Julie and I hanging out in the pool.
Coffee. One area where Americans still suck.
er, shall I say “Good Coffee”. We just don’t do it right.
I know, I know… our culture turned coffee into fast food with Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Gloria Jeans and the rest.
Now before I got all “coffee snobbery” (which is NOT my intention) allow me to elaborate.
When I was in Europe last, I had some of the best coffee I’ve ever tasted.
Here in the US, we’re fascinated by SPEED - usually (but not always) at the sacrifice of QUALITY.
(although I have to admit, some people do take it a bit too far!)
Case in point - we have a Keurig coffee maker at home. Plop in a capsule, hit the button, and you have a good cup o’ joe right away. Not bad.
But coffee is supposed to be
a process, a routine… a ritual.
We simply take it for granted. Hit a button and “poof!”… coffee.
As a gadget lover I think that’s badass. A triumph of technology over ground beans!
So this afternoon when I went into Williams-Sonoma I had the opportunity to sample this little gem:
Same concept as the Keurig, just with Espresso… or as I like to call it - “REAL COFFEE”.
The shopkeeper, Shannon asked if I’d like to try one.
She plopped in the little capsule and BAM! a few seconds later I had a Cafe Americano that rivaled anything I consumed anywhere in Paris, London or Germany.
Oh, I want.
that’s not my sushi order, but what we caught off punta gorda today. yep, we were in fish all morning. good times!
You may have heard the term "Elegant Solution" before. In math, science and engineering it’s when the maximum desired effect is achieved with the smallest or simplest effort.
It’s time to find the elegant solution for our businesses. There’s no reason why selling online should be difficult - in fact, it isn’t… unless you allow it to be difficult, that is.
Over the past year I’ve been striving to find simplicity in my business, and life. So far, I’ve failed miserably. Things have gotten overly complex, scattered and held together with duct tape and popsicle sticks (which are not part of an elegant solution unless the problem involves taping ducts or frozen juice!)
Here’s just a few brief examples of the mess I’ve created…
- I’ve got minisites spread across 3 different hosting accounts (Media Temple, Bluehost and WestHost)
- I own 78 domains - 5 domains at Network Solutions and 73 at GoDaddy
- My business can take payments via check, Square, Authorize.net, PayPal and/or Amazon Payments
- I’m running sites built in plain HTML, the BFM script, Rapid Action Profits, and Amember
- I belong to over 27 affiliate networks!
But it all started out so easy!
When I first started selling online I had 2 accounts - eBay and PayPal.
Then I added ClickBank and a hosting account.
…and of course a few more domains.
…then added a few affiliate networks, and aweber account, and tons of software products.
It snowballed to the point where it’s almost unmanageable.
You won’t hear this from the guru’s - it suits their image to have you to think that everything’s under control and wonderfully orchestrated from start to finish.
I’ll tell you it’s not. Running your web business can be a tangled skein of software, hardware, hosting, plugins and more… way more.
Sure, I’m making money online. That much is great. I wish it was more!
However, running these little e-businesses has gotten to a point where I can no longer focus enough of my energy on my core consulting/IT business - and that’s the one that really brings home the bacon for me and my family.
So here’s my plan.
Over the next 30-60 days (after I get back from Cabo, that is…) I’ll be making some major changes.
First, I will eliminate or cancel my accounts at affiliate networks that constitute less than 20% of my affiliate revenue (80/20 rule).
I’m going to consolidate hosting accounts and remove sites that are not actively contributing to my online income - again using the 80/20 rule.
Additionally, I’m moving away from Infusionsoft, which I only started using a year ago this month.
Infusionsoft made some great promises - handling autoresponders, list management and segregation, ecommerce shopping carts and order forms, and many other things. In all, it’s a great tool - but too complex for what I need.
If it’s too complex, it doesn’t fit with the new regime and must be eliminated. As an autoresponder, I’ve moved to MailChimp - it’s super easy to manage and I was able to get an unreal deal on per campaign pricing.
I’m also getting rid of Authorize.net. Again, too complex.
Instead I’ll be sticking with PayPal, ClickBank and Amazon - using each to the best of it’s abilities.
I started this web business for fun, as a hobby. I’m blessed that it’s grown well beyond my wildest imagination, but I need to bring it back under control.
What about you? Got any ideas?
I write like
Quite a compliment as I’m a huge BoingBoing fan!
