Learning To Get Out Of The Way
Every year we hold an annual e-commerce conference here in San Diego in late February or early March. It's an important event for both our community and our merchants as it provides a great opportunity to learn, focus on our businesses, network, etc...
Normally the "Conference" is all consuming for me and something that I focus on intently and "leave it all on the field" when I'm done. This year was a little different. About 3 weeks before the conference I caught a cold, that turned into a Sinus Infection which coming into the week of the conference turned into a sore throat and bronchitis.
It took absolutely every ounce of focus and will power that I had in order to finish my slides for my presentation and actually give my presentation at all. I spoke on Thursday morning March 10th at around 9:15 AM and spoke for roughly 45 minutes. I don't really recall much of it (luckily we have it on video) and shortly there after I went up to my hotel room and passed out until 5 PM that night.
On Friday I was slightly better and at least able to mingle and finally on Saturday I was almost back to the living, if you will. One thing is for certain though, I was not able to "run" the event, or be involved significantly at all, I was just trying to keep it together.
Why do I tell you all of this? The answer for me came when I read our Feedback forms after the conference and our attendees gave us the best reviews we've ever received for our event.
For me this was a giant lesson about letting go and trusting my team to do a great job, in fact I didn't even have a choice really, so getting out of there way and letting them do a great job is more descriptive.
If I trust our surveys (and I do), at some level, by not getting out of the way and putting myself in too many key decision making points in years past, the event had suffered; not a lot, but had suffered. When I finally gave the event and our staff room to breathe, they went above and beyond and did a fantastic job and created the best event we've ever hosted.
I suspect most small business owners are like me to some degree. They care passionately about their business and sometimes smother some things accidentally because of their passion. In the early days this can be a beneficial trait as there's probably not anyone else to do it or help anyway, and you're in the process of just establishing the process anyhow. However as we grow and our businesses mature a bit, this is one of the most difficult transitions most entrepreneurs needs to make.
Ok, ok, I get it, so I need to not let being a passionate control freak ruin my business, but I still don't see what this has to do with e-commerce sites?
Well even for one person shops, this lesson can apply. An easy example would be, does the thought of editing CSS make your eyes roll into the back of your head? Yet you still go in and tinker instead of hiring someone for $30 an hour to do a few hours work per month? How much are you losing in sales because your site didn't look right in Safari because you broke your CSS on accident? More than the $30 it would've taken to prevent that problem in the first place?
Are the type of person who can lose the sunglasses that you're wearing? But you insist on packing every shipment instead of getting some minimum wage help? How many hours a month does it cost you in fixing the mistakes you make since you're not a detail person? How much money is it costing you by screwing up the client experience and having to exchange orders, just to save $10 an hour?
I could go on and on, super technical people doing marketing, or marketing people doing tech work. Accounting type people working on sales campaigns, or sales type people trying to do their own books. The list is long and full of cliche's.
It may seem like you just don't have the money (or the time) to let go and let someone else help you grow your business, but all too often it's YOU who are the problem and not the time or the money.
Ask yourself where in your business this might be true and if you can't figure it out, ask someone you know and trust who knows you well to tell you (and don't be a jerk to them, when they do tell you).