The Bright White Paper Company Continues to Innovate
I always enjoy hearing from successful business owners from around the world and learning about their journey. Just recently I had the opportunity to speak with Sharon Kazdin, Co-Owner & CFO of Bright White Paper Co. and was thoroughly inspired by her passion and business story.
It all started with her and her partner Rick owning a small video store that dealt with videotape rentals. They saw an amazing opportunity to grow the business by purchasing used tapes from other large companies that they could flip for rentals or sales with other organizations. From that point on, the passion for running a business and capitalizing on various opportunities is something they strived for.
After they successfully ran the video store they ventured into the packing and shipping business. Listening to customers is always a major component to think about when starting a business and that is something they did right away. With customers requesting a need for posters to be printed they made the decision to buy a thermal poster printer that was an expensive endeavor but something they felt would pay off. Boy did it.
Starting off there was a small selection of colors available to their customers. After conducting research and seeing the limited options, they created their own line of products. “We were awarded two patents after coming up with a process which enabled us to economically color coat thermal paper and provide a nearly infinite number of color choices,” said Sharon Kazdin. “We became one of only two companies in the world manufacturing thermal poster paper.”
Talk about the value in listening to your customers and innovating for the future of your business. That decision alone would prove to be just the starting point as they have since included areas such as Easyboards®, cold laminating machines and carrying cases that have met their customer needs.
“We focus on several core values for our business,” said Kazdin. “We never forget that without our customers, we don’t have a business.”
Of course being a business owner also comes with challenges. As many CEOs and owners can attest, there are numerous aspects in business that will keep you up at night. And Bright White Paper Co. has its own barriers to deal with.
“One of the things that keeps me up at night is hiring part-time employees,” said Kazdin. “Florida is a tough location to find talent because there are a lot of retirees and younger people who aren’t motivated to work. We try various avenues such as sourcing through the local community college and websites. The times have definitely changed and that makes it harder for us to find quality employees.”
But through those challenges, Sharon is always looking for ways to come up with new innovative ideas and products. She gets a majority of those ideas through customer feedback, attending tradeshows and getting display examples at other events. Without innovation there would be little room for growth and Sharon understands that the right accounting software is necessary to plan for the future.
Powered by QuickBooks
“I started using QuickBooks about 18 years ago. At the time, our company was very small, so our needs were met by QuickBooks Pro,” said Kazdin. “Seven or eight years ago when our company began to not only sell products but to manufacture them, we had a greater need for inventory control and began using QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions for Manufacturing and Wholesale.”
And that migration to a more robust accounting solution has proven beneficial for the company. In order to grow their business they needed specific features that would handle cost of goods, inventory and customer invoicing. Along with her partner Rick, they find QuickBooks very easy to use and appreciate all of the features that come with the product.
“We use QuickBooks to generate invoices and maintain our customer database. I like being able to transfer contact information to Excel. I use the direct e-mail feature to send invoices directly to customers without having to type an accompanying note each time,” said Kazdin. “I choose the customer the invoice is for, select the template I customized, and tell the program to email the invoice. While my partner Rick, prefers to create a PDF invoice from the program and send invoices from his email account. QuickBooks allows us to easily use it both ways.”
While many business owners are focused on cloud computing, that just isn’t the best option for Bright White Paper Co.
“We don’t use the online version of QuickBooks because we are based in Florida and have been hit over the years by hurricanes. More than once in recent years we found ourselves without power – and internet – for several days,” said Kazdin. “We can’t afford not to have access to our accounting software for even one day. With QuickBooks on our computers, we can stay in business even in the aftermath of a hurricane, as long as we have a generator to run the computers.”
Where to go from here
While there is no specific blueprint to successfully growing a business, Sharon is always looking for ways to expand their outreach and gain new customers.
“Like any business owner I am always looking for ways to grow the business,” said Kazdin. “We are interested in expanding our markets into areas like education and government. The great part about the business is not being bound by geography and being able to attract customers from all over the world.”
Sharon is one of those business owners who understands the importance of scaling your business in the right way. While others are immediately focused on growing and making more money, there is more that goes on behind the scenes. And she had some great knowledge for other entrepreneurs to think about.
“The biggest mistake most people make is they try to grow too quickly. It is important to stay lean and mean for as long as you can,” said Kazdin. “Keep your overhead as small as possible and understand every aspect of your business. Don’t pawn off stuff you can’t understand because once you lose control of certain aspects then you are at that person’s mercy. The business starts and ends with you.”