It’s time for THE BIG TEST! Time to test how well my eCommerce Money for Nothing business is setup and how well it runs without me while I travel around the world on my family vacation.
Taking long and exotic family vacations without harming my business was one of the biggest motivations for me to design and build my eCommerce Money for Nothing business model and watching so many of my eCommerce friends in the same situation I was in, as my main motivation for starting my eCommerce coaching and eCommerce VA services.
In my earlier business where I had over 60 employees working for me it took many years of building up a staff to cover all the various tasks well enough I could take a vacation. I went many years without taking vacations just because I was tied down like a boat anchor to the business and it would suffer quickly if I left it for even just a few days. Some of you know the feeling and might be in this situation today. It’s very common for eCommerce entrepreneurs to not take “real vacations” due to how they structured their business to depend on them.
One of the biggest reasons eCommerce sellers come to me for my eCommerce coaching service is to help them re-structure their business model so they can take vacations once again. They sometimes tell me they haven’t taken a vacation for years and this is one of the things that really bothers them about how their current eCommerce business is setup.
It took me many years to setup my eCommerce Money for Nothing business model so family vacations would be smooth and the business would continue to sell, ship and answer customer emails while I’m out snorkeling with sea turtles, catching a wave or walking atop one of the most active volcanoes in the world. I started off by taking short vacations to learn where the business was not setup correctly and learn what things I needed to work on before my next vacation.
My family likes to take tropical vacations so we’ve done many vacations to Florida and we’ve done a couple Bahama cruises over the years. I took the entire family with me on a long trip to Australia where I was invited to speak on stage at the PESA (Professional eBay Seller’s Alliance) eCommerce Conference. I’ve taken my wife to Hong Kong on sourcing trips staying longer to get a vacation in. Last year we spent two weeks traveling to Mount Rushmore, the Badlands and Yosemite National Park. This year was a big vacation as we travel to Hawaii for an 18 day vacation with a few days in Las Vegas along the way. We also like to throw in mini-vacations during Spring Break when the kids have a week off from school.
The amazing thing is all of these vacations were taken while I was running my eCommerce Money for Nothing business where I have 0 employees working to take care of things while I’m gone. I setup my business to be as “Simple” as I could, I eliminated as many “Moving parts” as I could because moving parts don’t make you money, I outsourced the day-to-day tasks of answering emails and processing orders to my team of eCommerce virtual assistants (VA), I outsourced the packing and shipping of my product to a third-party warehouse service and I automated the small tasks wherever possible. When I tell people I can nearly run my business from my smart phone from anywhere in the world with cell phone service, they look at me like I’m crazy…but it’s true!
The amazing thing is all of these vacations were taken while I was running my eCommerce Money for Nothing business where I have 0 employees working to take care of things while I’m gone.
When I tell people I can nearly run my business from my smart phone from anywhere in the world with cell phone service, they look at me like I’m crazy…but it’s true!
Vacations are necessary. You need to step away from your day-to-day from time to time to recharge your batteries, to avoid burnout and to remember what’s most important in life. I know it sounds crazy but on stage I tell people to take vacations from time to time even if they don’t have an eCommerce Money for Nothing business setup. Start off with small vacations and grow them over time as you learn how to eliminate, automate and outsource your day-to-day tasks in order to free your time once and for all.
I also tell people that taking un-scheduled vacations are a great way to learn where you need to focus first. The moment you return from your vacation, what are the things you work on first? These are most likely the most critical tasks within your business and the first thing you need to work on automating or outsourcing. Then what are the next things you work on and so on?
While I was on my Hawaii vacation, how much time did I actually spend on work each day? Each year, this is the part of the process I focus on as it’s the true test of my business structure. Can the business survive without me? Do things fall apart while I’m gone? Do sales decline?
I remember the first time I took a family vacation and how much time I would spend on my laptop up in the condo while the rest of the family was out on the beach. I remember waking up real early so I could drive to a local coffee shop for free WIFI. In the beginning of this process, I would find myself spending 3-4 hours per day answering emails, adjusting inventory levels, relisting product and so on. While my family felt like we were on a vacation, it didn’t feel much like a vacation to me. I know many eCommerce sellers are in this same position today as I see their coffee shop photos on Facebook while their family vacation is in full swing. I’ll admit, these vacations are better than no vacation, but there’s still room for much improvement.
Over the years things got better and while on cruise ships I would really test the business model by not logging into the Internet for entire days at a time. But I have to admit, I noticed some damage to my sales and customer satisfaction during these times and so I still had work to do. To answer the question about Hawaii, during this last family vacation I spent at maximum 10 minutes per day reviewing the business reports and answering a few emails. I even sent a few purchase orders to factories overseas while sitting on my beach-side balcony with a million dollar view. I spent more of my time at the laptop uploading photos to Facebook from the previous day showing how much fun we were having than I did working on my business while on vacation.
One more thing I need to share with you and you might think I’m crazy when I tell you this, but I take my family vacations during the busiest times of the year for my business. I take my long family vacations late summer so the kids get one last adventure before returning to the school year and for my business, Summer time is the busiest time of the year. Even busier than the Christmas season for me. Sure, it’s easier to take a vacation during your slow season like most people do but taking it during your busiest time of the year when traditional thinking says is the time you NEED to be working for your business is the TRUE TEST that you’ve built a successful eCommerce Money for Nothing business model.
I take my family vacations during the busiest times of the year for my business.
Each year I review how well it went to highlight what things I can improve before next time. When I review my Hawaii vacation I look at how much time I spent logging in and the 10 minutes per day. Sure I skipped a few of the days while I was flying from Island to Island and because I have nearly everything I need setup on my smart phone I can check on things anytime from anywhere as long as I have a cell phone signal. I also look at how many things I took care of that really NEEDED me during these 10 minutes per day. Some of the times it was just me review the previous day’s sales, looking at reports and checking my profitability for the day. Very few of the times was I working on something serious that truly needed my attention and my team of VA’s couldn’t handle it.
For my next vacation, I’m going to continue to work on small adjustments, additional training for my VA team on things that don’t happen often but might come up while I’m gone. I will also continue to setup ways for me to “Get it done” on my smart phone. I love it when I can travel without my big and heavy laptop and sometimes I do when I’m traveling for a few days. My goal is to eliminate the laptop 100% all of the time. My second goal is to someday take a 3 month family vacation.
It’s time for you to get started. Start building your eCommerce Money for Nothing business model. Start identifying the day-to-day “Money moving” tasks that are consuming you and tie you down to your desk each day. Are these tasks necessary? Can you automate them if it makes sense? Are they tasks someone else can do for you? I’m sure nearly all the tasks that are consuming you fall into one of these three buckets.
You don’t need to take full fledged vacations to test this out in the beginning. Just take a 1/2 day off and go for a walk. Go shopping. Go to a movie. Read a book in your backyard. Just get away from your computer and see what happens. This is how I test my business to see how it runs when I step away. I go swimming in the middle of the day. I close my email, Facebook and Big Commerce software and do other things.
Many sellers are taking advantage of our eCommerce VA Services and taking their first vacation in a very long time.
I hope you find your success at setting up your eCommerce Money for Nothing business and finally FREE YOUR TIME! If I can do it, so can you! Now the big question is…what to do with all this free time you just created?
Cheers to selling smarter,
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