“I Realized I Had To Make A Change”

njbizby Brett Johnson
originally published October 10, 2016, NJ Biz
For Kaplansky, starting her own business was about changing her life.

It wasn’t a snap decision made after a spark of inspiration on a peculiar night.

It was a morning stark in its normalcy that stirred Holly Kaplansky to decide to launch her own small business, quitting her cozy yet dull corporate job.

“At one point, I really had what I call Velcro bed, and I just couldn’t get up in the morning and get going,” she said.

“That’s when I realized I had to make a change because I clearly wasn’t happy.”

“I had a comfortable job that had grown to be something I hated. And it very slowly went from being a hard decision to a very easy one.”

Kaplansky, owner of Newark’s Minuteman Press, launched her printing business in 2005 after a 30-year stay in corporate America, a career during which she held prominent positions such as brand manager for Kraft Foods and global marketing director for Ovid Technologies.

“But I left the corporate world as many people did – and people continue to leave all the time – because that world gets harder and harder to work in with downsizing, harder work, longer hours,” she said. “I thought, if I’m going to have to put everything into a business, I might as well do it myself.”

There was a small problem Kaplansky had – she didn’t even know what line of business she was going to enter.

After doing some research, she settled on the printing industry which would allow her to apply her marketing background. She worked with a larger franchiser to establish a location in Newark, but she’s quick to dispel the notion that this arrangement has made it any easier.

“You really have to run your own shop; they’re not doing it,” she said. “You’re doing the marketing and running all aspects of the business. They give you some of the basic tools and systems, but you have to run it yourself.”

The transition from the corporate world to running her own business has come with a learning curve; she noted profit and loss analysis and finding an appropriate market
segment as key challenges.

But she has also been able to bring some prior knowledge to her new enterprise.

“It’s helped that I’ve been on the other side of the desk, seeking services of printing companies, so I really understand not only what the customer wants but how they want
the product presented,” she said. “You can have the best product in the world, but if it’s not presented properly or in a way someone can hear it, it’s not going to really help you.”

“It has been a lot of fun to have these interactions on a one-on-one basis with customers instead of with thousands or even millions of clients as part of a large corporation.”

One thing she’s glad hasn’t been carried over to her growing printing business is the discontent that made even getting up in the morning difficult.

That doesn’t mean the work itself is less difficult.

“Small business is very hard,” she said. “There is no finance department, HR department, or facilities management, purchasing, PR – I’m all of those things. But the work is so
fulfilling. I leave work every day proud of what I do.”

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Yes, You Can Print That Email


We all get emails from our bank and credit card companies that encourage us to help the environment by going paperless. As business owners we make choices based on what is more environmentally sound. It has been the general understanding that digital media is the environmentally preferable choice and an important step in creating a more ecologically aware and sustainable world. However, it is more accurate to say that digital media consumption shifts negative environmental effects to new places, rather than reducing them. If your goal is to save trees or do something good for the environment, the choice to go paperless is not as green as you might think.

  • Paper is one of the most recycled products in the world with a nearly 70% recovery rate, beating out plastics, glass and metals.
  • Efforts of the printing and paper industry have been at the forefront of minimizing environmental impact helping prevent deforestation and keeping forests from being sold for development. Nearly half of the 4 million trees planted every day in the US are planted by the paper products industry.
  • Paper in the US is made from over 60% biofuels (renewable fuels from a biological source). Paper mills use whatever is left over to generate bioenergy on sites, reducing the carbon footprint of paper and minimizing coal dependency.
  • Digital server farms have become the fastest growing users of fossil fuels in the world relying on significant amounts of energy from coal fired power plants.
  • The energy, water and raw materials needed to make a single e-reader is equal to that of 40 to 50 books. And, the emissions created by a single e-reader are equal to that of roughly 100 books.

If you think you are saving forests and protecting the environment by going paperless…think again. The real dilemma you face is that you may be doing more harm to the environment by going paperless than you think, and making responsible choices requires informed decisions and rational trade-offs. Most important, remember to recycle!

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Top Do’s and Don’t’s of Moving Your Business

office_moveI recently relocated my business and I hope I never have to do it again. But sometimes, as in my case, it was necessary. Moving a business operation seems like a daunting task. There are a multitude of components that must be considered and a host of plans that must be made. Moving is a process and a learning experience. To insure a smooth move and transition, consider these do’s and don’t’s.


