Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What To Do When Your Business Plans Do Not Go To Plan

This is a million dollar question - "What To Do When Your Business Plans Do not Go To Plan"; every business will have a different approach; however you can learn from Josh Kohlbach's personal experience.

When Your Business Plans Don’t Go To Plan

Recently I was launching (actually re-launching) a website with a membership area to it.

The site was originally a free eCourse on learning how to create websites with WordPress, something that was proving to be quite popular. It had a few thousand people go through it over 3 years so I’d built up a list of people that were interested in the topic of building websites.

What I surmised was that I could launch a membership side to the site where people could sign up to view tutorials.

I surveyed my audience and found that there was some interest there. People wanted to see video tutorials, many of them were using self-hosted WordPress and I thought that was enough to then create some tutorials and see how it went.

I launched the site with about 25 high quality (albeit a bit introductory) video tutorials, sorted out video hosting with Amazon S3 and setup my membership site with a WordPress plugin called WP-Member.

I conducted a launch, contacts all my past members, and then… no one came.

There was interest in the landing page for the premium part of the course, but no takers.

What To Do When Your Business Plan Do Not Go To Plan by Josh Kohlbach

So what do you do when you work hard to provide a service or a product and then it fails?

Well the first thing I did was to analyse my findings, obviously something was off in my assumptions that people wanted this and also wanted to part with money each month to have it.

I didn't really confirm that last part about the money. All I was asking in my surveys was do you want something like this to wish people said "sure". (Free tutorials? Yes please!)

So that was mistake #1 – confirm people will buy before you go and do all the work.

Second thing I found was that I over-estimated the activeness of my audience.

Just because I had a couple thousand on my list didn't mean that I had a couple thousand active people interested in my service.

I was hoping that I'd get a few sign ups and then I could get those people to help me spread the word.

Not getting any signups from my list kind of threw a spanner in the works.

Having a big list doesn't mean squat if you aren't constantly keeping in touch with them. It's this keeping in touch that is important and if you don't then you may as well just have a list of 0 people.

Mistake #2 – don’t assume that your list will respond to an offer if you haven’t been in touch for a while

So what am I doing now?

Well, it's hard for me to give up on an idea that I'm passionate about. I still think there is a need for this information, but perhaps it's not in the correct form at the moment.

What I'm working towards at the moment is create a viral coefficient of  >1.

For the uninitiated, a viral coefficient refers to how many people 1 visitor brings to your website. If it's over 1, that means the site grows with every visitor that comes. If it's less than 1, you're not growing.

The next step for the site is to do a pivot. I'm now releasing the video tutorials for free, I'm listing them publicly on YouTube instead of my own private video hosting and I'm doing everything I can to get people to the site and sharing the videos.

My plan is to build up the traffic over the next 2 months then implement an advertising program to assist with growing the site.

I know "advertising" is a dirty word for website owners because it means I haven't full discovered what my business model is for the site.

That's completely true.

But in order to make this a worthwhile activity the site needs to pay for itself and advertising is a quick way to do that, without it I would have to abandon the endeavour entirely.
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Final thoughts

Ok, so my final thoughts to round this post out are:

When your business plans do not go to plan (and really, when do they ever go along with the actual plan?) you need to be willing enough to stop what you're doing and analyse the problems.

There is obviously some key assumptions that were made that aren't true because otherwise the plan would be working.

Secondly, I need to spend more time validating these business ideas before charging headlong into them.

If I had spent more time at the outset validating and testing some of these assumptions I wouldn't have wasted so much energy going in the wrong direction.

Lastly, I'd like to remind people never to give up.

Just because your idea didn't work in it's current form doesn't mean you should give up and waste all that time you put into something.

Sometimes all you need to do is come at it from a different angle and try to make it work that way.

Eventually, if the core idea is good enough, you will find a way that works and you'll be happy you stuck with it.
Note:
This post was originally post at Josh's Blog,

Josh Kohlbach is a web developer and entrepreneur from Brisbane, Australia.
Director at Rymera Web Co