Fix These 6 Business Mindset Issues Right Now


As you evaluate how this year has been for your business, are you truly looking at every aspect of your shop? One aspect many business owners neglect is how you think about your business. You may need to reframe a few (or more than a few) ways of thinking to take your shop to the next level, but there are steps you can take to make this transformation happen. 

We’ve identified six of the most insidious mindset issues business owners fall into – and offer suggestions from the experts on how to break out of them now. You can rid yourself of this “stinking thinking” by taking the actionable steps outlined below and have a brighter and more successful 2023.

Mindset Challenge #1: “I know I should work on the business, but my team needs me to work in the business!”

The Problem: One of the biggest challenges owners face is the push-pull between working “on” their business vs. “in” the business. On one hand, you know you need to work “on” your shop, developing new product ideas and looking for new markets to target. On the other hand, it’s easy to abandon the “harder” visioneering work, getting pulled into the trenches alongside your employees, doing work you pay them to do.

The Solution: It’s helpful to periodically take a bird’s-eye view of your business to make sure you’re continually heading in the right direction.” says Michael Nova, director of Nova Custom Label Printing. “Here’s the reason: You might miss something that could become a larger problem later if you’re always in the trenches. For instance, if you lose sight of your overall financial position, you might find yourself on the brink of bankruptcy.”

Develop a forward-looking mindset where you tackle new challenges and goals to shake up the status quo. This may mean being uncomfortable with change or with slower employee production or employees that do things differently than you would.  To make a change, you need to set boundaries,  make sure your employees are well trained and motivated, and then let them do their jobs while you do yours. 

Mindset Challenge #2: “As the owner, I need to constantly be checking that my team is doing their work correctly.”

The Problem: When you’re the helicopter manager, you’re not focused on growing and expanding your business. You might come off as a controlling micromanager who doesn’t trust your employees to get their jobs done – this can create a hostile shop culture. Plus, you’re avoiding the real work of a business owner.

“The problem with this mindset is always feeling behind and stressed that all my to-dos aren’t getting done,” says Jessica Miller, CEO of Prestige Apparel. “While I don’t over-manage, I’ve always wanted my staff to know that I’ll work alongside them every step of the way. I finally realized I have to hire enough help to get things done right and in a timely manner. This has been such a huge shift for me, and I wish I did it sooner.”

The Solution: Give your staff room to do their jobs. You know where you want your business to be a year from now – so it’s on you to create the strategy and plan for that to happen. You’ll be the one to execute that plan throughout the year.

“Don’t put off hiring staff, since they’ll provide you the time to grow your business,” Miller says. “Their worth is way more than the money you pay them. Now, I  have staff on my team in specific positions who take so much off of my plate. It’s allowed me time to focus on the business. My incredible staff still knows I’m there for them every step of the way.” 

Mindset Challenge #3: “I must do everything myself! Asking for help comes off as weakness.”

The Problem: No one can do everything, especially in a business. You may own and run the business, but you know that it takes a team to create the best products and customer experience. “Even if you think you can do everything yourself, it’s impossible,” Nova says. “Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a natural part of doing business.”

This type of micromanaging and avoidance of the difficult work of creating a plan and direction won’t help your business. Your “endless hours” and “blood, sweat, and tears” may be useful when complaining about how hard you work,  but won’t get you the profits or success you want.  The idea is to work smarter, not harder, and to build a business that will pay you back. This also allows you to support your employees with careers, salaries and benefits.

The Solution: Hire skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced staffers, contractors or consultants in the areas you need them. You can’t be an expert at everything, so it’s important to surround yourself with experts,” Nova says. “For instance, I turn to an SEO expert for guidance, since this effort is extremely time intensive and you need to be on point to do it correctly.”  

Mindset Challenge #4: “Just my luck! Everything’s always such a problem for me!”

The Problem: Handling issues and challenges successfully is what separates strong businesses from the ones that go belly up. Everyone would be an entrepreneur if it were easy. As the owner, whatever the problem is, it’s your issue to tackle and resolve. 

A negative mindset is when you believe nothing ever goes right, and everything’s falling apart with no chance of fixing it. This attitude will easily and quickly land your business in more trouble. If you don’t believe you can rise above and create solutions for the problems you face, your staff and customers will come to lack trust and confidence in your and your business.  