There are a certain set of Ground Rules that I use to run my online ventures (notice I didn’t call them _”businesses”_ - more on that later).
I’m hoping this doesn’t make me sound like a pompous ass… Those of you that know me well, know I really like my “top 10” lists, rules of 5, etc. but I also hate putting myself “out there” for criticism and ridicule. This is one of those items that may fall into both categories… Caveat Emptor…
Things need to be in order, there have to be boundaries. Otherwise life just gets out of hand and I freak out.
It boils down to 10 (or so) basic rules. You don’t have to subscribe to these and you don’t even have to listen. But if you take a look at these it will help you understand how I work and perhaps even how Ithink.
(gasp! the horror!)
Remember Who You Are, Not What You Are
When you start out as a small company/entrepreneur, you realize that it’s a people-powered effort. They’re a group of people with a good idea, trying to make something out of nothing. But as you become successful, something strange happens. You start to think of yourself in terms of what you are, rather than who you are. Don’t.
I saw it happen in real time at Kintana. People around me started to get stuck on job titles, status, employee numbers, etc… I felt like they lost sight of what we all set out to achieve and got cozy in their ivory towers.
There Is Only One You
When you get out of bed in the morning and think about what you want to do that day, ask yourself whether you’d like others to read about it on the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper. You’ll probably do things a little differently if you keep that in mind.
At the same time, don’t try to take on too much. Make lists (like this one), and work through them. If you can’t get it all done, don’t stress. Wake up tomorrow and continue on your path.
Your ideas are yours alone. How you implement them is up to you.
Don’t Be Interesting, Be Interested
If you are building an online empire, be interested in it. If you are interested the time will fly. If it’s tedious, you won’t be successful.
If you want to have an interesting dinner conversation, be interested in what people have to say - their thoughts, ideas, and attitudes. If you want to have interesting things to write about, be interested in what you’re writing.
If you want to meet interesting people, be interested in the people you meet — their lives, their history, their story.
Don’t Confuse Luck With Skill (or vice versa)
There’s no magic to beating a bull market. But when you can still make money while others are not, you’re on to something.
I was a software sales executive from 2000 to 2003, right after the Y2K scare, dot-com crash and 9/11. That was not a time when you wanted to sell enterprise software because companies weren’t buying. My best year was 2001 - right before, during and after 9/11. I made money in a down market and was salesperson of the year for 2 years in a row at a time when they said it couldn’t be done.
When other online marketers shake in their boots about Google’s latest algorithm updates, I simply adjust my strategies and continued moving forward… but as a side note, if you’re worried about Google updating their search engine algorithms you’re probably trying to beat the system and that’s a bad idea.
Share and Share Alike
We all learned to share in preschool.
Later on in life we learn that if you make the pie bigger, everyone gets a little more.
These lessons came together for me when I started doing business on eBay.
Sharing creates communities, which create new markets, which create new opportunities.
Don’t be Afraid to Try New Things
In your online business it’s always good to try new things. Different layouts to your webpage, new AdSense strategies, a new Blogging tool, a technique gleaned from an online forum - but don’t lose sight of your business base.
Try things out. If they work, keep them. If they don’t, well at least you tried!
What Gets Measured, Can Be Managed
It’s important to keep track your successes and failures. It is also possible to overdo it.
However if you don’t keep track or measure your success you are doomed to failure.
My basic rule is check daily, track weekly and analyze monthly!
Great products almost always come from someone scratching their own itch. Create something you want to exist in the world. Be a user of your own product. Make it better based on your own desires.
(But don’t trick yourself into thinking you are your customer.)
Greed is Good!
It’s always good to have options. One of the best ways to do that is to have income.
While it’s true that on the internet traffic is worth everything, the give-everything-away-and-make-it-up-on-volume strategy stamps an expiration date on your ass.
In other words, design something to charge for into your product and start making money within 6 months (and do it with PayPal).
Done right, charging money can actually accelerate growth, not impede it, because then you have something to fuel marketing costs with.
Follow the Golden Rule
Do unto others as you would have them do to you. see #5.
(bonus!): Be Wary of the Rules
Overgeneralized lists of business “rules” are not to be taken too literally. There are exceptions to everything. Know when to break the rules.
I strongly urge you to adopt your own ground rules - a manifesto, if you will - that you both live by and practice in business. It will put you leaps & bounds above your competition.
Not to mention, if you share them with your peeps (like I’m doing here) - it creates a common ground. You can be held accountable.