Competitiveness key for new businesses

21st June 2010

Setting up a new business in the midst of the biggest global economic downturn in history was not a move Rob Russell, managing director of RGL Displays, made lightly.

Mr Russell, who established the company - which provides large format graphics, posters, pop up stands and portable displays - last October, admitted that the current climate has made it a lot harder for new businesses in the events and exhibiting industry to succeed.

Firms within the sector are wary about spending money, he said, noting that "new businesses have got to be as competitive as possible" in order to be successful.

Yet, being competitive isn't always enough, he admitted, adding that, although firms are looking to save money, many are still sticking with who and what they know, making it difficult for start-ups to garner new clients.

For RGL Displays, Mr Russell was able to draw on old contacts and past experience to help the firm to thrive, thanks to years of sales and customer service experience. He readily admits that his work history made it easier for him to create a successful firm.

"Starting my own company wasn't so daunting because I've already had experience of web marketing and I had a sales background.

"I would say that anybody who is starting a new company at the moment but doesn't have a sales background is going to find it extremely difficult."

The economic climate also affected the choices he made about how the business would be promoted, with the entrepreneur opting to focus on web marketing, rather than hiring sales staff.

"You have two choices really. You can take on sales staff, which is going to cost a lot of money and in this climate is not a great move, or you go down the internet route and that's what I have done."

Much effort has been placed in-house on creating the website, improving its web rankings through search optimisation tools and on promoting the company through online directories.

This focus on the web seems to have paid its dividends. In less than a year, the company is thriving.

"The highlight for me is that the business is growing and is performing better than expected as we approach the 12 months in October. The actual business is doing very well, we're growing in turnover."

Mr Russell partly attributes this success to the company's knowledge of high-end printed graphics and its focus on customer service.

"The thing with RGL Displays is that we have got a massive knowledge of print, and displays and print go hand in hand. If you've got experience of high-quality, high-end graphics, people are always going to be happy with what they receive."

"A lot of companies which go into the display market haven't got that. They've gone out, they've bought a printer and they think they'll have a go at it. They don't necessarily have the experience of high-end graphics, which is what we've got. That's a plus."

For now, the company is considering expanding its outdoor market offering and is thinking about purchasing an additional high-quality outdoor print machine.

"We're looking to get a new HP Designjet L25500 next year. This machine uses environmentally-friendly latex inks, which is a good thing to offer clients."

This new purchase will hopefully help the business to continue to grow, Mr Russell said, adding that, like its graphics, the future is looking bright at RGL Displays.