Creating Diary of a Young Start-Up

Website Users; 23
Going Right; Only a few bugs left before launch in a few days, ahead of current schedule. Hurrah.
Going Wrong; 2 months after original schedule launch. In debt.
Comment; Never, never put your trust in a web developer you cannot sue. Bastard. [Read more…]

What has Elvis got to do with Investment Impact

Site Launch Day User Count Going right Going wrong Comment
6
 35 , then 34 again
 Brilliant celebrity panel interview blog arrives…
New user I got all excited about turned out to be a spambot.
 WTF?

I have many  brothers and sisters – a combination of steps and halves that I guess is relatively normal for a family which has seen 5 divorces, 1 death and 9 marriages. My siblings are Russian, English & Greek. And they are all fantastically unique – as is my relationship with each of them. From highly interactive to non-existent. One brother is aka Dreamweaver, the author and editor of the blog (not this one obviously – the much better one on the consultancy site).

Dreamweaver and I have a mighty similar anal retentiveness about us and are both – most bizarrely – fascinated by kitchen utensils. A couple of weeks ago, I walked into his flat in London and congratulated him most sincerely on his spice racks. They were wonderfully neat, beautifully labeled and – although I didn’t check – most probably alphabetically organized. As I would have liked mine to be. Unfortunately having a child, meant that nothing in my house was organized the way I liked it anymore.

“Ok” he said, starting our conversation in the middle, “have thought of the most puntastic title. I can work on it a bit more this weekend. Am down in Kent which is great, but I always seem to be at the mercy of the list of jobs that can’t be entrusted to Dad. The current thing is fixing the roof.”

Refusing to be drawn on any temptation to criticize his father – because he was not my father, I said – “Brilliant. I was thinking for the next one a kind of interview with some famous people’s opinions on how the internet is changing society?”

“Okay… like real people? Or made up with famous people like Richard Branson?”

“No more like, Elvis Presley…Audrey Hepburn, Anne Frank, JFK and Winston Churchill.”

“Ha. This one writes itself.” He said.

Of course it did not. He wrote it  – brilliantly as usual – and the accompanying email said:

“Sorry this one’s longer, but with 5 celebrities all having their say, the words just kept on coming.”

So you might be wondering, what on earth does Elvis Presley have to do with Investment Impact. Honestly? Bugger all. But – my brother is a great writer and as my networking contact from Real Eyes Marketing says,

“The Blogosphere and the Twittersphere [yes, those are real words] are all about pre-sales. The goal being to attract people to your website through interesting Tweets (remember what’s in it for them), get them reading your blog. Does it demonstrate your knowledge of your subject matter? Can it regularly hold their attention?  If so you have created awareness. If they find it interesting enough they may retweet (RT) it. Once people are aware of your site, you’ll be at the top of their list if they have a need for you.”

So whilst Elvis may have bugger all to do with Investment Impact, I think he remains interesting enough for people still to read a about him.

The Mark of a Man

Site Launch Day User Count Going right Going wrong Comment
17
24
Someone liked this blog so much they asked me to write a column for their site. Was so flattered that immediately agreed. Can’t think of a way to link it back to my business since it concerns what to do in UK at Xmas.
Lesson today. Flattery will get you anywhere.

The objective of this blog was never to be a daily diary, but somehow once I started, I couldn’t stop. I thought that I would blog on and off for the first year after launch, but it seems that nature has determined the length of time I can blog for. At some point in oh – say 8 months time – I think I might have to take a little break. So that’s how long I have to make a success of my online business. And how long this blog will last. Sad but true.

A little longer than I put in the business plan but a more finite (and painful) goal than my financial forecasts.

“Are you going to blog every day?” asked my boyfriend

“Only if I have something to say” I said. “But by definition I have to chronicle the shitty downtime as well as the success, when it happens, And it will happen. Will blog for a year.” This was before I knew I was pregnant.

“I know it will, I believe in you. But that means 365 blogs. How many have you written so far?”

“4” I said.

“Only 361 to go then.” He said wryly.

So 8 months, give or take, 8 x 30 days x 500 words per blog = 120,000 words. Holy crap. I don’t think I have that many words actually IN me. Maybe I’ll take weekends off. Starting from NOW (if my calculations are correct, this is Monday’s blog, he he he) …90,000 seems more manageable.

But apart from my dubious ability to actually blog that many words, there are other issues. For sharing my life is not just about me.

“I never found you less attractive when you were recovering from pregnancy” said my boyfriend (after having read – and thankfully smirked at – the now infamous in our household at least – cheese doodle blog)

“But you felt less attractive. And that had a detrimental effect on our relationship for a while.”

