When I first stepped into my role at our e-commerce business things were going relatively well for all outward appearances. Amy had created a successful line of products that were being sold in retailers across North America. Sales had been growing at well over 40% annually and the business was generating a respectable profit . But once I’d scratched the surface, things weren’t quite so rosy.
The Reactivity Trap
Despite the outward success, Amy was stressed out and wondering what she had gotten herself into. our e-commerce business had grown so quickly that she hadn’t built any structure into how the business was run. Though Amy was working very hard, she had fallen into a pattern of reactivity – spending all of her time responding to problems that arose, rather than planning and tracking where our e-commerce business was headed
Now I’m not saying they were disorganized. In fact, I was blown away by how practically every piece of data was in some kind of spreadsheet – and in many cases 2 or 3 spreadsheets! – but efficiency was low. Finding and maintaining all this information was cumbersome and it was of limited value because it wasn’t organized around business objectives.
The Missing Piece
The biggest value I brought to our e-commerce business was to introduce and implement a single idea that has transformed the business. It took a a couple of months to get some momentum, but once we did, what a difference!
Instead of scrambling to put out fires, we are now able to take a step back and look at issues in the context of the bigger picture. That increased planning and focus has allowed us to work step by step through the process of automating much of the business using cloud based software. This in turn has allowed us to spend more time on strategy, product development and upping our sales and marketing game – all of which will continue to grow the business.
An introduction to the Metasystem concept
So What made all the difference? The introduction of a Metasystem to our e-commerce business’s business operations. A metasystem is an like an operating system for your business. The same way that Windows or OSX runs all the software for your computer, it is the system that runs your systems, insuring you are planning ahead, tracking progress and effectively solving issues as they arise.
There are a number of metasystem frameworks out there from which I’ve adapted the principles we use to run our e-commerce business, most notably the “Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS)” developed by Gino Wickman. You can get a good overview of the EOS approach in his Books “Get a Grip” and “Traction”
I’ll be diving into more detail in future posts on some of the specific habits and systems we use here at our e-commerce business as part of our metasystem, and how you can apply them to your business.