As an eCommerce fulfillment company for hundreds of small and mid-sized merchants, we have the privilege of helping many entrepreneurs grow their businesses. In many cases, we begin working with new business owners while they’re just starting out, when an idea that they had is finally coming to fruition.
Over the past 11 years, we’ve been fortunate to have been a part of many wonderful growth stories, those in which our clients have gone from new startups to thriving, well-established businesses. For most, it doesn’t happen overnight, and it requires a tremendous amount of time, often from people who have several other responsibilities, perhaps even another job.
That’s what we want to talk about today: Time.
There are only 86,400 seconds in a day. For business owners, usually it feels like a lot less than that. They have a multitude of obligations, many that can’t be ignored or delegated to someone else. Relating to their business, however, there are often obligations which can be delegated, and by doing so, it provides them with more time to focus on other activities, those that may be critical to the growth of their business.
Let’s use Scott as an example. Scott is a 34-year old software engineer. A year ago, Scott got a patent on a new smartphone accessory he invented, one that protects against virtually any type of damage. He set up an online store to sell his product, and so far, sales have been decent, but not what he expected. He gets about 5 orders per day, and most come from referral customers since Scott has no time to promote his business. After he comes home from his 9-5 job, all of Scott’s free time is consumed with packing and shipping orders, and dealing with customer service issues.
Scott’s situation is not uncommon. For many new online sellers, they work other jobs and have relatively little time to focus on their eCommerce business. The time they do have is often devoted to managing customers and filling orders. And this doesn’t only apply to small, startup merchants; this is a common situation among many larger, more established online retailers.
As a business owner, it’s important to evaluate all of your obligations, including those unrelated to your business, and figure out how much time you can actually devote each week toward your business. Then take some time to think about the things you’d ideally like to spend time on that relate to your business. What you may find is that there’s simply not enough time in the day for all you want and need to do, and often the things that will help take your business to the next level are the ones that have to be neglected.
There are many obligations that can be handed off, or outsourced. Order fulfillment is a common one, and it’s a good idea to take a look at your fulfillment options to see what makes sense for your business. Other tasks or obligations that can be outsourced include customer service, marketing and web design. In some cases, you’ll save money, such as with cheaper shipping rates from fulfillment companies, or fewer overhead expenses. In other cases, it’ll be an investment, but it’s important to think about not only what your time is worth, but also the things that are being sacrificed simply because you don’t have the time to do them.