In retail, it’s hard to escape the daily grind of deliveries, cleaning and display maintenance – but these distractions can cause business leaders to lose sight of what really matters, writes RetailSystem’s Jesse Akre …

‘Work on your business, not in your business’. How many times have we heard this? Plenty. But, as owners, operators, leaders and entrepreneurs, it is like a bug to the bright light. 

“I feel like I have to do it all.“ 

“I can’t afford anyone to do it.“ 

“I don’t trust anyone to do it.“ 

“I can’t keep people/don’t have the person, therefore I have no choice.“

The list is endless. Often, ‘doing’ is the path of least resistance for some. Many struggle to relinquish control, letting go of the rope as they discuss in EOS (the Entrepreneurial Operating System – check it out if you don’t know what it is!).

And, if we are honest with ourselves – many owners that had that great idea really belong there – in the trenches – because that is how they are wired. 

An even bigger challenge for those individuals is hiring someone that will be their leader! Heck, even Google’s dynamic duo hired a boss. They invented Google – and needed a boss (just pause on that for a moment – there’s way more to that story – but even the visionary needs a leader).

As the RetailSystem team engages with retailers, we hear it so often – people who are too busy ‘working in their business’ to work on their business. 

For clarity – what does that look like? Loading trucks, shopping products, selling products, cleaning? Yep. Picking up the water bottle or coffee cup left on the sales floor? All those things that must happen. 

I get it. We scramble from the opening bell to the closing till. Where did the day go? The retail daily grind – it happens.

Without question, leaders are pulled to work in their business all the time – like a sucking vortex – when working on their business would better it. 

Make it stronger. Make it better prepared for the good times and the bad (a huge point right now, in case you missed it!). 

Working on your business will make you a stronger retailer. It will probably also lead to having to work less in your business. 

What’s the catch?

It sounds so so easy, but it’s not. Like anything else, results take disciplined efforts, and the tenacity to plot a course and execute. The willingness to invest uncomfortably big, and the ability to make hard, scary and bold decisions.

Just imagine if you had defined and documented your key processes and communicated them to your team so those regular activities happen the same way, each day – the way they are supposed to. 

How many times have you had to jump in because they aren’t? What if you had taken the plunge and invested correctly in a decent website, and the team to run it like you do your store, when you first wrote down that you needed a new website? 

What is the reluctance to spend money, when not doing so costs you opportunities from the get-go? What if you had fought the good fight with the change-resisters on your team, and made the investment in an EPoS that positioned you for the future, instead of still being stuck with the comforts of the past? 

“I hate it, but we are so comfortable with all these workarounds – it’s the way we’ve always done it.“

So, you’re saying you don’t hate it? 

Nothing is ever easy. Is watching others pass you by easy? Heck no!

No matter what it is, unless you start, you will never get there. There are always trucks to be loaded and unloaded.

Jesse Akre is the president of RetailSystem Global Brands. RetailSystem is a cloud-based retail management system (EPoS) designed specifically for furniture and mattress retailers.