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Do What You Do Well

When I was growing up, I remember hearing this song on the radio a few times and my mother singing it to herself while working in the kitchen. The song used to stick in my head a lot but it wasn’t until I became involved in my career that I began to understand its significance.

Ned Miller, the singer, must have known something about running a jewelry store, for if there is one maxim every storeowner, in fact every business owner, should live by, it’s learning to concentrate on the things that matter. Now, Ned may have been referring to putting 100% into every task you try, but I’d like to think he was really suggesting that we only do the things that we do well, or in the case of a successful storeowner, the things that others can’t do for you.

This can be tricky as one of the downsides of being a small business operator is the many hats that have to be worn. You’re often the human resources department, the company President, the marketing department, the sales force, the administration department and production all rolled into one. The bigger the business the easier it is to allocate these tasks but for a store with limited or no staff this can be difficult – but not impossible.

One of the most common pitfalls for any small business owner is getting trapped in the day-to-day activities and not sparing time for taking action on the tasks that will move the business forward. This can be understandable as customers often want things done yesterday and fires are always in need of being put out – and despite the best laid plans there are always unexpected problems that will arise. But frequently this isn’t the only reason why too many storeowners get trapped into fitting watch batteries and sweeping the pavement themselves. It often has more to do with the level of comfort at which we operate.

Some store owners feel lost if they aren’t working at the bench or doing simple tasks that can provide a feeling of completion – after all many of the bigger more important jobs can take a while to be finished. It’s these bigger important jobs however that can often yield the best results – the $1000 per hour plus tasks as I like to call them. If you can pay someone $10 or $20 an hour to perform a task you are doing then this is what you need to do. Your job is to do the things that can pay the bigger dividends and give you a greater return.

Self-help guru Anthony Robbins has for many years spoken about the six basic human needs that we have to feel in order to be comfortable within ourselves. Three of these needs, I believe, contribute to why many jewelers feel better trapping themselves in the day to day tasks they should be allocating to others instead of concentrating on the bigger tasks – the one’s that will generate $1000 or more an hour. Let’s face it, we all know it is a better use of our time planning next month’s promotional campaign than fitting watch batteries, so why do we still do it?

The first need we satisfy by doing this is the need for certainty or comfort. We know how to fit batteries, we’ve done it for a long while and we know there is a need to get it done. We can feel less comfortable preparing the marketing plan if marketing is not our strong suit and we don’t know where to start – hence it keeps getting put in the too hard pile.

The second need we satisfy by fitting the batteries is our need to contribute. Fitting the batteries is a measurable task that we know is useful, it is a part of the process that brings cash daily into the business –it is a key cog in the wheel that starts when the customer comes in and finishes when they return to pick the watch up. We are contributing to the businesses daily activities and others can see the results of our efforts. Locking yourself at home for a half day marketing planning can sometimes feel a little intangible.

The third need is the need for significance. Create a business where everything has to be done or decided by you can be a recipe for a business that needs life support when you’re not there – but for the owner it provides a feeling of importance or significance. Everybody wants their time and their decision. The feeling of power can be addictive and hard to let go. Making yourself semi- redundant can lead to a feeling of uncertainty (point one again) and a worry that you don’t serve any purpose. Believing that “nobody can do it as good as you” can be a source of satisfaction and even self-esteem.

So how do you break out of these habits?
  1. Recognize that continuing to do what you’ve always done will only get you the results that you’ve got. If you’ve read this far then you already know there is more you want from your business. If you don’t take time to do the tasks that make a real difference then your forward progress will be halted

  2. Expect more from yourself. This is not longer hours (you’re probably doing too many already) but demand more in terms of the quality of what you do when you are there. If your store was owned by someone else would they be happy with the level of results and performance you are providing as the manager. If you are too busy to plan your business you are too busy to make more profit. Is that the decision you want to make?
  3. Plan your day in advance the night before. Prepare a list of things you need to achieve the next day and include at least one hour per day of $1000 tasks that will grow your business.

Using the Pareto Principle in Your Business

David Brown is President of the Edge Retail Academy, an organization devoted to the ongoing measurement and growth of jewelry store performance and profitability. For further information about the Academy's management mentoring and industry benchmarking reports contact or Phone toll free (877) 5698657
© Edge Retail Academy 1983 Oliver Springs Street Henderson NV 89052-8502, USA

AT: 01/07/2013 10:50:48 AM   LINK TO THIS ARTICLE

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