I almost shut my company down.
I was in my 5th year running the business. And, I was ready to leave it all behind.
Sales were actually good… that wasn’t the problem.
The problem was the way I was running my business.
Let me rephrase that… the problem was the way my business was running me!
But it was my fault. I let it get to this point. And, I knew that I had to be the one to get myself out of it.
So, maybe this is more about why the way *I* was running my business was running ME into the ground! Maybe you’re already cruising along and things are great. For your sake, I sure hope that’s so.
But, if you are anything like I was, read on, cause I’m going to dig into what you can do about it to improve things.
There were 5 major things I had to change for me to go from struggling to get through each and every day, to things finally running smoothly and me feeling like I regained control of my own destiny!
1. Change my mindset
I knew I needed to work ON my business for things to improve. But those bigger picture projects just felt like extra work that I didn’t have time for. I had to flip this script in my mind, in a big way! Working ON my business IS the job of the business owner. All those other tasks I was doing to work IN my business was the stuff I really didn’t have time for.
Now, because most kids entertainment businesses are smaller operations, you will have to work IN your business too. I did. But, I had to change my mindset to turn working ON my business a priority.
2. Systems & Documentation
This one was huge for me! With the help of my team, we documented EVERY aspect of how we ran our business. It’s funny, you can do something exactly the same way every single day and not see the error of your ways, but suddenly when you take the time to write out the process you quickly see where the inefficiencies are! We had ridiculous situations where the same checklist of items was written up in 3 different documents. So anytime a change was made, we had to remember to change it in all three places or we’d cause major confusion. How many times do you think we actually remembered to update the list in all three places?? Let’s just say we were often a confused bunch! Solution: eliminate 2 of the 3 checklists and make a note to reference the one master list. Problem solved!
3. Reduce distractions
There are sooo many distractions.
Some feel like they are necessary distractions, for example: client calls, client emails, staff questions, etc.
Some are clearly avoidable: facebook, office chit-chat, watching alpaca videos, etc.
Here’s the deal… there’s a time and place for all of these things, yes, even the alpaca videos (they’re so cute!) But you need to take control of your time, remember that’s what we’re trying to fix here!! Here are just a few examples:
- instead of leaving your email open all day, check email at 2-3 scheduled times during the day (and keep it closed the rest of the day!)
- schedule specific times in the day where your staff can ask you questions, even if it’s 4-5 different time blocks in the day, by scheduling them you make them predictable for you AND more likely that your time will try to find solutions on their own!
- put more and better info on your website and encourage clients to submit online requests, this will eliminate many of the unnecessary calls you’re currently taking.
Look at all of your major distractions and find a solution!
4. Empower my team
This was a tough one for me. I’m a control freak it turns out!
I like things done a certain way. Maybe it’s from all those years of growing up in a house with a father who truly felt that “if it’s not a right angle, it’s a wrong angle!”
But, you know what happened when I finally let go a bit? I was reminded about why I hired these awesome people in the first place!
This said, I couldn’t just turn things over to them and never look back! I did this in a way that made me (and them) comfortable.
I won’t get into too much detail here, but a couple of quick suggestions for you:
- Getting the documentation I talk about in point #2 is a lifesaver here. Once I agreed on a documented and systematic way of doing things with my staff, they were left to do their thing as long as they agreed to follow the procedures we all mapped out together.
- I told them that if there is a problem that they see a clear solution to that will cost the company less than $50 to implement, they had the authority to do so. Anything more than that they had to come to me during the scheduled times I was available. For some of my staff who showed excellent judgement I was quickly able to increase their limit to $100.
5. Routine Improvement Sessions
Every month we had a team meeting to talk about pro-active measures we could take to further improve our systems. I would then dedicate 1 hour after each of these meetings to reflect on the discussions we had and map out an action plan for us to make important improvements. The result was a company that was always improving. We always said the day we stop trying to get better is the day we start getting worse!
What’s the biggest change you feel you need to make to regain control of your time??