Are You Running Your Ecommerce Business—Or is it Running You?
Are you building your business to support the life you want to live? Or are you so busy getting everything done that life is passing you by?
While I mostly write about cash flow, I’ve come to realize that the real currency in our lives is time. This is true for life and for business. Time can definitely come into play when you are ready to sell your business. Right now, the market for eCommerce businesses is on fire, and bookskeep is seeing a flurry of exits with our own clients. Potential buyers like businesses that aren’t too owner dependent. This comes right back to how you spend your time. One way to make your business more valuable is to build it so that it runs without you. Yes, that’s exactly what I just said!
The Entrepreneurial Trap
As entrepreneurs, we often fall into the trap of doing everything ourselves. We think no one can do it quite as good as we do it, and while it is hard to face this, the reality is our ego may be skewing our perception. Many of my team members now are better bookkeepers than I am. I suspect as you build out your team, those people closest to the work will become more of an expert than you.
This trap of believing you’re the only one who can do the job has some significant consequences, too. The primary concern is burnout; how long can you operate with little sleep and heightened stress, missing out on family activities and not taking care of yourself? That answer will vary depending on your “constitution” as my grandfather would say. But why not intentionally create the business to serve your personal lifestyle? Design and build what you want from the beginning?
I admit that early on, I had fallen into that trap and I was beginning to wonder, why am I even doing this? And then I worked with my business coach, Mike Michalowicz and I redesigned or “clockworked” my business about four years ago. Mike asked me to set a date when I would leave my business and take a 4-week vacation. We chose the month of July 2018. For 15 months, we worked on getting me and my husband out of the day-to-day activity of our business. It took us that long to identify the activities we do, hire and train the team resources and then practice with a mini vacation to ensure we had it dialed in.
Time to Unplug and Clear Your Head
Then we got on a plane and went to Hawaii for two weeks and then came back through Arizona and Las Vegas for the rest of the time. For those four weeks, I was completely unplugged from my team. No email or chat or even social media. The cool thing was that not only did I benefit with a clearer mind, but my team gained the confidence that they could handle things themselves and they did not need to rely on us.
We took a second 4-week vacation in May of 2019 and I learned just how much the business had changed in that year. We didn’t spend as much effort preparing because we had done it before, and I found myself popping back in to cover things that I didn’t anticipate. Last year, because of COVID-19, we did not take the planned time away. So now we are preparing for our next vacation that will start this May. We just went through a practice run with two weeks away, and we will be working through our “punch list” with our team in the next few weeks.
How Clockworking Actually Works
If you’re ready to design your business to support your life, then get serious about where you spend your time. In Mike Michalowicz’ book, Clockwork, he shares a concept of the 4 D’s. They are Doing, Deciding, Delegating, Designing. If you are spending all your time Doing, you are likely overwhelmed. If you have a team and they constantly come to you for decisions, you are also likely overwhelmed. The real opportunity to break out of the overwhelm is to get to the stage of delegating. Delegate tasks to your team members and ensure that they own the outcome and are empowered to make the decisions to get to the ideal results. Once you successfully delegate, you free up a little time to spend designing your business. This look of delegate and design is repeated many times until you are able to get away for your 4-week vacation. When you reach this stage, you are in control and can build your business to support your life.
Last week during my time away, we stayed at a beach house named Linger Longer on the North Carolina coast. I invite you to “linger longer” over a few questions to get you started on the path to clockworking your business.
-How are you spending your time? If you don’t know, track it for a couple of weeks.
-What are you doing that is not necessary? Can you just stop doing it? Can you do less of it?
-What can be transferred to a team member? If you don’t have a team yet, what can you outsource?
-Are you truly delegating or are you requiring your team to come back to you for decisions? I don’t suggest just throwing things at them with no training or guidance. Take the time to teach them your model for making decisions and identify the types of things that might truly require your input; don’t leave it to chance.
You CAN Do This!
If you’re ready to get serious about designing your business, then pick up a copy of Clockwork or check out these articles I’ve written as I’ve been on this journey. Let me know what steps you’re taking. It’s more fun to travel this road with a friend and I’m just a little ahead of you on this path!