Thinking Bigger About Your Online Business

Today, I’ve been spending some time with my executive cap on. You know, stop being a day laborer and really look at my online business from a bird’s eye view. Have you done that lately? You should. One of the big things I need to keep in mind here is that I’m building a business, not a hobby. And it is hard to grow beyond a certain point and remain a one-man-show sitting in a back bedroom of the house.

Today, I’ve been spending some time with my executive cap on. You know, stop being a day laborer and really look at my online business from a bird’s eye view.

Have you done that lately? You should.

One of the big things I need to keep in mind here is that I’m building a business, not a hobby. And it is hard to grow beyond a certain point and remain a one-man-show sitting in a back bedroom of the house.

I’m The Bottleneck

I’ve known this for a long time (and my VA has been gently reminding me), but I really am the bottleneck to my own business. If you were to look at my business as a series of energy flows, where things go in, get processed, and come back out again – you would find that almost every single flow goes through me.

I’m the hub of the wheel. While I’ve automated some things (like support emails, comments, etc), most everything goes through me. With a model like that, the entire system is bottlenecked by my own personal throughput capacity.

And my capacity is limited! I can only do so much at a time. I forget things. I drop balls. As hard as I work, there is a laundry list of stuff that either never gets done or is delayed. So, running the business sometimes ends up feeling like a mother with 10 kids trying to run in different directions. You run around and keep trying to keep kids from getting in too much trouble. You manage to keep a few kids on task, cleaning their room or whatever. Then, if things quiet down, you sit there on the couch and wonder what to do next.

Yes, I sometimes find myself sitting at my computer, knowing full well that I’ve got a bunch of things to do, yet not knowing what I should be doing next.

Time For Growth

This is a growing pain of business growth. I’m not going to say it sucks. I mean, 2010 is a screaming year so far. I’ve brought in more revenue this year SO FAR than I used to make it 9-10 months. My first quarter this year was a six-figure quarter (not year).

That said, I need to get better organized. So today, I stopped other work for several hours to do some brainstorming. The goals are to streamline the flows and open up my flows by better utilizing the power of other people. Empower others to run the flows and I’ll deal with the really important ones and steer the ship.

Taking Action On Getting Organized

Picture 1First thing? I created an organization chart. Why? Because it forces you to look at the business as a series of work flows rather than a huge mess which sits inside your head.

NOTE: I’m going to make this org chart available to my Inner Circle members with explanation because I actually think it’ll be useful for anybody else, too.

When I did this, the organizational holes become obvious. When you start assigning people to tasks, it becomes apparent that I’m wearing way too many hats.

One of the interesting things I decided needed to be done was a business manager role. My VA helped me put this one into words, but essentially an online business manager. I need a middle layer between me and everything else, and that person’s job will be to get stuff done and keep projects moving. I’m at the top of the food chain (obviously), and while I may continue to hold some of the lower roles, my REAL job is to create strategy, make decisions, and steer the overall direction. OTHER people will execute as much as they can.

I’m also going to be bringing on some additional writers as well as bring on a technical/graphics person. It may end up being separate people (who knows), but there is value in having go-to people for such things. I know how to PHP code my face off, but it doesn’t mean I SHOULD be doing it. 🙂

How This Applies To You

Obviously, I’m just spilling some thoughts going through my head today, however I believe it can apply to other people in business, including bloggers.

I’ve said before that blogs don’t make money, BUSINESSES make money. And that means you have to treat it as such.

In this day and age, there is no excuse for doing things that you don’t have expertise in. You can hire others. Not only is it WAY more affordable than you may think, but their location simply doesn’t matter. Sure, cultural things could play a role, but there’s ways to deal with that.

So, here is what I would recommend to you.

Take off your laborer hat and put on your executive hat. Look at your ideal scene. What do you want your online business to look like? What SHOULD it look like in order to scale to the point that you want it to scale?

Then, create an org chart which visualizes it. Now, here’s an important point…

Don’t make the traditional org chart which simply shows who outranks who. Those are USELESS! Instead, design it as a workflow. What tasks need to be performed in your business? Categorize those under departments.

Those departments then begin to dictate who you need to have around to make the system work.

