00:01 You’re listening to the Ecommerce for Good podcast, episode one.
00:16 Hello, friends. Welcome to Ecommerce for Good where I interview online store owners about their journey, struggles, and how they’re making an impact in the world. My name is Kal Wiggins. If you haven’t heard of me or seen my videos before, I’ve been in the e-commerce world since 2010 running my own online store, developing stores for other people and generally trying to help people grow their businesses. What I want to do in this podcast is speak with store owners just like you so that we can all learn together what works and doesn’t work and build a community around us.
00:47 The thing is we as entrepreneurs are taking an uncommon path and despite how it feels, we don’t have to be alone because there are others of us out there. So on most episodes, I’m going to be interviewing store owners and talking about their businesses and successes and whatnot, but today I thought I’d start the show off with a bit of reflection together. It is January and every January I take stock of where I am around this time so that I can pivot if needed and strengthen my strengths and overcome my weaknesses.
01:20 So as we begin this podcast together, I thought this would be a perfect place for us all to start together. So a couple of the questions that I ask myself, first of all, I asked these of myself and then I meet with my team and I asked these same questions with my team so that we can all reflect together, not only me as an individual, but us as a team as well. And first of all, I start out with the wind.
01:44 So here’s a couple of questions to go ahead and write down. You can find them on the show notes at e-commerceforgood.com. Just search for episode one. But here’s where I start. Number one, and I write this stuff down. And the reason I write this stuff down is because next year I want to look back at what I wrote down today. So let’s start out with the wins. Number one, what did we do well this year and what are the results that we got? I guess that’s number one and number two. What did we do well? What are the results we got? So let’s talk about what went right and then let’s move into what didn’t go right.
02:21 Let’s get through the pain. So next questions are what didn’t go as expected this year and what could we have done differently in order to get the results that we were hoping to get, and whether we pivoted on some of our goals or just didn’t hit him for whatever reason, whatever the reason was that caused us not to hit them. Missed goals are not failures unless we don’t learn from them. So the final question is, what did we learn this year?
02:57 So if you didn’t get where you wanted to be, let’s figure out why that was, so at least we understand ourselves better next year. Maybe we set our goals too high. Maybe we got distracted, maybe we didn’t have the right team members. Maybe we lost a team member. Whatever that thing is, let’s write that down so that we can understand what went wrong this year. And hopefully at the end of next year when you look back on this, the thing that went wrong this year isn’t the same that went wrong last year, if that makes sense.
03:29 Next let’s go through some bigger picture questions. So maybe this is about business, maybe this is about outside of business, but how do we want our lives to be better next year? Do we want to make more money as a business? Do we want to make more money as individuals? Do we want to spend more time with our family? Did we fail to take a vacation this year and we’re going to make it happen this next year? So how do we want our lives to be better, whether that’s business or personal.
04:02 Next question. Are we hitting the mark and are we truly executing to our capabilities? One thing that Grant Cardone says is that we all have a duty to be… And I’m paraphrasing. We all have a duty to be the best that we can be at whatever we are meant to be because we owe it to our family, we owe it to our friends, our clients and the world to be as good as we can. And we are all given gifts in life, and are we really executing to our capabilities? There’s been times in my life where, maybe I relax on the goals because I was comfortable and looking back, I wish I didn’t do that.
04:45 I wish I had got out to win every day. I wish I didn’t phone it in, and sometimes you do that. Sometimes you get lost in Facebook or politics or whatever and it’s easy. It’s easy to get distracted. So are we executing to our capabilities? And one of the biggest questions that I’ve ever asked myself is what’s holding us back? So the thing is whoever you are and whatever you do, the thing that you avoid most is generally what’s holding you back. And at some point I realized that my fear of sales is what was holding me back, and it wasn’t anybody else. It was just my mind that was holding me back. And when I realized that my fear of sales was holding me back, I set out to overcome that fear of sales and it changed my life.
05:35 So I’ll probably talk about that more in a future episode, but what have you been avoiding? What’s holding you back? Maybe this is the year that you can overcome that and really unleash the full power of you. And the last thing that I think about as I assess how my year went is I take time to assess our company values. So I’m a big believer in defining company values and putting them on the website for a couple of reasons. Number one, this helps people that come to your website understand more about who you are and what you’re about, what you believe in.
06:15 But I once heard Jason Cohen, the founder of WP Engine, talk and he’s very inspiring and he talked about values and trends and he said that trends are the things that are flavors of the month or the year or maybe the thing that’s important to your customers right now, but they won’t always be important. Whereas values are the things that define you. They will always be true about you. They will never change. They’re timeless. And so I think it’s important to define what our values are.
06:49 Like for example, maybe a value of your organization is education. So always learning for example, that could be a value. We believe our team should always be learning, always try to get better. And so if you define that as a value, then a customer can look at that and realize that it’s really important to you to stay up on top of things and to always have the newest information. It’s also something that you can use when hiring people, once you understand your values, because you can look at the person that you’re hiring and ask yourself if they share these values or asked them if they share the values.
