The family business concept looks a little different for Melissa McLin, a third generation printer, after she decided to strike out on her own instead of joining her family’s printing business. But that other business remains in the picture.
“I pretty much gave my grandpa the right of first refusal when I came out into the market available to sell printing,” she says of her decision to start MM Print Design after her late grandfather, her mentor, offered a salary she considered too low. So she decided to start her own business, which creates marketing materials for small to medium-sized businesses.
McLin maintains at least one tie to the family business, Manatee Printers Inc. in Bradenton: that's where she goes for most of her printing needs.
McLin graduated from the State College of Florida in 2010 with a degree in graphic design. She became a national account manager for a vehicle wrap company, where she learned how to run her own business within someone else’s business. The job, notably, didn’t provide a lot of training.
“So I built my own business within that business,” she says. “My clients knew how to submit new orders and what processes were required to get their project to the next steps.”
It wasn’t until her next job that she realized most of the printing services were outsourced within her industry.
“I started investigating the avenue of starting my own business then,” she says. She started small with a graphic design business during the pandemic, creating fun things like giant birthday cards and graduation banners. Then she went back to work for a print company in Port Charlotte for a year. “It reiterated that I was totally capable of doing this on my own.”
MM Print Design became a reality in June 2022. In that time, she’s learned a valuable lesson.
“Do not discount your services,” she says. “If the client is willing to pay you what you’re worth then they are meant to be your client.”
She learned this firsthand. McLin had discounted a logo design to appease a customer. Mid-project the client decided to go with another provider and requested a refund from McLin.
“If I would have charged them what I was worth, they probably would have never even started the project with me,” she says of the time wasted.
McLin also advises others thinking about starting their own business to not waste any time.
“Proving to myself that I waited too long,” she says of the biggest win of her first year in business. “I should have done this two or three years ago.”