Thought Piece by Tony Paola.

From the Copy Business to the Cloud: How some things stay the same

When I tell people I used to work in the copier business, I’m often met with a somewhat bewildered look as if to say “how can someone who worked in printing now run a tech and telecommunications company?”.

In fact, this response is so common, I’ve managed to workshop a few quick responses to keep the conversation moving.

“Yes. That’s right. I moved from copy to tech.

“You might be surprised. They actually have a lot in common.” 

And while I understand the confusion, on paper the two businesses might not look like they have much in common, I also think people can at times put too much attention on the product or services being sold and forget about the business skills and experience needed to run a successful operation of any kind.

For example, to run a successful copier business back when I was working in the industry we needed to establish a clear service offer, which often meant document copying and reproduction services, but today could also include anything from graphic design to on-site PC rental.

We needed to know how to set up and run our business operation or hire someone who did, as well as the ins and outs of business permits. (These are industry-specific and prone to change from state-to-state, making a good legal eye a must.)

Another key consideration is marketing, more importantly, your unique marketing proposition in addition to a strong understanding of the day-to-day pressures and pain points your target customer may be experiencing – something that requires empathy as much as research.

Now a strong service offer, good operational management, a clear understanding of the industry’s legal landscape and compelling marketing are all things you need to be successful in telecommunications and tech – irrespective of whether you are a start-up or a big fish – which is why I tell people that the old copier business and the new world of tech actually have more in common than you think.

They both require a head for business – and that’s something you’re either born with or earn through years of hard work.