Sometimes, the things that take up most of our time aren’t the projects that make money for our business. We get lost in side projects and daily processes instead of actually growing our business. I know I’m guilty of this too, which is why I created a two-step method to tell when I’ve fallen into this trap.
First, you’ll want to write up a list of what takes up most of my time in a week. Then take a step back and make a second list of what makes money for your organization. Time spent approving something, signing documents, or emailing business partners probably isn’t making you much money. These support your operations, but for your second list, you only want to include things that are directly putting money in your business’ hands.
Once you’ve got both of your lists, compare them. If you see a lot of overlap, congratulations. You’re probably using your time fairly effectively. But if you’re noticing a substantial difference in your lists, then either you’ve been sucked into processes that don’t generate real value for your business, or you’re afraid to delegate less-important tasks to other people.
The good news is that either of these issues is easy to get over. You can change your processes, hand off work to other people, or do anything else to make sure the important work gets done. The important thing is making sure that your list of money-makers is consistently getting the time and effort it needs. That’s how you generate more revenue and grow your business.
There’s no shame in needing some outside help to figure out where your time should be going. At the end of the day, it’s in your best interest to invest time in the things that make money for your business. However you need to go about doing that, accomplishing that goal should be your first priority.
Contrary to popular belief, bringing in consultants doesn’t mean you’ve failed to solve your own problems. You can be the most brilliant, innovative, and efficient business manager and still need a hand. Even Steve Jobs got stuck; it’s nothing to be embarrassed about.
But before you start making any calls, you need to figure out whether you’re actually stuck or just need to give a subject more thought. For me, I know I’m stuck when an item on my priorities list gets pushed aside 3-4 times. That tells me that I’m missing some key element to finding the answer, and it’s my cue that I need somebody to help me work out the solution.
Sometimes the solution is to look in your own organization. Maybe you just need to get your VP of Sales and VP of Production in the room together to hash things out. But sometimes it takes more than that. You may need someone outside of your organization (or even your industry) to come in and give the problem some fresh eyes. Scary as it is to acknowledge needing help, it’s oftentimes the simplest way to solve your problems.
Steve Jobs was never afraid to call in outside help, and if you want to reach that level of success, you need to have the same attitude. You’d be surprised how often that big, all-consuming problem can be solved with just a few hours and cups of coffee with the right people in the room.
When I speak with a client and suggest that they try raising their business’ prices, there’s usually a lot of skepticism. After all, who wants to risk losing business to sky-high price tags?
Luckily, that's not what I'm suggesting. What I am suggesting is taking some time to carefully and methodically test out higher prices. Online, it’s especially easy to see how new prices will play out. Just raise your rates on your e-commerce platform of choice and let the market tell you what to do.
For brick and mortar stores, it’s a bit trickier, but not much. If you’ve got a franchise, just pick a location and adjust prices at that one store. That way you can directly compare the sales of your “normal” pricing to the proposed price. If you only have one location, then just treat it like an e-commerce site and update the prices store-wide. The only difference is that you’ll use your past months’ sales to determine if the price change was effective or not.
How ever you implement it, the not-so-secret secret to success here is to start with small changes. Start with a small, proportional uptick in price one month, then continue on that price until it stops working. And trust me, you’ll know when it’s not working. When your orders start diminishing drastically, that’ll be the market telling you to correct course.
This should be an ongoing, data-driven process. It doesn’t have to be time intensive, but it does need strict controls and reviews on a consistent basis.
When working with Silverwind clients, I’d say that 60% find they can afford to increase their prices. And even for the other 40%, they at least know that they’re at the right price point and can move forward more confidently. Price testing gets treated like a four-letter word, but if you give it a fair shot, I think you’ll be surprised at how much your business stands to gain.