07:28 Really it’s important to them because they should know what they’re getting into as a company. They should understand a little bit about who you are as an organization and it’s way better for them to understand if you guys resonate before they become your employee rather than after they become your employee. Because if they get in there and you’re pushing this learning thing and they just don’t feel it, that’s not going to end well. Right?
07:55 So it’s a filter that you can use in hiring and it’s also something that could attract people to you, but it’s also something that you can use as a filter on decisions that you make. So maybe there’s two ways that you can go on a decision. Well, if you look at your values and assess which one is more in line with the values that you’ve defined, that’s usually the tiebreaker right there and doing that will keep you going in the right direction. That’s important to be consistent.
08:26 So we’ve gone over the wins for our company and us personally, we’ve gone through the pain, we’ve gone through the bigger picture and we’ve gone through our values. Now, it’s time to set goals for next year. I do this every year. I start the year out by thinking what are the biggest things that are going to have an impact on my business this year? Like for instance, maybe starting a podcast would have a big impact or hiring a new person.
08:52 Stephen Covey wrote about what he called the rocks theory. I think that’s what he called it. Something around the lines of the rocks theory. And the idea is that if you equate your goals to be rocks, there’s different size of rocks. There’s big rocks, there’s medium rocks, and then there’s tiny rocks, also known as sand. And if you learn to fit as many of these goals or accomplish as many of these goals as possible, it’s kind of like putting these rocks in a jar.
09:18 And if you start out by putting sand in the jar and then put medium sized rocks in the jar and then finally try and fit those big rocks then you’ll find that there’s no room left for the big rocks at all. And so if those are your biggest goals, you never end up achieving those big goals. Whereas if you do it the other way around and put those big rocks in first and then fit the medium rocks around it, and then fit the sand around that, you’ll realize you might be able to fit all of the rocks in that jar or at least a lot more of them.
09:47 And that’s how your goal should be, equate your biggest, most impactful and maybe hardest to do goals as the biggest rocks. The smaller goals that are more frequent but not as hard to accomplish are going to be your medium rocks. And then the sand is going to be your day to day tasks that we all get inundated with. And so if you look at them all as different sized rocks, let’s plan out our quarterly goals to be the biggest rocks. Let’s plan out… Pick those three or four things that are going to have the biggest impact this year and map them out one rock per quarter.
10:26 So don’t pretend like you’re going to do all of this stuff on day one or month one or anything like that, just pick out one and say, “I have till the end of first quarter to do this.” And hey, if you get ahead of schedule and you want to work on your second quarter, great. But let’s plan one big rock for quarter one, one big rock for quarter two. If you have a third one lined out, let’s put that on quarter three. Maybe you have a fourth, let’s put that on quarter four.
10:53 Let’s put this on a page, so we have all of our quarterly rocks written down and let’s write as many of those medium rocks down as possible, fit three or four or five of them in Q1. Put another three or four or five in Q2 then three or four or five in Q3, et cetera. And you may not have enough to fill out all of your goals for the whole year and that’s fine. You’re going to come up with more goals as you go, but I highly, highly recommend you to write these down because this is going to keep you honest.
11:23 When Q2 comes, you look back at Q1 and say, “Did I do my rock?” And if you didn’t, get it done as quickly as possible and move on to Q2. So you definitely don’t want to get to Q3 and you still haven’t done your Q1 rocks. There’s going to be a downloadable for this episode. Just basically a quarterly goals planning sheet. Just a one pager where you can write out those big rocks and those medium rocks.
11:51 So if you want to go to e-commerceforgood.com and a just type in episode one, you’ll find that. I Highly recommend you read down so that you can keep yourself honest. Maybe put it up on a bulletin board or someplace that’s visible so that you can look back at it frequently and answer the question of am I making progress on these rocks? And I’ll be honest, I’ve been in business for 10 years and for the first six years I didn’t do any of my big rocks.
12:20 And the reason was I didn’t make it a priority and that was it. I kept telling myself the thing that we always tell ourselves, which is “I’ll get these things done when I have time,” but let’s be honest, we never have time. There’s always more things that come up. There’s always more fires. There’s always more of these small rocks and these medium rocks that need to be done right now, now, now and the big rocks are usually things where it’s easy to put it off for another day, and then another day, and then another day, then another week, then another quarter, and then another year.
12:52 Let’s get out of the habit. Let’s make quarterly goals. Let’s make our big rocks important and I’m going to tell you how I do this now. So like I said, for the first six years or so, no progress on big rocks. It was just day to day stuff and zero progress on big rocks. And then I kept hearing about, 80/20 principle and I looked at my Google Calendar one day and I saw 80/20 on the calendar. It was crazy. It was, what do you call it, a revelation.
