Get Things Done
When you're first starting out, it feels like the entire weight of the world is on your shoulders. You're likely wearing more hats than you can juggle, all the while scrambling to prioritize what deserves your immediate attention. However, if you want to make your first sale, or any sales for that matter, eventually you'll come to a realization that you can't do it all, and that you'll need some strategies on how to properly manage your business and yourself when you're building a company with more than one person.
Running a business is really about expanding your own mind and boundaries. There are a lot of comfort zone issues you’ll have to deal with in order to get to the next level. For example you might be worried that other people won’t pack orders nicely, forget inventory, or be rude to customer via email or phone.
These are common fears for growing “etailers”, but that can easily be remedied with a few systems changes and ways of thinking:
You Are Not Your Business
The first thing you must do is remove yourself from the business. Your business doesn’t have to be perfect and its performance has nothing to do with you as a person. People won’t judge you if your business has flaws. This is a really important thing you must understand in order to let your business grow and flourish by generating sales.
The reason why is because whenever you're looking to grow, you will fail a little – and things won’t always be pretty. But you’ll have to be comfortable with these realities. It will be the only way you’ll know what works and what doesn’t. And that’s exactly how you know which direction to move your business in: by experimenting, failing and trying again. An excellent book that goes over the correct entrepreneurial mindset in detail is The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber.
Create Checklists and Recipes
The best way to hand over your day-to-day “work” and make sure that quality stays as high as it can be is to create checklists and recipes for your employees. Well documented procedures help create a system of consistency. But checklists are even better. By actually having your employees check-off each step of a process, it helps to eliminate missteps and also provides a system of accountability.
It may seem very time consuming and tedious at first, but checklists will be the key to growing a successful business that scales. Think of checklists as great multipliers of future revenue. Even if you are still running a one person operation, you may find that building checklists now will improve your operation immediately. And when you decide to bring additional people on, you’ll already have them ready to go.
If You Want Something Done Right, Have Someone Else Do It
Again, getting into the habit of correcting everyone else’s mistakes or doing a majority of the “work” at your business yourself, is a one way road to disaster (or the road of never making any sales). If you find employees making repeated mistakes, your job is to fix the business design flaw that is causing that mistake.
It might not be the employees fault. You may need to provide resources or tools to make the job easier and foolproof. Streamlining and improving efficiency usually solves these types of problems.
As a business owner, you are not supposed to be the “technician”, the customer service rep, the order packer, or the shipper. Your number one priority is to continually grow the business and you do that by:
- Constantly implementing better business design
- Identifying and hiring talent
- Creating amazing culture at your company
- Creating and executing the brand vision
Plan an Improved Business Design
To move into a more entrepreneurial mindset, the first thing you need to do is plan an improved business design. How are you going to grow? What systems do you need in place? What talent do you need? Can you outsource virtual talent?
Create a plan of growth by answering questions like the ones listed above. It’s also very important that you assign goal dates to get these business design features implemented. Keeping yourself accountable to growth timetables is the real secret sauce of successfully getting that first sale and beyond.