  1. Evaluate what needs to be moved to the new location and create a list of inventory. This provides an accurate depiction of what needs to be accommodated in the move and how much you have. It will serve as a starting point for following plans.
  2. Make to-do lists. This insures that nothing is forgotten and provides a good indication of where you stand in the overall process at any given time. Dividing the list into monthly and weekly increments will prevent feeling overwhelmed.
  3. Hire professional movers. Although costly, this saves a lot of trouble in the long haul. There are potential dangers that are avoided, decreasing your liability, and will relieve the pressure on your employees. Look specialty movers for equipment to insure it is moved and installed correctly.
  4. Consider the timing. When scheduling a move you should avoid rush hour and, if possible, a time of year with unpredictable weather. Most importantly, schedule the move for a slow period or around deadlines. Your goal is to have no loss of business due to the move. Also, scheduling the move with a cushion around the move out deadline is important. Things could go wrong and delays could happen.
  5. Be sure to stay connected. Be sure that your phones and internet work before you move. You want to be sure you can conduct business to as soon as your new office is set up.
  6. Set up the departments that are critical to daily operations first. In doing so, it will cut back on the time away from conducting business and get you back to work sooner.


  1. Pick just any moving company. Researching moving companies is important because their performance will ultimately determine the success of your move. Look for companies that specialize in your type of business or equipment.
  2. Forget to insure your valuables. When moving, there is no room to risk damage or loss of expensive equipment and/or materials.
  3. Fail to give ample notice to your employees. Employees should be aware so there is nothing to question and they are allowed time to prepare.
  4. Inform your customers and suppliers about the move at the last minute. Think about the appropriate timing and notify them proactively. Furthermore, you should take advantage of the opportunity to reach out to customers that you have fallen out of touch with.
  5. Wait to update your online sources. As soon after the move as possible, everything should be updated with the company’s new information. With all the various online channels that your business is connected to this is crucial.

Being prepared makes the transition seamless. Come by our new location at 20 Clinton Street in Newark and see how well it worked for my business.

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The Power of Giving Back

Small business owners find themselves trying to find more hours in the day and don’t really have any room on their already-full plates. But many find it is worth carving out some time anGiving backd resources for giving back to the community. Getting involved in non-profits, your local chamber or local government is a creative way of putting your business out there while helping the community. You can sponsor, organize or participate in an event. Any way you do it, you can make a real difference while generating visibility, positive word of mouth and goodwill.

I am involved in several organizations in this way. I am or have been on boards of several non-profits and I have been a very active participant in all of them. I have found this strategy to be a huge benefit to my business and here’s how:

  • Being active in organizations brings a high level of visibility to you and your business.
  • This type of commitment distinguishes yourself from your competitors. You will be remembered because of your involvement.
  • People see you in action and it helps build your reputation as a knowledgeable, reliable and supportive person.
  • You will be considered a socially responsible business, a plus in many people’s eyes. People like to see businesses making the world a better place.
  • It builds relationships within your community whether that is your town, your Chamber or other cohort that you identify yourself with.
  • It helps to surround yourself with positive, influential people.
  • You personally benefit because a deep level of involvement provides a profound sense of satisfaction.
  • Strong friendships tend to form because you are working with people like yourself who are dedicated to a cause.

Get involved and see what a positive impact it will have on your business. If you want more information on how giving back can work for you, email me at holly@mmpnewark.com.

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What To Look For When Selecting A Printer

printing press

Every company needs to have printed material for their business at one time or another. When it comes to promoting your brand, printed material is an essential part of your marketing mix. There are numerous printers to choose from but they are not all created equal. You want to make sure that you select one that will do it right and that it won’t create more work for you. Use the following criteria for choosing a printing company.

They have the expertise to make recommendations and help you select the best options for the particular printing job. Printers that have this capability can be a valuable asset and will make the process easier for you. They can become an important ally for your business helpful in addressing evolving business needs.

They provide graphic design services. Most people are not proficient at putting together the graphic files necessary for a high quality end product. Why spend the time and effort when you can let them do it for you.

Look for convenience. Do they offer easy methods of file delivery? Can you upload files and see proofs electronically? Can they deliver the finished product? Everyone’s time is valuable so don’t waste time you don’t have.

Check the quality of their work. Ask to see samples of something similar to what you are looking to print. Look for crispness of the images, proper registration of text and images. If the products printed are not up to standard, this will reflect badly on your brand.

Look for value for money. The reality is that going for the cheapest option can be detrimental to your business. Low prices often mean low quality. Select a printing company that offers good quality and service, and value for money. Plus, good printers will make suggestions on how you can save money on your jobs.

Investigate the level of customer service you will receive. You need to be able to trust your printer. Ensure that they are open and honest and will deliver a professional service with good communication and client management skills. Do they return your calls in a timely manner? Follow up on questions and quotes quickly? Are they available to you? Are they sensitive to your issues and do they listen to you?

Check the reputation of the company. Look at the printer’s website, consider their experience in printing. Ask for references, testimonials or recommendations. Check them out on social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Yelp to see other client experiences.

Investigate the printer’s green credentials. Look for a printer who is committed to the care of the environment. Many printers offer recycled paper and environmentally-friendly links to print your materials.

Finally, be loyal to your print provider. Once you have found a good printer offering quality, value for money and excellent customer service then stay loyal! A good working relationship with your printer will potentially enable you to get better service such as volume discounts, faster turnaround and personal delivery.