13:24 I saw 80/20 on my calendar and it was called Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. And I realized each of those days was 20% of my week. Well, I mean kind of 20% if you don’t factor my weekends. Right? I’m sure a lot of us are working weekends, but I realized that there was 80/20 sitting right there. There was 80% of the week, four days and one day the week, which is a fifth day. And I decided that going forward, I was going to spend 80% of my time on the things that made the least impact, which was my day to day. The small rocks and the medium rocks and the other day, Friday would be dedicated to my bigger rocks, things that matter.
14:08 So the way my business works is Monday through Thursday, I work on client stuff, I work on the day to day stuff and then Friday comes around and we take out our list of all the ideas that we’ve been saving up all week, and it’s time to start doing those ideas. Not just me, but everybody in my company. So Friday is the, “we work on us day”, and so every single Friday now we make progress and it is so powerful to be able to do that.
14:38 My business has grown so much as a result and not only in terms of the bottom line, but also in terms of our employee happiness, our customer happiness, the value that we’re delivering to people, the smoothness of our systems. Just every single way, man. Our business is getting better and better every single week and after six years of very little progress and just painful failure to grow, to see growth happening every single week is addictive. And so looking at these quarterly goals that you have just written down and the medium goals, maybe consider making Friday your business growth day or maybe it’s a different day or however you want to work it. But that works really well for me. Friday is our growth day.
15:34 My entire team is excited to come in on Friday because it’s like what are we going to do today? It’s really awesome. So get those quarterly goals written down, use a downloadable if you want or write down, or whatever you got so that you have these throughout the year and for this time next year to look back. Now, the last thing I want you to do is the thing that none of us ever do, which is to make a plan.
16:03 People that go to business school and whatnot will talk about business plans and 20-page analysis and SWOT analysis and all that stuff. Look, you and me both know you don’t need all that crap. What we do need to do is, in my opinion, make just a one pager and I look at this as the thing that I would give my business partner so that he or she would know, what happened last year and what’s going to happen differently this year, right? This could be something that is important for your spouse to see or a business partner if you have one, or if you don’t have either, this could be something that’s just important for you. And I think as a goal or as an exercise, just writing it down is good for you to get it out of your brain.
16:56 There’s a lot of stuff that gets stuck in our brain as entrepreneurs. So let’s get it out of your brain. Let’s get it on a piece of paper that you either write or print out. And where I would start is let’s write a paragraph about what you hope to do last year, what went well and what you learned. So let’s just talk about how last year ended basically and how that compared to our expectations. After that first paragraph, let’s write a paragraph or two about the overall goals for this year, and let’s bullet point out some reasons why this year is going to be different. Maybe these are your goals.
17:35 Maybe you’ve outlined what those difference makers are going to be. Maybe it’s going to be a key hire in something new that you don’t have on your team now. Maybe it’s going to be a marketing push or you’re getting into a different social media. Maybe it’s cutting costs. Whatever that thing is or that collection of things, let’s try and bullet point out three or four or five or 10, however many ideas you have for how you’re going to crush it this year.
18:03 And the reason that I want you to write it down is so that when you get to the end of this year, you can look back and say, “I did those things or I didn’t do those things and they either helped like I thought or they didn’t end up being impactful like I thought they would be.” So that we’re just constantly learning and we constantly are trying new things.
18:23 All right. So I know I’ve done a lot of stuff on you guys here for the first episode. I’m not intending this podcast to be like a big homework heavy podcast or anything like that. But I do think it’s really important just to do a fairly deep dive self-assessment on ourselves and our business every year. And once you get this out of the way, once you get this stuff written down, you can focus on just knocking out your goals throughout the year, building those sales, because this is our direction setting. So what we’re doing today is we’re setting our direction so that the rest of the year we can sail in that direction and then we can see where we ended up.
19:06 All right. The last thing I want to leave you guys with is a book recommendation and the reason that I want to recommend this book is that my business… I’ll put it this way, my business was not profitable until I read this book. And if I have any business partners for the rest of my life, I am not going to take them on as a business partner until they read this book. I think this book is that important and it’s not very e-commerce specific or online business specific, this is just business 101, but the book is called Profit First and it’s by a guy named Mike Michalowicz. And this book is a practical guide to how to make money with any business.
19:52 I don’t want to give it away, but just get it. Get it on Audible. I got it on Audible. My business partner read it in a book and I could tell you I think it’s a little bit easier to understand and there’s extra stuff that you get on the Audible version, which is read by the author, Mike Michalowicz. Get it on Audible. It costs you next to nothing. It’s like eight hours long. You can listen to it on a plane trip or a business trip or something. Or you could start right now and be done with it tomorrow.
20:18 It will show you how to make money with your business, how to make your business sellable and how to not die poor. We all work so hard and so many hours. Let’s read Mike’s book and learn how to actually translate that effort and to take home. So that’s Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. I’ll have a link to that in the show notes.
20:43 All right, friends. That’s all for today. I want to thank you for listening to our first show. Again, this one is a little bit different. We’re going to usually interview people, but I think this was a pretty good start and I can’t wait to get to know you guys and I’ll see you next time. Thank you.