Yvonne Gorman – If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.

Yvonne Gorman shares with us at #YesSheCan how she came to be a “Print Evangelist” and why its so important to give back!

The Print Evangelist

My pseudonym is the Print Evangelist – someone enthusiastic about the print industry, a print perfectionist and someone who sees creative potential in all print projects.

It takes many years to become a Print Evangelist, but with over 20 years under my belt, working in a male-dominated industry, I think I can safely call myself just that.

I started as a graphic designer the day after my final exam at secondary school. I chose not to pursue the conventional academic route and landed myself an apprenticeship at a local public relations agency. My father, Dave Gorman, worked in print all of his life until he retired fifteen years ago. I never intended to follow in his footsteps and work in the printing industry, but, it is lovely to have that unique common ground with him.

Throughout my career, I have worked for several agencies and printers where I had a hands-on approach for print work and influenced the sales strategy. With Essential Print Services, I have put all those years of experience into practice. I started Essential Print Services in 2011 to provide quality printed collateral that helps businesses grow and prosper. 

Following in my father’s footsteps

My father was in the printing industry all of his life and although he retired from printing several years ago, I never intended to follow in his footsteps. I saw it as a male-dominated, dirty and harsh industry.

When I was younger, my Father would bring home off-cuts of paper, board and colour books, which I converted into something creative. Seeing the colours and textures sparked off my imagination. At school my favourite subjects were English and Media Studies, which was where I enjoyed learning about the advertising industry. I am also highly organised, resourceful and have a passion for efficiency so, put these elements together and I suppose it was evitable I would become a graphic designer.

Growing up, running my own business never crossed my mind. None of my family or friends ran businesses of their own. Becoming a business owner was never an aspiration of mine.

Becoming a business owner was never an aspiration of mine.

What changed?

In my twenties, I began networking. I represented other people’s ventures and took my role seriously. I felt privileged to represented someone’s small business. I enjoyed seeing the positive results that came directly from my hard work. My enthusiasm showed because people would ask, ‘do you own the business?’ I lost count the number of times people told me I would be great at running an enterprise, and I would discard their comments as being ridiculous. 

Over ten years ago, I became a co-director of a promotions business with plans of a buy-out. I had the sole responsibility of their Derby office. I used my established network to build a reputation and brand. Two years in, communications broke down. I plucked up the courage to approach my co-directors to organise an exit.

During discussions, I spotted an opportunity, and I recalled the comments of others. I seized the moment and suggested  I could run my own business. Astonishingly, my co-directors agreed and terminated my contract with immediate effect. Within 24 hours, with limited funds to support myself and no guarantee where the next order would emerge, I was running my own business.

I had faith that my peer group was correct in their presumption that I was ‘entrepreneur material’. If I was going to take a leap of faith, now was ‘the’ time to do it.

Within a week, I had a limited company, an office on the prestigious Pride Park, a logo, a website and I was fulfilling orders. Hand-delivering the first consignments was a proud moment.

I mustered every ounce of resourcefulness, efficiency, resilience and creativity.

During the first twelve months, I was the receptionist, salesperson, marketing, graphic designer, production manager, delivery driver, accounts department and customer service but, achieved a profit. I employed my first, full-time staff member after one year and went on to create four full-time positions.

I am proud that I have built a business that remains cash positive. 

My focus and determination are to raise the standards of printing and improve the reputation of the industry, starting at a local level.

I passionately believe that all printed collateral should help clients promote themselves, so if I think another product would have a more significant impact, I mention it. I want to delight clients when they open their parcels, so I designed a delivery pack, which contains jelly beans and quirky stationery items, which I change regularly.

The strapline, which has remained unchanged since 2011; smarter, better, fresher print, encapsulates the print principles, that I believe, has helped me maintain a successful business.

