Inventory Genius Method: The Right Work for Businesses

boutique business boutique business tools boutique ownership education coaching ecommerce growth inventory genius inventory genius series product-based business retail Jun 15, 2023
Profit strategist and business coach, Ciara Stockeland standing in doorway of retail business; text

If you have found your way to this blog post, you are ready to understand what the right work is for growing your business. I am daring to guess you are ready for a change in your life as an inventory-based business owner. You are likely at a point where you want to learn to focus on what really matters in business management, finance and debt-relief. You want to finally figure out how to create more profit and keep more cash in your business.

If this sounds like you, then you have come to the right place. I am excited to take you on a journey through the Inventory Genius Method! Over the coming weeks, I am going to share stories from my own business journey as well as stories from a variety of clients with whom I've worked over the years. Every story you will read is real, and every business journey is a lesson for you as you make your way forward in your business quest.

I hope that the bite-sized, actionable steps I offer will give you the hope you are looking for and the energy to put one foot in front of the other. After all, business is hard but it doesn’t have to be complicated.

You may decide to print these posts and highlight sections you find especially important. You may just want to take notes as you read. I hope you'll write down questions as you have them and reach out to me when you are ready for the next step or to share your ah-ha moments with me. I am here to celebrate your wins and applaud your efforts as you work to become an inventory genius!

Let's start it all with doing the right work. 

“Hi. I had to share. I just sent in (a lot of money) and paid off all my business debt.”

I opened my email in early 2022 and knew immediately I had to talk to Jackie and find out what her secret was.

I needed to hear her story, to celebrate her win, and to fully understand how she paid off all this business debt after working with me for under a year.

“Let’s talk,” I emailed back.

Like so many other inventory-based business owners, Jackie had come to me riddled with guilt and shame over the choices that had sent her once flourishing business spiraling into debt. For Jackie, the joy of business ownership was long gone, replaced by an overwhelming feeling of despair. From the outside, her business looked wildly successful—gorgeous products and a vibrant social presence—but behind the scenes, like thousands of her business peers, she found herself working endless hours for “free,” chasing the sales and watching financial freedom stay forever out of reach. Jackie knew she needed a change.

“So, tell me how you did it,” I said. “Under a year, and the debt is gone. Tell me what you did.”

“I just did the work,” she stated.

She just did the work.

So, what is the work? Wouldn’t we all just “do the work” if we knew financial freedom lie within our grasp? Wouldn’t we all do whatever it takes to finally sleep at night, pad the bank account, and rid ourselves of imposter syndrome once and for all?

After working with thousands of product-based business owners, I have discovered that most often, it isn’t a lack of effort that yields these lackluster and sometimes catastrophic results. In actuality, many people don’t know what the work truly is. What should we really focus on? What will move the needle?

Hop onto social media at any given moment, and you will find catchy videos from experts in any field. They all promise that if we post more, buy more, and sell more, we will produce the results we crave—a reward for all our labor.

Statistics show that most small businesses close their doors within three years. In fact, nearly one in five U.S. businesses fail within the first year, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. No one sets out to fail. Not a single soul decides to mortgage their home, leave their flourishing corporate career, or sign up to work endless hours for free, only to lose it all, yet well-meaning entrepreneurs do this time and time again.

It always starts as a fantastic idea, a dream of making an impact and creating jobs, while also achieving independence and financial freedom.

At this stage, most people are willing to do “all the work,” meaning long hours at the kitchen table while an idea is penciled out. They’re willing to lie awake, dreaming of the aesthetics of the new location, letting the spark of excitement burst into the flame of entrepreneurship.

After months of planning, visiting the bank, designing the space, chomping at the bit while the construction takes longer than expected, the doors for the business finally open. This is when the true work begins. This is when they start posting on social media, traveling to markets, deciding on advertising opportunities, and handling the sales as they start to roll in.

This is what we dreamed of! It is working. Our business is thriving, and we are climbing to the top of the roller coaster. And then the roller coaster reaches the top, and we begin the freefall. Sales slow down, employees leave, or we get that one awful review. The sleepless nights return, only this time they don’t come as a result of anticipation and excitement. They come because rent is due Monday, and the bank account is low. Cash keeps pouring out faster than it comes in. We have done all the work. What went wrong?

Jackie had been working all along, but she had focused on the wrong type of work. It was busy work—chasing sales, buying more, and spending money to make money. After all, isn’t that what we are taught in business school?

This is work that takes your eyes off the bright and shiny and focuses your eyes on the things that matter.

Here is the hope. There is meaningful work that can stop the freefall. Work that can take away the high highs and the low lows of the roller coaster. Work that begins when we start to focus on the things that will actually make a difference. This work will rename you as a genius in your business. This is the work Jackie began after her first call with me.

By definition, a genius is an extremely intelligent or skillful person, someone who possesses very high-level skills or abilities.

