I had been an online store-owner for over 10 years and was ready for a change.
I had lost the motivation for my businesses that I once had. While that is ok in the short term and I was not neglecting anything, I was no longer looking out for new opportunities with the passion I once had.
I have become very comfortable with my businesses as they are and are very happy to keep the status quo and that will inhibit the growth long term. Also since I recognize this decline in my personal motivation for them, I believe it is best to move on sooner than later.
Looking for a Change
Part of the reason for my desire to move on is my passion for web design and development. This has always been the case since my first attempts at websites back when I started Gardenware in 2003. It’s one of the few things in my work life where I get completely obsessed and lose track of time. I just love it and realised a business based around developing websites had the most chance of keeping my interest long term.
I get a lot of compliments on the IOTA website (www.iotagarden.com.au) and while I take great pride in it, I realise I have over-capitalised on it. At least a lot of it was my own time, but the reality is I spent so much time on it because I was completely obsessed and enjoyed the process so much.
Looking back, if I was more inclined I think my time could have been better spent marketing and building relationships with potential clients. But this is not my strong point and I have decided to focus on what is and what I enjoy and that’s building and maintaining websites and digital strategy.
Leveraging Existing Assets
I learnt long ago that it is much easier to sell a new product to a market you already have as customers than to sell to a market that doesn’t know you. With that in mind, I looked at my customer databases and had home gardeners from GardenWare and design build professionals from IOTA.
I figured the design build professionals; architects, builders, landscapers and designers all needed websites and it wouldn’t be too hard to establish myself as an authority in web design and development for this niche. I had been dealing with this market for over 5 years so I felt comfortable making this transition.
I had been researching the web design industry for a good year by now and identified a gap in the market for websites around $1000. Websites below $500 are covered by the hosting companies’ website builder products, pre-made themes, or someone’s nephew.
A site more than $500 but still under $1500 is very hard for a web design business to make a profit from. If I set up systems correctly, I could personally dedicate only 2-3 hours to each site and have my Philippine team handle the rest and have a profitable business.
A passing Interest vs Something You Can do Every Day
I thought I had a winning formula and I still do believe in the model, but just not for me. I was incorrect on a number of counts.
- I got no interest for web design services from my existing database.
- I found out I had no interest serving this market.
The final straw was when I attempted to start a podcast with an architect friend and having him discuss architecture and society. It had very little interest to me and I realised this cannot be my market. I really like this guy; I just didn’t relate too much about his thoughts on architecture.
I was trying to position myself in the wrong market.
I hear some debate over finding your passion and creating a business out of it versus finding what you are good at and suspect will keep your interest. I am certainly in the second camp, but while I thought I had an interest in architecture it wasn’t enough of an interest to have any real empathy for the industry and it was going to be too hard for me to identify with the problems this market wanted to solve.
Playing with Marbles
When I was in primary school, marbles were big and my mum got a couple of calls from other kids’ parents saying that they thought I was being a bit unfair in my dealings and their child had got the worse end of the deal. I didn’t have to give any marbles back, but I was told to play a bit nicer.
I then found a toy shop that had king size tom thumbs at 50% of the school yard market value, so I was able to buy these and exchange them for the biggest marble collection in the whole of the school. Walking to school with an extra of 5kg marbles was the only down side. I was in my element.
My business life hasn’t been that much different really. As Peter Drucker described: “Entrepreneurs, by definition, shift resources from areas of low productivity and yield to areas of higher productivity and yield.”
I always had and most likely always would buy for a dollar and sold for two. They were the people I could truly help, others that did the same. And the area I was best suited to help them was with their website.
Now, the question for you is does your job or business keep your interest?
What market are you best able to serve and what are you best skill sets to serve them?