Ultimately, every business boils down to three main elements: sales and marketing, finance, and operations.
My last three articles, hereafter referred to as the “Keepin’ It 100” series, were chock full of brutal truths that were tough to share, but, ultimately, cathartic. So, with this article, let’s shift gears a bit and talk about business (or bizness, if you are so inclined).
Ultimately, every business boils down to three main elements: sales and marketing, finance, and operations. Most of us that own or manage a music store naturally gravitate to one of these three things. In my experience, most music-store owners or managers fall into the sales or operations profiles (because if we were good at finance, we’d have likely picked a different industry).
A simple job description for these three roles might be as follows:
Sales & Marketing: Create a sales and service strategy that effectively converts prospects into customers (a customer being a prospect that makes a purchase), while developing a marketing strategy that identifies your ideal prospect and stimulates a desire for them to learn more about your company.
Finance: Develop and maintain a budget/cashflow plan that addresses capital needs for inventory and operational needs; identify trends in the business.
Operations: Create systems to optimize efficiency and consistency in the day-to-day running of all aspects of your store (including both customer-facing activities and the behind-the-scenes work).
Any successful company will have these three roles filled. If you are a one-person eBay shop, you personally are filling all three roles. But as you grow, you’ll start adding more people, and it’s important to know what responsibilities they are supposed to fill. Ignoring any of these three roles will have disastrous effects on your business.
At Springfield Music Inc., we are followers of the methods outlined in the book “Traction” by Gino Wickman. Wikipedia summarizes this book as “a business strategy book … that guides leaders of entrepreneurial organizations on how to gain control of their business through the Entrepreneurial Operating System.” In this book, one of the points Wickman writes about is the importance of having one person be accountable for each of these three roles. Or, in other words, only one person occupies the primary seat, and that one person is responsible for the work of everyone involved in the role they are overseeing. So, you would not have two people who are both accountable for operations, but you could have multiple people involved in operations.
Following this one-butt-per-seat rule creates accountability for the outcomes of that role. “If everyone’s responsible, then no one’s responsible.” I’m sure we’ve all experienced this at one time or another. If you operate a small company, you might occupy all three seats, but, as you grow, the goal is to add new team members who have the required strengths and skillsets to occupy those seats for you.
At our company, we have found that finding people who have the experience and training to properly fill one of the three roles has been the key to drastically improving our business, while at the same time reducing stress on ownership and management. Most business owners or operators wait until they are running ragged before they hire additional people, and then they get the first warm body that can fog a mirror. You need to be disciplined in your personnel strategy, just like you would be in acquiring new lines or offering new services. The goal, as an owner or operator, is to find people with the education and experience to do a better job in that role than you were able to do yourself. Then, you have to give them responsibility for the outcome of their role.
Take 30 minutes away from your business, and think how you are currently filling these three roles. Do you have someone occupying each role that has the knowledge, ability and time to properly oversee this aspect of your business? If the answer is yes, congratulations! You are well ahead of the pack! If not, design a plan for what you need to change in order to make this happen. This simple task will yield huge strategic benefits for you and your company.
In my next series, I’m going to share the strategies we use to “Keep the Pipeline Full” for staff, sales and service. You’ll find some ideas to help you find your next key hires and put them to good use.
As always, if you have thoughts, fears, struggles, questions or ideas you’d like to share, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And, as always, remember to “Keep It 100.”
P.S. In light of the upcoming holiday sales season, I want to share with you this article I wrote last year (“Five Tips for a December to Remember”) on how to make each December one to remember. You can read it online here: msr.io/2yzfn9v.