Bon Voyage Mike

(That means “good trip Mike”, for everyone not well versed in Francais)

This morning Mike departed with his family for a month-long voyage through China. It will most certainly be one of those “once in a lifetime” experiences for him. I can’t wait to see all of the pictures and hear about everything they did.

That said, the reason I’m writing a post about it is that this is a big step for our business. One of our partners will be gone for a month with almost no internet access. It’s an extreme example of what things will be like with one of our key components missing for an extended amount of time. If he was in the US or even Canada or Europe, it would be much easier to just pick up the phone and call if we really needed to. Or to shoot him an email and get a reply within a few days. In remote areas of China, not so much.

The nice thing is that our systems are set up to allow for this pretty good. He doesn’t need to do any web design work. Our sites can sit for a month, and I can always whip something up if need be. The other key component of his job is to plan and execute all of the sales on Detailed Image. This is much more complex than it sounds. The nice thing is our systems allow him to automate everything in advance. When 6/1 rolls around, the banners will change on the site, new sale items will go active, a new sale page will be available, and a blog post will go live…all while he’s touring Shanghai. The newsletters are all prepped and I basically just need to hit “send” and they go out when we’re ready.

I’ll be sending him email updates as things happen. If he gets a chance to check email once or twice, great. If not, they’ll all be waiting for him when he gets back.

Assuming this works, it’s a big step for us. I know I certainly want to be able to take off for a month or two and not have to worry about things falling apart. It’s hopefully the beginning of us being able to cash in on the flexibility of running a web company.

5 comments on Bon Voyage Mike

  1. Tim says:

    One small step for man, one giant leap for small business owners!

  2. Rob says:

    It’s great that you’re able to do things like this as it shows the systems you’ve put in place work well.

    Obviously having forewarning makes a huge difference – Is this a peak season for you? Would it be much more difficult to lose a team member during Thanksgiving or Christmas? What if you didn’t have much warning – if someone had to go away suddenly for some reason, or was taken ill?

    • Adam McFarland says:

      It’s not exactly peak season, but the past 3 months have been our busiest 3 ever. The difference between now and November is that it’s evenly spaced out so it’s much easier to deal with. November it comes in one big rush over a 1 week period.

      We would have a harder time if we couldn’t plan in advance. We could overcome it I’m sure, but it’s unreasonable with 4 people to have the others completely cross-trained in all aspects of ones duties. We do document as much as possible on our internal Wiki, which would help. Once we grow a bit we’ll be able to do more cross-training naturally because some jobs (programming, accounting, customer service) will require more than 1 person.

  3. Rob says:

    When November rolls around do you expect to take on more employees to cover the rush, perhaps on a temporary basis?

    • Adam McFarland says:

      It’s possible, but probably not. We are our own temp workers in a way. We go from having 1-2 owners per day at the warehouse to having all 4 of us when needed. It kinda sucks but it’s easier than hiring someone for just a few week period.

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