Don’t think of “failure” as actual failure. You’ll probably fail many times before you achieve success, in both small and large challenges. Failure isn’t an end to your aspirations. Think of it as a series of stepping stones to success.

The Solution: Being positive doesn’t mean that you should act like everything’s perfect when it isn’t. Many psychologists now refer to that as “toxic positivity”—the idea you should only have good vibes. “It’s understandable that negativity can affect you, but there are certain exercises you can do on a daily basis to keep your mind focused on the positive,” Nova says. “What you focus on becomes your reality, so look at what’s going right and be grateful vs. focusing on what’s going wrong and letting it affect you.”

The same is true of mistakes: You can’t just wallow in them. Instead, reframe your problems. Don’t view it as being stuck. Ask yourself how you can use this as a learning opportunity and how you can handle this issue differently to avoid the same mistake in the future. 

With a positive mindset, you’ll also spread this attitude to your employees, improving your shop’s retention. “Celebrate victories with your staff,” Nova says. “Have one-on-one talks with each person to tell them what you value about them and how much you appreciate them. That alone will completely change how they see you.”

Mindset Challenge #5: “Our customers never know what they want! It makes everything take 10 times as long!”

The Problem: If you’ve ever caught yourself thinking or saying, “Customers don’t know what they want,” do you know what you’re really saying? While you may be paying lip service to customer care,  your attitude may convey that you don’t respect your customers enough to educate them. Or that you don’t value their feedback.  

The Solution: It’s your job as shop owner to educate your customers on how your decorated-apparel business works — after all, you’re the expert at what you do. So, you need to let them know what you need from them to move forward on an order, how you accept payments, how you process orders, what happens if they need a rush order and so on.

“This is our area of expertise and our responsibility to educate customers so they know what’s expected of them,” Nova says. “The good thing is, once you educate a client, when they come back, they’ll understand how it all works.”  Keep in mind, an educated client isn’t always one you’ll want to keep. If they won’t adhere to your processes and policies, you may have to show them the door. 

Finally, send feedback forms with each order so you can listen to your customers’ opinions whether positive or negative. Use this data to adjust your processes to accommodate their suggestions and observations.

Mindset Challenge #6: “I can’t possibly ask for 100% upfront payment. All my customers will jump ship!”

The Problem: Customers don’t have skin in the game and can change their minds with no repercussions.  If you produce 10 decorated-apparel orders and half of those clients pay late or refuse to pay, you’ll have a negative profit/loss statement.

The Solution:Our policy is that once a proof is approved, the payment is due in full,” Nova says. “We haven’t had any problems with our clients agreeing to this. The only clients you’ll lose are problems from the beginning.

With the 100% upfront payment practice – which more and more shops are embracing – you’re not carrying the cost of an order until completion. If a customer has paid upfront, it’s less likely they’ll cancel the order or try to change it.

The Right Mindset Sets the Foundation for Business Growth

Successful businesses have to grow and change. Growth is a big part of any profitable and positive business mindset.  To really evolve as a shop owner, you have to work at managing and creating growth daily. Resting on your laurels won’t build your business or increase your bottom line.  To grow your company, and yourself as a business owner,  set goals and challenges that help you combat, and conquer, the mindset issues listed above.

Top Business Resolutions for 2023


We’ve got 11 actionable resolutions aimed at helping you streamline your business operations – so you enjoy a more profitable and stress-free 2023. If you resolve to make your distributorship or print shop more efficient and productive, you’ll be able to scale easier than ever before.

New Year’s Resolutions to Build Your Business

Choose one, three, five or 11 of the resolutions we’ve outlined below. A single one might add a lot to your bottom line, as well as bring you lots of personal and professional fulfillment.

1. Review your products and services lineup to see if there’s anything you want to eliminate or add. Then, see what investments you need to plan to make that offering happen.
Since COVID-19 changed our life landscape, distributors and decorators have had to pivot to offer new products like masks, or set up online stores and then ship products directly to individual buyers. Heading into 2023, it’s no different. Here are some questions to ask yourself: 

    • Are there any products or services that are no longer relevant or popular with your customers? (These are ones to eliminate or scale way back.)
    • What products or services can you add that might be more relevant to what your buyers want or need now? (You can survey your customers to find out what’s on their radar. Also, look at your competitors’ sites.)

