Ian Blair Hamilton
said 1 year, 5 months ago:
Let me fistly say that I, like a billion other SME owners on the web, am walking two parallel and sometimes divergent paths.
1. The business owner. The guy who pays the bills, watches the sales, talks tp the customers, answers the complaints, talks to the taxman, fixes the john, and makes sure the team is happy and full of coffee. It’s a fulltime job and it is my most important function as it’s the only one that tells me at the end of every month, how I’ve done.
2. The IT Overviewer. Sure, I have an IT manager. My son is 31, born into the PC generation. He has silicon in his bones, has huge knowledge about PC’s and the net, runs our hardware, our phone system, and updates our website. He is all we need in that speciality, but he’s not the overview guy. That’s still (dammit!) me. I’m the guy who has to work out whether we need to go to an integrated CRM, whether we need to employ IM specialists, whether we can profitably outsource, whether the supplier of our new software may be still in business when we need him… and on top of all that, present the best possible web presence to my customers.. which I might add, is harder to achieve all the time. It seems the day your new website is released, it is out of date.
So here’s my one IM goal for 2012. I’m going to ‘grow up’.
I’m not going to launch products, marketing campaigns, giveaways, email autoresponders, niche market opportunities, surveys, facebook upgrades, Linked-In getting-to-know-you campaigns.. without measurement in place before I begin.
I am going to continue my present Iinbound marketing strategies on content building ( I have 1200+ blog posts that need SEO optimisation) IM is and has been my prime strategy for attracting customers and as a result I’m quoted and linked all over the world as an expert in my field. (Big Deal; Show Me The Money!)
Look, I’ll tell you my darkest secret. I have survived by being a bluffer. I bluff about how confident I am of a certain strategy. I bluff to my team members, I bluff to my customers, I bluff to my spouse who dares to say ‘But why…” I bluff because it’s easier. i am the deer in the headlights of my own future profit fears.
Get this. It’s really important. My ‘core belief’ is scarcity. My scarcity gremlin tells me I live in a high speed world that is going faster every day. Therefore if I don’t get a product or strategy out fast – faster than any competitor out there, I will lose the tiny edge I see myself as temporarily owning. So I convince myself first that sacrifices must be made. I have to skip the ‘luxuries’ of a launch. Just Do It. F___ the detail. I lie to myself that I am doing my best. Ouch!
What I am hearing in the echoes of cyberspace is a new song. I’m hearing a refrain over and over, It says Grow up. The net needscompetency in everything you do, and it will not tolerate less.
- Stop watching those ‘I made a million from $50 software’ videos.
- Send all those emails to Trash (you’ll save an hour a day just on that!)
- Look closely at where you are and ask the question; how many hours did I pay for that need not have happened?
- How many unforeseen tuning hours did I have to do just to make my easy money strategy even begin to show profit?
- How could I subject my team to my attitude?
- Why couldn’t I hear them telling me to slow down?
Certainly there is a personal maturation process in business. As the years roll by and you are still making a living the realisation slowly comes that it’s not as immediately hazardous out there in the marketplace as you thought. This manifest in paying for better staff, staff benefits, profit sharing, social support, better chairs, desks, computers… but these are the signs
of my fear abatement. my ‘hungry ghost
‘ is relaxing at last.
OK. There is always fear when contemplating new strategies. But when I realised and accepted this, I could divorce myself from the fear. Yes, that’s just a part of the process. Get on with it. But get on with doing it in a way that reflects what you’ve learned and been through. What can I bring to the table from my observations, unjudgmentally, of my stumbling baby steps over the last decade of business? Once I give up holding onto my (If only I’d…)
guilt, I can see that not
planning doesn’t work, and that I didn’t plan because I believed I couldn’t afford to.
As any good counsellor will ask at this point, how did that work for you?
And my honest answer would be OK.. but I’m not retired. I haven’t bought my own house. And they were my goals when I began.
So how do
I pick and choose what the web can offer me as IT Overseer for AlkaWay Pty Ltd?
Now that my fear of failure is quietly mumbling way back there, and there is some clarity in my mind, I can say that measuring the results of any strategy early would save me, my team, and my business massive time, effort and money. Spending the time (SO small relative to the potential earnings of just ONE good product!) to set in place agreed, reportable and modifiable measurement on every project is my goal for 2012.
Yes, I know it’s boring, it’s mind-bending, it takes time, but I’m going to do it this way:
1. I write up my vision of the project.
2. I share it on Google Docs with everyone it may affect.
3. I ask for comments and suggestions and for team members to ‘step up’ for individual responsibilities.
4. I meet with all parties to firm up the project’s aim and methodology.
5. We research and agree upon the method of success measurement.
6. I gantt-chart the major topics. LucidChart is a free app on Google Chrome and it took all of half an hour to learn it.
7. I share the chart with all parties. Everyone is responsible for his/her parts of the chart and may adapt, notate or change it.
8. We launch the development project ONLY with all parties agreed on lines of responsibility, and reporting frequency.
Now I KNOW that sounds like standard project methodology. It IS standard project methodology. But I’m betting that 95% of SME’s don’t do it. or do it in a piecemeal way. And if they are anything like me, they are only now discovering the gaping holes in their process where ego, fear and resistance to change and innovation has blinded them.
I’m looking at this 2012IM aim as the biggest thing to ever happen to AlkaWay. I KNOW we’ve been lucky to be in a niche that has had strong market support when other niches are getting ravaged by the economy, techno change, or market vagaries. This new direction isn’t just about paying for software that you plug in. This is going to shake up everyone involved. anyone with any ‘good enough’ strategies is going to very challenged because measurement isn’t theory.
It’s fact. It isn’t opinion.
It’s actual effect. it isn’t ego-related.
It doesn’t CARE what I think.
So yes, I’m buying the website auditing tools I now understand are essential. I am subcontracting the measurement and tuning to someone far better than me (#1 Problem of .small business owners; their power within their business makes them think they can do everything better than anyone else) I’m holding off on those seductive new products I could start selling tomorrow. I’m putting in place a matrix of plan, feedback, responsibility and improvement.
I’m doing it because I want to. I want to not because I like it. I tentatively say that it is because I’ve matured just a bit. At age 65, laying here with a broken leg from an incident with an electric skateboard, perhaps it’s time.