Tell me honestly. Do you count yourself as an expense in your retail business? Do you pay yourself a reasonable salary or dividends for the work that you do? For some, the answer will be yes, perhaps you didn’t in the first year, but since then you are taking your salary and making the business finances work. Great news! For many others though, it can seem like a never-ending loop of cashflow & expenses that never seems to create enough of a gap for you to pay yourself what you would like to earn, nor is there any sight of being able to hire a bigger team anytime soon to alleviate some of the responsibilities and free up your time.
If this is the loop you are in, it’s time to take a look at the business and where you are spending your time. As the business owner you are not just responsible for the day to day duties, you are also ‘steering the ship’ and need to be spending some of your time looking at the future growth plans and overall finances and opportunities.
So how can we spring clean and re-organize your time to be more effective for your business? How can we work towards less hours and more revenue?
“Find what you are good at and use your imagination and creativity at every opportunity.”Richard Branson.
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 your own time and take control of it. Once you start to realise where your time is going, you can look at options to streamline it and hopefully outsource parts of it. If you read my previous blog, ‘Is Your Retail Business Sparking Joy For you?’, you will have hopefully done my 7 day challenge.
Using the list of tasks that you created, we need to try to identify ways to streamline your time more effectively. A few suggestions for this are:-
- Delegating simple tasks to others. Spending the time now to train somebody on some of those more menial but time sucking tasks, can free up your time to be spent on more productive business building tasks. A lot of sales assistants will gladly take on more responsibility and perhaps you can look for a new team member who has multiple skills you can use. For example a sales assistant who is a social media whizz or who is happy with a camera in her hand. Use the above task list to pinpoint what skills you are looking for.
- Identifying blocks of time for certain tasks rather than mixing it up during the day. For example, decide that Monday afternoons is your finance day to go through receipts and sales reports and banking. Spend 2 hours on a Tuesday planning out all your social media posts for the week with images. We all know we should be doing this but if you actually do it, it can save you a lot of time (kicking myself as I write this…!).
- Start a communication board – particularly if you have a growing team of sales people in the store. Make notes at the beginning of the week of what stock is due to arrive, what is out of stock, any messages for the team, or points you need to stress to them. To save you from repeating this, make sure the team forms a habit to always check this board. You can then relax knowing everyone will get the messages and focus your brain on other things.
- Look for time saving apps. There are a million different apps available these days that can save you time. Automating things is a great way to not only save you time but also to organize your business data and make sure things are kept in order. For example a team scheduling app could be more useful than the old spreadsheet you were using and it might even map the information to your salary payment tool.
Working out where you are most valuable in your business is critical to being more productive and will ultimately help you to grow. Nobody is amazing at everything! If you are fantastic at sourcing new brands and choosing unique products for the boutique, then you need to find yourself enough creative time to do this. If you are a demon with the numbers or the best at selling to customers’ then focus a chunk of your time there. If you know you are not great with technology then let someone else focus on uploading new products into the inventory software rather than you spending hours fighting with it. Identify your strengths, be honest with yourself and then find a solution.
Ultimately you need to value your time, put a cost on it to the business and then make a plan to make sure you are doing the right things. Of course, challenges always come up and unexpected things will happen throughout the week but with an organized starting framework, you are much more likely to handle those things that come your way with less stress and panic and whilst moving your business forward.
By spending more time in your business on the things that will improve it, help it generate sales and earn more profit, you can look forward to the business you had dreamt of when you started on this adventure.