3 years after starting my first successful online e-commerce store, I was exhausted, overwhelmed, frustrated and underpaid! Thanks to the original Stomping the Search Engines course, my website was ranking in the top 10 for most all of the major keywords we went after and sales were through the roof!
Unfortunately, this meant that I spent most waking hours answering the phones, e-mailing orders to vendors, and updating the website with new products and sales! This left little to no time for marketing and almost no time for sleep during our peak season. The site soon became a source of conflict, and I began to wonder if this was the entrepreneurial dream that I had signed up for!
But I have learned some tips about virtual teams and systems for your business that helped my business and they can help yours.
One of the very first and important business tips I learned was that I needed to out-task. As long as I was answering the phones and processing orders, my business could not grow. Basically the premise is that if you can pay someone minimum wage to do a task and you choose to do that task, you are earning minimum wage. A good idea is to make a daily “To Do” list, and examine what you are spending your time on. If there are tasks on the list that are not generating income or making your business run more effectively, those tasks need to be out-tasked to someone else.
If your business is dependent on you, you will never be able to take a vacation or enjoy the reasons you became a business owner in the first place. Create How To guides and manuals for each area of your business. This is a gradual process and not something that you do once only to forget about it. Set up your business processes and when there is a breakdown and an employee or contractor has to come seeking your approval or advice, update your business processes.
Set specific goals and tasks for everyone on your team
Have a weekly meeting and discuss the pending tasks and any issues that have arisen with those tasks. Always praise in public and criticize in private. Take this time to give positive feedback and to deal with any problems. Many times employees don’t bring problems to management because they think it is their responsibility to try to figure it out themselves. Such initiative is often good, but other times, there are problems that we as management have already dealt with and we can provide a simple solution in about 20 seconds!
Teach your team to out-task and supervise others
To be successful you will need a core team that supports you and can work effectively to get projects done with little to no input or guidance from you. If your team is not functioning, it’s your responsibility as the business owner to set up systems and procedures so that they can be successful. Everything does rise and fall on leadership. If you have great team member, but he or she is not able to give up some of their responsibilities and supervise others, then you cannot grow. One person can never do it all. Teach them to assign tasks to junior team members and how to effectively supervise their junior team members so that their time is freed up doing more productive things.
Have 2 people for each job
Although this may seem impossible in the beginning when finances are tight, as soon as possible, always have two people for every job. When out-tasking projects overseas, unexpected problems happen. Hurricanes (especially in the Philippines), power outages, kids get sick, and so on. By having 2 people trained for every task, you ensure that you won’t have to renege on the responsibilities you have already trained others to take over.
These are just a few tips that I have used in my business. As a mom of 7 children, a wife and a missionary, my life is busy. Your life is busy as well, so you can’t afford to not add what you can to make your business run easier and automatically.
- Systematize everything.
- Set specific goals and tasks for everyone on your team.
- Teach your team to out-task and supervise others.
- Unexpected things happen, so make certain you have 2 people for each job.
Extracted from StomperNet SEO Intelligence Report, November 18, 2011.