2. Add an automated chatbot to your ecommerce website.

More and more companies have started using chatbots to deliver better, more immediate customer service on the web. In fact, the chatbot market size is estimated to grow from $2.6 billion in 2019 to $9.4 billion by 2024. That’s in part because 82% of buyers say personalized customer care influences their loyalty – that includes conversations between the brand and the customer in a chat box. 

Adding a chatbot cuts some costs and streamlines the customer service process, experience and costs. The bot can provide immediate answers to basic questions 24/7 – prompting customers to take the next step in the ordering process. That can increase customer engagement and conversions. A chatbot won’t replace your human customer service reps; they’ll actually free up your staff to handle more complex questions or customer concerns. Shop owners also can gather data from chatbot interactions to learn more about their customers’ needs and behaviors. 

3. Look to influencer marketing as a cost-effective way to get your products and services in front of your target market.
Influencer marketing is a good place to focus your efforts with 89% of marketing pros saying it offers a comparable or better ROI than other marketing streams. Even more compelling, 10x more brands use micro-influencers vs. mega influencers, making it more affordable. Since 80% of consumers have made purchases from a favorite influencer’s recommendation, the key is to find influencers who your target audience follows. Nearly 74% of buyers would spend up to $629 in influencer-prompted purchases so there’s money to be made here. 

“Practice your due diligence if you venture into influencer marketing,” says Kristine Shreve, director of marketing at LynniePinnie Designs. “Research to be sure the influencer can really influence their audience and that their numbers are accurate. Anyone can say they’re an influencer, so seek independent proof.”


4. Explore how your business can use personalization in your customer experience and interactions in 2023.

If you’re not convinced that personalization is important, consider this stat: 89% of B2B buyers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations. However, about a third of consumers also worry about their data being misused, so it’s important to honor privacy and explain how you use the information they share. Achieving the right balance might be a work-in-progress, but prioritize this effort in the new year. Tailor product suggestions to returning customers on your site since 80% of people are more inclined to purchase from a company that offers tailored experiences. Work on emailing tailored marketing messages and offers as well – since 320 billion emails get sent every single day, and 72% of shoppers will only respond to personalized ones.


5. Renew your focus on achieving a work-life balance for you and your team – including the importance of remote work, hybrid schedules and flexible hours to your employees. 

The pandemic taught business owners a lot about what’s important to their teams. That’s why 85% of companies that decided to offer work-life balance programs and schedules report an increase in productivity. Take the time to learn about what’s most important to your employees so that they can live their best lives outside of work and then show up ready to perform in your shop. When employees have the opportunity to work a flexible schedule or remotely part of the time, 87% say, “Yes, please.” If you can offer hybrid working arrangements and stay productive, have at it.

“Flexibility is so important, especially since the pandemic,” Shreve says. “We’ve discovered work doesn’t have to happen only from 9-to-5 or only in one place. Working with employee schedules and allowing remote work when possible can open you to a greater range of employees and a wider field of service options for your customers. Operating this way requires greater trust and perhaps more coordination, but the results and quality of employees you can attract make it well worth the effort.”  


6. Consider how the “future is digital” – and how you can incorporate video “ease” into your business.

Have you added video components to meetings, events, employee onboarding and more? Since 2020, we’ve experienced a huge shift from in-person meetings and events to video-conferencing for almost everything: daily staff meetings, all-company meetings, employee onboarding, sales meetings and vendor chats. The change is mostly positive, no commute to meetings, and people could join in from all over the world. Video chats are a great way to touch base face to face with your employees and clients based nationwide. You can also hold virtual events and meetings that make it almost impossible to not RSVP with an “I’ll be there.”


7. Make it even easier for buyers to order from your website.

The new year is a great time to review your ecommerce website to make it even more attractive and functional for shoppers. Here are some areas to consider when you’re doing that first objective audit of your site:

    • Check out your site’s design aesthetic and branding.
    • Look at the overall navigational experience.
    • Review the copy, including your product descriptions.
    • See how effective your “why” and calls-to-action buttons are.
    • Evaluate if your SEO is working to attract organic traffic.
    • See how easy it is to order and check out on the cart page.


