Fred and I bought a print shop many years ago, our first business purchase. We liked the place, but hesitated because it was a franchise. We’d both been in printing for years and didn’t want to pay a franchisor to guide us through an industry we already knew. The owners wanted us to buy it so badly that they paid to get out of their contract, which meant we had to come up with a name. Other than the debate over business ownership in general and knee-shaking debt in particular, this was our biggest dilemma. After tossing around some ideas, we asked ourselves what we wanted people to know about us, and decided it was our combined print experience of 50 years. Then clients would be aware we weren’t rookies and and would be capable of taking good care of them. I came up with the Great Idea: Phyvō Press. Slightly Greek-looking, a bit mysterious. I pictured people asking, “What’s with the name?” and I would reply: “Clever, yes? Five-Oh stands for fifty. Fifty years of combined experience!”
I’ve come to call these types of exercises “Living in the Land of Great Ideas.” Here’s a tip: Always sleep on a Great Idea.
Although initially enamored, it didn’t take us long to realize that it was unrealistic and limiting. That clever story would not be quite as clever 5 years down the road. And might we feel moved to change the name to Six-0 or Eight-0 Press? If so, there would be costs involved, and we’d lose brand recognition. Plus we’d be fielding all those pesky calls from people wanting to place takeout orders for souvlaki. In the end, we called it Princeton Press because Fred had lived in Princeton, Illinois, a place that had meaning for him. It sounded smart in a book-larnin’ way, and I liked the alliteration. I decided that someday we’d name a business after Quincy, Illinois, a place that had meaning for me. So the name Princeton Press still had a story to tell, just not quite as pointed, and it required no amendment.
This was a lesson I remembered when I went into sales and marketing consulting. I can’t count the number of times I heard the words, “Oh, wow! What a Great Idea!” during planning and strategy sessions. I’ll be the first to admit that I love a Great Idea. There’s nothing more exciting. You just need to be sure that you can make that idea come to life. There are lots of Great Ideas that turn into Oh, That Thing We Never Did, or Whose Idea Was That, Anyway? But if you want to thrive, and grow, and generate excitement, you have to periodically touch down in the Land of Great Ideas, because sometimes, you’ll build there. Other times, you’d be well-advised not to even pitch a tent.
And today our print shop, which we sold years ago, would be called OneOhFive Press.
July 29, 2020