Build your Ecommerce Business to Run Without You–4 Weeks at a Time

Ecommerce Business

For the 4th year in a row, I will be taking my annual 4-week vacation from my business, coming up next month. Admittedly, in 2020 I stayed home, like so many others, but I still took the time away from the business. For anyone who follows me, and follows Mike Michalowicz, you know how I do it. If you’ve just become a follower of my blogs, you may be thinking, “How in the world can she do that without everything falling apart?” Let me say that it is absolutely doable. Stay with me and I’ll explain!

How it All Began

Four years ago, I read the highly successful book, Clockwork, by Profit First guru, Mike Michalowicz. In it, he discusses two concepts that every entrepreneur should adopt:

1) Determine your QBR; and
2) Make a plan to take a 4-week vacation.

As soon as I finished the book, I set the plan in motion.

Step 1: Determine Your QBR

Determining your business’s QBR (Queen Bee Role) is a transformative event with significant impact. It draws inspiration from the crucial role played by the Queen Bee in a beehive, where the other bees support her in laying eggs, prioritizing her well-being above their assigned tasks.

To illustrate this concept, imagine a doctor’s office where the doctor personally greets patients, updates insurance information, conducts examinations, records symptoms, makes diagnoses, prescribes treatments, handles payments, schedules follow-up visits, and manages filing. If the doctor assumes all these roles, long-term success would be unlikely.

The key activity that benefits the patient and drives business success is the diagnosis and prescription of proper treatment. By clearing the doctor’s calendar of other tasks, they can focus solely on this critical responsibility that only they can perform. Patients are willing to pay a premium for a diagnosis based on the doctor’s expertise, but they are less inclined to pay the same price for administrative functions.

Consider your own QBR. Identify tasks that prevent you from fulfilling your QBR. Recognize how these tasks hinder your ability to devote full attention to the activities that yield the highest financial returns for your business. Explore ways to free up your time and focus on your QBR.

Understanding Your QBR

As you prioritize your QBR, it’s essential to understand the 4Ds: Doing, Deciding, Delegating, and Designing. These represent the different ways work is accomplished in organizations. As small business owners, we often find ourselves engaged in Doing or Deciding tasks. We either handle the tasks ourselves or involve others while still maintaining control over decision-making. However, this incomplete delegation can lead to frequent interruptions and frustrations for both parties, prompting the Doer to exclaim, “It’s easier to do it myself!” This cycle repeats unless the task is fully Delegated, encompassing both decision-making and execution. By effectively Delegating tasks, more time becomes available to focus on the QBR.

As roles become clearer and function smoothly, entrepreneurs can allocate time to Designing, shifting from working in the business to working on the business. When you can dedicate your attention to shaping the business of your dreams, it’s a sign that it’s time to plan that well-deserved 4-week vacation!

Step 2: Make a Plan for Your 4-week Vacation

The 4-week vacation exercise prepares the organization for the day when the business owner no longer works in the business. By utilizing metrics to monitor business performance and focusing on planning for future opportunities, the business owner can gradually transition their role. Preparing for a 4-week vacation requires 12-18 months of planning. Setting the QBR for both the business and the owner is the initial step, followed by delegating tasks to team members over the planning period. Test vacations of varying lengths, where the owner disconnects from the team, help build confidence and allow for growth. It is crucial to have a skilled team that is trained and empowered to operate the business as their own.

While this year’s vacation plans may be adjusted due to travel restrictions, the key is to have the ability and confidence to step away for 4 weeks, knowing that everything will run smoothly in the owner’s absence. Our businesses should serve our lives, not dictate them. Profit First emphasizes this from a financial perspective, while Clockwork provides tools to make it happen with our time.

Take some time in the upcoming weeks to consider your plans for the year. If scaling is on the agenda, it’s important to address questions beyond acquiring more capital for inventory. Understand your QBR, how you approach work, and consider your capital needs and planned profitability to ensure clarity and success.

And then start planning! Contact bookskeep today to learn more about ecommerce bookkeeping and accounting!

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Post Author Cyndi Thomason


Cyndi Thomason is founder and president of bookskeep, a U.S.-based accounting, bookkeeping, and advisory firm for ecommerce sellers worldwide. She has a passion for data analysis and process development. She uses that passion to educate her clients and help them structure their businesses to maximize profits.

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