Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Big Lessons in Business

My associate Laura Sevigny, our new director of operations, marketing and sales, said this: "The biggest lessons I've learned were from when I failed not succeeded." I thought about that statement, and I agree. Then I considered my own biggest lessons from failure, and I wanted to share with my audience here on First Word.

I must be the "master of my domain" (a funny line from Seinfeld which has nothing to do with business). But it's true. As the CEO I should not be doing every job, but I should know how to do every job. After another "expensive education" (another Laura-ism), I decided it was time to pull back the curtain and figure it ALL out. Even though it's taken temporarily from my core work, I decided to devote a month or better to perform every task in my business down to shipping. In doing these tasks, I will now be able to answer every question firmly and without reservation. I can also gauge and understand what amount of time given to my team to do something is reasonable. Thus, if someone sends me a bill for 20 hours to do a two-hour job I can assert and question its voracity.

Rooting out deficiencies and problems and solving them. When you get your hands dirty and inspect everything in your business, you're going to discover "fact from fiction," which means finding out what has been done correctly vs. incorrectly or inadequately. This is really a quality-assurance inspection. It does absolutely no good if you have a first-rate product and a second- or even third-rate back-end solution in logistics. To have one's inventory in disarray and not accounted for is unacceptable. Upon a close inspection I discovered things that in my mission to provide excellence for my entire company, I was distressed to find were less-than-excellent and in some cases downright neglected. No excuses for sloppy work. The next step is to put things back in order. Fix the outpoints. Develop and organize proper systems and then make sure they're executed properly.

Holding vendors accountable. If you're making a vendor money by providing a product for them, then you should hold accountability on their parts, too. A vendor with a poor attitude or poor customer service needs to evaluated. The first step should be a polite: how can we help you do your job? How can we on our end do a better job? Then whatever those reasons that are hindering the vendor, make sure you step up your end. If that doesn't solve it, look to other relationships to build. 

Logistics and delivery and final sales. A beautiful product means nothing if you can't get it into the hands of customers. You have to deliver! If you can't deliver what is the point? Everything you've done becomes useless. So make sure all your systems are in place and deliver what you promised.

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