When Dr. William (Will) Scott, a business professor at the University of Southern California*, retired at 55 from his position at the school, he took his skills with him to start his own business. As a tenured professor teaching Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship, he had spent his career researching, publishing, and instructing the future entrepreneurs of America on how to open their own businesses or manage other businesses. From start-up to supply chain management, to finance, to small business courses, Dr. Scott lived and breathed the subject for decades.
As one of the leaders in his research field, he consistently won awards for Entrepreneurship research published during his 30-year career. It only made sense for him to utilize all of his knowledge and skills to do something with them by starting his own business after he took his retirement from the University. That was the year that Scott’s Surf and Skate Shop was born in Leucadia, CA.
Scott’s Surf and Skate Shop
Will had always been a surfer since he was a kid growing up on the beaches of SoCal. In fact, one of the reasons he took early retirement was that he wanted to spend the remainder of his life never missing a day at the beach like he did when he was teaching. And since he retired with a good pension and investments, he decided to combine his love of surfing with his love of entrepreneurship by purchasing a beachfront house and retail location on Hwy 101 just north of Del Mar.
After a year of working hard on the storefront and networking with all his buddies in the area, he had a huge inventory of new and used boards of all kinds for surfing, bodyboarding, skateboarding, and more. He employed his nephew, Andy to handle all his social media. He developed a mailing list of about 5,000 fans and friends that would come in regularly for sales, events, and parking lot skate-offs. Will threw block parties, hosted beach surf competitions, had instructors that worked out of his shop to teach surfing and skating, and offered repairs in the back of his shop.
Changing for Success
Scott’s Surf and Skate Shop was hugely successful from the get-go. Yet, he had very few employees and a very limited number of partnerships as he was very hands-on and wanted to do a lot of the work himself. One could find him behind the counter chatting it up with the local surf bums on any given day of the week. He was kind of a legend and folks looked up to him and his contributions to the industry in the area.
When he began doing layaway, offering credit for purchasing gear, and doing mailings for his events in addition to social media, he had to decide how to handle all his accounts payable, invoicing, billing, and mailing list printings. He’d already outsourced his accounting needs with a friend that was also retired and could do most of the work from home. But when it came time to print his own invoices and bills, Will kept most of his work in-house, until his business grew to the point that it was too labor-intensive to handle alone.
The Search for Partnerships
He also wanted to print and distribute flyers, brochures, and printed invitations for events monthly and really wanted an edge over the competition to make them graphically spectacular, which was more expert than he could do himself. His nephew suggested a graphic designer friend of his to design invoices, bills, statements, brochures, and flyers to have proper branding and the company logo.
Once they were designed and ready to print, Will had to decide how he was going to print them on an ongoing basis. He checked out local places like Kinkos (now FedEx) and a few independent print shops, but their prices were too high and their service was unreliable with a consumer first-come-first-served policy. He began researching the best online printing and mailing specialists in the country.
Will thought that he needed to find a partner with which to outsource his printing and mailing to simplify things. From his years of teaching, he knew he could find a place that would be able to handle everything he sent, in large batches, and print and mail all his items within 24 hours of creating and uploading to the server. He wanted to be able to literally upload and go, with little back and forth, so he had to find a talented group with stellar printing capabilities at a competitive price.
Outsourcing As Access to Excellence
Will knew from his years of teaching that removing oneself from low-level operations was the smartest investment he could make in the long-term success of his business. His final responsibility as a successful outsourcer was to step back, relinquish control, and allow his new team members to do the job he’d hired them to do. According to the experts he’d read about and taught about his whole career, you need some measure of trust, and if you are just going to micromanage all of your outsourcing, the savings in management attention and time that is the whole point of outsourcing is lost.
It’s less about logistics and entirely about mindset. Many owners take pride in having the world on their shoulders and their entire organization buried in their minds. To his students Will always recommended outsourcing from the very beginning for very small businesses. In his classes, he would suggest starting out with a bookkeeper and a virtual assistant and growing the team from there. In his own business, Will grew to contract with a virtual bookkeeper, a web designer, a ghostwriter, a graphic designer, an executive assistant, a project manager, and an online print and mailing specialist, Towne Mailer.
How Did It Work for Scott’s Skate and Surf Shop?
When Will outsourced with Towne Mailer, what he found was that he no longer had to be involved in doing anything beyond working the shop, planning the events, and watching his team succeed. For a small business, he was successful because he let go of the mundane, repetitive tasks and let the experts in their field contribute to his success by providing the most excellent printing and mailing services available in the industry. His education gave him the tools to know when it was best to hire out services that required a certain niche, with specialized equipment and expertise needed to be the best.
Will would send his graphic designer all the files needed to get going on a project. His virtual accountant would also send all the files to his graphic designer for logos and print payout. Once the graphic designer streamlined and designed everything, he would reach out to Towne Mailer through email and summarize all the projects to be done, with timelines, dates, files names, and numbers of each to be mailed. He would upload the contact files and a test document of each type of product needed. One of Towne Mailer’s friendly representatives would get the documents uploaded and check them for accuracy. They would send the graphic designer a proof of the document. Once it was approved by the graphic designer, Towne Mailer would mail out all the printed documents in 24-hours, guaranteed.
Will Scott was successful in his business because he knew how and when to partner and what areas to partner out with experts in the field. He eliminated the heavy burden of mundane, repetitive work from out of his shop, which freed him and his employees to focus on what they loved the most: surfing, selling, and servicing the locals with excellent customer commitment. Because Will trusted his partners, he was able to continue expanding, opening a second shop in Ocean Beach after only 2 years.
Though there are always risks, outsourcing ultimately offers a business owner the opportunity to build a team of skilled professionals without adding the expense of full-time employees. It’s an affordable, proven strategy for growing your business without letting it take over your life. Handing off work forces you to objectively, ruthlessly and systematically consider your activities and the steps taken to perform them. When you outsource, you can focus your time, attention and resources on your company’s core competencies, and spend your time setting new goals and finding ways to achieve them.
Towne Mailer is a specialty business printing and mailing service in Missoula, MT. With over a dozen employees and a huge 7,000 square foot state-of-the-art printing and mailing facility, Town Mailer excels at being the number one choice for the outsourcing of printing and mailing services in the country. Having business clients all over the US from small to large, Towne Mailer has perfected the art of providing world-class printing and mailing for every client we serve.
Using the highest quality technological equipment, Towne Mailer creates excellent prints every time. And the service at Towne Mailer is unmatched. With a strong focus on customer relations and delivering timely, perfectly formatted and printed material every time, Towne Mailer is the leader in our field. Reach out to us today and we will get you started on accessing excellence by outsourcing your printing and mailing to the experts.
*Name, location, University name, and details of the start-up business have been changed.