4 Business Philosophies to Guide You in 2021
I think we will agree that it is a great time to turn the page on 2020. As we now find ourselves well underway in 2021, it is a good time to take stock of starting the year ahead. In my lifetime, I do not recall a more transformational new year. Traditionally, we have all used the official fresh start to implement New Year’s resolutions and think about new beginnings in both our professional and personal lives. However, this year is a record-breaker for new beginnings. Here are just a few:
- The beginning of mass inoculations to fight a global pandemic.
- The challenges associated with the inauguration of a new president and his administration.
- The early phases of economic revival of the greatest country on Earth.
Any one of these would be considered a significant event in its own right. But, combined, it is a once-in-a-lifetime period. As I do each year, I first reflect on my experiences of the previous year, then, using the benefit of having had those experiences, I make plans for the new year. Last year confirmed several important business philosophies for me:
1. It is critical for businesses to remain as operationally efficient as possible. When founding Smart Source in 2003, my vision was to create a company that was based on outsourcing, on behalf of our valued clients as well as much of our internal functionality. This strategy has served us well over the years. It has allowed to flex in size, up or down, as circumstances have changed. This directly assists in controlling costs, which in turn has been the foundation of our ongoing financial strength.
2. The only constant is change. All of us, whether we’re on the supplier side or distributor side, serve an industry that is fraught with change. Changes in products (I don’t think many of us are moving a large volume of green bar continuous paper these days), changes in technology, changes in the needs of customers, changes in the needs of a new generation of employees—I could go on.
As organizations, as well as individuals employed by those organizations, we have the choice of adopting and adapting to the changes that are occurring around us, or to stagnate in our careers. We owe it to ourselves, our families and our companies to be as relevant as possible to the customers we serve, by striving to stay ahead of changes that are imminent. An example of being nimble in recognizing changing need would be Smart Source, like many in our industry, making the strategic decision to pivot to PPE products last March. As a result, we finished 2020 substantially ahead of 2019, which has positioned us for further growth and expansion in 2021.
3. Seize opportunities as they present themselves. Coming from a family business that grew to become one of the largest companies and employers in our industry, I learned that opportunities have many different looks and shapes. Entering the pandemic, I realized that we had two options: hunker down or look for growth areas for the sake of post-pandemic positioning. Today, I am pleased to say that we chose the latter. This strategy comes with its share of stress, but like everything else in life, the greater the risk, the greater the reward. Thanks to the Smart Source leadership team, we are positioned to hit the ground running, as economic recovery is firmly underway.
4. We are truly a small community. I grew up in the industry. I have many dear friends who are sprinkled across it. I know that, for many, 2020 was an extremely difficult year on levels professional, personal and otherwise. Our partnerships between suppliers and distributors are more important now than ever before. None of us know what the “new normal” will look like, either from the perspective of our industry or society in general. We do know that our end-users’ needs will be evolving as the recovery continues. We have an obligation to one another to be in constant communication regarding new products and services in an attempt to stay ahead of needs our clients may not even have yet.
There is no question that our future is bright. Our nation has been resilient since it was founded. The American spirit has always fostered entrepreneurism. It will be the true rainmakers who are quick to identify unique pockets of need, just waiting for solutions to be introduced, as we move into 2021 and beyond. In the ’80s and ’90s, we heard that digital media and a paperless society would kill our businesses. I am thrilled to see the industry Top Distributors lists that prove year in and year out that we are not only not declining, but continuing to thrive through innovation and creativity.
Here’s to a great 2021!
Thomas D’Agostino Jr. is the founder and CEO of Smart Source LLC. Tom is an entrepreneur and a leading businessman with a passion for excellence and a dedication to success for both his colleagues and his customers. Many of his employees have been with him for decades. Tom has been a notable figure in the print and promo industry for 25 years. He founded Smart Source in 2003, with the vision of optimizing the changes in the print industry and offering a top-of-the-line outsourcing model to clients across all verticals. Since then, his company has grown exponentially, in 2020 ranking as the fifth-largest print distributor and 37th-largest promotional products distributor by 2019 revenue.