Today we’re talking with Cyndi Thomason, one of my dear friends and the owner of BooksKeep eCommerce bookkeeping service. She is also one of the leading strategies and implementor of the Profit First strategy where she helps sellers build and run a profitable business. You can find out more about Cyndi and her business at Bookskeep.com
*Note we waited until Cyndi returned from her vacation to post this show! She is back and working now!
But today, we’re going to talk about something that is probably a foreign concept to many people – something they just don’t think they could possible EVER do – and that is to take a 1 MONTH vacation.
I know you’re probably thinking there is no way you could take 4 weeks and unplug from your business – but that is exactly what Cyndi and her husband, Dave, are about to do. I myself have taken up to 6 weeks away from my business so I know it is totally possible. And today’s podcast talks about the process Cyndi followed to get her ready to head to Hawaii.
Taking time away from your business is so important for several reasons. First, everyone needs a break. Being able to step away and recharge is healthy and everyone can benefit from it. Pulling yourself out of the daily grind gives your brain a chance to do what it does best – which is being creative. But even if you don’t want to be gone for a full month, it’s nice to have the peace of mind knowing that if anything happened where you HAD to be unplugged from your business for an extended period you could. But as we find out from Cyndi, the steps you take in preparing your business to run while you’re away will help grow you and your business in ways you could never imagine.
So how do you do it? The key is to build systems. And just like any other goal, you must commit to do it, set a date and make a plan.
A couple of weeks ago you heard us talk with Mike Michalowicz on his new book Clockwork. Cyndi was featured in Mike’s book as she implemented Mike’s suggested and prepared her business to run during her sabbatical.
The most important thing is to set a date. Draw a line in the sand and make a commitment on when you will leave. Mike suggest setting a date 12-18 months out and, Cyndi says it took them that long to get everything in place. You’re going to set up processes that covers a full business cycle -which is typically a 4-week cycle. Generally, within one month you touch every aspect of your business from sales, operations, finance, billing, etc. So, by running an entire 4-week business cycle you’ll get an idea of where there are holes in your process development.
Next Cyndi explains how she and Dave reviewed their ‘Queen Bee’ roles. Your Queen Bee role is that role that only YOU can do and is your main contribution to the business. For Cyndi – she went back to their company’s mission – which is to deliver peace of mind to her clients about their financials. This is WHY she is in business. And for her, her Queen Bee role was to communicate that mission to her clients. Identifying her Queen Bee role helped her really evaluate how much of her time was she truly contributing to that vs all the other things she was doing. She realized many of the things she did daily basis really didn’t have anything to do with her most important role. Not that the things she was doing weren’t important to her business, but they weren’t the most important thing SHE should be doing.
When you’re able to shed those things that don’t support your most important contribution, you’re able to focus on what you should focus on – and that is where you can be most productive and make things happen that need to happen.
For Amazon sellers, that might look different depending on your sourcing methods. For example, if you’re 100% RA you may find that your biggest contribution is the relationship you have with the managers of your favorite stores. If you do wholesale, it might be talking with your vendors and building those relationships. Or if you do OA, it might be evaluating the buys that your VA sends you. It’s really about identifying what are the things that have the biggest impacts on your business that ONLY you can do. Many times, during this exercise we find that we really have a tendency to over emphasize our importance.
This was one of the biggest unexpected benefits that Cyndi found in implementing this process. As she started shifting more responsibilities to other members of the team she quickly found that she wasn’t always doing it the best way. Her team members sometimes came up with better ways to accomplish things. Watching the personal growth of her own team was very rewarding.
Creating these systems and delegating the responsibilities is not a ‘flip-the-switch’ activity. It’s a constantly growing activity that keeps driving you forward. And you certainly can’t do it all at once. Mike talks about the implementation principles of the three D’s; Doing, Decide, Delegating, Designing
Doing – this is where you are the technician, and you are the one actually doing the work. This is generally where everyone starts. But as you are doing the task, you start by thinking this is the last time I’m going to do this task, so how do I make it so someone else can do it.
Decide – this is where you give your instructions on how to accomplish the task, but you have them bring it back to you for you to review. Some task may never move past this point – but ideally you want to create someone else who can do the review.
Delegate – this is the ideal result. This is where you turn over total responsibility for the task, the outcome and the process for resolving any issues that arise. You may have the procedure outlined that they need to follow, and they may come to you with questions, but rather than just giving instructions on the next steps, you coach them in how they might find the answers to their questions.
Designing – and finally, as you’ve delegated more activities, you are left with time to truly architect your business – whether it’s building new relationships or expanding to other areas. You can’t successfully expand if you haven’t successfully delegated.
So where do you start? Cyndi and Dave started by picking 3 things to work on each quarter and creating 90-day action plans. Look at your top 2 biggest constraints in your business. Think about how it would look if you hit a home run in removing those obstacles. Next, evaluate your low hanging fruit. What are the things where you can make a quick, easy change tomorrow? With these items identified, now pick your top 3 to work on and create action plans to tackle them for the next 90-days. Cyndi explained they did this every 3-mths tweaking their plans as they went.
It’s important to remember here that 90-day plans are not things written in stone. These are more blueprints to head you in the right direction, but as you go you may need to tweak them.
Cyndi also shares another surprising, unexpected benefit of this process was her own personal growth through the process. She started to reconnect with the passion that made her start this business in the first place. And in the process of delegating more responsibilities, she started to discover new passions she didn’t realize she had. Things like coaching and speaking that wouldn’t have been on her radar a few months prior, are now new opportunities she’s excited to explore. And now that she’s equipped her team with the tools to run the daily business without so much of her input, she has the time to explore those new opportunities. But first, Hawaii is waiting.