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Marketing Made Easier With 5 “Fun”damentals of Marketing


Most business owners find marketing to be daunting, but it’s actually a lot of fun. Before becoming owner of Minuteman Press of Newark, I was marketing professional with over 30 years of corporate experience. As the Chief Marketing Officer of my own business I use the following five fundamentals to guide me in my marketing efforts every day.

  1. Where to start

If you look up the definition of Marketing, you will get a long explanation.  I like to say that it is the activity and process of communicating to all potential customers about the product or service you have to offer.  After all, how can someone buy something from you if they don’t know you exist?  There are numerous ways to get the word out there…..networking, cold calling, direct sales, direct marketing/mailing, online marketing and advertising, just to name a few.  Which one should you use?  Well, the best thing is to use multiple channels of marketing, more than just one.  Which one you use depends on who you are trying to reach, what you want to accomplish and your budget. I would sell yachts differently than I would sell pencils.  This topic could be a whole book to itself, so I suggest talking to an expert.  A marketing specialist (or a good printer!) can help you here.

  1. Something is Better than Nothing

So many of my clients and other business owners I know strive for exactly the right marketing campaign…the right copy, the right pictures, the right colors…..and you know what happens??  The process goes on and on and on….  But, something is better than nothing.  So, don’t strive for perfection. To take a line from Nike – Just Do It.

  1. Talk to YOUR CUSTOMERS, not to yourself

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and all they did was talk about themselves?  Boring and annoying, wasn’t it?  Well, your marketing materials need to be designed to make your customers interested in what you are saying.  How do you accomplish that?  By talking to them about THEIR NEEDS.  What’s in it for them?  For example – will you save them money?  Save them time?  Make them look great?  Make something that is hard easy?  Tell them clearly and up front what your product or service can do for them.  Tell them in easy to understand terms how your product or service can help them.  Tell them clearly and succinctly how you can be of benefit.

  1. Give them a REASON to contact you and purchase your product!

The term for this is “call to action”, and that’s what you need to do.  Give your potential customer a good reason to contact you and purchase your product or service.  There’s a reason you always see discounts and coupons and free stuff…..it works!!  People are very busy, and you need to give them a strong incentive.  Some “calls to action” that I use in my business are discounts, buy 500 and get 500 for free, or color for the price of black and white.

  1. And lastly…..Measure the results of your marketing

This one might be the hardest, but how will you know if your marketing is getting any results unless you stop to figure out if you’re getting any sales from your efforts.  Get in the habit of always asking your customers how they heard about you.  You can then begin to understand how your marketing efforts are doing, and what is working.  And if something isn’t working, don’t necessarily give it up….try something different!  Once I tried a postcard that gave away a free coffee gift card to any new orders over $100.  When this didn’t work I tried a discount on the order instead.

While this might all sound easy, I know that it can be hard to execute.  You wouldn’t try to fix your own car, or to drill your own cavity, would you?  It’s the same for marketing….get help from a professional.  Many marketing companies are willing to spend some time discussing marketing strategies and tactics in the hope of getting some business.  Take advantage of these offers….you can learn a lot and at no cost!  Then, if you really want to get serious about your marketing, establish a budget and talk to the agency that you liked the most.  They will discuss what’s possible to do within your budget.  You can start slow and build over time.  And of course, your friendly printer is always willing to help.  You only need to ask.






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10 Ways To Plan For A Successful 2016

planning imageThe holidays are upon us and before you know it 2016 will be here. Are you ready for the New Year? Do you know what you want to accomplish in 2016? Do you know how you will get there? Use this as a guideline to make sure 2016 is your best year ever.

  1. Thank your customers. Before you start thinking about next year, send your customers a thank-you note or a gift to show your appreciation.  It’s easy, it will differentiate you and help build your brand loyalty.
  2. Don’t go it alone. As you embark on this process involve a friend, mentor or coach to be to look at things with a critical, unbiased way and to be able to think “outside the box.”
  3. Take a hard look at your business in 2015. Identify those things that helped move your business forward and those that perhaps held your business back. Make a list of the things you should repeat and the things you should change in your business to improve next year.
  4. Have a clear understanding of your financials. Let’s face it, everything comes down to how your business is doing financially. Effective changes can’t be made without knowing the impact on your bottom line.
  5. Research ways to improve or reduce your costs. Decreasing your costs is a great way to increase your profits on each and every sale.
  6. Set aside some time to read and catch up on the latest trends and news within your industry.  Knowing where your market is headed can show you where opportunities lie.
  7. Determine your goals for the year. Where do you want to grow your business – which product lines, which market segment, which prospects? Set a revenue and profit goal.
  8. Identify how you might grow your business through selling more of what you already sell to your existing market, expanding your market either geographically or demographically, or venturing into new products or services to sell to your existing market.
  9. Devise a plan. Once you have identified your goals, you need to figure out how you are going to get there. Make sure your plan incorporates specific activities for sales, marketing and operations.
  10. Prioritize. Assess which action steps will have the most positive impact on your business and put them high on your list.
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