“The reality is that one day you wake up and you realize that you’re the bottleneck in your own business, and it’s time to be fired.” – Mike Jackness on handing over the reins of the company to someone else

Have you ever had that feeling when you just know you’re about to get fired from your job? In 41 years I have never been fired–I worked hard enough to not be in that situation–and it’s certainly uncomfortable dealing with this issue with a company I started.

You might remember me doing an episode about my goals for 2018, and surprisingly, those were the very goals that led me to feeling I might get fired from my own company. One of my goals is to double in revenue again this year, and at this point in our business, doubling will require a lot more effort than it did last year. That means I, as the CEO, will have to hand off tasks I enjoy and focus more on high-level (and sometimes less exciting) business development efforts.

The thing is, I enjoy doing the lower-level stuff. I like the dopamine hit of a successful Facebook ad or PPC campaign. But when I hired Jacqueline, our Director of Ecommerce, she knew that I needed to give them up in favor of the high-level stuff, so in order to get me to do them, she is essentially firing me from the informal marketing position I always loved.

Here are some points I talked about in this episode:

  • A look back at my 2018 goals
  • The moment Jacqueline began taking over my job
  • How hard it is to hand off some responsibility to focus on higher-level stuff
  • Plans of a “Day in the Life of Mike Jackness” podcast episode

It feels weird, to say the least, to no longer be doing what I love in order to do the less sexy but necessary functions of a CEO. But in business there will always be trade-offs, and if giving up dopamine hits is what I need to do to achieve my goals, then I’d gladly do it.

Resources mentioned:

MyEcomCrew
My 2018 Goals
Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business

As always, thanks for listening to this episode. Until the next one, happy selling!

Full Audio Transcript

Mike: This is Mike, and welcome to episode number 120 of the EcomCrew Podcast. So glad to have you here today, don’t forget you can go to EcomCrew.com/120 to get to the show notes for this episode. We are only 80 episodes away from 200. I love setting goals and thinking forward to where we’re going to be. And just let’s see 40 short weeks from now because we’re doing two episodes per week, we’ll be at episode 200.

I’m already starting the countdown timer. I love this stuff. I love hitting goals and checking them off. And as you remember one of the goals for this year was to do 100 episodes of the EcomCrew Podcast. And the reason I bring up goals is because as we are starting to go through our goals for 2018 is when a pretty big moment happened for me.

And I’m going to hold back on what it is for just a second. We’ll get right into it because I have a hard start on after the break on what this is. So I hope you guys enjoy this episode of the EcomCrew Podcast, and we’ll talk to you on the other side of this break.

The reality is that one day you wake up and you realize that you’re the bottleneck in your own business and it’s time to be fired. So be honest. Have you ever had that feeling where you just know you’re about to get fired from your job. It’s just like one of these neat things you know it’s kind of coming, I don’t know what it is, but you kind of have that feeling you know you’re going to get fired from your job.

And for me it’s really interesting because I have managed to make it to be 41 years old before I ever had this feeling. I’ve always been kind of an overachiever, and even when I was an employee at other companies, I worked really hard. And the thought of getting fired never occurred to me until recently. And it all kind of started with my goal setting for 2018. And we’ll throw in the show notes the episode for that for the 2018 goal setting.

But I want to go over the ones that really kind of precipitation this feeling where I realized that I was about to get fired from my own job, at my own company, which is good and bad in some cases. There’s a saying that I use or I hear a lot, always be training your replacements, which is something I really believe. And I think that if you aren’t always learning and striving to do something new and training someone else to take over your current role, then you’ll never advance within a company to take on something new.

But let me go over the six goals that really precipitated this feeling for me that kind of brought it on pretty quickly before I even really knew it was coming. So, the first one here is develop 50 new products for 2018, which puts us on a pace of almost one per week. That is a lofty goal in and of itself. We’ve never even come close to that kind of throughput of new product development.

And the definition we had made for this was to develop 50 new products. So something like cheating like having six different colors or something doesn’t count as 50 or six new products. That would be just one with six variations. So, again that alone is a big thing that tackle developing 50 new products over the course of the year, and I would need a lot of help to do that.

And that help has come in the form of my wife Michelle who’s already been working on Prague development for us. And we have a new hire. Right now we’re looking to do for product development specifically to help develop some products for us that are more unique up from the ground up throughout the course of the year looking for sourcing agent to be able to help with all this. And we’re pretty far into this development process already for about a dozen SKUs.

Jacquelyn our new director of e-commerce, Michelle and myself all went to the Canton Fair back in October, and we made a lot of headway into this. But as we were developing quarter by quarter goals for 2018, we realized just like what a big task this is to tackle to develop 50 new products. And if this wasn’t enough, the next thing here was to launch on Amazon Canada, UK, Germany, France, Italy, and hopefully also Australia all by the end of 2018.

