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 strategy & tactics

BUSINESS PLANNING BASICS Facing pitfalls? Here are 5 ways retailers can learn to be more prepared for unexpected twists and turns in both life and business. WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA When preparing for the future, retailers agree it’s best to have a plan—and a backup plan in case the first option doesn’t work out. James P. Smith of A.C.T. Audio in Vernon, Conn. said it’s best not to look at pitfalls in life as failures. “Look at it as a lesson,” he said, noting that it’s important to sit down and extract knowledge from the experience. “Then it becomes more of a success because you know what not to do in the future. You can analyze your mistakes and see how you need to change your mindset or your behavior—whatever the situation is—to keep moving forward.” Smith said when he makes a mistake, he uses it as an opportunity to learn, to keep something similar from happening in the future. The debut KnowledgeFest Orlando took place June 25-27, and on Sunday, Smith taught his first class, called “Getting Out of Your Own Way: From Technician to CEO.” In it, he covered understanding core values, creating standard operating procedures and how best to delegate tasks. Smith detailed how he went from partnering in a business in 2011 to purchasing A.C.T. Audio in 2019, and what he learned along the way. He asked attendees to consider whether or not they’re able to truly enjoy their financial freedom, or if they’re just working all the time. Smith said he was once the owner of a job rather than the owner of his business. “Some of you might own a job instead,” he said. “You’re working 12-hour days. You’re always on call and putting out fires. I had to rebuild my foundation because everything was in my head. The more I exited my business, the better my business got. I always thought was the opposite: I thought I needed to be there.” The more business owners can learn to let go and delegate, he argued, the better the business will be.

40  Mobile Electronics July 2021

#1: Get Familiar With Your Core Values One brief year ago, Smith said he was working long hours, seven days a week. “I was a technician during the day and a business owner and administrator at night,” he said, adding that he’s a firm believer that if you’re a business owner, you should be focusing on your personal life, too. “I believe a business is a reflection of the owner, and you can only take a business as far as you can take yourself. If I’m unorganized, my business will be. If I’m moody, my employees probably will be.” Smith advised retailers to begin by ensuring they are in a good place mentally, adding, “If you’re trying to grow your business, I think people forget how important that is.” In seeking one’s core values, Smith recommended the book Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek, as well as Unf *ck Your Business: Stop Business Self-Sabotage by Getting Clear on Your Core Values NOW by Tomas Keenan. “[Defining your] core values is about finding what’s important to you and implementing that in your store,” Smith said. “My core values are growth, trustworthiness, integrity, professionalism and communication because that’s what is important to me and that’s what I want in my store. Defining your core values and documenting them is important so your employees know [what those values are].” Smith added that core values often change. “You can learn to make decisions using your core values, you can hire against them, and this will make your business better because everyone will be like-minded and moving in the same direction,” he said, adding that even the type of customers the store attracts should be aligned with the business’s core values. “That’s where you have to learn to say no if a customer doesn’t fit your core values,” he explained. “Make all your decisions using those values.”