Dealing with Vulnerability
Inspired by Seth Godin’s blog, I’m going to try to have poignant entries for this week rather than anything long winded or visually entertaining to fill in the blanks. Isn’t that really what’s a blog all about? A splatter of your own thoughts instead of a pieced together thoroughly referenced piece of writing? Who knows.
All I know is for the first time since starting this venture I am feeling vulnerable. Today I was bombarded with a ton of mail. One of which warned that if I don’t respond within 30 days my EPA number will be suspended. I am training and working with a new hire who’ve been with me for almost two weeks now. I have to deal with linking my LLC to the DBA and the inconvenient but absolutely necessary protocol which belies this process. Interruptions from neighbors asking for favors, brunch with a business mentor (leaving my worker at the warehouse and mentally freaking out about his progress). Gathering foam from across the way because I noticed they are throwing out massive amounts of foam from a former weed operation – and then worrying about all the fiberglass the foam was buried in earlier. Ink exploded all over my hands from changing the ink on my printer [clumsy]. And returns of items which were incorrectly listed. The calls I receive from potential customers would often go like this, “Do you have __impossible description of a part___ ?” Even if I had the part I really don’t know what they are talking about. I am in the process of buying another car, one of my affiliates is asking for his money, and I find myself physically exhausted on a daily basis from the manual labor. I still need to check on the work of a person I hired to list for me and he is halfway around the world. Our hours never match up so when I am going to sleep he is awake and vice versa.
Then I calm down.
30 days … that’s plenty of time for me to respond. Right? My neighbors ask me for favors because they have given me so much in the brief time that I am here. Shelves, barrels, door knobs and locks, foam, packaging material, computer… I received all of this in their good graces. The idea of convincing another human being to work with you for so many hours a day for weeks on end – constantly being in your company – for non-luxurious pay… when I look at it wouldn’t be that easy if I were a miserable or difficult to deal with individual. The fact that my neighbors are kind, my worker is kind, everyone around me is kind and comforting is at the end of the day a reflection of how my behavior influenced their interaction with me. I must be doing okay. And returns of items – at least I am shipping often enough to receive returns. I am pushing forward it seems. And customers are calling in for parts I haven’t got a clue about but luckily I have help from all avenues to correctly identify my customers’ needs. It took me a month to train the halfway around the world individual but it sets the groundwork to free up some time I desperately need. Then there is the dropshipping company + a personal life.
It seems like I am doing okay even though it feels like everything is crashing together. Like I am at an intersection witnessing a massive attack, speechless and halted by what I perceive as a magnitude of sorts. But is it a magnitude of any kind? I realize all of this will be second nature soon enough – my response time and my ability to manage the chaos. As with any kind of novelty, you get desensitized from feeling overwhelmed when being overwhelmed becomes a type of norm. A friend of mine is a current medical school graduate and he is forced to stay awake for days on end because lives depend on him. I help alleviate people car pains on a national level. He alleviates a very personal type of pain on a much smaller scale yet the importance of his work seems daunting. I read stories about Marissa Mayer and I want to know how managing chaos is done on that scale and what is it that’s prioritized? You can only do so much as a person. You can only delegate so often in one day.
I used to work in sales position where I would answer about 200 emails/day. I would problem solve shipping issues, processing issues, aid with sales, bring in sales of my own, coordinate between vendors, resellers, and end users, etc… My Xobni report shows my response time going from 1 hour per email to around 1-2 minutes per email. I helped bring in over $300,000 in sales in a couple of months. But on that level all the systems of operation were set in place for me. All I had to do was respond. When I am also responsible for operational organization and simultaneously sales, customer service, payroll, and the IT fixes – it just isn’t optimal anymore to respond in every which way.
I am always asking myself – How do I get this done more efficiently?
And the only answer I can think of is – don’t worry about what’s efficient. Prioritize what will bring in the cash flow. Everything else seems less relevant. So I have to prioritize my lister above all else. I can push everything at the seams when it comes to it but I must prioritize the steps leading to more cash flow. Once the cash flow is increased I believe I will feel less vulnerable.
What techniques have you found useful in dealing with that vulnerable feeling…. when it’s your direct responsibility to manage the chaos?