Many merchants are most likely asking,”I don’t have a few hours per week; what is this guy thinking?” Trust me. This is actually a time saver.
We are conditioned from a young age to never think. We are conditioned to be active. A lot people are told as children to stop dreaming and start working. We heard –occasionally by our parents and from our teachers — that activity is rewarded, while daydreaming is idle time. This could have been true at some point. However, it’s not true in the knowledge economy we are living in.
So why think? What is the value? During a normal day, you probably have a long to-do list. There are meetings and phone calls and fires to put out. In this time there is often no meaningful way to consider choices, opportunities, or threats.
Taking an hour to consider, say, which advertising option is excellent for your company to invest your limited budget, then documenting the choice (adding benchmarks and what success looks like), can save yourself a good deal of money in the long run. As ecommerce merchants, we’ve got all received phone calls or fulfilled vendors at trade shows with supplies that seems good with reduced risk.
We often tell the vendor something like,”Let me think that and we can talk again in a few weeks.” You assume that two weeks is a lot of time. But if the vendor calls, you haven’t spent two minutes (let alone two weeks) contemplating the offer. Now you make a speedy choice to give it a go. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
When we take the time to really consider something, we become more intentional. We learn from prior mistakes. We find the gaps in the offers before we are faced with a problem. And we have goals that show us whether the deal is working out as planned. In brief, we are being proactive in our approach to every substantial portion of our company.
As merchants, opportunities come our way every day — such as adding a product lineup, employing a business-development person, and investing in new equipment. Taking the time to look at these opportunities (or search for opportunities which have not introduced themselves) is the secret to growth.
By means of example, in overstockArt.com, we recently found that our stock has been growing. We examined the data to determine what was causing the growth and what part of our inventory was growing. We wanted to know what approaches we can take to lower the inventory. As opposed to letting the stock levels escape management and conduct fire sales, we decided to be proactive and get in front of the matter.
We gathered the data and spent four hours considering our options. After we came up with ideas, we implemented and tested them. We looked at the results. We then fine-tuned the initial actions. Now the trend of growing stock is reversing. We estimate that not only will we reduce inventory to earlier levels, but it will fall to less than half — all while we raise accessibility and boost earnings.
This has an amazing effect on overstockArt.com. The exact same can happen to any business.
To inject thinking time on your ecommerce business, here a few simple rules to follow.
- Escape the office! I can’t stress that enough. Thinking must be completed at a comfortable place with limited interruptions.
- Before you leave the office, gather information and research. don’t be concerned about getting everything, because new reports and information will be necessary after.
- Have a list of three or more topics to think about. If you if don’t three or more topics, just think about a present, pressing thing.
- Write or draw in 20-minute (or more ) sessions. Start with a blank paper. Pick a topic and write (not type) about it for at least 20 minutes. It doesn’t matter what you write; just put your thoughts down without stopping. This is harder than it sounds, especially at the beginning. As soon as you finished writing, take five minutes to review what you wrote. Emphasize the important ideas. Then do another 20-minute session.
- You may need plenty of those sessions, depending on the subjects and your progress in solving them. Consider a diagram to illustrate your ideas better,. Don’t be afraid to draw to unleash your own creativity.
- don’t expect this to be easy. Sometimes I produce seemingly amazing ideas that end up being worthless. Other times I produce simple suggestions and solutions that go a long way. Regardless, you’ll get better the more times you do this.
- Have fun. Thinking time is productive, but additionally, it needs to be fun. Proceed to a coffee shop or another relaxing location. The solutions will come.
If I did not explain the steps clearly or in the event you have additional ideas, please post a comment. I love hearing from readers.
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