As bloggers, we have a lot of potential departments. Writing, editing, graphics, technical, marketing – the list goes on. Problogging is about a lot more than writing posts and publishing them.

You might give this some thought.

And if you want a head start, get into the Inner Circle because I’m going to share more of my own approach for my Insiders, and probably put it together into a webinar in the not-too-distant future. Keep in mind, too, that this information isn’t only applicable if you are an established, popular blogger. It is applicable to any business, including people just starting up. Because you know what? You can avoid a LOT of hassle at the outset. 🙂

Talk to you soon, and I’ll follow up shortly for my Insiders.

Further Viewing:

John Reese is in prelaunch for his new course, Outsource Force. I’ve watched two of his videos so far and they are QUITE good. In fact, John’s second video played a role in provoking me to give this some thought today.

Now, obviously John will be launching a new course, so there will be something to buy. I don’t know much about the product, but I am a customer of John through other products and a happy one. Whether you decide to buy anything or not, though, I highly encourage you to check out his videos during the prelaunch. They are fantastic.

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Responses

  1. One of the greatest things I have ever done is leverage other peoples time. Give them a reason to write for you or create products for you and you end up steering the ship. It also creates more followers that ask to work for you instead of you doing the asking. Once you have created an opt in list big enough in your market, you can create a ton of leverage and have others begging to write and produce content for you and your business.

  2. That's a very excellent point, David. It's like stepping out in faith with our plans. We'll either sink or swim in what we attempt. But we can't know if we'll swim until/unless we jump into the water! And once we do jump in the water, there is no reason to believe we can't make it if we are well prepared. So we need to just go for it, and not make excuses for what is holding us back.
    krissy knox 🙂
    http://twitter.com/iamkrissy

  3. Well not only does it force you to look internally and act but your forced into objectivity. When you have a goal or purpose it can be easy to excuse inefficiency when it's in the name of getting to that end you're working towards. So its not the analysis that's the difficult it's the what you decide to do with that info and what the rationalization process looks like.

    It's kind of like that feeling we used to get when our parents are trying to show us the right way to tie our shoes but we insist we know better and take a lot longer or not get it at all. Eventually you get there but imagine how much faster it could have been if you got passed the bravado of “knowing better” and just listened, lol. That's what the reflection process can look like sometimes..at least for me anyways 🙂 Next time, I just get Velcro shoes..haha

  4. I would agree, S, except that I would keep somewhat of an eye on what an employee was doing over their shoulder! Just a slight one! Not enough to make them nervous all the time. Because if the results AREN'T good in the way the products are placed on a blog / website, it will reflect upon you — both in sales and in your reputation! So remember, the buck stops with you, and whether or not you make money, and your reputation stops with you also!
    krissy knox
    http://twitter.com/iamkrissy

  5. David, do those things work — like RememberTheMilk.com? To me they just give me another endless list of chores. I don't need another list! I already have one! I just need to know how to prioritize the major things, put things into categories, make them flow, how to delegate, etc. Under those categories I could then list the little things. Does that make sense? I think that's what you are basically talking about in your post, correct? How do you do this? By documents?
    krissy knox 🙂
    http://twitter.com/iamkrissy

  6. This is an excellent post, David. Sometimes we blogger's don't see “the bigger picture,” because we are just running around trying to fill in holes we see, or are spending all our time writing “extraordinary content.” We don't always run things as a business, especially asking or hiring others to help us. This can be a measure for disaster. We as bloggers and online entrepreneurs must always look at the bigger picture. Thanks for reminding us all of that. 🙂
    krissy knox 🙂
    http://twitter.com/iamkrissy

  7. I think this really applies to me at some level. My idea is to look at my schedule, identify my tasks, organize them, and find out what my priorities are, so that I can separate the tasks for which I can find people to work on them.

  8. Guest blogger are the key and i have seen it over the time, i will share few experiences that some time guest blogger can increase even 25% readers….try that and you will come to know about this

  9. Dave, I would *love* to see your chart of accounts… compare notes as it were.

    I know the accounting side is usually Super Top Secret, but I tell people “Your Chart of Accounts *IS* your business model.”

  10. I'm hoping I can bring the community into it so that I can feature as many kick ass people as possible. So definitely yes on submissions.

