The Entrepreneur Highway Part 8

When two hands suddenly aren’t enough!

Your online business has been a one person office since its inception and you’ve kept the wheels of progress moving smoothly forward while you gained hands-on experience, learned from a few mistakes, and worked hard to achieve a reputation for quality products and good service.

To date your stock reorders have been of modest size and easily managed while you tested items for selling potential and achieved a better understanding for the types of products buyers are looking for.

Because you’re methodical and realize a calendar year is made up of only twelve short months, you’ve carefully planned and prepared your big holiday order well in advance and passed it on to the manufacturer, giving plenty of lead time for all involved.

Needed supplies are purchased in bulk so your packaging work area is fully replenished. The printer and cutting board have been kept busy making plenty of crisp new info inserts to include with each shipped purchase. And blogs, web pages, and social networking sites now banner the news that you have what buyers need to fill their early holiday wish lists.

Everything has proceeded smoothly until that large holiday order arrives, leaving you buried in merchandise that needs to be processed before anything can be listed for sale.

Suddenly your two capable hands can’t seem to manage all the tasks that need taking care of to keep your small business functioning efficiently.

The key to surviving that mountain of work is forgetting about the big picture—all one thousand and one jobs that need to be dealt with—and focusing completely on just one task.

Like a doctor in triage you need to prioritize what tasks can’t wait and what jobs can be set aside until crunch time is over.

Since selling online is your business the priority becomes photographing and preparing listings to post online for buyers. But even these tasks have several steps that can be overwhelming with a large quantity of new inventory.

Photographing stock is time consuming so organizing that large holiday order into smaller groups of 6 to 12 items can chop that task down to size and allow for better quality control and easy retakes if a shot is not to your liking after it’s been cropped.

Give yourself a full day of photographing and cropping to get a good selection of items to list. Once all those photos are ready, part of a day can be spent renaming the photos in their folders and then uploading to a hosting service like Photobucket. Or photos can be uploaded directly to your website or an e-market platform like eBay when posting your listings.

For those who prepare HTML listings, simply drop in the image code for your new photos and update any relevant descriptive information and then proof, proof, proof to make sure photos and text pertain to each other and the listing is free of spelling and formatting mistakes.

If you offer calculated shipping—buyer enters their postal/zip code to get the shipping rate of an item—the next step is to package the products ready for listing. When posting listings with calculated shipping you’ll need to enter package dimensions, weight, and a designated carrier like UPS or regular postal services.

Now you’re ready to post this first batch of completed listings. You can spend several hours posting all the listings at once or list only three or four per day as you continue to work on new listings until all of the holiday stock is either posted in a multi-quantity format or photo ready to insert in existing listings once a similarly unique model has sold.

BACK UP YOUR WORK DAILY when working with large volumes of photos and listings in case disaster strikes. A crashed hard drive and corrupted files are definitely easier to deal with if all your work is safely stored elsewhere and easily accessible.

Working alone is not for everyone. And setting a steady daily pace until the work is done can frazzle even the stout of heart. Just remember to prioritize, organize, and then follow through. Know your physical limits and set realistic goals for each day’s workload and just do it.

A focused mind can keep two hands working productively until that mountain of inventory becomes just another task well done.

I’m an online entrepreneur. How about you?