Have You Lost Your Path? My Lesson Learned

By Posted on 4 min read 437 views

There’s no doubt about it, it’s pretty damn exciting running your own business. Especially when it’s going well.

When you look back over your business from a yearly perspective hopefully you see that it is going well. There’s good growth, and everything is moving in the right direction.

But when you’re actually in the weeks and months it doesn’t always feel like that.

Mistakes are made, directions changed and simply put… things go wrong!

And it’s when that happens that it can seem to be extremely stressful.

As your business grows it’s very easy to lose your path.

You start to make more money and that means that you can invest in more things.

If you’re anything like me then you’re going to want to invest in things that both make you money but also provides a useful facility for your readers. Something that’s really going to help them out and let them achieve their goals.

That’s all well and good. Until it starts costing you money.

For example, a few years ago we decided to develop a tool for a site in one of our niches that provided visitors the ability to compare different services.

At the time it started we were monitoring just a handful of services. Everybody loved it and all was good.

Then it grew…

Growth is good surely?

Well, yes when it’s generating you revenue and no when it’s not.

You see this was a free facility both for the visitor and the service provider. A way for anybody to be able to cross-check services.

And I’m sure you’ve already spotted the problem… “it was a free facility both for the visitor and the service provider”.

That meant that if it grew it was only going to do one thing…

…cost my company more money!

Which is exactly what happened. Fast forward about 18 months and the handful of services being monitored had grown to over 150 and it was now a full time job for two people six days a week to keep on top of it.

This free facility had turned into a five figure a year drain on the business.

But the company was still growing and everything was fine so we didn’t look into it. In fact we started spending development money in other areas and then, about six months later, we started to realise that something wasn’t matching up.

That was when we sat down and took a look at our entire business. From the top to the bottom and discovered…

  • It had become clunky
  • We were developing things we didn’t need to
  • Our core focus had been lost
  • Money was being spent on non-revenue generating ideas

Pretty much any single one of those can be the death of a company on their own, and we were doing all of them!

Things had to change.

And they did.

One of the big benefits of running a digital business is that you can change and adapt very quickly when you need to.

We started by stopping every single development in it’s tracks. It didn’t matter how far through it we were, it got stopped and re-evaluated.

The questions asked were:

  1.   Is this something our audience wants?
  2.   Have we tested that?
  3.   How much revenue do we estimate it to generate?
  4.   Is there a better/more cost effective way of doing it?
  5.   Does it relate to our companies core focus?

Only those that had solid answers for all four questions were allowed to be considered for continuing and these then went into a complete developmental model where we atomised the stages to allow for rapid development and release.

But before we continued with any of those developments we then turned our attention to every single one of our business processes from creating websites to generating traffic.

Why?

Because we’d been testing loads of things but hadn’t been properly following up with what was working and removing what wasn’t.

And the reason this happened is because the business had grown without having any core processes in place. It had grown organically.

Now we look at this every single month. Remove anything that isn’t generating us revenue (unless there’s a very good reason not to) and re-evaluate all of our processes and projects.

If I’d put this into place from the very beginning then we’d already be a lot bigger. I learned the lesson the hard way. Don’t repeat my mistakes. Instead…

Spend one day every month looking at what you’re business is doing and determine if it is on track with your focus. Make sure that every development has been tested to have a buying audience and that you can release your products as quickly as possible. Make sure any staff are working on things that are recouping the costs of hiring them and if you’re starting something new then put processes in place to track and monitor it so you can grow it rapidly if it works or stop it the instant you know it isn’t.

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