And again this one thing is enough to frighten the average person into getting the shakes at night of we got to get in all these different marketplaces, there’s different tax rules and jurisdictions, languages and different things to be dealing with. But launching in the far marketplaces is definitely a large factor of how we plan on doing our growth in 2018. So that is one of the goals on our list as well.

Another thing here is optimizing all of our Amazon listings to increase sales by an average of 50%, again on its own a really large project. We already have a couple of hundred SKUs up on Amazon, and we’ve been able to determine and realize just how far behind the curve we are when it comes to our Amazon listings. And this is being said as something where I was already pretty proud of what we were doing on Amazon.

We have highly converting products, we’ve taken really high quality photographs, and we’ve had good enhanced brand content, and really been kind of hitting on all cylinders or so we thought on Amazon listings. And so I would say mid way to three quarters away through last year when we started upgrading things even more and seeing the impact that that had on our sales on Amazon, and realizing that we could potentially get an uplift on our current business, on our current items of 50% or more by doing this.

So again on its own this is a big project doing these Amazon listing reviews and improving them. So the list continues to go on here. We have number four optimize PPC on Amazon more efficiently. And obviously Amazon is a large portion of our business, so it’s a big it’s a big focus for us. Amazon PPC can be a very large source of waste in a business, and is something that we’ve been very cognizant of.

So we do all of our PPC campaigns and really get them running as optimally as possible. We basically know how to do this; it’s just a matter of having the time and the execution to be able to pull that off. The next thing on here is implement Traction. And this is where things really got sticky as far as realizing that I was about to get fired.

As we were going through Traction and going through their whole process — if you haven’t read Traction yet, I highly recommend it. It was recommended to me through a mastermind group. I’ve talked about it on this podcast a couple times. There will be an entire episode dedicated to this book and this process at some point in the future here sometime in 2018. But we’ve already gotten knee-deep into this process.

The basic overview of it is setting company core values, setting your core focus. I’m talking about defining your core focus, setting ten year goals or five year goals, three year goals, one year goals, quarterly goals, your marketing strategy, talking about what your issues are in your company, and defining your perfect organizational chart, and so much more. And these are all things that I’ve thought about from time to time, but hadn’t really invested the time on a day-to- day basis to really think it all the way through until you sit down and force yourself to go through the book and the process, something that it takes a lot to really impress me in business these days.

Again I’ve been doing stuff like this for 15 years, and kind of seen it all done all, heard it all before. But definitely I was taken aback by this book and realized that the hardest thing is to really have a game plan of how you’re going to fix something that you know is broken. And this has definitely been a great model for us. So we’ve gone through and defined all these things. And I’m going to get back to this in just a second, but it’s really where I realized that life for me has got to change completely.

But I want to talk about one other goal here which is to generate ten million dollars in e-commerce sales in 2018, which is the other part of this goal. So between Traction and having these goals and knowing where we need to go, what is my job going to be in this company moving forward? And it’s going to be drastically different than what it has been. As you guys know, we’ve had Jacquelyn on the show before. And I really feel like I’ve been fired, and she’s taken my job.

And it’s a really interesting position to be in, and it’s great, it’s great for the company. But it’s tough for me to redefine myself yet again, something that I pride myself on. Someone asked me at ECF Live, and I think we might have even gotten it on tape, and we’re going to be doing an episode on that here shortly. But they’re asking what my greatest strength is, like what do you feel like your greatest strength is.

And we were going around the table talking about that. And my answer was just never giving up, being resilient, never taking no for an answer, always figuring out a way to get things done. And you can group all that under one thing. I’m not sure exactly what you call that. So I know that I can and will do this, but it’s definitely a very humbling and kind of crazy position to be in, giving up the reins of so many things that I’ve done in the past.

But as the company goes from zero to one million, you face one set of challenges and one set of responsibilities. And then you hire your first employee or two, and then you have another set of challenges and responsibilities as you get to let’s say two and a half million. Then you get to five million, and there’s another whole set of responsibilities because you have more employees and more things to be working on.

But things are kind of happening at lightning speed and you’re kind of just holding on to the rocket ship, and hoping your fingernails won’t fall off. And then now we’re in this new phase from going from five million to ten million, and things are definitely changing around here. We have someone else who day-to-day is handling a lot of the operations, and taking that off my plate which is fabulous.

But again it’s also unnerving because one of my other goals on this list is to hand Facebook ads off to someone else in the company, something that brings me enjoyment and gives me satisfaction and gives me a sense of purpose, because it’s something that I feel like I’m really good at. It helps drive the revenue for the company, and moves the needle and that’s going to go away. And basically not only that, but everything else that’s kind of put me on the map, or made wake up in the morning saying, this is what I’m going to do, and I know I can do a good job at this.

