Busy being a big little company

“Busy,” is the reply that someone gets if they ask how things are going at Indigo at the moment. It has almost become a stock phrase and I hardly thought about it until someone said to me “Well isn’t that what you said in the summer?”

They would be right of course. I was saying that in the summer. But in the summer we only had 50,000 visitors a month to indigoclothing.com, at the end of October we were up to nearly 100,000. We are industriously producing work for blue-chip clients like the BBC, Kodak and the Royal Festival Hall, to name-drop but a few, whilst staying committed to helping out our core of small business clients, like Wooferz, a dog care service with a regular short run of twenty t-shirts and two Regatta jackets. We expect the growth to carry on through the winter, with the inevitable pre-Christmas dip in December. Our key challenge now is to effectively manage the growth without needlessly taking on more staff and maintaining the close knit ethos of the company.

In my mind the key to tackling the growth challenge is to start doing things better, behaving more like a bigger company whilst trying to avoid the bureaucratic pitfalls that can come with that. For example, Indigo has never been a ‘meetings’ company but once a week we are now sitting down to review the past week and to focus on the forthcoming one. These meetings are not an opportunity to have a cup of tea and for shows of one-upmanship but a twenty minute assessment of our current position. These meetings really do work and the team is becoming more like a well oiled machine everyday. In fact, it is not just the sales target boards that indicate how hard people are working at the moment. The water consumption amongst the team seems to be a testament to how intensively people are working. Ten litres a day is being guzzled by six people, much to the astonishment of the nice lad who changes our water cooler bottles, he probably thinks we water the plants with it, it disappears so quickly.

The credit for our ability to cope with the increased work load isn’t just to do with our internal attitude but also because our suppliers, who are evermore aware of our desires to succeed in this marketplace, understand our need for a efficient and reliable service.

This combination of internal focus, supplier reliability and our continued emphasis on improved IT systems, which are bespoke crafted by our in-house team of Jeremy and Rob, are helping what was only a company of three people last winter, thrive as a eight strong unit this winter. And it is not all just hard work either. In October Indigo had its late (it was meant to be in June) fourth birthday party for our friends, families and suppliers, enjoying a drink and raising money for charity. The raffle, which included a signed Arsenal football shirt (sadly won by a Spurs fan!) and a flight over a London in a private plane was in aid of Get Kids Going.

Next time someone asks, I’ll try to say something more intelligent than just “busy,” but to be honest, it is far easier than explaining the above.

[Note: This article was written for a future edition of Printwear and Promotion, a trade publication. Alex is a regular contributor]

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