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#38 Deividas & Kris – Optimizing for Success: Unblocking Bottlenecks and Winning Processes

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Aaaand they’re back. 

Deividas and Kris are back to talk about 3 most important things when growing their agency and eCommerce businesses:

  • Business processes.
  • Challenges.
  • Lessons learned hiring people (specialists vs generalists).

First things first – the processes.

What does that mean, exactly?

It sounds boring. But Kris has been working with them since basically forever now. And Deividas wants to know what is she learning and discovering?

Kris says it’s all about getting things on automation and not having to rely on teammates’ realm of expertise.

Once you automate something that you’ve already figured out is working, your teammates are there to optimize it and improve on it.

So, in a way, you’re creating a tight, well-oiled, business-building machine. 

The parts of the machine are team members, the communication platform you use, file hierarchy, and so on. And the goal is to optimize everything along the way (the operations) and make it so that the different parts of the machine can run independently.

So, creating things like automation, workflow, and processes are super important in any business.

Kris says that when she was surviving on $20-$25 a week, she had to think about the different layers that affected her environment. Since then, she has cultivated the skill of managing everything down to a T and being able to solve seemingly impossible problems.

Processes are all about automation, explains Kris.

Once you set up a system, you’re essentially solving all problems that pose themselves, and you won’t have to worry about them in the future again. You just have to optimize your processes as things change.

Now, Kris can send one message to her personal assistant which sets in motion a train of events she doesn’t have to worry about setting up.

Talk about being efficient!

She explains that the path to systems and efficient processes is people.

You have actually to spend some time understanding the people in your team. 

What are their strengths and weaknesses? What are they struggling with? What are their motivations/demotivations?

Once you know people, you’ll know what to optimize with them.

It’s an ecosystem, explains Kris. And it’s not necessarily about the process, rather, about the people involved. And that’s what you should optimize for.

The next topic they discuss: The Specialist vs The Generalist.

To take a step back, Kris explains they’re in a niche that changes all the time, and you have to be constantly learning. It’s about how much time you can dedicate to solve a problem in that area, and not how experienced you are.

To clear up bottlenecks along the way, Kris says that decentralizing decision-making and problem-solving can fix a lot of problems in different areas. This way, the whole team can work towards a common goal and manage themselves to come up with the best possible solution.

One question: How do you make sure things stay efficient when you decentralize problem-solving?

The answer: KPIs.

All you have to do is set your KPIs and measure actions based on that.

Even if there are no clear KPIs for certain tasks, you need to track people based on a specific numbers or data.

The biggest lesson Kris has learned over the years has to do with the meaning of true collaboration. 

When working with other people, her idea only covers one part of the bigger picture. As a result, you have to be open to other peoples’ ideas, because they cover other parts of the picture.

Then, your own idea (the original one) goes through a molding process, only to come out much more efficient in the end.

Next topic: What are the challenges Kris and Deividas faced when recently launching their own eCommerce business? 

Kris explains that she took a big bet by not fully knowing the product’s quality before placing a 1,000 quantity product order.

The risk she took was the first 50-100 customers would not be satisfied with the product. Meanwhile, the reward was the team learning how to create a proper supply chain and coming together to go through the whole learning curve to get to the market faster.

She explains that the biggest challenge has been dealing with the product quality.

So, now, they’re going into Supply-Chain 2.0 – a more optimized version in which the supplier gives them the best product in the niche.

Would things have gone differently if they had chosen a specialist who knew how to avoid these problems?

Well, here’s the thing:

Kris says they DID hire a specialist as a consultant. 

But the consultant didn’t operate at the level of standard Deividas and Kris operate in. 

So, Kris explains she let go of the consultant, even though they had 20+ years of experience working with suppliers in China.

The whole idea of hiring a specialist can be a trap, explains Kris.

For one, they’re much more costly and come with a lot more ego. And if you don’t have a clear infrastructure or a process in place to create very clear communications with them and get them to perform well, you’re not going to get the biggest return on your investment.

Hiring a specialist won’t automatically solve all your problems, says Kris.

If you don’t solve the problems that already exist, the same issues will continue coming about. 

It’s a systematic issue, not a talent one, explains Kris.

And hiring a specialist to apply a copy-and-paste template won’t magically make it go away.

Because that problem is specific to you and your operations.

Currently, Kris is reading ‘The Amazon Management System’ to help improve her thinking when it comes to processes. 

For the most part, Kris’ approach is to look at all the problems existing in an agency currently and THEN, go look for the resources to help solve the problems.

You need to identify bottlenecks that you’re going to experience over and over again and solve that first. Otherwise, it’s going to continue coming up and prevent you from advancing to the next level.

In a way, it’s like the turtle from Super Mario that’s preventing you from leveling up.

Next question: What is the turtle in Kris’ life?

Is it Deividas? How do you control people and prevent bottlenecks to growth?

Kris explains that to reduce anxiety and fear within your team, you should cultivate and practice faith.

You have to work on your own energy and make sure that you’re bringing good energy to everybody around you. 

     Here’s what we cover during episode #38:

  • Processes, challenges, and lessons learned hiring people – what they have in common and what’s important
  • Why optimizing for processes is like putting oil and exchanging the parts of a steel machine to make it better
  • What Kris learned about business processes from surviving on $20-$25 a week in the past
  • How Kris managed to optimize and automate a lot of her day-to-day processes to save time 
  • Why knowing and understanding people makes Kris such an amazing marketer
  • Experiences with dealing with ‘The Specialist vs. The Generalist
  • How to instantly clear up bottlenecks by decentralizing decision-making and problem-solving 
  • One simple way to make sure things stay efficient when you decentralize problem-solving and make sure the whole team is working towards the same goals
  • How to keep people accountable and track their progress, based on one specific benchmark
  • 2nd and 3rd order of consequences – what it all means when you’re managing processes 
  • The biggest lessons Kris has learned over the years and how it helps her work better with other people, and improve her overall idea formulation process
  • One huge risk Kris took a bet on when launching her own eCommerce business, and what she learned as a result
  • The biggest challenge for Kris when launching her eCommerce business (and how she solved it)
  • How Kris tackled the supply chain problem from scratch when she launched her own eCommerce business to get the best quality product market in the niche
  • Why Kris decided not to continue working with the specialist they hired, who had 20+ years of experience in working with suppliers in China, after one specific mistake
  • Why Kris thinks hiring a specialist can sometimes be a trap for most businesses (and what to do instead)
  • What book Kris is reading to improve her overall processes game, and what’s her approach nowadays when it comes to solving existing long-term problems within agencies
  • What the turtle from Super Mario has to do with business processes and bottlenecks, and how to solve problems that prevent you from advancing to the next level
  • So, what is the turtle in Kris’ life?! (hint: it’s not what, or who, you expect)
  • Digital nomads, traveling around the world, and Deividas’ and Kris’ thoughts on money buying happiness
  • Appreciating people and why being patient and having faith pays off
  • Before we go! Deividas’ biggest learning curves, and other big things to expect in the next upcoming podcast
  • Sugatan is growing – what to expect and where

Follow Kris:

Find Deividas:

Links mentioned in the episode:

The Amazon Management System: The Ultimate Digital Business Engine That Creates Extraordinary Value for Both Customers and Shareholders

eCommerce Growth Hacks | Facebook Ads, Creatives, Email & More | by Sugatan

Kris Sugatan YouTube Channel

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