8. Focus even more on customer service, since clients value a friendly, efficient and highly personalized customer service experience.
The key here is learning about what’s most important to your customers and prioritize that in their journey with you. One easy way to do that is to have an online database that includes personalized information about each customer that your reps can easily access when buyers reach out. It’s also important to crunch that data to learn about your customers: Where did they first find you? What compelled them to buy? How do they like to communicate with you? What offers resonate most with them? What social media channels do they interact with you on the most? Do they buy from your ecommerce site, or do they want to place the order on the phone or in person?

“Customer service is so important and can’t be rote,” Sheve says. “The days of hard-and-fast rules and no flexibility are over. Customers want to know and trust the companies they buy from,  and customer service staff are your front line in that effort. Take the time to establish relationships with your customers, and be ready to help, even if the help doesn’t result in a sale for you. People remember those who help them, and while they may not buy this time, there’s every possibility a sale will come in the future.”  


9. Social media is one of the most critical tools in your arsenal – for exposure, interaction and engagement.

These platforms are still vital to your success, with 52% of people discovering new brands (like yours) on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or whatever site your target market likes. It’s always a good idea to do an audit to see what platforms you’re getting the most engagement on and beef up your posting and engagement schedule. You should pay attention to a newer widespread trend on social media: paid ads. They’re the number four way that people find out about new brands and products. If you want to target a younger demographic, 31% of Gen Zers learn about your products from these paid ads.  

“Remember that social media is a marathon, not a sprint,” Shreve says. “Do your research,  know who your target market is and where they are on social media, and then set up camp and settle in for the long haul. Don’t assume engagement will come quickly, but be confident it’ll come, if you provide good content, and are responsive and interact with your customers on their favorite platforms.”  


10. Market and sell through video content.

Trends indicate that people spend an average of 100 minutes a day watching video. Recipients are more likely to open your email if they read the word “video” in the subject line. A video on your landing page can increase conversions by up to 80%. And we love this: People are more likely to buy a product if they watched a video about it – and extra points if the video includes an influencer. Whether you set up a small video studio in your shop or simply shoot compelling videos with your smartphone, video is a must, not a maybe for your 2023 marketing plan. People aren’t looking for “flashy” videos; in fact, they’re more likely to respond to authentic content, like you showing how you ran a job of 500 screen-printed shirts on a rush order. Make it a point to learn about what types of content your buyers love to watch and create your video content calendar from there.


11. Embrace change – and work smarter, not harder.
If you’re into mindset work, you might have heard a business guru say things like, “Ditch the employee mindset if you’re the boss” or “You don’t get paid for your blood, sweat and tears.” Those are true things: People pay you for the end result – the value you provide and if you helped them achieve their goal. They really don’t care how long it took your team to print the shirts. Make this the year that you review your processes and procedures to remove bottlenecks. That way, your team can truly work smarter, not harder, in a less stressful atmosphere. You’ll likely see a boost in shop morale, with fewer daily “emergencies” to handle. 

Hire a consultant to help improve your business or attend educational conferences to learn and get inspired,” says JP Hunt, president and co-founder of InkSoft. “Join an entrepreneur networking group to make connections and learn from other like-minded business owners. Seek knowledge from experienced mentors and give back by sharing your experience.”


What to Do Today

You’ve got 11 actionable resolutions, with input from decorated-apparel industry experts. These suggestions should help you brainstorm how you can refresh your print shop or distributorship operations in 2023. 

Schedule and execute an all-hands offsite with your team to set achievable goals,” Hunt says. “Blend planning, strategy, goal setting, performance improvement and fun.”

The most important factors in making resolutions you can’t keep include:

    • Setting unrealistic goals as their resolutions
    • Setting so many resolutions that you can’t focus
    • Not tracking their progress
    • Not focusing on their resolutions or simply “forgetting” about them.

Instead, try this:

    • Choose a few, targeted, realistic goals you and your team can meet
    • Create actionable steps and track your progress for the whole shop to see
    • Focus on your resolutions and offer your team rewards for hitting those goals.

Decorate Outerwear Like a Pro


It’s definitely outerwear season! Jackets clock in at the top of many people’s wish list for branded outerwear – whether it’s from a company they’re associated with or a brand they love. If your clients are ready to invest in high-quality outerwear, there are many great styles with fashion, functional and performance features recipients crave. Add a stand-out logo or a name drop, and they’ll wear it for years.