All these things are kind of quickly going under someone else’s plate. And now my role is setting goals and making sure that we have good company benefits and that we’re a good place to work, and that we’re on the right track to hit all of our goals for the year. And setting up dashboards and stats and being a better — and reviewing accounting and PNL and all these different things that I’ve always done in some capacity, but always have worked on something else in favor of something that’s more exciting, because those things are less exciting things.

But I realize now that these are the things I have to make exciting for me and on a day-to-day level, and I have to get good at it. I have to get really good at it at the same way that I’ve gotten good at Facebook ads or Amazon PPC or Amazon listings or whatever it might be. And maybe someone else is dictating the Facebook ads and setting them up, and I have to be okay with that. And maybe they’ll do a better job than I have. I hope they will. That’s certainly the idea is to hire people that are better than you so you’re not the smartest person in the room with the stuff.

But maybe they won’t, maybe they’ll do 80% as good of a job as I’ve done. And that’s something I have to accept as well, because as we move forward and get to the point where we want to hit this ten million dollar number, I can’t have my hands in all these different pieces of pie, just absolutely not possible. And I’ve never had a hard time delegating, that’s not the part that’s tough. The part that’s tough is letting parts of that process go completely, giving up the things that I tend to enjoy more, which are more of the marketing aspects, and letting other people run with those things, because with four brands across our company, there’s just too much for one person to do.

And the reality is that one day you wake up and you realize that you’re the bottleneck in your own business and it’s time to be fired. So a little bit of a short episode today, but a concept that has been on my mind quite a bit today and the last two months since really setting out these goals and realizing what the repercussions are. And something if you’re at the same size that we are you might be thinking about as well.

And I always like to talk about things that are struggles just as much as things that are exciting. I actually did an episode at the end of the year, my greatest struggles of 2017. I encourage you go back and listen to that. This is already a struggle in 2018. We’re in the first couple of weeks of the year, and definitely something that has become a reality check for me. And I try to be an overachiever and win at everything I do. I was just talking to someone else on our staff about this.

And I’m determined to get this right, but it’s definitely — coming into work and doing a completely different job. Even my title is the same, but man my day to day responsibilities are sure a lot different than they were six months ago. So it has actually spurred me on to come up with the concept for a new episode titled, a day in Mike Jackness’s life.

And one of the things I’m going to do some time here in the next few days is go to a random number generator website, and pick a random day on the calendar and just document it so you can kind of see what I’m dealing with day to day. But it’s a lot more meetings and planning, and things of that nature rather than just being in a Facebook account, or being in a Zipify landing page or in a ClickFunnels page, or whatever it might be.

I definitely also see a lot more EcomCrew stuff in my future so we can document what we’re doing with our brands in EcomCrew and creating more content and courses for that. So I think that those will be the things that I’ll end up spending most of my time on here moving forward, and just making sure that everyone on our team is rowing in the same direction. That’s a really important thing, something that we haven’t done the best job of in the past.

We’ve had people, let’s say we have 20 people on staff all doing a good job, we’ve had pretty good employees for the most part, we’re really lucky. But they’re not necessarily all in the same page. And that’s definitely a part of Traction, and making sure that we’re growing up and getting those things done right moving forward.

So that’s it for today folks. I hope you guys enjoyed this episode and kind of give you a little bit of things to think about. Maybe you can relate to it, maybe you’re not at that point yet. But I think the main point here for that if you’re still on that zero to one million, or one to two point five, or the two point five to five, whatever bucket you fit in to be thinking about the stuff sooner than later. I think that we waited a little bit too long to tackle this stuff. And I’m glad that there’s no time like the present to get started, and we definitely have done a good job and made some amazing strides already in 2018.

So I’m happy about that. But there was a post on EcommerceFuel forums the other day about what you wish you had done sooner. And for me this is one of them, and hiring a high level director or type or C level type person was the other thing. The things I realize that we just waited too long to do.

And she’s been a big factor in getting this stuff done because in order to keep good smart driven employees, you have to have this crap in order. And I realized that if we don’t do it, then you will lose her and a lot of other people here. And that’s really been the driving force of getting this done. So things to be thinking about folks. Again hope you guys enjoy this episode. We will be back in a few days with another. And until then, happy selling and we’ll talk to you soon.

And that’s a wrap. I hope you guys enjoy this episode of the EcomCrew Podcast. A little bit different than some of our other episodes. We try to change things up as much as we can. I haven’t actually done just me behind a microphone in a long time, and I thought that this was a good episode to do. Always just try to talk about the good, the bad, the ugly. We’ve done episodes on our biggest successes and our biggest failures.

And this is not something that I think I’m going through alone. I think a lot of people probably go through this type of thing in their business, so just not something that we think about day-to-day. And I hope you guys enjoy this conversation with myself as the audience of EcomCrew. Again thanks so much for being here. We appreciate all of you listeners out there. And again if you go to EcomCrew.com/120, you can get to the show notes for this episode. And until the next episode of the EcomCrew Podcast, happy selling folks and we’ll talk to you then.