piper’s dream report: week eleven

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What a week I’m having!  Have I mentioned how much I dislike techie things?  Because hold on, I’m about to!

I should clarify – I love technology and what it can do.  I just don’t like the back-end part of it.  Like when your computer won’t work or you have to add a buttons & badges to your blog or have to figure out why your search feature doesn’t work anymore (this is one I’m currently dealing with!)  This is the part that makes me want to pull all my hair out.

It’s not that I can’t learn – I was able to do my blog on my own (such as it is!).  It’s just that it’s not something I’m interested in learning.  It involves a level of detail on technical things that I don’t want to spend my time on. (not to mention html code is like learning a new language!!)  My time would be much better spent on things I enjoy and I’m good at – especially when it comes to opening my store.  I’ve read so many books and interviews by entrepreneurs and one of the commonalities seems to be to play to your strengths and delegate your weaknesses.  Sounds great to me!  So that was the plan.  I knew that web design would not be my forte – especially when doing something as complicated as an ecommerce site – so I was more than prepared to delegate this work.

I even did my due diligence.  About 6-9 months ago, I sent emails to web designers whose work I liked so I could get an idea of how much it would cost to design a site, as well as, the time frame needed.  And I got lots of responses with ranges that seemed like they would fit my budget.  Well, note to self…when they give you a range, ask questions & assume that it’ll be the higher end because that’s exactly what has happened.  Once I was ready to commit to having a site built (and assumed my only problem would be deciding which designer to go with – oh, how naive!), I quickly learned that building an ecommerce site takes you pretty much to the high end of the range.  And well outside of my budget.

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So I went from thinking my biggest problem would be deciding which designer to go with…to basically having to start my research on web design from square one.  And to top it all off…the more I talked to people and really thought about my first year as a store, I realized I was no longer comfortable with spending a good chunk of my budget on just building a website.  My original thinking had been that since I wasn’t opening a retail store front, I could spend the money to build a website.  But with a limited budget to work with and the fact that I’m just starting out and don’t know what kind of sales I can expect for the first year, I really started to question whether that would be a good decision anymore.  I realized that I would feel more comfortable spending less so that I could have money for other things such as marketing and growing the store.  Plus, as a brand new store, I’m still learning who my customer is… so shouldn’t I start somewhat small at first to gauge the market and see what it’s like…and more importantly, what my customer is like!  What if my sales are slow at first, and because I’ve spent a good chunk of change building the website, then I may not have money for inventory or marketing or even my own salary!

So, I’m back to square one and it feels a bit disheartening.  Actually it feels like square negative 10 because instead of being able to delegate web design to someone, so that I could have a well designed site along with the comfort of having an expert take care of all this tech stuff that I find confusing, I’m now spending my time researching how to build an ecommerce site that’s affordable.  (can we cue a good old-fashioned melt-down?!)

However, it’s times like these where I’m amazed at how helpful and kind people can be.  Like you guys – thanks for sending me links or advice or offering help…it’s so nice to know that I don’t have to go at this alone.  And the same I’ve found with friends and people I’ve met through blogging.  Once I put the word out that I was struggling, I couldn’t believe how many people were willing to lend a hand even if it was just to help me understand the whole ecommerce process!!  It’s another “note to self” – remember to ask for help when I’m struggling!!

So I think the unknown, the questions that I have right now are whether a fancy website matters when I’m just starting out.  I know, for me personally, if I like what a store is selling the website doesn’t matter – as long as the checkout process is easy, I’m a happy camper.  But I’m also an online shopper.  I have noticed though that some of my favorite store sites have simple websites.  And they seem to be doing well.  I think it can be done as long as you have good products, good style and a whole lot of passion!

I was really hoping I’d be able to tell you guys this week that I had hired my logo & web designer and that my store was getting closer to being a reality.  Looks like I may need more time…keep your fingers crossed for next week!!

And let me know if you guys have any questions about my posts – not sure if there’s something that you would like to see more of!

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  1. Laura

    You should check out the website MyWifeQuitHerJob.com. It is written by a man in California who built a successful online business, and he talks all about easy/inexpensive ways to set up an ecommerce store – which software he uses and why, telephony issues, shopping cart technology, customer service, etc. Hopefully that will give you some ideas and inspiration!

  2. Anna

    Piper, You have come a long way. Congrats on everything you have accomplished so far! You are such an inspiration to me! Reading your post about starting an online business makes me want to start one too.

  3. Emma Jo

    Hi Piper. So you’ve been at this for approximately 3 months now and I am curious to a couple of things, let me put it like this:

    * what is your economical goal for year 1?
    * who is your target group?
    * how do you see your life being different as a entrepreneur?
    * how is it going with the elevator pitch?
    * what colours do you have for you company identity?
    * when are you launching the store?
    * have you used etsy.com ?
    * what does your work place look like (not your day job, your creative area!)

    Ok, thats about it 😛 I am asking because (and don’t take this wrong because I really like your posts!) I feel like it would be interesting to know a little about your dreams and expectations in between the struggle of actually making it happen. I would also be nice to see some other photos of you, not that the current one is boring but to “get to know you” a little bit more 🙂

    Looking forward to next friday all ready 😉 !

  4. Piper

    such great feedback – thank you!! it helps so much to know what you guys might be interested in hearing.

  5. Grace

    This poignant phrase made me think of you and your business journey:
    Also, just a little reminder that my boyfriend is amazing at helping brainstorm ideas for and create new logos! http://www.keithkitz.com
    He just created a great pdf of his recent work (photos of business cards with logos he created), which I’m sure he’d be happy to send you. 🙂 Continued best wishes!

  6. karen

    I just heard an interview with Pamela Wilson of BigBrandSystem.com. She has some free information available for people designing their own sights.

    Also, you might consider this option. I am trading out merchandise for my website. I have a friend who is an internet marketing guru. He is charging me a small fee to do my ecommerce site and is willing to exchange the work for product. He plans to give away the product as incentives for a large group that he heads up.

    So perhaps you will do part of it and find someone who is willing to do parts of it for you. In any event, it is a great learning opportunity and the skills you learn will be valuable. (You may like it well enough to do this kind of work for someone else!) Best wishes as you move forward!

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