyalty. In addition, sharing their menus online helps with planning the business lunch and saves time.

AppleGirlBottom Lines and Waistlines

I know; there are those who worry about the expense and the additional calories. So here are some suggestions to help overcome those fears:

  • –        Limit the number of lunches each week
  • –        Order less, or less filling food
  • –        Walk to lunch
  • –        Have a brown-bag business lunch in a park or in a food court
  • –        Order the lunch specials, which are frequently smaller and less costly
  • –        Remember the purpose of your business lunch.

Do Not Click On This Photo if You Are Over 30.


Anyway, here are 10 ways to make your lunch break more productive, even if you are over 30: Productive Lunch

Thanks for reading. Lunch anyone?



(First 3 Photos © Trattoria Rosa Bianca, 2013. Used with permission)
Posted in Digital printing, graphic design, printing, publishing, trenton nj, Uncategorized, web design

Toy or Tool? It’s Printing in 3D!

Well, if you ask me, it is both. But, no one can disagree that 3D printing is a current wave trending into the future.MC910216995[1]

Some of my colleagues went to the Chicago 3D Printing Conference recently, and brought back some key points that need to be shared about this rapidly expanding technology. So, here you are, in digest form:

Demos from the Conference

  • 3D printers create objects from computer models, building them layer by layer, using dozens of different materials.  Printers are priced between a few hundred to a quarter million dollars.
  •  Because an industry patent will expire next year, more low-cost 3D printers with more features will become available. This will mean new products can be copied, such as auto parts, jewelry and (gasp!) human tissue.
  •  As more 3D printers and products increase, prices will fall.

Here’s a neat way to copy a wrench:

So, you may ask, what can a 3D printer do for me?

The fastest growing market is household items, such as replacement parts for appliances, or things commonly made from ABS plastic, namely bottle openers, shower curtain rings, paper towel holders, iPad stands, iPhone cases, toys, spoons, lamps, and cups. In business, 3D printing is important, supplying models for architects, engineers and the creative arts, as well.

And, what will 3D printing do for me?

Already possible and do-able but maybe not so affordable just yet—3D printers are producing artificial limbs, bikinis, buildings, furniture, an Urbee car, guns (yikes!) and in some form, food. Look here:


But wait, not so fast. The news is not all good.

There are downsides and detours that make this phenomenon less accessible, less affordable…such as:

  • There is no economy of scale, meaning the cost per piece is the same whether it is 1,000 of one object or one of 1,000 different ones. (Unlike printing 2D, where the cost per piece lowers as quantity increases)
  • There is no awesome app that would make 3D mainstream and easy to use
  • A simple and low-cost way to scan, then replicate an object is not yet available
  •  Most low-end 3D printers produce unfinished items that need to be smoothed, sanded or polished to be complete.
  • Computer Aided Design (CAD) files are the source of 3D printing instructions, but are not simply Plug ‘n Play. Files need to be tweaked, tested and reworked for the proper results.    MP900385572[1]
  • Most traditional 3D CAD software is limited in its ability to easily create 3D printable designs such as recognizing the layer below an object’s surface, printing multiple colors, printing with multiple materials along with considering the proper orientation of the object to be printed.  As a simple example, a properly 3D designed pyramid needs to identify the extent to which the inside is hollow, completely solid or MC910216342[1]somewhere in between.

Then again, every new technology has growing pains.

Need more info on this subject? Need 3D printing? Have a question or comment? Think this is all nonsense or inaccurate? Post a comment or send me an e-mail:

Thanks for reading.


Posted in blogs, creative writing, Digital printing, graphic design, newsletters, political fundraising, printing, publishing, Uncategorized, web design

Psychopaths and the Cost of Proofreading: Be Bored for a While, Rewarded Later

Here’s an expensive mistake: A town in New Jersey was applying for grant money to develop a public park. The grant application was done by converting voice to text. Some words sound the same, as is in this sentence:

“The park will have many psychopaths….” (say it out loud and it could easily be cycle paths, as intended).bikegirl2

Sadly, the grantor did not have a sense of humor.

So, what of it? Have you ever done any proofreading? Now, more than ever, with Twitter, texting and e-blasts, proofing your text and images is critical. Clicking on words that link elsewhere compounds the importance.

