Archive for October, 2014

The lessons I learned through @GeeksDoingStuff #MakeItHappenZA

This eCommerce store is one of three businesses that I run. It’s the smallest business but also the business that has taught me the biggest lessons. I’m not always sure how its grown, but what I can share with you is the lessons I learned along the way. Lumia is running a rad campaign where they help people turn something small into something big. They are helping people Make It Happen. Today I’ll share my story with you but tomorrow you might be sharing your story with the world? Click here to tell them what inspired idea you want to make a reality.


Opening an eCommerce store has definitely forced me to keep learning. So today instead of sharing my big story I’m going to share my big lessons. If any of these lessons help you Make It Happen then I’ve had a good day 😉

1. Listening to advice is far more important than asking for it

Everyone tells you when you venture into a new industry to ask questions and talk to the market to ensure there is a need for your product. The problem with entrepreneurs is that we tend to be bull headed at times. So we’ll ask for guidance and advice, but it’s often in the hopes that it lines up with what we were already planning. Be honest. We’ve all been there. Before we imported our first load of stock into the country, we asked the community to answer a poll about which geek branded merchandise they would want to purchase.  I took those results and based about 60% of my order on the community’s guidance. The rest of the order was based on my own personal choices. Needless to say, the stock the community wanted sold out. The stock I chose is currently gathering dust. It seems simple enough but we’re all guilty of asking the right questions and only listening to the answers that align with our plans. When you ask for advice or guidance, don’t use that as a benchmark for whatever you were going to do anyway. Listening to advice is far more important than asking for it.

2. When people abandon their carts, it’s usually your fault

Our eStore had huge issues during the opening month. Only 4% of people hitting the checkout button actually paid and checked out. We asked the community, trialed the system ourselves, and came up with a list of problems that could be causing this. It turned out that we had three issues:

  • People wanted to know what the delivery fee was upfront
  • People didn’t understand that the ‘PayFast’ option meant that they would be taken to a separate, secure payment page
  • People didn’t know what to expect – they were unsure of delivery lead times, if they could use a postal address, if they could return items, etc.

When we figured out the actual problems it was easy to implement solutions. It was our fault that our customers weren’t being communicated to correctly. They weren’t spending money because we weren’t giving them the information they needed to feel safe shopping online. By simply giving people the right information, our checkout rate increased from 4% to 36% over three months. We just needed to take ownership of the problem as our own, and learn to communicate with our customers better. A lesson that can be applied to any business. 

3. The best advice comes from people who don’t realise they’re giving you advice

People don’t have to be world renowned entrepreneurs to share valuable advice with you. Some of the best lessons I’ve learned have come from simple things my mom, friends and colleagues mentioned in passing. Often they aren’t trying to give advice, they are simply telling you a story about an issue they overcame. What’s important in those stories is to extract how they overcame their issues. I think you’ll find more often than not that their leanings can be valuable to your business. One of the best lessons I’ve learned came from watching my mother interact with my nephew. He adores her more than he adores anyone else in the family. When I watched them carefully, I noticed that this is because she does something simple. She listens to him. She listens to what he wants and needs and interacts with him accordingly. Too many businesses try to give their clients what they think that customer wants or needs. But this isn’t always the right. I was adamant that my customers wanted new products and limited edition stock, but when I actually looked at what they reacted to best, the answer was content. People loved the geeky content. The more content we supplied, the higher the traffic spiked, and only then were more orders were placed.

4. Think about the value of your business

Something this eCommerce business has drilled into my life is understanding the value (or potential value) of your business, and allocating your time accordingly. As much as I love because it’s a business born out of passion, I need to remember that it’s not my only venture and I need to give it the time that it’s potentially worth. Initially I invested too much time. I was wrapping orders, calling customers, writing blog posts and more. These were things that helped the brand grow, but I had to be brutally honest with myself and admit that the eStore needed to make more money. It wasn’t doing badly, but it needed to start giving me a better return on time invested. Ever since I’ve started monitoring the time I spend on the eStore, I’ve become a lot more conscious of optimising that time by using it to grow the business and fix problems that could potentially increase sales. When I look 12 months down the line now, and the time I allocate to, I really do expect this little eStore to give me a good return on my time.

5. Businesses are about people. That doesn’t mean the only way to make money is to sell products to those people

This actually stems from the point above. One of the things I did while optimising my time was to look at new ways could generate profit. To be honest, the difference between the effort versus the financial reward of selling geek merchandise was becoming more and more apparent. I was forced to look at all the things we had that were valuable. Besides stock, the next most valuable thing was our engaged, targeted community. I realised that my audience wasn’t only valuable when they purchased products; they were just as valuable when they came to window shop. That opened up the door to advertising. I knew that the only way I’d be happy with the eStore as a business is if it generated “X”. In order to do that we needed to adapt our model and find another method of income. Advertising closed that gap. Although it wasn’t what we originally set out to do, it’s now become part of our business model. taught me that sometimes the goals you set when the industry was new, might be harder to reach than you expected. But that doesn’t mean they are unachievable, you might just need to add a second path to help you get there.

Maybe that second path involves Lumia? Let them help you turn your ‘something small’ into something big. Click here or on the image below to tell the Lumia team what inspired idea you want to make a reality.

Game Of Bones. Possibly the best halloween costume of all time?

The internet gives us many magical things. But around the time of Halloween is usually when weird dog people get really creative. It’s ok for me to say that because i myself am a weird dog person. My poor Bulldog has already been testing Halloween costumes, but none as good as the one below.

Samantha Watt, Cynthia Martin and Dorothy Barnard are winning the internet race of awesome costumes by far. If you plan on getting ahead you’ve got some serious work to do.



iron-bone-throne game-of-thrones-dogs

via Mashable

The king of cool offices

I like to pride myself on my toy collection. I only started collecting about four years ago when i stopped worrying about what others would think if my home decor was focused around Tin Tin art and my absolute favourite… the entire Toy Story collection. king-price-insurance Guess it reminds me to think like a kid sometimes, to try new things and realise that that it’s ok to do things differently. One brand that seems to be employing a similar approach to their business is King Price. They have a whole bunch of fun in their office. I was there last week and snapped some pics. You’ll see why 😉 king-price-car-insurance-1 king-price-car-insurance-2 king-price-car-insurance-3 king-price-car-insurance-4 Not bad for an insurance company hey? Not only are these guys the kings of car insurance but they are also the kings of office layouts. If you ask me 😉 If you’re keen to see how this insurance company can save you money and insure your goods at the same time then find out more here. CYMERA_20141021_075245 king price logo

The Pixar Theory

It’s Friday. We need some happiness.

What if I told you that all Pixar movies are connected? That all the characters in those movies actually live in the same universe, only in different times? How is that possible, you ask? Watch this video to see…