Recently, while sitting on the old couch in my office at my Tri-Cities – Atlanta Airport Center, the former owner of the shop I bought to convert to AlphaGraphics shook his head at a thought. Chris and I have become friends, though we are an unlikely pair. He is a Southern born and raised, having grown up in the environs around the Center in East Point. His politics lean right, his business approach is a bit old school. I am from Cuba, grew up on the island, in Spain, and California. My politics lean left, and my approach to business is different. He shook at his while he marveled the stuff with which I have had to deal during my first year as a business owner
I have tackled two very different business paths (my choice in starting a new Center and converting another Center at the same time), challenges with employees, and the COVID-19 pandemic. He then chuckled and wondered if I regretted making the decision to go into business by myself. The short, simple answer is “no.”
Don’t get me wrong, there have been scary and stressful times since I signed the franchise agreement with AlphaGraphics. It is humbling also to think that the livelihoods of six wonderful people plus my husband’s and mine depend on decisions small and large I make every day. Regardless, I would not have made a different decision had I know, though I would have approached a couple of business challenges differently.
Living in the “what could have been,” though is generally a waste of time and emotional resources. As I often tell my teams, we will make mistakes. The measure of a human being is not whether she or he will err. It’s how she or he recovers from the error and learn from it. Further, living in the false lane of what could have been invites regrets about things we have no power to change. Rather, look ahead and far to see where you might be able to go, and find your best way there.
- For the government agency that needed signs telling the residents of the community that parks were closed
- For the T-shirt company that wanted all to know that they could get masks from its store after modifying its operations to make protective equipment for people looking to safeguard others from coronavirus
- For a family and a high school looking to spread the word in celebration that a graduating son’s achievement as a valedictorian in the absence
- For the local restaurant chain that needed to tell its loyal customers that they remained open for takeout service
- For the bakery that is still engaging its customers with promotional items despite its shuttered storefront
- For the law firm that sought to ensure that clients took needed measures of physical distancing when coming to their offices
- For the local business owner looking for masks made of sturdy, impermeable material that people providing custodial services can wear when going into homes for the elderly
- For a fellow AlphaGraphics Center that needed help printing and installing a door sign for one of its Clients
- For the local hotel planning for the future by researching marketing and printing solutions when business travelers return
Those are all real Clients we have served over the last three weeks. I am humbled by the spirit of our communities. I am also in awe of my teams at AlphaGraphics Tri-Cities – Atlanta Airport and Dunwoody – Sandy Springs that choose to come in every day to be help other essential businesses in our community reach and serve their customers safely. I know we will overcome the terrible impact of the COVID-19 pandemic together, and it is the courage shown by each of us that will make it happen. Indeed, We Are Open!
When I led Diversity and Inclusion work for my former employer, we made a collective, pretty big deal of Women’s History Month. Much planning went into an event featuring women leaders within the corporation. Messaging to employees spread the word about the company’s support for women. It was a commendable effort, and I was thrilled to drive it, albeit for a short time. I wondered, though, whether these symbolic gestures translated into the business depending on the stewardship of women at the highest levels of management. I’ll let you be the judge.
I now own two AlphaGraphics Centers, Dunwoody – Sandy Springs and Tri-Cities – Atlanta Airport. These are small businesses trying our collective hardest to bring quality marketing and visual communications services to our Clients. Our success depend in very significant measure to the work and dedication of four outstanding women.
Ella is our Production Coordinator in Sandy Springs. In June 2019, she decided to put her faith in my effort to open a brand new AlphaGraphics Center in Sandy Springs. She grew into AlphaGraphics with me, and has patiently guided others through that journey since. Maria joined ATW-Advertising That Works two years ago. She embraced the transition toward AlphaGraphics when I acquired ATW in August 2019, and recently agreed to take the reins of Production in East Point. These two women lead all production for the Centers and are directly responsible for the products what our Clients get every day.
Simonique is technically my longest-tenured employee, having joined ATW over 20 years ago. She is the heart and soul of our Blank Banners product line, fulfilling Clients’ orders seamlessly, including some large distributors. Finally, Sieglinde is the wife of the former owner. She kept his books, and has been just as dedicated to the financial health of my Center in East Point.
Yes, let’s celebrate Women’s History Month. I just do it every day because I am thankful these women’s tenacity, know-how, leadership and care make our Centers better every day.