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Business is Simple - But It Sure Ain’t Easy

Ultimately, every business boils down to three main elements: Sales & Marketing, Finance, and Operations. Most of us that own or manage a music store naturally gravitate to one of these three things. In my experience, most music store owners or managers fall into the Sales or Operations profiles (because if we were good at Finance, we’d have likely picked a different industry :).

A simple job description for these three roles might be as follows:

Sales & Marketing - create a sales & service strategy that effectively converts prospects into customers (a customer being a prospect that makes a purchase), while developing a marketing strategy that identifies your ideal prospect and stimulates a desire for them to learn more about your company.

Finance - develop and maintain a budget/cashflow plan that addresses capital needs for inventory and operational needs; identify trends in the business.

Operations - create systems to optimize efficiency and consistency in the day-to-day running of all aspects of your store (including both customer facing activities and the behind-the-scenes work).

Any successful company will have these three roles filled. If you are a 1-person eBay shop, you are filling all three roles. But as you grow, you start adding more people and it’s important to know what responsibilities they are supposed to fill. Ignoring any of these three will have disastrous effects on your business.

At Springfield Music, Inc, we are followers of the methods outlined in the book Traction, by Gino Wickman. Wikipedia summarizes this book as “a business strategy book... that guides leaders of entrepreneurial organizations on how to gain control of their business through the Entrepreneurial Operating System.” In this book, one of the points Gino writes about is the importance of having one person be accountable for each of these three roles. Or, in other words, only one person in that seat, but one person could occupy multiple seats. So, you would not have two people accountable for Operations, but you could have multiple people involved in Operations.

Following this one-butt per seat rule creates accountability for the outcomes of that role. “If everyone’s responsible, then no one’s responsible” - I’m sure we’ve all experienced this at one time or another. If you operate a small company, you might occupy all three seats but as you grow the goal is to add a new team member who has the required strengths and skill-set to occupy that seat.

At our company, we have found that finding people who have the experience and training to properly fill this role has been the key to making drastic improvements in the success of our business, while at the same time reducing stress on ownership and management. Most business owners or operators wait until they are running ragged before they hire additional people, and then they get the first warm body that can fog a mirror. You need to be disciplined in your personnel strategy, just like you would be in acquiring new lines or offering new services. The goal as an owner or operator is to find people with the education and experience to do a better job in that role then you were able to do yourself. You have to be willing to humble yourself to bring in better, more knowledgable, people than yourself. Then you have to give them the responsibility for the outcome of their role.

Take 30 minutes, away from your business, and think how you are currently filling these three roles. Do you have someone occupying each role that has the knowledge, ability, and time, to properly oversee this aspect of your business? If the answer is yes - congratulations! You are well ahead of the pack! If not, design a plan on what you need to change in order to make this happen. This simple task will yield huge strategic benefits for you and your company.

As always, if you have thoughts, fears, struggles, questions, or ideas you’d like to share - email me at

P.S. If you'd like help with your retail business, I'm only an email away.


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