A personalized or custom jacket that checks all the boxes gets kept for an average of 16 months, and probably longer, according to ASI research. During that time, a single jacket can score 6,100 impressions for your client’s brand. That makes outerwear a marketing investment with a great ROI, so be sure to pitch this category to your customers.

Ready for the skinny on how to recommend and decorate jackets for your clients? You’re in the right place. Before we jump in, here are a few more benefits of selling promo jackets:

  • High-quality, logoed outerwear promotes brand awareness inside and outside of the business.
  • Promotes unity among employees, a team, donors or fans.
  • Give your top employees and clients a branded keepsake they can wear for years. 
  • High-quality for-sale merch that will get your client’s brand seen far and wide. 

Choosing the Right Jackets for Your Clients 

First, you’ll need to know who’s wearing the jacket, and for what purpose. Is it for winter sports or work in extreme weather? Is it commuting to work in the winter elements? Is it jogging in the rain? When you’ve narrowed that down, you can consider the style and fit of the jacket.

For example:

    • Fleece/microfleece jacket or vest: This soft, comfortable material adds a warming layer of insulation, making it a good choice for people working or playing in cooler fall or early spring temperatures.
    • Windbreaker: This lightweight jacket, often made from nylon, provides protection from cooler weather and precipitation in the spring and fall. 
    • Soft-shell jacket: This activewear style is lightweight enough to offer freedom of movement and breathability, but also offer protection against the cold.
    • Hard-shell jacket: Often seen in workwear styles, this is a thicker, more durable version of the soft shell.
    • Heavyweight jacket: These jackets have more insulation for maximum warmth on the jobsite or for outdoor events.
    • Three-season jacket: Designed for colder areas, this jacket style comes with extra lining or insulation to keep the wearer warm. You’ll see these made of fleece, often with a waterproof shell.
    • Puffer jacket: Besides being on trend this year, this lightweight, functional style is well-insulated against the cold.
    • Bomber jacket: Another popular style this season, the military-inspired bomber offers both warmth and a fashionable look. 

Second, you should consider sizing and color ways. It’s always a good idea to choose jacket styles that have an inclusive size range, such as XS to 5XL. You can also check to see if there are youth sizes available, or ladies’ or men’s companion styles. When you’re outfitting large groups, a wide range of sizes is a must.

When you’re considering color, you’ll find there are many options. You should be able to match your client’s brand, school, team or event colors without an issue. Many styles also include options like neutrals, muted heather shades, brighter colors, neons, colorblocked styles, high-visibility for night conditions and more.

You’ll also want to determine which physical and performance features are most important for your client,  and for the end-wearers who’ll be using the outerwear.

For example:

    • Packable jackets: A jacket that packs back into itself or a pouch is great for commuters, travelers and those on the go all day.
    • Hoods: Depending on how they’ll be wearing the jacket, a hood might be a must or a maybe. A detachable hood is a good compromise.
    • Pockets: Depending on a wearer’s needs, look at a jacket’s pocket offerings: full front pouch, side pockets (open or zippered), inside security pockets and more.
    • Waterproof/resistant/repellent: Some jackets offer 100% protection from getting wet during downpours. This may be an essential performance feature if wearers are outside regularly or reside in a rainy area. You’ll want to pay attention to waterproof ratings, determined by the resistant or repellent coating on the jacket. The rating refers to the amount of water the jacket can take in 24 hours before it leaks. Being fully seam-sealed is another feature to look for in a jacket that will be out in the elements.
    • Wind resistant: This means that a jacket has a special insulation type that keeps wearers comfortable even in windy conditions.
    • Moisture wicking: Often used in activewear, these jackets wick sweat and moisture to the surface fabric, keeping a wearer comfortable.
    • Lightweight insulation: Jackets offer different weights, types of insulation and inside finishes, to keep wearers warm in different conditions. Because of human allergies and animal rights concerns, the trend has been toward synthetic down. Some jackets have thermal reflective technology, which reflects and retains body heat to keep the wearer toasty warm. 

