In Honor of Small Business: TMoore Graphics Interview
In honor of Small Business Saturday, November 28th, 2015, Liz Watkins Media & Designs has interviewed 18 business owners. These interviews will be featured on Liz Watkins Media & Designs' blog. The goal is to shine a light on small businesses. Continuing with the Small Business Interview series is TMoore Graphics. This is the sixth interview.
Owner: Tony Moore
Adddress: 1530 Miller Drive, Florissant, MO 63031
What does the business do?
TMoore Graphics is an automotive related graphic design business. I do logo design, T-shirt artwork, flyers, business cards, renderings, custom paint design, and general graphic design. While I specialize in the automotive industry, I do graphic design for many other types of businesses as well.
When did you start the business?
I started TMoore Graphics back in 1992. In fact it was called Art In Motion back then. It wasn’t until around 1997 or so that I decided to rename it.
What did it take to get the business started?
To get started, it was fairly simple. I had been working at a graphic design studio fresh out of tech school as a technical illustrator. While I was there, I started gaining familiarity with the ins and outs of graphic design, color separation, paste-up, print techniques, and more. I had always had a passion for cars and car illustrations and wondered how I could turn that passion into a side business. I started with making
framed car renderings and attending some local art and hobby shows to sell them. It was there that I met a guy who inquired about some T-shirt artwork. I gladly obliged and from there it just took off. He shared my artwork with the screen printer and they started calling me to do work for them, and so on and so forth. Word of mouth has been my biggest growth tool over the last 23 years.
How long did it take to make profits and why?
It took a long time to make decent profits. Honestly, at the time, I was in my mid 20’s, single, living at home, and had a full-time job as well. So I was trying to make a name for myself, doing lots of “freebies” and work for next to nothing, just to gain the experience and any little money I made went for car parts to support my car habits after Uncle Sam got his cut. I wasn’t making much money at all, but I loved what I did so I had no complaints as seeing my work in it’s finished form brought me more excitement than money did. It wasn’t until after I was married and in my mid 30’s when I started to really value what little spare time I had and it was then that I decided to start increasing my prices. I figured I had paid my dues and it was time I got what I felt I was worth, or I just wasn’t going to do it any longer. That didn’t stop the phone from ringing, so I kept pushing on.
Why did you choose to start your own business?
I chose to start my business, mostly due to my love for cars. I figured I should use my God given talent to do something I enjoyed and if it helped to support buying car parts for my cars, then that made it even more worthwhile.
What are you responsibilities?
My responsibilities have certainly increased over time. When I started, I was young and didn’t keep quite as good of records as I should have. I was more in touch with honing my craft and the rest of the “business stuff” was frustrating to me...taxes, invoicing, keeping tabs on what I was spending...I wanted to do what I enjoyed, and if I was losing some money here and there I wasn’t concerned. Nowadays I’m much more organized all the way around. I keep folders for all of my clients, I keep boxes of projects after the end of each year, I keep a job-tracker where I can log each job that I quote and also track the progress along the way, down to how much I billed it for and when.
What are some of the problems/risks you're faced while running your business?
Some of the problems I’ve faced along the way have been rising costs of software and customers who don’t pay. Now I require a 50% deposit up front, so that the customer and I each have an equal stake in the job. I then submit the final job after the final payment has been made. Other problems are balancing time between my full-time job, family and this, as the full-time job is very demanding most times.
What are some of the benefits of owning your own business and running it?
As for benefits of owning my own business, it’s got to be the ability to be as creative as I want to achieve the goals of my customers. Most of the time, my customers tell me to “do what I do” so there’s no holding me back from trying something different, or pushing the limits a bit. Another benefit is quite simply the feeling I get when a customer is excited with the work I’ve done for them.
What are some recommendations you would give to someone who was trying to start their own business?
As for recommendations, I’d say it would be to do something you really enjoy and it won’t seem like work at all. Also, don’t get discouraged if business is slow to get started, or even if it slows down a bit along the way. Take any down time as an opportunity to organize your files or plan some promotions. Attack each job with passion and do the best you can with it. And the most important is to ALWAYS stay positive.
Do you enjoy what you do? Why?
I absolutely enjoy what I do...I’d like to think that it shows in my work. I’d say the best part about my job has got to be seeing the finished products. I get so much pleasure seeing someone wearing one of my T-shirt designs at a car show, or catching one of the cars I’ve designed a paint scheme for at a car show. And I especially love seeing logos and business cards that I’ve designed and knowing that I’m helping to grow other peoples’ businesses to grow.
Do you also support other small businesses?
I do support other small businesses. Whether it be small businesses in my local community, or friends who are starting up a business of
their own...it’s the best way to assure that we all grow and succeed. Most recently, a friend of mine started Cary’s Fire Salt which is a delicious seasoning blend. I designed the logo for him as well as his business cards and banner for his booth. I’ve watched him over the last year as he’s pushed his product and is starting to really make progress, getting it into several local stores.
Anything else you would like to add about your experience as a business owner?
As a business owner for 23 years now, I’ll add that I have also started a second side business in January of 2014, called Asphalt Army. It’s a partnership with my brother and we’re selling automotive related apparel. It’s proven to be a much more complicated business to run, thus far. With my current business I’m “providing services” to people, so it’s a bit easier to deal with. But with Asphalt Army, we’re actually “selling apparel” to the public, so it’s proving to be very time-consuming from a bookkeeping standpoint and trying to keep track of all of our inventory and such. It’s been enjoyable so far, but it’s slow to get off the ground as neither of us have had much time or money to put
into it yet.
Anything else you would like to add about your experience with your business?
The last thing I will add is to follow your dreams and never give up. There is a lot of hard work involved to start up and run a business of your own as well as a lot of bumps along the way, but with it comes a lot of satisfaction that outshines all of that.
Liz Watkins Media & Designs thanks Tony Moore of TMoore Graphics for taking the time to interview. This is the sixth interview.