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Part One: Simplify Business with the Inventory Genius Method

boutique business boutique business tools boutique ownership education coaching growth inventory inventory genius product-based business simplify business series May 25, 2023
Ciara Stockeland sitting on counter in inventory based business; text

Welcome to the Simplify Business Series. Over the coming weeks, I'm taking a look at those oftentimes-tricky questions that I know all inventory based business owners have. I'm breaking the questions down into simple steps. The bite-sized, actionable steps I'll offer will give you one task at a time to understand, complete and implement in your own business. And over time, you'll to begin to simplify the way you look at your business model. You'll be on your way to becoming an Inventory Genius and on the path toward profitability. You'll have a business strategy you can use.

Throughout the series, I will be using my Inventory Genius Method to explain the questions, the answers and the simplification process. In part one, we're going to minimize your business related workload. We'll work through how to get started, how to structure your days, what effective scheduling looks like, how to learn new business techniques and apply them, and how to simplify the way you've organized your inventory based business. We'll learn a simple approach to inventory and to getting things done when they need to be done. By the end of part one, you'll feel less overwhelmed and more in control of all the pieces involved in your business.

So, let's get going with...

PART ONE: The SIMPLE APPROACH to Minimizing Your Workload

“Decluttering is infinitely easier when you decide what to keep rather than what to throw away”.
- The Joy of Less, Francine Jay


Day 1: Simply start

The most difficult part of any new adventure or any change of behavior is knowing where to start. We look at the task at hand and quickly become overwhelmed with all of the moving pieces.

We look at where our business currently stands, and we know we need to change something, but where do we begin?

You just need to simply start and start simply.

In coaching you through this journey of simplicity, I want to start by giving you the three secrets of simplification:

→ Secret 1: Be intentional
→ Secret 2: Look ahead
→ Secret 3: Break it down

Simplifying our tasks, our business and our lives is all about first being intentional. Choosing that today I will take a breath, I will choose the end result, I will decide how I will spend my time and my energy. Once we choose to be intentional in our thoughts and actions, we can then look ahead, deciding what the outcome will be.

You may want an organized space, you may envision a day that begins on time and ends on time, you may see yourself taking home a healthy (and consistent) paycheck. Once you choose to do what it takes to create the outcome you envision, you then break the tasks at hand down into bite-sized, actionable steps!

Business coach Ciara Stockland working with small business owner to track inventory

Now, with this top of mind, here's your coaching action step for today:

Choose five tasks that need to be accomplished this week. Some examples: evaluate my business team, organize my paperwork, evaluate my current inventory, decide what tasks I would outsource if I can afford it, etc.

After you choose your first five tasks, then rank them from easiest to hardest. Simply start by tackling the easiest task first and then move your way down the list.

With each task, decide why you need to begin, where you want to end up, and what the small steps along the way will be.

No more procrastinating. No more waiting for the perfect time. Let's get going on the path toward profitability. Write down your first five tasks, and make it happen.


Day 2 The simple approach to starting your week right

“Focus on the step in front of you, not the whole staircase”

Mondays are like New Year’s Day - every week! A fresh start, a new beginning, a chance to pursue our goals and dreams in a new way. Here are my coaching tips for practical ways to set yourself up for simple (and productive) Mondays so that you can start your week out right.

*Enjoy your Sundays by focusing on relationships and staying free of work. If you allow your brain to rest and your mind to settle while “closing up shop” even for a short 24 hours every week, you will find yourself ready to get back at it with a fresh perspective and more energy on Monday morning! 

*Clean off your desk every Friday. Finishing your work week, cleaning off your desk, and leaving your space de-cluttered and in order will be worth the extra ten minutes when you walk back into a clean and orderly business space on Monday morning.

*Choose one indulgence that you are allowed every Monday. Whether that be a coffee to kick off the day or your favorite podcast over the lunch hour, having your “Monday treat” to look forward to will set you up for enjoying the simplicity of a well thought out and productive Monday.

Here's your coaching action step for today:

Write down activities that will help you prepare for a purposeful and productive week. Remember decluttering Fridays, restful Sundays, and Monday indulgences!


Day 3 The simple approach to scheduling

"The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities” -Steven Covey

I have recently become a huge fan of time blocking. (I say recently but I have been practicing this for a couple years now). There is something so empowering about creating a simple and consistent schedule that puts me back in control of my day. Here are some practical coaching tips for “simply scheduling”:

-Break your work week into five or six days. (Yes! Leave one day for rest, relaxation, and self-care)

-Break each day into three to five-hour time blocks

-For the first two weeks, simply record everything you do in each time block

-Access your time blocks, break your projects into “buckets” and add up the time you need each day for your simple “buckets”. For example: consulting calls, 90 minutes daily; email response, 60 minutes daily; paperwork, two hours daily, and so on.

-Then schedule your days and weeks according to the buckets of tasks; time block each day to allow plenty of time for your tasks. Once you're comfortable with this time block discipline, allow yourself to only focus on the task at hand.

-When you reach the end of your time block, when possible, shut down that task and move onto the next bucket!

You will find you are more efficient in your business tasks and in your life, and the simplicity of scheduling will allow you to concentrate and accomplish more each day and every week.

Here's your coaching action step for today:

Take one week and "time journal" every activity. After a week, find common activities and put them into time buckets. Commit to creating a more streamlined schedule for your business-related tasks.