So why try to be an inventory genius? As we will discuss over the coming weeks, doing all the work is not what matters. It’s about doing the right work, and if you are a product-based business owner, the right work finds its root in your inventory.

When I dug deeper into Jackie’s story, she described for me, in detail, the work she had done that had taken her from complete overwhelm, shame, and guilt to a place of freedom and joy. I saw that the work we had been doing around her inventory is what began to move the needle for her.

And this is not exclusively Jackie’s story. It is the story of hundreds of other product-based business owners, including myself. We all eventually discover that while all entrepreneurs work hard, only some work hard at what matters.

Here is what I find fascinating—the work that yields freedom and peace of mind usually comes after a time of deep despair. Jackie had hit rock bottom in her business, as have so many others who have come to me for solutions.

Mountains of debt, feelings of unworthiness, little to no remaining joy, a restless mind, a wandering soul, the wish to close up shop and throw away the key. While I wish I could get out in front of these owners’ inevitable struggles—teach a class or two before the first inventory is ever purchased—it never works that way. It didn’t work that way in my own business journey, and most likely it hasn’t for you. My guess is that if you have found my site and are willing to read this post, you are at the end of your rope. You know there needs to be a change, and it needs to happen now. Your pain is so great you are willing to do whatever it takes to find a solution.

A solution is possible! The genius skills required to run and operate your product-based business in a healthy and meaningful way are available to you, just as they were to Jackie and to me. Like us, you have the opportunity to find joy and build a lasting legacy once you finally realize what it takes to be a genius at it all.

Oftentimes, as inventory-based business owners, we get completely bogged down with the everyday issues. Payroll, complicated sales situations, business expenses - all of these things, and more, so often cause complexity to arise in our business.

We can get so engrained in what we are doing that we lose perspective. We need help and guidance to break down the complexity, to simplify things, and to focus on the right work.

Here are three areas in which I want you to focus on the right work: money, mindset and matter.

First, let's cover the money. What does it mean to do the right work as it relates to the money?

We have to know and understand the basics of how the money flows. What do the financials of our business really mean? What are the numbers telling us? We talk about cashflow a lot, but do we really understand what cashflow means in our business' story? What increases the flow of money in your business? What decreases the flow? How does money flow in and out of your business?

In looking at our sales, we need to ask several questions. Where are the sales coming from? What increases/decreases our sales volume? And it is important to do the same for our business expenses. How does money stay in or leave our business? What do our expenses look like and how can we adjust them? It's so important to do the right work to understand these numbers.

Second, we need to do the right work as it relates to our business mindset.

You will hear me say it often: Stop playing store with your store. You're not a business owner just because you want to have a hobby.

The shame and guilt Jackie felt when we began working together grew from Jackie not fully understanding her business. So many business owners with whom I work do not have a ton of debt, but they also do not take a paycheck. They make excuses about playing store and they do not know how to maximize the potential of what they have worked so hard to create.

I work with clients to help them focus on their business as a business. I help them take control and figure out the hard work when it comes to growing in profitability. And I remind them to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

Oftentimes, we avoid hard things, but we have to become okay with work that is challenging and uncomfortable. The uncomfortable feelings are part of the journey toward business profitability.

And finally, we have to do the right work when it comes to the matter of our business.

What do I mean by the matter? It is the nitty gritty and everyday stuff of our business. We have to focus on our strengths and weaknesses, on our curiosity and on the power of the edit. Here is what that looks like in each area:

When we focus on our strengths and weaknesses, we ask ourselves about those areas in which we really excel. What do you love doing in your business? And where do you need more help and support? Lean into your strengths and get more support where and when you need it. This will help you understand where you need to hire tasks out so that you have more time to do the things at which you excel.

Business owners who are curious about their business will train themselves to focus on the right things. Be constantly curious and ask all the questions. Why is margin down? Why are employees starting to show up late? Why did a product not sell as well this time around? What is working on my website and what could use improvement?

Through curiosity, we discover parts of our business that are not working. Here is where the power of the edit comes into play. We need to edit out these areas of our business that are outdated, that no longer make sense, that no longer work.

Instead of constantly collecting and never getting rid of things, we need to consciously, constantly edit. This applies to inventory, vendors, technology, and all the daily things related to our business.

I love to tell my clients there is no problem too big, and there is no mess too messy to simply dive right in. Over the coming weeks, let me walk you through exactly what I mean.

If you're looking for next steps beyond these blog posts, I invite you to get started with the Quickstart to Inventory Genius. 

The Quickstart is my keystone coaching roadmap. Three modules will quickly layout five things to focus on in your inventory based business. You can implement these five strategies right away in order to drive immediate profit. And with the Quickstart, I GUARANTEE that you'll double your investment through either making, saving, or finding that amount in PROFIT. The Quickstart really is the perfect way to get your inventory based business on the right track.

Looking for related posts? 

Simplify Business with the Inventory Genius Method

What Do You Do When You Feel Stuck In Your Business?

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Weekly bite-sized advice from Ciara Stockeland.