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The last ten years has been a challenging time for Digital Press founder, Theo Pettaras. Having worked extremely hard to build a small business for his family, Theo, 53, often neglected his health along the way. Building his dream didn’t come with a formula and starting a small business from scratch is an exhausting process. But Theo’s efforts have paid off.
“I sat down and spent weeks on a business plan,” he says. “I really mapped out what I wanted to do. Hindsight is always a wonderful thing. If only I could go back and think how I could have done things differently. When I decided to invest in technology, I set up a funky studio printing press. We had a really unique offering.”
At the time in Sydney, there were small instant print shops and large commercial printing stores. Theo and his partners aim was to bridge a gap between these two options. “We wanted to produce print results that were unique with special finishes. Something that couldn’t be done previously,” he recalls.
Yet running a small business took a massive toll on Theo’s health. “I neglected myself over the last few years,” he admits. “I put on heaps of weight. I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol and sleep apnea.” After a long day at work he would have a few gins. “I wasn’t looking and feeling good at all,” he adds.
That’s when Theo knew he had to take drastic measures.
Constant ongoing challenges with Digital Press didn’t help matters. During the first two years of production, Theo was told to move locations due to the emergence of light rail in Sydney. This was followed by the Global Financial Crisis and the rise of social media. All of these impacted on Theo’s small business during 2007 and 2008.
“Trying to find an area where we weren’t competing was challenging. It was difficult finding customers that actually value what you do,” he says.
The biggest challenges those working in Digital Press faced at the time was keeping up with competition and providing a product which the competitors couldn’t get a hand on.
“I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol and sleep apnea”
“Our biggest competitor was technology,” Theo added. “People will opt to use online technology rather than your products and services.”
Theo was often preoccupied with trying to make Digital Press more relevant. “The printing industry is fiercely competitive,” he explains. “There are so many different options available for consumers out there. Everything is online these days. I mean everyone literally has a device in their hands.”
Over the years, Digital Press were forced to scale their business back. “Right now, we are refining our business and looking at the products and services that we offer and restructuring our processes,” Theo explains. “The idea is to diversify Digital Press and make it more relevant to today’s society. It’s a method of madness. We’ve had to constantly alter our business approach just to keep up. That’s not easy.”
It has been a roller coaster of a journey. Realising the challenges that come with establishing and running your own business also took a toll on Theo’s personal life.
“I lost over 20 kilos and started going to the gym four times a week”
Resilience and focus are the two most important factors Theo says he has learnt from running a successful business. So, how did he use these qualities to tranform his personal life and health? “I went on a diet, the Cambridge diet,” he says. “I lost over 20 kilos in a short period of time. I really focused on what I needed to do which was lose weight.”
Theo also began going to the gym. “Six months in, I felt 25 kilos lighter. Now I stick to a weekly routine of attending the gym four times a week. I look and feel amazing!”
Theo says that making a personal transformation is similar to what you need to do in small business. “It’s all about personal rebranding. I look back and think it was so hard,” he says. “But once you put your mind to it, it’s not hard to do. I’m using that mindset with my small business. Digital Press constantly requires rebranding in a competitive industry and so does my body. Your mind, body and soul are really important. Many small business owners say they feel they can do it. It’s best to go searching for a program that best suits you. And make sure you stick to it.”
Theo’s ‘get healthy’ tips for small business owners
Tip 1: Map out a business plan. Once you have done that, make sure you scrutinize it. Your final draft should contain various strategies and actions.
Tip 2: Be prepared to work very hard and be passionate about what you do.
Tip 3: Treat your team, your suppliers and your customers with the utmost respect. Expect the same in return.
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