Date archives "November 2014"

Balance of being Inconsistently Consistent.

HEADS UP This is actually a post I originally wrote on the PressNomics blog. I decided to re-purpose it because I think even after a few years, there is still a lot of value in the post and decided I should share it.

As I look back at what we’ve built with our business and community within MOJO, I see our successes come from just putting our heads down and staying focused on what we originally set out to accomplish. There’s no doubt this clear path and vision led us to be where we are today.

At first, this new venture we were building was not pretty, wasn’t flipping out cash and the community was just our small, humble team. Brady (my co-founder) and myself would give ourselves constant reminders, “We just have to stay focused and be consistent with this and it will pay off.” And it did.

We stuck to it and were determined to stay focused.

On the flip side, looking back over the last three years I’ve seen plenty of directions moved, forks in the road, twists and turns we took to stay aggressive and innovative. We took risks to keep us at the forefront. This approach has led to our success as well. We weren’t afraid to add something new and unknown to what we were building. These decisions were uncomfortable, risky and some of them were complete failures but we learned from these experiences.

If that new or old idea we were trying didn’t work, we weren’t afraid to leave it behind.

Stay on Track but be Agile.

The point I’m trying to make is it’s not a bad thing to change the course of your original plan. At the time you were creating your new idea or your new business, there were a lot of unknowns.

Once you enter the market and introduce your product, you will see your business start to take shape. It’s important to listen to your community/customers and have the ability to look further into the future. More importantly, make sure you take quick action on what you learn. It will bring innovation to your business and you will find out what makes your business work.

There are more times than I can count when we had a tough time staying focused and when we change directions. Hopefully, as I share a few examples, you can see how having this philosophy can help you in the long run.

A few Real World Examples.

I’ll give you two. Two big ones. I think both of these examples are the same ones everyone faces so I thought these would be most helpful.

Redesign & Rebrand.

EXAMPLE #1: Shows how we made a choice to adapt and go a different direction.

When we first launched MOJO, the designs were playful, colorful and heavily illustrated. We took the same approach with the copy on our site and kept the welcoming feel throughout the content. We found that first time users loved the look of the site but there were some issues that we could slowly see developing. The biggest and most important issue was our conversion rate.

We religiously ran conversion tests and started seeing results, even months where we were doubling our revenues. Yet, we knew we could do better. It wasn’t some easy decision to move away from our original brand because even though our site conversion rate was slowly increasing with conversion testing, we knew that if we could take a fresh approach to our brand and site design it would help us in the long run.

We were about to hit our 1 year anniversary and release our Anniversary Bundle all while growing at an incredible rate. With that, we chose to take a leap and also re-brand and re-design the marketplace. I found this side by side comparison on WP Candy (screenshot). It was a huge risk for us because you really shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken.

We immediately saw a huge impact with the new look and all of our metrics from new sign ups, new sales, new uploads, etc. increased. In fact, as we approached the summer, a slow season, we experienced month over month growth at the same rate from the first and second quarters.

At the time, this decision was extremely delicate, uncomfortable and risky but ultimately moved us into a better position that we are in today.

Web Application Platform.

EXAMPLE #2: Originally choosing WordPress to build this has had it ups and downs but we stuck to it.

From the start, Brady and I wanted to build our marketplace on top of WordPress not just because of our passion for WordPress but more to show everyone what you can do with WordPress. Remember, this was in 2009 when we started working on this and WordPress was not being used for what it is today, 3 years later.

For the first year or so, the MOJO application did the job for the most part and we built quite a bit of custom functionality on top of WordPress to make it do what we wanted. At the same time, the growth we were experiencing was really impacting the efficiency of the site. Not only speed and performance issues but sellers we’re requesting new features and we knew it wasn’t the best idea to just hack something up. Even admin tasks we’re getting out of control. At this point, for us, MOJO Themes was too big to handle the setup we had. Load times we’re hitting record highs and it was really hurting the overall experience on the marketplace for everyone.

We had a tough choice to make. Do we really try to re-build everything we had done on a new platform like Ruby? Or do we stick with WordPress and make it work?

In the end, we decided it was best to get back to the core of WordPress. We needed to take our hacks, re-think them and utilize WordPress for what it does best and then optimize it for things it doesn’t do best. Part of our decision to stay with WordPress was to help us launch our new marketplaces more efficiently. We use the same application (framework) for all our marketplaces, like the new MOJO-Code.com. After four months of work, we finally released version 3.0 of the marketplace.

Looking back at the last two months since we launched, sticking with WordPress was undeniably the best choice we could have made.

Learn to Know the Difference

Don’t get me wrong. I believe staying focused, being consistent with your business and sticking to what you do best plays a huge role in creating a successful business. But taking risks can also pay off big time.

As time goes on, it’s important to learn the difference between staying focused on something that has potential and bouncing the same ball against the same wall and expecting a different result. Listen to what is happening within your market, customers and product to make sure you’re moving in the right direction.

If there’s potential, put 100% of your focus on that and you’ll find success.