How to Leverage Your Time As an Ecommerce Store Owner
Your alarm goes off at 6 a.m., you make yourself a cup of coffee, boot up the computer, and, for the next hour, you’re busy responding to customer support tickets. You can feel your blood pressure spiking, and it’s not because of the coffee. Before you know it, your kids are ready for breakfast, you’re emotionally exhausted, and the day has only just begun.
You’re Not Alone
If you’re reading this, odds are you can relate to that story. If you make up a team of one and business is starting to pick up steam, then it may feel like there’s never enough time or mental energy to get you through each day without feeling like you need a nap by lunchtime.
You may not be there yet, but as soon as it makes financial sense to do so, it may be a good idea to start investing in a team to leverage your time as an ecommerce store owner. If your business is already gaining traction, imagine how much more quickly you can scale it if you’re able to focus on revenue optimization instead of customer support. This is where the fun begins.
Repetitive Tasks Are a Time Suck
As the owner of an ecommerce store, all you need is a computer and an internet connection to do most of your work. It’s easy to sit at your desk for hours on end to work on your business, taking one action after another and believing you’re making good progress.
Now look at your work day with the Pareto principle in mind. The Pareto principle states that 80% of outcomes come from 20% of causes. Put another way, 80% of your results in business come from just 20% of your actions.
When you apply this to the actions you take each day, you’ll find that some actions you take while at your computer for hours don’t make much of an impact on your business. These are the repetitive daily tasks that need to be completed to keep your business running smoothly, but they aren’t the 20% of tasks that contribute to 80% of your bottom line.
These repetitive tasks are likely to include the following:
- Customer service via email, social media, and phone
- Production and order management
- Designing image and video creatives
- Quality assurance
How many hours each day are you spending on those tasks? How many times have you copied and pasted the same response to a frequently asked question or created a promotional banner in Photoshop?
What if you were able to spend that time optimizing your website, coming up with new product ideas, or just relaxing and enjoying life? If you find yourself repeating the same tasks over and over, day after day, then it may be time to start systematizing those tasks and delegating them to someone else.
Four Essential Hires
The great thing about ecommerce is that you can have a direct-to-consumer business and avoid the middleman. The downside is that you need to provide high-quality service to all of your customers and keep them happy.
Take a look at the number of orders you have every day and the amount of time you’ve been spending responding to customer service tickets and social media comments. If you start implementing all of our teachings at BGS, odds are your sales are going to increase. How many hours will you be spending on customer service if your daily order count doubles or triples? It’s not sustainable.
Every business is different, but if you’re in ecommerce, I recommend starting with the following hires:
- Customer service representative: This team member is responsible for responding to customer support tickets, handling live chat and social media comments or questions, and possibly providing phone support too.
- Production and order management specialist: Whether you have a print-on-demand business or an inventory-based one, you’re likely to spend a lot of time staying on top of orders and inventory. This specialist makes sure orders are shipped out and delivered on time and that inventory levels are adequate.
- Image and video designer: This team member is responsible for all the creative content your customers see. The designer makes images, GIFs, and videos that are used on your website and in your advertisements, emails, and social media feeds.
- Quality assurance specialist: This team member is responsible for double-checking everything your business does. This specialist makes sure that (a) support tickets and social media questions are responded to in a timely manner, (b) production is running smoothly, and (c) the designer is producing on-brand content. This is an important role because this person’s work can give you the peace of mind to step out of the day-to-day operations of your ecom business and work on higher-level strategy and direction.
Is It Really Possible?
By now, you may be convinced that a team is what you need to take your ecommerce business to the next level. But where do you begin and when can you afford to start hiring? The good news is that there are a lot of talented individuals out there who are available for full-time or part-time work, and they’re very affordable.
Two places to start your search for talent are Upwork and OnlineJobs.ph. For this, you’ll need to produce a well-defined and high-quality job description. Here are five tips for writing that job description:
- Describe the role you’re hiring for in clear and simple language.
- Describe your ideal candidate (for example, “a team player, able to work weekday mornings and some afternoons, with fast internet connection”)
- Describe your company, but keep it short. You can always expand on this during the interview.
- Add a keyword near the bottom of your job description along with a request for applicants to include that keyword in the first sentence of their job application. This helps confirm that they’ve actually read what you’ve written. It’s an easy way to start filtering out candidates who are less detail-oriented than others.
- Request a resume and/or a link to past work. Some applicants don’t attach a resume unless you ask for one, so this will save you some time going back and forth with them.
Within 1 to 2 days, expect to receive dozens of applications. At this point, it’s about narrowing the applicants down to your top five candidates.
Here are four tips to help shorten the list:
- If you’re just getting started building out your team, I highly recommend hiring someone with past work experience over someone who’s inexperienced in the role for which you’re hiring. Once you have systems and procedures in place, it’s much easier to onboard someone into your company’s workflow who doesn’t have as much experience.
- Make sure their time availability is sufficient to complete the job you are hiring for.
- Look at their work history to see how long they’ve worked for past employers. If you’re looking to hire someone for the long term, then someone who’s worked for five employers in the past year may not be the right fit for your company.
- Check for grammar and spelling mistakes in their job application. Clear communication is important even if they aren’t going to be interacting with customers.
Once you’ve narrowed your candidates list to the top five, reach out to them before scheduling an interview to confirm the key details of the job. Make sure they understand the job description, the pay structure, and their work schedule. You may also want to find out their internet speed as well as their typing speed.
I like to use Speedtest (by Ookla) to check internet speeds and the English typing test on 10FastFingers to check typing speeds. As a general rule of thumb, you want someone with at least a 10 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload speed as well as a typing speed of at least 40 words per minute.
If all of that is understood, then the next step is to schedule an interview with the two to three top candidates. Depending on the job and your communication style, you may want to conduct the interview via phone or text. If most of your communication with them in the future will be over text, that’s a good reason to do at least part of the interview via text.
There are many ways to conduct an interview, but here are some topics to cover:
- Introduce yourself and your company.
- Ask the applicant to talk about themselves and their past work experiences.
- With their resume in front of you, bring up a few points of interest.
- If they make it to the end of the interview, reconfirm your job expectations to make sure you’re both on the same page.
Tip: Get them talking about something they’re passionate about so you can see what they’re like when they’re interested in something.
Once you’ve completed your interviews and narrowed your candidates down to one, send that person an official job offer that covers the work and pay schedules and the job expectations.
If you’re worried about it not working out, then I recommend offering a one-month trial period at lower pay before they’re given the full rate. And If trust is an issue, you can always have the potential candidate sign an NDA and start them on a trial period.
At the end of the day, building a successful team is as much about finding people you want to work with as it is about finding the most qualified person for the job. No matter the approach you take to building out your team, once you get them started, you’ll be amazed that you ever tried to do everything yourself.
We’ve all got 24 hours in a day, but some people seem to be able to reach their goals and scale their businesses faster than others.
At Build Grow Scale, we focus on teaching you revenue optimization to help you get the most out of every visitor to your website so you can achieve rapid growth. But rapid growth comes with a price—the time and energy required to maintain it. The more orders you get, the more time and attention your business will require to keep it growing.
You can try to do it all yourself or you can build a team to help you manage the growth. And, just as with revenue optimization, the benefits to building a team are exponential. Once you have the people and systems in place, you can spend all your time doubling down on your strengths and passions, which, in turn, can lead to faster and more enjoyable growth.