How many times have you clicked on an image only to be whisked away to an unrelated site?


How many times have you clicked on a sale offer and then landed on some FAQ or Home Page?


How many times have you typed an e-mail address that bounced back as undeliverable?


How many times have you clicked on an icon that responded “not found”?


Blame it on the lack of proofreading and testing.

Proofreading is a big issue in our business of graphic design, printing, website creation and signage. When rushed, most people give a quick glance at a proof without really checking phone numbers, dates, links, e-mail addresses or captions. Sometimes we catch errors, but most often there is no way of knowing the correct spelling of proper names.

With the power of MSWord and other programs, there are tools available to help you avoid errors, automatically proof and make it easier to catch mistakes.

Here is a great blog article that sums it up, with some neat tricks I never thought of:

Proofreading – 28 Step Guide to Doing it Right

A Middle Eastern woman lying down reading

Even the comments are helpful.

Still think proofreading is a forgettable chore? Some errors are almost earth-shattering. This misfired Tweet nearly caused a catastrophe:

City of Yokohama Mistakenly Tweets of North Korean Missile Launch


The most common (usually not earth-shattering) mistakes we encounter are with business cards, for a simple reason: most text is unique, so the “burden of proofing” falls on the business cardauthor.

The second most common text error is the calendar day does not match the date or the year has not been updated. These are basic error and ones which are easily overlooked.

We all know that once something is printed, posted on a website or sent via social media, it is very expensive and difficult to correct. (If the faux pas is serious enough, we suggest posting an “apology video”). But there are other costs along the way that are caused by not editing and proofreading thoroughly, before it goes to a designer:


  • –        Added time for layout when text and graphics are added or deleted
  • –        Time and costs for additional proofs
  • –        Time needed to share with other editors, writers and proofreaders
  • –        Re-reading previously proofed copy
  • –        Re-sizing graphics to make them fit
  • –        Expanding or shrinking the number of paper or web pages
  • –        Pushing deadlines
  • –        General increase in irritability!

So, maybe the next time you compose that business e-mail, or look at your new business card content, or finish writing that eloquent article for a newsletter or blog, just hesitate a moment before you hit “send” and re-read. You may save the world a lot of trouble!


Thanks for reading. And proofreading. Corrections welcome. I’m not perfek.



Posted in Digital printing, graphic design, political fundraising, trenton nj

That Warm and Fuzzy Feeling In Small Business.

“Message to small business owners around the world: If you want to be loved, move to America.”


What a great lead for an article about a normally boring topic! Well, it caught my eye, so I clicked on it, landing on Small Business Trends:Trust. The article highlighted two bits of research on how people feel about big and small business in different countries.

No food, no sex, but maybe a nice lump of trust.


smilegirl  In the business of print-copy-design-websites, not much can be thought of as “appetizing” or “sexy” and therefore, it is a challenge to be of interest in the social media. But, for every printing press there is a skilled operator, for every graphic design assignment there is a person thinking creatively, for every mundane mass mailing there is someone concentrating on getting it done accurately and quickly. Maybe this is a yawn, but it does earn your trust. And, judging from the article, customer trust is what we small companies earn.

Big or Small, Cheap or Costly

So, why do people trust small businesses more than large ones? I can’t speak for industries other than my own, so here are some reasons we have been given in the form of customer feedback:

–        Personal service. We tend to know, face-to-face, each one of our customers, including followers of this blog.

–        Each customer and each order is important because the customer volume is small.

–        Low error rates. (goals of large corporations actually set a high error rate expectation)

–        A good business relationship: anticipating upcoming orders, solving problems before they happen and knowing what is expected.

–        Part of the fabric of the community: we go to PTA meetings, buy Girl Scout Cookies, volunteer for local events, vote, and pay local taxes.

–        Honesty. The study showed people believed that big business is far more fraudulent and corrupt than small business. Surprise! We agree.

Is it all good? Not really. There is a downside to being small, also gleaned from feedback:


–        Pricing is somewhat higher or inconsistent on some items.

–        We are not equipped to serve a large number of walk-in customers.

–        Though orders may be placed online 24/7, our public hours are weekdays, 9-5.

–        We do not have a legal department, a sales department, an accounting department, a fleet of delivery trucks, or a waiting room with Hi-Def tv and espresso.

