Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Main Thing is keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

It's been a month since launching After The Launch of a site (or any software for that matter) as soon as positive indicators of success start coming in (such as early revenue, traffic, emails, feedback) the tendency is to rush things.
Even with thorough market research you still never know how successful your venture will be until it's 'out there' performing in the real world. So, when you start to realize that 'this thing has potential' the excitement builds and you want every feature to be complete, all possible promotion done, every possible sales prospect contacted, top search rankings, etc. etc.
At least this is what I have experienced. "IF ONLY, I could get these features and these sponsors and these users then this venture could be wildly successful sooner than planned."
Well, don't abandon your diligence by being hasty now that things look promising.
A Proverb says, "The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty." (proverbs 21:5)
It was methodical planning and diligence that got this product launched and now is no time to abandon it for haste.

In the past month, I stressed and pushed to get too much done and to accomplish things before their time. It's not so much a problem of working too hard but rather a case of trying to do something before it's natural time.

In the past few weeks I deviated from my one year plan (shown below) and tried to get an eCommerce site launched as I describe below. This work really messed up my progress and added to my stress level.

Here's a brief summary of what I got me off track.
After the launch, I generated promising traffic numbers and secured some sponsorship for the site. I had a list of features that I planned but I thought it would be great if I could monetize the traffic sooner than later and get some revenue flowing. I know that until traffic reaches a much greater level I will not be able to go after certain national advertizers so direct sales seemed appealing.
My plan is to create a partner eCommerce site for that will offer products targetted at my users. I spent at a great deal of time setting up all the merchant accounts, getting the product distributor accounts, getting my Vendor Permit and investigating full-service hosting that will allow me to get the eCommerce site launched quickly.
The result of my research was that Yahoo!'s Small Business Services makes it real easy to build an online storefront and connect it to a backend payment processor. According to their instructions I needed to build the storefront first and then apply for the PaymentTech credit card merchant account. To approve me for the merchant account they needed to look at the site. So I took a week to do this, with product pictures, descriptions, categories etc. Then I started the process of getting the merchant account and immediately found out that since I am in Canada I can't get a merchant account that will work with Yahoo!'s backend processing system. Nothing in their user guides or online help explained this before I started. So, I was ticked! Of course, they gave me a refund but I still wasted some time. All was not lost, the storefront pages I made will make it quicker to do this again with some other Canadian-based hosting solution but wasted time is something I can't afford now.
The eCommerce hosting solution I use will probably be

Don't deviate from the plan. It wasn't time to rush into direct product sales yet. And even if it was, I approached this with too much haste.
So after learning this lesson I am taking a deep breath and reminding myself of the one-year plan for (shown below).
Once making this realization, and slowing down to put things into perspective I feel much less stress. I have a plan and it can't all get done this week.
Lesson Learned - stick to the plan, and stick to the schedule.


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