Today was a constant go BUT very productive day. 7AM wakeup – with a quick email review and then planned the day.
Weekly team meeting at 10AM – went great. Its SUCH a pleasure to watch these guys work – amazing. Our order volume is highest EVER – and we are getting them shipped out in 6 hours. Overtime is minimal, spirits are good and the stress level in the company is low – although I can see people are getting tired. Jasmine is running the production department like clockwork and keeping a tight ship, Nina is doing an amazing job in Shipping and Jessica, who has been overseeing the team for just a short time is definitely finding her stride. Then there is Jimmy that keeps the technical things ticking and improving and having a great attitude and great ideas. Eileen keeps pushing on her own and taking amazing initiative. Spencer is brining in the reliable, “count on me” IT outlook. So, overall, I look at all these guys working soooo well together, under pressure, and everyone is smiling, happy and achieving. If I’m gushing on this part its because I’m very proud of each and every one of them.
So, the team meeting set the tone for the day, and I had a working lunch with a bunch of guys from EO to look over the corporate structures (again). Great feedback. I keep working on this corporate structure and am amazed at how much time its taking. BUT its my foundation for the future. I so wish I could outsource the whole thing to PWC and be done with it, BUT the quotes I got for this type of planning was $100K+ – so given the time I’m spending, I’m still not breaking the rule where I shouldn’t work on things that are not worth at least $500/hour. Having said that, this is really so no much thing – a lot of detail involved and that is not my niche. But basically the approach I’m taking is this:
1. Ownership structure
2. Contractual structure
3. Operational structure
So, as I’m going form Level 1, I then drop into Level 2 to ensure that contractually things work. If level 2 works then I move into Level 3 to make sure that operationally it works. I’m looking to create this structure so that it is 100% legal, transparent and easy to manage. The legal part is difficult, because the corporations span so many countries, that its a bit of challenge to make sure that we don’t break any laws anywhere. But as I had written before, this is a multivariable problem – taxes, contracts, legal entities, import/export laws, contracts, investor interests, long term maintenance and operating costs, accounting, divestitures. So, each revision of the structure needs to be ‘regressively revived’ for all these factors to make sure that it works. I’m being quite diligent about this because in the past, five years ago, I had gone ahead with opening up the structures, without fully having a clear picture of all the things that would be triggered the structures. Long term it ended up costing me a lot of effort, money and time – because there was so many gotcha’s. So, this is not to say that I expect to get this structure 100%, but at least I can check the things that got me in the past.
On the financial side, I met and hired a young guy from Ireland, Mossy, on consulting basis to help me bring in a CFO, work out the outstanding accounting issues and help me build the foundation for the future. He will be helping me interview CFO candidates on Friday, and will start with me full time contract on Jan 4. The plan is that between him and me, we will do analysis of current state of accounting, plan next steps and then implement. The new CFO would come in then and be given a road map of what is expected. Mossy will not be the guy that is going to go and get me term sheets BUT what I see with him, is that he will enable me to build up the accounting infrastructure that I need. That in turn will enable me to have the information and data I need to make decisions. My plan for him also is to task him, once the structure is designed, with opening up the new companies and at the same time putting in the SOP’s and Policies for the new entities that will govern their accounting, interactions, etc.
Had a meeting with Eileen and discussed the corporate planning retreat for January (looks good) – and further gave Eileen more info on how to work with Michael to bring in training and development into the company. The plan is that Eileen will work with Michael (who provides executive based and employee based training) to develop a training program for my managers and team leads for 2010. Also, they will work out a foundation for internal training, so that when we are on boarding new staff, we have a way to bring them onboard and make them effective ASAP. Part of this is the problem that although the company has many SOP’s, not all staff know how to use all the SOP’s, or even what they are. So, good problem to have – and easy to solve.
On the personal side, following up on the Kick Ass Club, met with a personal trainer today – will have a fitness assessment, joining a nearby gym and plan a work out schedule this Friday. First training session is schedule for January 4. Preliminary plan is for 3 times a week – but will see what Sunny has to say after he does my assessment. Although this is a person thing, I write this here, since the ‘self health’ of me, (apparently 🙂 ) is tied to the success of the company.
As I write this, Jimmy’s team finished RedStores.com (I should say still early beta) site using the new multi-store platform. The site is here and its our new identity: http://www.redstores.com/. Its looking good – am happy with the results and its running on the brand spanking new shopping cart platform. Very cool.
The muse site designs are finished and I’m very pleased with the results. Timing is good, since now that our new platform is good to go, its just skinning work to get these sites up. The goal is to get a site up and running, merchandises for less than $10K a pop. Basically, I need to have a platform where I can roll out $250K sites for $10K. I think I’m well on the way. This will give me a huge playing field – to try and explore the markets with very limited liability. Muse site will be part of our ability to taken on product outside of pearls. Focused with search engines and customer shopping patterns in mind.
Target release dates for these sites is end of March. Merchandising process has already been started and will be expanded, meanwhile marketing, SEO work I will trigger at the end of January.
After these sites I done, I will push for at least 10 more for 2010.
So, after this busy day, I’m a bit tired, but planning on reviewing and updating the vested contributors plan tonight – having all these guys work so hard (and well) is giving me the motivation to work on the things that look AFTER them (which the VC plan is designed to do).