Actually he doesn’t use words like ‘detrimental’, that one is mine. His exact words probably included “less” and “sex”.

Privacy is an issue, I would imagine, in most author’s writing. They take from their own lives – incidents, conversational snippets even whole characters. I can only tell you that whatever impression you get of my boyfriend from his words, good or bad, it’s not the whole picture. It doesn’t tell you how he uncomplainingly gets up every morning @ 6am when our baby wakes to give me a lie in, nor how even when he thinks I am in the wrong, he brings home flowers to try and make up an argument with me, nor even his hugely rare quality of talking out a problem, as soon as it’s occurred. Yes ladies, he also talks….;-)

It also doesn’t tell you how he sniffles at the very thought of having to give a speech at his daughter’s wedding. The mark of a real man. The image above is called ASCII art and this one is taken from Joan Stark’s Valentine’s site – you didn’t think I did it myself now did you? If you hadn’t realized before now, we are surrounded by experts who give out stuff for free. That’s today’s second lesson. Bizarrely unrelated to the rest of the text. And here’s one that is. Don’t ever settle for a man less than you deserve. If possible try and get a better one than you deserve 😉

State your goals

Site Launch Day User Count Going right Going wrong Comment
20 33
Managed to wangle this blog onto the Huffington Post. Oh. My. God. Someone up there likes me. Not really anywhere near going ‘viral’. Facebook (or facemash as it was known then) attracted 450 visitors in first 4 hours. Never had this as a KPI in the first place, but wouldn’t have minded if it happened.

I’ve tossed the word viral out on several occasions. But apart from telling you that what I want is for my business to grow through referrals, word of mouth and gaming I haven’t put any goals or statistics to it – in public I mean. I do of course have a fantastic excel model behind the business plan on which I have lovingly run many, many sensitivity analyses (as well as margin analyses, cost behavior analyses and every other kind of analysis you can think of). Financial Analysis in excel is after all one of my passions.

But I notice that in this forum, I have been curiously quiet as far as stats go. In fact last night I was even – shock, horror – accused of dumbing down my expertise (he used the words “your charming blog” but I knew what he REALLY meant).

I guess the main reason is obvious. If I don’t achieve them, this means PUBLIC FAILURE. (Cue: Blinking green neon lights in capital letters, in Anthony Perkin’s high pitched motherly squeal).

There are several KPIs for my business from project development milestones, to number of reviews, to number of products to number of users, and conversion rates of users to clients and consultants over the next months. But let’s start with an easy one.

Month Goals Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats
August
  1. 50 Beta testers
  2. 50 reviews (people can submit several)
  3. Client Conversion rate 5%
  4. Consultant conversion rate 5%
I know far more than 100 people. Am not asking them to spend any money. Feedback so far is very positive. Almost hit conversion rates for both already for number of users. only need to keep linear trend. Above s-curve user growth curve for the time being.
I get the impression people are starting to feel bullied by my relentless tweeting/emailing/pushing. I certainly am. Lacking a presence to diffuse news stateside. If growth slows, may have to revise s-curve prediction outwards
Google+ hasn’t seen much of me yet….plus they’re the cool people. Probably up for a little beta testing. Maybe will also go back to yahoo to find out what’s up there. Time to sort out many bugs and get more feedback on the site and how people see it working for them.
Could be perceived as a spammer on g+ too early before building up a relationship with my connections. Gaming functionality not inbuilt yet so risk of losing initial enthusiasm.

Am exhausted with the amount of social media and self promotion I have to do and already suffering from the common English disease fearpeoplethinkI’mtoobigformybootsophobia

“Puffington” said my boyfriend. “Is that famous then?”

“Yes. Huh-uffington. Huff-ington.” I huffed loudly on the Huff part. “Go away and look at it and then come back and congratulate me.” I said.

“Am not surprised they said yes to it,” said my boyfriend after having gone away and made me a congratulatory cup of Yorkshire Gold. As near to champagne as I’m likely to get for a while. As a programmer he understands far more what I do than my ex-husband – who was a personal trainer – did, but nevertheless thinks that I use far too many superfluous terms in describing it. That word was for you dear, look it up.

“Your diary is far more accessible than Investment Impact, but it seems as if you are becoming a full time blogger.”

“In the short term.” I said. “But already the Huffington Blog and the Urban Times are driving more traffic to my site than LinkedIn.”

I’m guessing it’s because the people who read Urban Times & Huffington really want to read it instead of LinkedIn where they are bombarded with constant updates of people trying to grab attention. Lesson, you can drag a horse to water but you cant make him drink.