Decide How to Decorate Your Jackets

Like jacket styles, there are lots of options for artwork, imprinting methods and logo locations. Decorators use a whole slew of options that work for a variety of outerwear styles and brands, such as:

    • Embroidery: Offers a quality, professional look and feel for a long-lasting and durable look.
    • Patches: Leather and woven patches add a retail touch to outerwear.
    • DTG printing: For high-quality full-color prints, and larger designs.
    • Heat transfers: There are lots of transfer options, including screen-printed, direct-to-film, rhinestones and more.
    • Multimedia: Combine one or more techniques to create a standout design. 

Unsure which techniques might work for you? Get inspired by three decorators who each share a standout jacket design, one which far exceeded their clients’ expectations.

Party With This DJ

Gillian Allen, owner and designer at The Cat’s Pajamas USA, digitized and decorated this jacket for a client with a DJ business. “He already had business cards with his logo, and felt it was time he had branded merchandise for his team to wear to events,” she says. “He was over the moon with the results, and definitely felt it gave them a more professional look.”

The Technique: Allen used embroidery to give this jacket-back design dimension that wouldn’t have been possible using a printed technique. “The bold colors within the design also lent themselves to the textured look we achieved,” she says. “We used a jacket style that featured a port pocket for easy access to do the embroidery.”

Insider Tips: This project turned out well because Allen embroidered the design using the correct underlay. “I also made the design for a full back – it’s a mistake I see many people make by attempting to resize a design,” she says.


Rocking It With Rhinestones

Linda Schutzman, owner of Sparkle Gear and, created this eye-catching, full-back bling design for a local yoga studio owner. “My client was looking for clothing for an event and wanted to stand out in the crowd,” she says. “She was thrilled with the outcome! She reported that the jackets attracted many people to her table at the event.”

The Technique: Schutzman used rhinestones to add an eye-catching factor to jackets and ladies’ full-zip hoodies. “When we work with rhinestones, we can bring our clients’ logos to life in a way that we can’t accomplish with other decorating methods,” she says. 

Insider Tips: Like many other decorations, the quality level starts with the artwork. “If your artwork is clean, the decoration will be as well,” Schutzman says. “Using high-quality rhinestones also makes for a better finished product.”

Multimedia for Microsoft

A team at Microsoft reached out to Artem Ionitsa, president of Logo Unlimited, for a jacket that would really stand out. “We provided them with the perfect solution, combining multiple decoration methods with their artwork to create a branded jacket that was unique to that particular Microsoft team,” he says. 

The Technique: At Logo Unlimited, Ionitsa prides himself on offering clients unlimited options. The idea for this soft-shell jacket started with custom laser-etching the artwork’s circuit pattern, using a garment laser-etcher. Then, the team created a custom die plate to deboss the text in the logo. Then, they used the classic and durable embroidery method for the squares. “Once the decoration was complete, we felt adding a custom Microsoft logo zipper pull tied the whole piece together to create a one-of-a-kind jacket that’s sure to stand out,” he says.

Insider Tips: When you’re combining multiple decoration methods, it’s important to build a design that works well with whichever methods you choose. “For example, this Microsoft design has a great pattern that flows well and has the right shape to sit nicely in the jacket’s left panel,” he says. “The Microsoft text is bold and solid, which is great for debossing. The four different colored squares look great embroidered.”

Another fun fact about this design: There’s a special message that Ionitsa laser-etched onto the fleece on the inside of the jacket specifically for the team members over at Microsoft to read. “We aren’t at liberty to disclose what it says, we can only tell you it’s there,” he says.

Next Steps

Once you’ve become familiar with this season’s popular outerwear trends, it’s time to find styles you can share with your excited clients. Here are some valuable tools you can use on the alphabroder website:

  • Catalogs: Check out our latest e-apparel catalogslike our 2022 Gift Guide and Promotional Apparel & Products 2023 so you can see what’s trending. You can share our generic versions with your clients.
  • SalesBuilder: Want the power of an entire graphic design department in the hands of your marketing team and sales reps? Whether you’re making a one-page custom flier, apparel lookbooks or an entire presentation, you can use our premade templates to create professional materials that showcase the season’s hottest jacket styles and colors.
  • High Stock Inventory Filter: When you use this feature, you can quickly find in-stock products in various styles and colors to present to your clients.