In 2018, Paul Romanous launched Tiddys Wear, a full-service printing business that specialises in small business branding. While the business has grown considerably in the last year, Paul is no stranger to the hurdles that many entrepreneurs face when trying to get a business off the ground. We sat down with Paul to find out more about his journey as a small business owner.
Tell us a little bit about you
I’m a 24-year-old site engineer during the week and a small business owner at night and on weekends. I have always enjoyed being creative and making things myself, anything from digital art to an electric guitar or a picket fence.
At 16 I made my first attempt at starting a local t-shirt brand, a way to combine my passion for art with my passion for creating things myself. I sold five tees at a loss before calling it quits. I tried again at 18, 20 and 21 with similar results. The biggest roadblock was the high cost involved to produce small quantities of printed tees due to expensive setup fees and minimum order quantities.
Tell us about Tiddys Wear
In February 2018, I started Tiddys Wear, my fifth attempt at creating a local t-shirt brand. The difference this time being that I intended to buy all the equipment required for vinyl printing and teach myself to use them.
After a few months and multiple requests, Tiddys Wear became the service I wish existed when starting the brand – a printing service with a cheap set-up fee and no minimum order quantity. Tiddys Wear is perfect for small businesses, sports teams, local schools, custom gifts and the like.
Since transitioning from a brand to a t-shirt printing service in July, we have expanded into printing on all types of apparel. We now also offer design services for logos, business cards, posters, etc. and the team has grown from one to three people.
What was the biggest hurdle you faced when starting Tiddys Wear?
The biggest hurdles were time management, proving our legitimacy to customers, and being willing to take on risks and back ourselves.
Time management has improved significantly due to the whole team becoming more experienced with each job. We now can confidently estimate the time required to complete tasks and have innovated methods to complete those tasks faster, without sacrificing the quality of the final product.
Initially, we struggled to win any work because we had barely any previous prints to show to potential customers. We overcame this by being patient and giving our business time to grow slowly and organically.
We operated at a loss for family and friends, building a small portfolio to show potential customers that despite being small and affordable, quality was still our number one priority. The more customers we worked with, the larger our portfolio became and the easier we could convey this message. Our average customer today is blown away by the quality of our prints and most of our work is won through referrals.
What do you enjoy about running your own business?
I enjoy the adrenaline of working hard to build something of your own and the awesome sense of achievement that comes when all that hard work starts to pay off. An unexpected perk is that running a service that specialises in small businesses has helped us build a network of amazing small businesses owners.
What sets your business apart from the competition?
We offer high quality prints at low prices for small orders. Nobody we know of targets the same audience as well as we do.
You use QuickBooks to manage your business finances. Why?
We started using QuickBooks the moment we started printing as a service because we wanted to track our cashflow properly and send professional looking invoices to our customers.
What QuickBooks tools do you use the most?
Now that there are three of us, creating time sheets is the coolest part because it’s still new to me. The banking transaction tracking and review section that gets smarter the more we use it is also very convenient and saves us a lot of time. Also, tax time is a breeze because everything is done for us and is all ready to go.
Why did you turn to a digital accounting software solution?
We do everything online. We advertise, send invoices, talk to customers, showcase our products and buy our supplies online. It just makes sense to do our accounting online too.
What’s next for Tiddys Wear?
In a year’s time we hope to grow our team, adding more graphic designers, printers and web designers. We also hope to add embroidery and web design services so we can offer the ultimate small business start-up package – taking someone from a sketch to an up-and-running website with business cards and printed apparel to go with it.
Any advice for fellow entrepreneurs?
Fall in love with what your business could be, not what it is now. And don’t be afraid to adapt to become what your customers want or need.