27 May 2010

On How to Subtract

He's a quiet man, unassuming, passionate in his love for God and God's people.  His name is Mike Cogdill, and I've had the pleasure and honor of knowing Dr. Cogdill since I was a smart-mouthed sophmore in college.  Even with that less-than-stellar beginning, he still gave me his blessing as I prepared to enter Divinity School at Campbell University Divinity School, of which he was dean.

Upon entering Divinity School, Dr. Cogdill stresses, "You don't add divinity school to your life.  You must subtract something."  Over the course of 3 1/2 years, I subtracted a lot of extra activities, most of my TV watching and online forums.  Then somewhere in that mix I added something big - a baby.

As things get hectic in life and business, I haven't forgotten Dr. Cogdill's exhortation to subtract, not to pile more and more on an already full plate. 

I subtract products.  There are some things I make that I absolutely love.  I enjoy making them and using them, and I just know all my customers are going to clamor to have one of them.  Sometimes this works.  I see it in my Soaps of Milk & Honey (and Oatmeal!), which are good sellers, and I can see this in my goat's milk lotions.  There are times, though, when I get a bit over enthused about my products and make tons of them, anticipating they'll sell; then I have to clearance them eventually.

I subtract tasks.  With all that goes into running a business, I have had to decide for myself what I will and will not do in order to drive my business.  Weekly or monthly markets are the first thing that went.  While I love meeting my customers and interacting with them, doing markets and events requires a lot of work and a pretty big time commitment.  I opted to subtract those from my business itenerary, choosing instead to focus on wholesale and private label accounts.

What have you subtracted from your business, and how has this subtraction made it more successful?

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