Question: Cut During COVID, Now Flying Solo


A Distributor Asks: I recently lost my job due to COVID-19-related department cuts, so I’ve decided to move forward on my own. I’ve been in the industry for almost 10 years. What is your best advice for me moving forward?

Pick one or two suppliers in all categories. Get to know them and have them know you, and become very loyal. You will be surprised how much that will help. Don’t sell by price, sell by service. You will win and do very well. 

Dave Holden
Printasaurus, LLC
Fresno, California
PPAI 660679, D3

I’ve been on my own and with companies at different times over the last 20-plus years. You will have more paperwork to do, but you also keep more of the profit. At the end, you can sell less and make more, but you need to deal with everything. It can go either way any day of the week.

Jay Shaplin, MAS
Vendor Relations Manager
Sonic Enterprises LLC
Gaithersburg, Maryland
PPAI 288270, D3

If you have sufficient capital and can hang in long enough to really get started, you should be fine starting on your own. The ultimate question to ask may be, “Do you have enough confidence in yourself, and are you willing to put everything on the line to succeed?” Many don’t have that confidence and end up just working for others.

Chris Pollan
Owner and President
Pollan Promos
Starkville, Mississippi
PPAI 276409, D2

This is such a great industry for going off on your own. Never has it been better. The best advice I can give is just start. You have to make mistakes to understand what works.

Gene Hamzhie
Founder and CEO
FireSprint Printing
Omaha, Nebraska

I had the same thing happen to me three years ago. Started my own company and haven’t looked back. Even in the COVID time I did well … switched to PPE and sold it like crazy when needed. Good luck. Good administration skills, good business management knowledge and accounting skills are strong skills that I have. That with marketing and sales skills I have made it a success. You've got this. Go for it and if you have the startup capital to do it, you will be fine.

Cindy Powell
President and Owner
Creative Specialties LLC
Denver, Colorado,
PPAI 728704, D2

Have an accountant set up your chart of accounts and help you set up your QuickBooks so, at the end of year one, the books are perfectly ready for tax season. Many years ago, I did it myself and guessed on where to put which category, and it was a hot mess at the end of the year. Now, I have a sales tax lady log in each month on my behalf and pay my sales tax; our accountant logs in  when I have a question. I still reconcile each bank account and credit card account myself.

Sarah Burgers
Clever Promotional Products
Lehigh Acres, Florida

Same thing happened to me years ago. I was involved in the promo industry, not in sales, but in graphics, and I started my own home-based business. Best advice I can give is go in with a positive attitude and look at it as an opportunity for being your own boss.

Dale Moorhouse
Owner and Graphic Designer
Pro Graphics
St. Thomas, Ontario

I did it 14 years ago! Best thing I ever did. I’ve made three times more profit than I could ever have made working for a distributor. I wish you good luck in this future endeavor; I recommend it highly.

David Warner
President and Owner
Golden Glove Promotions KT
Hummelstown, Pennsylvania
PPAI 349860, D1

First question, did you sign a non-compete? If yes, consult with an attorney.

Dana Maddoux Choate, MAS
MAX Marketing Company
Conroe, Texas
PPAI 492313, D2   


Do You Have An Answer?

A Distributor Asks: In looking for ways to expand my business and relate to different prospective clients, I’ve recently become interested in starting a podcast. Having never done something like this before, and as someone who is not the most tech-savvy, do you have any suggestions as to where/how I should get started? 

A Distributor Asks: I’m totally new to TikTok, but I want to see if there’s potential to use it to market my business. Any suggestions on what and how to use it?

What’s Your Answer? 

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Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.

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