Building on our philosophy of ‘giving back’, I have designed a series of ‘Essential Workshops’, which are available exclusively and free of charge to our customers and future topics will include social media, graphic design and of course, print. The sessions are hosted on-site and are my way of thanking clients for purchasing print and investing in my business. I chose topics that I believe are essential to business growth; I hope they help people grow their skill set and their businesses too. The sessions are hosted by myself and also a client who I believe is an expert in that particular field. Its a way of introducing one client to many others and I know that many have already gone on to do business together.

Giving something back drives me.

As an advocate of the local business community and a Derby Ambassador; I wanted to build a sustainable business which could help charities with free, or heavily discounted printing and business support. We have supported the same charity for the past seven years; Me & Dee Charity. As well as this, we help other local initiatives on an ad hoc basis.

As well as running Essential Print Services, I volunteer for several initiatives. I am the primary stakeholder for PridePark.net, a free online directory for the prestigious Pride Park business site in Derby where my company is based.

I am one of seven Small Business Saturday UK Heroes, which has resulted in two visits to Downing Street and being featured in Forbes Online.

I am a Director of Marketing Derby; an inward investment agency for the City of Derby, whereby I utilise my extensive network and this is yet another voluntary role.

I host a free, monthly mastermind and support group called Hallmark, which has fifteen members from different sectors. 

As a personal project, I started the East Midlands’ first ‘Happy Café’ run in conjunction with a worldwide charity; Action for Happiness, which aims to increase the happiness in the world by bringing together like-minded people from all walks of life. 

All this extracurricular activity motivates me to ensure my business is sustainable and that my team feels empowered to make decisions and keep the cogs turning while I’m away from the office. Without this I would not be able to dedicate so much time to non-profits. 

When customers buy print from Essential Print Services, they are not just supporting a local business but, they are supporting the local community too. The ethos of ‘giving back’ has been in the company’s DNA since it began in 2011. For us, it’s not just about profits and creating jobs; it’s about giving back and helping others to thrive too

If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.

Do you have a mantra you live your life by?

If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.

My first boss was my inspiration.

My first boss; Donna Hill was instrumental in my success as a businesswomen. When I left school I had no idea what I wanted to be. I knew I loved creative writing, being organised and stationery so, a job in administration was the peak of my ambition at the time. Despite having a passion for learning, I had no desire to go into full-time college or University; I wanted to learn on the job and I looked for apprenticeships.

I attended several interviews, most of which offered me the job but nothing felt right. That was until I saw an advert for a PR Assistant as a local public relations agency. I had no idea what the job entailed but Donna interviewed me, offered me the job and the rest they say is history. 

Little did I know at the time but this first role would provide the first step on my career ladder in the creative industry. During my late teens, my personal life was turbulent but having the sanctuary of the office with a Donna as a mentor and seeing, first hand, all of the things she was achieving, steered me on a different path. If I had chosen one of the other job offers, I honestly do not know where I would have ended up. Thank you Donna.

Delegate. Delegate. Delegate.

Delegate! In the first few years of business I was convinced that no one could do tasks as well as me; no one could do ‘it’ the way I do it.  Even though I had staff at the time, I would feel constantly on edge in case they made a mistake. Well guess what, we’re only human and employees will make mistakes but, so will I. The more I delegated and gave staff responsibility, the more they shined and showed me what they were capable off, which in turn, helped me trust them. 

One of my biggest achievements stemmed from delegation; I had my first ever ten day holiday abroad last year and I had no telephone calls, no emails and no Whatsapp messages. For the first time in eight years I could totally switch off and enjoy time with friends and family while my team kept the cogs turning. 

When I returned, sales had exceeded expectations, positive reviews were posted online and within an hour of being in the office, I was caught up with workload. Being able to leave the office for periods time with little disruption is many entrepreneurs’ holy grail and I had achieved it through solid processes and giving my team full autonomy. 

Thank you Yvonne for giving up your time, if you would like to see more about Yvonne’s business then please click here https://www.essentialprintservices.co.uk/

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