Deadline Driven

Like many businesses, government agencies, non-profits, and many individual consumers, our products and services are subject to deadlines, due dates and time crunches. “Not enough people or resources to get things done in the time allowed,” is a lament we hear frequently.  And, lateness is not an option. Consider:

An ad book delivered after the event? Trash.

A website that has not been updated since dial-up? Sad.

An e-newsletter opened with last month’s save-the-dates? Useless

A 5-foot high poster snapped in half by Hurricane Sandy? Well, maybe insurance will cover it.

You get the point. Trust applies in all cases. And, it’s a good reason for having a 4-wheel drive delivery vehicle.

What About Tomorrow?    binocs

Part of customer trust relates to the permanence of the company. Many businesses fail within the first five years. You would probably not buy from a company if you knew it was teetering on bankruptcy. Big businesses tend not to disappear but to be acquired, absorbed, merged or re-invented, often without advance notice to the general public. But the rule is the same for big and small: adapt or die. We are not the same business we were in year one and neither are you. Simply stated, we change with you or because of you.

Thanks for reading. (And trusting)


Posted in Digital printing, graphic design, trenton nj, Uncategorized

Outsourcing: I Can’t Do it All!

My first job was in government research and grant proposal writing.

copierThe small firm I worked for started with a Xerox machine the size of a refrigerator. It made about 2 copies a minute. I spent a lot of time with that machine. It kept me warm at night while I copied hundreds of pages that needed to be submitted before an unshakable deadline. But, was that the highest and best use of my time? Could I have been of more value to the company writing and doing research? One thing was certain: you could not seek new clients while running a copier in the back room.

The same principle applies today. Should you be managing your own e-mail campaigns? Can your organization’s image best be presented with a do-it-yourself website?  Do you really have so much available work time that you can spend hours on line designing your own business card?

I know you can do it all. It’s the independent spirit we were all born with. But, there are times you need help. We at Capitol Copy outsource or sub-contract when it makes good economic sense and is clearly more efficient. We can fix machines and trouble-shoot computer problems, but only to a point. Our goal is to meet customer demands, not fix things. So, we have a support team that helps keep us up and running. Sometimes a print job is just too large for us to do profitably so we rely on other vendors to the trade, with the same end result: deadline met and production quality preserved.

So, what is good or bad about outsourcing?

First, the bad news

√        You give up some control of your operations

√       Security and information management could be at risk

Businesspeople in Meeting

√        Added expense to your bottom line

√        Oversight and coordination of tasks is required

And now, for the good news!

♥       Gives you a great opportunity to explore new products and services with minimal risk

Office workers in meeting

♥       Less staff to be hired over the long term

♥        Frees up your time to focus on priorities

♥        Reduces repetitive tasks

♥        Potential for huge savings for one-time or highly specialized services

♥        Cost savings on overhead

♥        Get things done: faster, better, cheaper

What was that again? “A great opportunity with minimal risk?” Yes, that can happen. For example, we sensed an increase in demand for posters and signs, especially for trade shows, conventions, meetings, etc.  We were providing the printing and web-based design, but there were frequent requests for display products. So, we first offered that service as a broker, built up the market and then bought the equipment to produce all of it in-house. Faster, better, cheaper…..and more profitable.


A few cautionary pointers before you outsource. Here they are:

√        Be fully aware of what you are paying for. If there is any doubt about the services or products you expect, draft an agreement, unless the subcontractor normally provides one.

√        Be certain that outsourcing is consistent with your organization’s image and goals.

√        Agree on a payment schedule and terms. You are your subcontractor’s client; they do not work for your clients.

√        Since it is your name and reputation at stake, see who takes responsibility for any meltdowns, missed deadlines, uneven quality and the like.

√        In some cases, a close working relationship between two firms raises questions about copyright, ownership, creative control, and liability. If this is an area of concern to you, seek an attorney’s opinion or rethink outsourcing.

√        Be wary of outsourcing online services to someone in a foreign country. They are subject to a different set of laws, if any. Do your research before e-mailing them a username and password. Is there a physical address? A phone? Trusted referrals?

More info?  SeeSBTrends Small Business Trends.

Now, get back to thinking great thoughts with fewer burdens!

Thanks for reading.