How did I measure success?


evaluation imageIt’s Day 1 at my new store in Davis, California, and now it’s time to figure out how I’ve done. Since the store is open, I have obviously accomplished my goal. But I had to ask: Did I do it on time and on budget? Did I outsource the right projects/tasks? Were the people who I asked to advise me actually helpful? This assessment was an opportunity for me to find out what I did or didn’t do right, and what I could have done better.

The lessons you learn in implementation are very useful because you can apply them to your next plan. Here are some things that I learned early on:

  • If you are going to hire a manager, then that person needs to be involved in hiring the staff he/she is going to manage. I lost a couple of employees quickly because I didn’t make than connection.
  • I added a large section of classical music that didn’t sell very well in the beginning. The lesson there was that I had overestimated the demand and I would have to cultivate the market for classical music.
  • I devoted 15 percent of the new store to used records. It wasn’t nearly enough space.
  • I thought I could buy all the used records I would need for the store in the Davis area, but I soon realized that I would have to look outside the area to supply the demand.

I did a good job with all the steps in accomplishing the goal, and Davis turned out to be a great store. Within three months of opening, it became clear that I would need a larger space. I ended moving into a much larger space a year later. In my record store career, Davis was by far my most profitable location.

When I think about the record industry today, I was very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. Even though music will always be a part of most of our lives, record stores are falling by the wayside. In the 1970s and 1980s, record stores connected people together. It was a fun place to be and I loved my time as a record store owner. I had the best of both words – a successful business and a product that I couldn’t get enough of.

By using this example from my early career, I hope I demonstrated the seven steps to accomplishing a project. And I hope you enjoyed the story.

–Barney Cohen

President, Business 360 Northwest

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