Spring Has Sprung

The daffodils are poking their little heads up through the soil as I write this, and the thermal underwear is going back in the closet to make way for the t-shirts and shorts. Actually, it's amazing that the weather has changed from snow to seventy degrees of sunshine, which of course is very welcome. Actually, that reminds me of a quote I came across recently:

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."

Since spring is well known as a time to tidy up around the house, I was thinking about how we could all do some ‘tidying' in our eBay businesses. Don't groan, this is gonna' be good, I promise.

A big breakthrough was when I systemized more aspects of my business, and I know that you can benefit from doing the same. There are so many time sucking tasks that we do that can be drastically improved.

I suggest making a list of tasks that take more than, say, an hour or so a day, and armed with that list, aim to work through it over the next 3 weeks to try and automate as many of those processes as possible.

For example, is there any software available that can accomplish any of the tasks? To find out, you might want to visit the massive archive of searchable software downloads at cnet.com for ideas.

Are there any tasks that can be outsourced to others? For example, I discovered that I was spending far too much time on things that I could have easily paid a student $10 an hour to do. So that's what I did.

Where did I find the labor?

I posted a message in my region of CraigsList.org, (most major cities or areas have their own sub site). I chose two categories, the labor category under the broad category of ‘gigs' and the ‘part-time' category under jobs. There are also some specific categories that might work better for you, such as web design and writing, each of those categories could be used to find individuals who are experienced in designing and writing eBay listings.

You might also use this site to find someone who you can interview for an information based product. For example, if you were producing an ebook about ‘how to save money on your Disney vacation,' you could probably find some ex-Disney employees who are willing to

Now, there is a secret to getting the right people. I used two tips that I got from Dan Kennedy.

Firstly, try and find someone who was raised working in a family business. They tend to be far more suited to working from home, and they realize what it really means to be in business. They tend to work harder and with less complaint than someone who's been in the corporate world for years.

Secondly, be clear that you need someone who can work well without constant supervision or praise. In fact, unless you're the sort of person who can dish out an endless stream of praise, be honest in telling candidates that they won't receive constant commendation! Many employees NEED that, so cover that issue upfront, the right person will appreciate the honesty.

Lastly, give specific direction about how you want them to respond. What I usually do is write something like, DONT send a resume, instead tell me a bit about yourself by writing a couple of paragraphs about your existing and past work as well as your hobbies and interests.

It never ceases to amaze me that around half of all applicants will submit a resume, despite my explicit instruction not to do so. Try it yourself and you'll see the same result.

Any application like that immediately gets deleted because the person just demonstrated to me that they can't follow a basic instruction, and it's actually a great way to weed out unsuitable people at the first hurdle.

I encourage you to do this yourself. Maybe start out by trying someone on a temporary basis, perhaps giving them a specific project to work on, and seeing how they do with that. You'll benefit greatly by freeing up more of your time to work on aspects of your biz that you're more skilled at.

Yet another way to systemize a process and save time is to find a device or machine that does the task more efficiently than a human can do it!

Again, as an example, I realized that my staff were spending a lot of time manually piecing together components for my Renegade Seller Success course, so I looked at what processes were consuming more time and invited their feedback. It turned out that punching the pages with a manual 3 hole punch was taking up the most time, so it immediately made sense to buy an electric punch that could churn through pages. That inexpensive device slashed the production time by two thirds!

I guess the lesson to takeaway here is that sometimes we can't see the wood for the trees in our own business, so we really need to stop and make a serious analysis from time to time.

You won't regret doing that, I promise.

Even seemingly small tweaks can have a substantial knock on effect over time, and another side benefit is that you'll be re-energized with a new determination to improve your business. It really is like the satisfaction that comes about as a result of clearing out the closet and doing the spring clean.

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