  11. David, this is an incredible post. My experience from corporate middle management has been one of my largest assets with my online businesses. I know what I am good at, and I know how to delegate what I am not.

    The best part about it though, is like you said, I'm the top dog. In middle management, you always get frustrated with those above you and it is difficult because you can't let those below you see it.

    While I may be a bottleneck at times, at least I don't have that problem.

  12. You'd be surprised how little it can cost. Plus, you have to consider how fast cash flow will increase when you can really laser focus on the things which produce income.

  13. hmmm, wonder who that is? Probably some jokester that buys iPhone accessories that are hermetically sealed.

  14. Working on this and will probably buy John's course.

    I've already started bringing on guest bloggers, and the next step is to hire writers for my niche sites.

  15. It's a classic small medium business growing pain. And the entrepreneurs who don't realize they need to do this are the ones who remain SMEs and never grow large.

    I went through this with my real estate business, which I started as a one man band. For years, as we grew with more and more staff, I still wanted to be the top salesman, the one who found the best properties, and the heart of the business. It wasn't until I realised that I actually needed to be the head of the business, and invest my energy in planning the strategic direction of it, that it really took off.

  16. “And my capacity is limited! I can only do so much at a time. I forget things. I drop balls. As hard as I work, there is a laundry list of stuff that either never gets done or is delayed. So, running the business sometimes ends up feeling like a mother with 10 kids trying to run in different directions. You run around and keep trying to keep kids from getting in too much trouble. You manage to keep a few kids on task, cleaning their room or whatever. Then, if things quiet down, you sit there on the couch and wonder what to do next.”

    Hahaha……The story of MY life!!! I'm dropping everything (stuff that I remembered to do and also stuff that I was supposed to do but forgot….) and making a flow chart now. Time to take to take it to the next level!!!

  17. I see this all the time on my travels thru the net. Small business people just not understanding that their time could possibly be better spent on marketing or producing their product instead of struggling with understanding how to code their site better or learn how to use a graphics program better to give their site a professional look.

    Delegate! And then leave them to it and not be looking over their shoulder making sure it is done the way YOU would do it. As long as the results are good, it doesn't matter how it got done.

  18. David, thanks for Crush It, just came in the mail today!

    Curious you mention thinking like a laborer. Because I used to be a laborer!

    Outsourcing is going to require a little more cash flow than I have at the moment though.

  19. Love this David – music to my ears! I actually train Online Business Managers to do exactly what you are talking about, become that layer between you and the rest of the biz, manage projects/team, get stuff done and get you out of the day to day stuff. Can't wait to hear how this goes for you. 🙂

  20. You are right. My thinking is too small. I keep saying when… then I will. Sometimes growth only happens when your thinking leads the way. Gotta get through the BM class faster.

  21. Taking a step back and really analyzing your efforts is actually a lot harder than it sounds. Good job on being able to attack it objectively and putting those thoughts down in a chart and post format. Sometimes I feel that my reviews are colored by intentions and that energy/time isn't always being used as efficiently as it could. Thanks for the push to staying on top of it though.

  22. that's awesome, I will think about that. Forcefully expanding in order to grow, cool cool cool
    thanks,
    I appreciate it

  23. Just keep in mind that you can actually hamper your growth if you don't expand. Sometimes, you just forcefully expand by bringing on a VA and you magically find that all of a sudden you grow into it. Rather than waiting until you need one. 🙂

    For example, if you look at the things you do to increase traffic, what if you could utilize somebody else to double/triple your throughput? If done smartly, you could double/triple (or more) how fast your blog grows.

    Don't know what percent I have my VA do, but I do know its going to increase. 🙂

  24. Great idea about the organization chart! I'll look forward to seeing that. It's just too get easy to get bogged down in the 80% otherwise.

  25. Hey David,

    that's an awesome way of structuring your business. I'm not yet in the position of having to delegate, but I use digital mind-maps to structure my future plans. I will strengthen this as soon as my business gets more complex, to the point where I get myself a fancy VA 😉
    I bet it gets overwhelming once you reach your level – I have many tasks myself, and I can only imagine what you have to fight through. Do you have more than one VA and how much percent of your work do you actually delegate ?

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