“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”… I’m pretty sure that quote was actually about growing a startup.
Regardless of the highs and lows that come with owning and growing a company, one thing for certain is that everything is going to inevitably and constantly feel urgent and important. The simple fact that you own the business makes it critically important that the product is absolutely perfect. Any imperfection, missed deadline, or unhappy customer is a complete blow to your ego. And because of this reality, everything on your agenda is likely going to feel like it should have been done ten minutes ago.
I’d like to share with you how we have combatted that feeling at Vendevor, an extremely easy to use shopping cart that can be added into any website, blog, or Facebook fan page.
As part of the continual growth planning for Vendevor, every month or so we’ll have “beer and brainstorming” sessions where we will talk about what’s working for growth, what’s not working, and what we can do over the next 45 days that will drive both user acquisition and user retention. Those are the two high-level drivers of our business, and at the end of the day, it’s all that matters.
A few months ago we had a great B&B session a came up with a lot of ideas for both user acquisition and retention. (I recommend Groelsch beer, by the way.) Shortly after we began on these new growth initiatives (and after part of our team went to the Sochi Olympics) we somehow found ourselves in the middle of about 10 different ideas that we had outlined in the weeks prior. We were so excited about all of the ideas that we began to work on them all at about the same time, and so we quickly we found ourselves with no progress over several weeks, and a bunch of half-done projects in front of us.
We had great ideas, we had energy, and everything felt like a good idea to pursue immediately. We had to come up with some sort of prioritization strategy or else we were going to continue to not finish any of the projects we had started. Here’s a snapshot of our to-do list:
We had everything like launching new front-end pages of the website (for marketing purposes), new email templates that are sent out to new accounts, a Wix app so that users could install our stores into their websites more easily, new store designs, new split tests for the website, a more robust explanation of our features, and ad tracking. All great things that we decided will either help user acquisition and or user retention, but without any sort of priorities, we were bouncing back and forth and making no meaningful progress.
So, we decided we needed to rethink how to prioritize our tasks… it didn’t need to be about what the latest customer asked for, not what we thought would look “cool” on the site, or what we thought was a good idea simply because it was Charlie’s idea… we needed real priorities that were much more profit-driven.
So we came up with the following criteria to prioritize our tasks:
- What increases revenue immediately or cuts costs immediately
- What fixes a bug that might be causing users to leave
- What will cause more interest in our platform
or, more simply put:
- Earn money
- Fix problems
- Increase customers
This helped us figure out what was immediately important and what was simply a “good idea” that was going to lead to growth at some undetermined time in the future. After looking at it through this lens, we prioritized the tasks the following way for the next two weeks:
- Earn money: CPV setup (ad tracking to better understand which ads are underperforming and shut them off – save money)
- Fix problems: Fix email templates (they were displaying weird for our customers and making us look bad)
- Increase users: New split tests on the website, Wix app, store examples page, features page, and new store template.
This made it way easier to understand that really only two tasks from our original priority list (now under priority #1 above) were actually urgent and important because it was costing us money and costing us customers. The rest of the tasks were simply investments that could lead to growth at some point in the future.
There will always be more ideas than time to pursue them, and prioritizing your tasks by understanding what is making/costing you money will help give you a better understanding of what is urgent and important. Prioritize for profit, because for your business to stay alive, that’s all that matters.