Day 4 The simple approach for learning

“Education is not the learning of facts but of training of the mind to think” -Albert Einstein

If you listen to every expert, read every book and take in every piece of advice, you will find yourself swimming in a sea of knowledge, completely overwhelmed with all the ways you should be living your life, building your business and working toward profitability.

Instead, take a simple approach to learning! Think about these three areas:

  1. What is one area of business in which you are in need improvements? (I really don’t understand my numbers well)
  2. What is one area of business in which you have a lot of interest? (I want to add a blogging element to my business)
  3. What is one area you see opportunity in your business? (Emails)

Business coach and profit strategist Ciara Stockland working with clients on her mobile phone

Once you have defined your three areas, look for an expert to coach you in each of those fields.

ONE expert. Not ten!! Not even two or three. Just one.

Study their method, get involved in their communities, listen to their podcasts, or read their bios or book.

Ways to learn simply include choosing a podcast, books on tape or books. You do not have to do all 3!

Here's your coaching action step for today:

Write down one lesson you would like to learn in each of these three areas as they relate to your business - improvements, interests, opportunities.

Then, identify a list of specific experts or coaches from whom you can study and learn. Choose one way to absorb what they teach.


Day 5: The simple approach to organizing your store

“Clutter smothers. Simplicity breathes.” -Terry Gullemetts

Productivity does not thrive in chaos. Boxes of damaged inventory, piles of business paperwork, sticky notes falling from their original place on the wall, door and desk, inventory yet to be tagged, a box of stale snack crackers and some used boxes and packing supplies – all shoved into nooks and crannies, creating a space that smothers your joy and productivity.

Remember the old saying, “Everything has a place and there is a place for everything”? This should be the motto of your business.

Choose one area and begin creating an environment of order. Choose to either start by simplifying under your counter or by simplifying your office area/desk.

Choose one area to simplify. Set aside a time free of distraction. Create three piles; sell, save, throw.

Then begin to put all of your “save” items into their designated place. List your “sell” items and discard what needs to be thrown. Going forward, as you receive mail, inventory or supplies, put them in their place immediately. Throw broken and unnecessary things away immediately. Put damaged inventory in a bin labeled “damages” and take them out of inventory at the end of every month when you take a physical inventory count. File your paperwork in a file cabinet at the end of every week. Staple your end of day reports to the daily receipts and put in an appropriate file. Keep all supplies in bins. Get inventory out onto the floor within 48 hours of delivery.

Here's your coaching action step for today:

Write down the areas of your business that need more organization. Break those areas into smaller projects. Commit to getting them organized by putting a due date next to the project.


Day 6 The simple approach for documenting purchases and inventory

One of the areas that can most quickly become out of control in our business is documentation of our inventory. In my work coaching inventory based business owners, one of the first things that arises in our conversations is their inventory. What is their current on hand inventory value? What is their current gross margin? When should inventory be marked down and what should that inventory markdown be?

What is most fascinating when it comes to business inventory is that there will never be accurate answers to any of these questions if there is not a consistent receiving process in place.

The simple approach to receiving inventory should look like this:

Step 1: When an order is placed, print the order receipt or the purchase order and put into a manilla folder labeled “to receive”.

Step 2: Once the inventory arrives, immediately take it out of the package, pull the correct paperwork out of the “to receive” folder and count the inventory against what was purchased.

Step 3: Contact vendors immediately with any inventory discrepancies.

Step 4: Enter the cost of each item along with the sale price into your POS system.

Step 5: Tag and put inventory out on the floor.

Step 6: Staple the packing slip to the inventory receipt or purchase order and file into a manilla folder labeled with the month and “received”.

This simple approach to documenting purchases and received inventory will ensure that your inventory costs are accurately recorded and that paperwork is easy to find for any future information gathering.

Here's your coaching action step for today:

Write down your new process and strategy for organizing your business paperwork. Strategize with your team and develop a step-by-step plan for processing purchases and inventory. Write it down and make it happen!


Day 7: The simple approach to getting stuff done

“If you don’t choose something, you won’t do anything” -Miranda Anderson

So far you have made it though seven days of simplifying the way you run your business by working to minimize your workload. However, you still find yourself wandering through your day, flitting from task to task, procrastinating and pushing aside the things you don’t want to do. Sometimes we just need to find a way to simply “get stuff done”!

Ciara Stockland working as business coach on laptop computer

Have you ever heard the expression “eat the frog”? I was told this once by a great mentor and friend. Eating the frog is an expression that says that when there is a daunting task in front of us, or an undesirable job – when we would rather create pretty graphics or style a mannequin versus entering our invoices or calling a vendor – we need to tackle that task and get it over with first. We need to eat the undesirable food first so we can just get it over with. Stop procrastinating. If you procrastinate you end up wasting the entire day knowing in the back of your mind that you still have your large and undesirable task to complete. This nagging feeling will steal all your productivity.

The simple approach to getting stuff down, is to prioritize your day by first conquering the most undesirable, yet necessary tasks. Put those tasks at the top of your daily list and eat that frog first!

Here's your coaching action step for today:

Write out a list of daily tasks for this week. Put the worst task at the top of the list. Which item is the least desirable but most necessary? Prioritize "eating the frog" and commit to getting these tasks done first. 


Congratulations! You're done with part one of the Simplify Business Series! Part two's coming soon - get ready to continue simplifying your business and working toward profitability.

If you'd rather breeze ahead of these posts and dive into the Inventory Genius process all at once, 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.


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