Perhaps you started your retail store with the dream of having your own business and therefore having a flexible work schedule of your own. No boss, no office hours and the freedom to make your own decisions.
Fast forward a year or 2 and you are busier than you ever were in employment! Your weekends are no longer a time for relaxation as the store is at its busiest on a Saturday, when you are not at the shop you are home on your laptop answering emails, preparing stock orders or updating social media and you never seem to truly be able to switch off.
Of course, this may not be everyone’s reality and I am very happy to hear if you are making it all balance out but for many small boutique owners it is and there is currently no end in sight. I was in this situation for many years and I am not about to sit here and preach to you about how you just need to hire more people and turn your laptop off in the evening. I get it. There is no easy solution, however there are ways you can start to improve things and work towards a future situation where you find a better balance. And it all starts with awareness….
Here is a little challenge for you. And I KNOW you are not afraid of a challenge! For the next week, keep a timesheet. Note down all the work tasks you do during each day, whether it’s serving a customer, answering the phone, receiving a delivery, re-merchandising a display, emailing a supplier or training a member of staff. Write it alldown and next to each one write down how long you spent doing it. The first lesson in awareness is to time things, for real.
After 7 days, go through the list and calculate the total time spent during the week on each type of task. For example, did you spend a total of 3 hours on stock ordering, 1 hour on HR related duties, 4 hours on social media, 2 hours on finance and 24 hours on store sales with customers? You might be surprised how some tasks really add up to a lot of time. By breaking down your tasks into blocks of time like this, you can start to get a picture of where your time is going. Everyone’s will look different hence there is no right or wrong answer here, this is about gaining awareness of your own schedule.
I have said this many times on my social media feed but as an independent retail store owner you wear many different hats. You are pulled in many directions in order to make this kind of business work. My belief though is that in order to grow your business either in scale or in profits, you have to be in control. You have to be running your business not letting it run you.
Ultimately the goal here is to value yourself and your own time and take control of it. Giving so much of yourself to your business can be awesome but you need to be in control of it and balancing it with life outside of work. Once you start to realise where your time is going, you can look at options to streamline it, choose the tasks that you most enjoy and are good at and hopefully outsource some other parts of it.
On my blog next week I will be writing the next part of this subject about identifying your strengths in the business.
“Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.”
― Marie Kondō, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing