I’ve spent years working on a projects that generate zero revenue and are used by few if any people. I consider each a success on one hand because I learned a lot but I also consider them failures because I set out to build something that people could use to solve a problem and I didn’t accomplish that at a scale where those results were evident.

Which brings me to a concept that I decided to test that I call sprints. Sprinting means that you attempt to validate an idea in days not months or years because after all, speed kills. Basically you put up a landing page, do some online marketing, test different value propositions and gather emails. If your results tell you people are interested then you keep moving forward otherwise  you drop it and move on.

My sprint – WordPress niche

  • Day 1 (2/28) – Truth be told, this actually started as an idea that I have had for some time but It wasn’t doing me any good inside of my head. I took action on day 1 so that began the sprint. Action started with a conversation in the comments section of the blog of a WordPress developer a few days prior.
  • Day 2 (3/1) – I put up two landing pages with slightly different language and headlines and implemented Google Experiments.
  • Day 3 (3/2) – I set up Facebook Ads and Google Adwords campaigns to begin running on (3/3)
  • Day 4 (3/3) – Ads started running on both networks. Google ads were shut down due to trademarked content in the ads. Facbook ran without issue.
  • Day 5 (3/4) – Worked through resolution with Google Adwords team and ads began to run. Picked up one email subscriber an hour later. Tweaked ads on each network to show ads with highest CTR. Discovered conversion tracking issue and resolved.
  • Day 6 (3/5) – Added a third landing page with some enhanced design elements based on a conversation with a WP designed. Though design was not important to me at this point, I decided the effort was minimal enough to do quickly so i did it.
  • Day 7 (3/6) – Tweaked facebook ads to CPC and news feeds versus right side. Tweak adwords campaign but pausing clow CTR ads and keywords. Added a fourth landing page to Google Experiments. No further conversions since Day 5. Decided to run newsfeeds with cpc ads today. Have run right column ads with CPI to this point.
  • Days (3/7 – 3/8) – Shut Adwords ads off. Continued to run Facebook ads to test weekend results. Findings were that newsfeeds ads with cpc versus right column and cpi resulted seven likes but no conversions.

Conclusion –  At this point the 7 day validation says this idea is a failure. People do not want it or the landing pages(3 using split testing) need further optimization. I would like to try one other landing page for a day or so this week based on the content in the ads that were clicked for an additional 2 days after which it will be shutdown.

There have been lessons learned about the audience through conversations observing the results of the test. Though there does not appear to be an audience here, I have freed the mindshare that was being consumed wondering about this idea and satisfied that I was able to get these results in 8 days versus of  12 months or more.

Update 5/12/2014 – What I didn’t document here is that during this experiment I shared the landing page url with a WordPress developer of a popular plugin (on 2/28). They expressed interest and conversations were off and on until early April at which time I offered a him a trial period and he accepted. Less than 20 days later he became customer number one.

 

In this second part to the first recording we try to focus on things (actions) that have worked for us that may work for you.

Some of the points discussed:

  • Getting your mind right first.
  • Dealing with family.
  • Dealing with the loneliness of the journey – prepare to be alone a lot.
  • Learning to function outside of the bubble – connecting with like minds.

Actions that you can take:

  • Get outside of your comfort zone.
  • Find people that think like you. The people you work with are not going to understand.
  • Get out of your own way. Learn who you are and what you want not the company.
  • Use your down time to learn something that you have not learned before.

This podcast is available at iTunes as “Getting started with Entrepreneurship

Please leave a review if you enjoyed it. Thanks.

Kyle

In this inaugural recording, I talk to my guest Kevin Logan about experiences and some of the challenges with mindset in regards to getting started as an entrepreneur.

Some of the points discussed:

  • Getting your mind right first.
  • Dealing with family.
  • Dealing with the loneliness of the journey – prepare to be alone a lot.
  • Learning to function outside of the bubble – connecting with like minds.

AutomationIn my practice as a corporate employee I worked in an environment where downsizing was the rule and not the exception. This activity seemed to be consistently taking place throughout each quarter of the year.

During a conference call, someone asked this question to a member of the senior management team,”How do you recommend that we work toward our objectives given that we are losing resources but are tasked with producing the same level of results?” The answer given was one word, “Automation.”

That call ended shortly afterwards and there wasn’t much explanation given with any level of real detail. No actionable steps or roadmaps were recommended or suggested. We were all left feeling like we had not learned anymore than we knew before the call. Continue reading

RepeatIntroduction

Ever notice that you are performing the same task over and over in your business?  Such as answering the same questions from different employees or customers? Have you ever found yourself working on something and then realized as you are working that you have completed this same task many times in recent memory?

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could spend your time working on growing your business by developing brand new relationships with customers and focusing your time on strategy instead of menial task. Wouldn’t it be nice if your employees or customers could find the answers that they needed when they needed them in your own words just the way you would say it without asking you? How efficient would your business be if your employees could do things exactly the way that you would without having to come to you first and without being told by you to do those things. Suppose your customers could get the answers to their questions without calling or emailing you?

If your answer to any of the questions in the first paragraph is yes, then you should be automating repeatable task by documenting them with business processes. And although this will not the stop the task from occurring, it will remove you the business owner, from the cycle so that you can work on more important things like growing your business. If the answer to any of the questions in the second paragraph was yes, then you should continue reading and get started today. Continue reading

3513439212_1d98e95a49_oThis is a rant based on true events. On multiple occasions I have had experiences with a company in its early stages and the customer service is great. They seem to go out of their way to make sure you are satisfied as a customer. However, when that same business starts to generate revenue, the customer service tanks. Your calls to the support number have extreme hold times, your emails go without responses, people start talking, complaints begin to show up on the internet. Sound familiar?

My belief is that these companies fall into one of three categories;

  1. The don’t have any idea how to run effective operations for their businesses.
  2. They are throwing so much at marketing to acquire new customers that they don’t care about the ones that they lose.
  3. They do not care because they have customers now and they are getting paid so thats all that matters.

If it’s 1 then they should read this post on customer service. If it’s 2 then they should get used to pumping dollars into marketing because they will need to to stay in business. If it’s 3 then good luck staying out of bankruptcy court.

  • logo
  • postgresql-logo1
  • heroku-logo-for-facebook

Objective: To write a short tutorial the uses Sinatra DSL for the backend, is styled with the twitter bootstrap and PostgreSQL for the database and the heroku hosting platform for hosting.This is a branch off of a post about Learning Rails. I branched it because I found Sinatra interesting and wanted to document buildiing a production app.

Tools that are being used for this tutorial.

  • Macbook Air running OS X 10.8.5
  • Heroku account (FREE)

Continue reading

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Biggest mistakes of 2013

  • Waiting too long to start projects.
  • Spending too much time on things that don’t have the best ROI.
  • Trying to find an audience after building a project.

Biggest Accomplishments of 2013

  • Becoming a MicroPreneur lifetime member.
  • Launched an online community for the parents of autistic children
  • Developed 4 mobile games.
  • Started blogging regularly.
  • Started an email list.
  • Started a an email marketing campaign.
  • Attending MicroConf Europe and visiting Europe.

Goals for 2014

  • Take action faster by targeting experiments in areas of existing expertise and resources that take less time research.
  • Reduce number of distractions (Unsubscribe to useless email, consume less news content and more actionable content)
  • Write an e-book on business process. By the end of 1Q
  • Increase mastermind group meetings.(2 Per Month)
  • Create a premium WordPress plugin. By the end of 1Q
  • Increase product profit to 10k per month.

Completed Task for 2014

  • Put resource in place to manage existing web asset.
  • Put resource in place to manage existing Mobile game assets.

hate-writing24In my practice as a consultant and a business analyst, I noticed a trend that makes no sense to me.

A decision is made within the business. It may be discussed with other employees. This decision is then put into place. However, there is no documentation to support why or when this all happened.

In the short term everything seems to be okay. The long term reality is that at some point in the future, the decision is revisited for whatever reason.

No one, including the business owner can recall why or when this idea was ever put into place.

So the entire discussion starts all over again and a new idea is put into place to replace the old one not because its better but because some of the people that were apart of the original discussion are no longer employed at the business and the rest of the employees don’t remember.

A common justification for this practice is that it only takes a few minutes to create a new process. In the case of a single incident this may be true, though it is still avoidable.

However, the reality is that this happens more than once. In fact, it’s more likely to be happening multiple times per day or week. Multiply that over the course of the year and minutes quickly turn into days/weeks/months.

This is a huge waste of time and resources and not very efficient. Why not create a simple document that contains the process and share it with everyone on the team/company that contains timestamps and reasons that decisions were made?

Process documentation is simple cheap and has a huge return.

Help-For-PDFIf you own a technical product such as a SaaS app and you have customers, then you should not be a stranger to the term customer support. If you are building one then you should be thinking about customer support. A cornerstone of good technical support is good user documentation. Before I started the development of  quikstarts.com‘s backend (authoring application) I conducted one of many surveys with about 75 entrepreneurs who were in various stages of product development. In hind sight, this was not the best group for me to survey because it was not the core audience for the product but it was still a valuable learning experience. Data analysis never hurt anyone.

Back to the survey. Some surveyed were building products, others worked at companies that had already released products and some were founders with launched products and customers. The survey results revealed some interesting things. One of the survey questions was, “Do you feel that your product requires user documentation” almost half of the responders (45%) felt that they’d channeled Steve Jobs and their software application did not require user documentation because it was just that intuitive and awesome. This was an actual multiple choice answer from the survey. Continue reading