What Scotland’s biggest independent print supplier can teach tech start-ups

What Scotland’s biggest independent print supplier can teach tech start-ups
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Big businesses are built by people with big ideas. The industry with big ideas right now is the tech start-ups market. Not only are tech start-ups determined to make a difference, but they have the power and reach to really change the world. The challenge is figuring out how to make it happen.

What Scotland’s biggest independent print supplier can teach tech start-ups

Capital Document Solutions was founded nearly 40 years ago by an Edinburgh native. Originally a small office specialising in photocopiers and typewriters, we have grown into the largest independent print supplier in Scotland. We offer digital and print management solutions to businesses.

Whilst there are some obvious differences between document solutions and bleeding-edge tech, we’ve learnt a thing or two over these past four decades that can help transform an ambitious start-up into a leading Scottish business.

Do what you believe in; believe in what you do

Tech start-ups are great at coming up with core values and mission statements. But to make a difference, you’ve got to walk the walk.

Capital has four key values: integrity, responsibility, care, and openness. They’re solid values which haven’t changed much in the last 40 years, but to really embody them, we need to live and breathe them every day in everything we do.

Capital's core values

  • Integrity: This is about more than simply being trustworthy – it also means transparency. We need to share with clients, staff and other stakeholders what we’re working on and why; we need our employees and customers to question or challenge us without fear. It’s the only way to truly become a trusted expert in your industry.
  • Responsibility: It’s not just down to individuals; accountability needs to be shared. Working as a unit helps us achieve success, not bragging rights. You may have heard that saying about individual drops making up an ocean? It’s stuck around so long because it’s true.
  • Care: If you want to succeed, you’ve got to innovate – but some things never change. Treat others as you want to be treated. Not because it’s just something you’re supposed to do, but because it’s the right thing to do. This is how a company stands the test of time – you become known for quality of service.
  • Openness: To survive, you must adapt. It’s true for animals and businesses. Successful adaptation means staying open to learning, open to change, open to the opposing point of view. If you ever think you’re the cleverest person in the room, you’ve got a lot to learn. Start by really listening to what others say. Every employee and every customer has something to teach you.

Bring something new to the table 

You’ve got to continually improve your product portfolio, building on your core values, past success and customer feedback in order to grow your company and your customers.

The digital revolution has been particularly brutal to the print industry over the last 40 years. Capital decided to diversify by embracing digital and growing to provide digital document solutions and remote office software, as well as using our skills and technology to offer a full managed print service.

Capital is now the largest independent print supplier in Scotland.

If you trace the history of any successful tech company, chances are that they’ve continually offered something new to their audience. This doesn’t mean changing direction every two years, however. On the contrary, you’ve got to build on what you’ve got, using your existing products to form the foundation of your next big offering.

Learn how to scale up without losing your local touch

Scaling your business is tough, but not nearly so tough as staying true to your roots. Even tech start-ups requires a local touch. Otherwise, your impressive size and balance sheets won’t make up for the fact that the local shop down the road is far more responsive in a pinch.

The trick here is to spread your business wide, not thin. Stick to your core values – don’t simply rush to grow into new regions if you can’t offer the same service. You’d be selling out your long-term reputation for short-term cash flow.

Capital started out in a small office in Edinburgh in 1979. Since then, however, we’ve acquired major offices in cities all around Scotland, scaling up our local service to reach more areas without any drop in quality.

No matter where they are, from the capital city to the remotest village in the Highlands and Islands, we make sure there are feet on the ground ready to help our customers the same day, not two days later.

Learn more

Tom - main image

Capital’s owner and CEO, Tom Flockhart, is very involved in the Scottish start-up scene, working with some incredibly talented people on some ambitious new projects. So are you are a tech start-ups or not? Either way, if you’d like to see how we’ve remained a leader in Scottish industry for over 40 years, then get in touch and take a tour of our unique offices.


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