“You have 13 different businesses!? Would you say it’s important to focus on one thing at the start or pursue multiple opportunities?

Also, we’re trying to decide if it’s best to run everything from a single project, or to split the project up. It just gets a bit out of hand and hard to track when we have multiple projects, but to have only one for each client opens everyone up to everything.. hmm”

Jason from Marketing Love Australia

In regards to starting one or more projects, we started with one e-commerce site first and built it up to be profitable with strong systems that could be easily replicated. We were actually lucky enough to have a meeting with Don Meij (Domino’s CEO) who strongly advised that until one store/franchise/site is profitable and stable do not open a second. Get your foundations and systems in place first before expanding or branching out. We spent 5 years on Vurge before launching our new online sites. We don’t think everyone should wait this long, we actually took Vurge in various directions other than just online so we were still branching out just within the same brand for a bit.

In regards to our systems/projects, we don’t separate our sites out, creating different systems for them. We see them as one and create systems around tasks. For example, customer support has it’s own system and set times of the day that it is completed. This system encompasses all our brands. Same for social media, I know that most of our demographic are online at around at x time and I will post for all our brands at that time, although I have scaled back my social media focus and automated a bit of it now.

We do, however, have shared documents via Google mail (Gmail) that helps keep us in sync with one another. Nathan and I have very different roles in our businesses as we both have very different strengths.

Jason than wrote back with his stand out points and more questions!

Stand Out Points

1: get one thing right first and develop systems around that one thing before scaling

2: Develop systems around tasks, not brands

3: Use collaboration to keep in sync

“With regards to more questions, yes, would love to ask more questions. 

With regards to developing systems:

  • How did you go about doing this (developing systems)?
  • What key things should we get right at the start? 
  • What tools would you recommend for project management/systems development/daily implementation? 
  • What’s your daily ritual (if you have one)?

Sorry for all the questions, admire the achievements you guys have had and what better way to success than to ask questions and learn from the masters? “

Lets look at them one at a time…

-How did you go about doing this (developing systems)?

They really developed themselves. We ran the business ourselves (I mean every facet of it) and tweaked them until we found the best possible way to do something. From there we wrote the steps out. Now we have team members for some of the areas in our businesses and they follow the steps. Of course, if they have a better way to do it, or if they need ‘modernizing’ we change them.

-What key things should we get right at the start?

Nathan – 

Well, Tess knows exactly what I’m going to say here, but to put it simply – keyword and competition research. If no-one is searching for your product, the chances of success are virtually nil, and the same goes for if there is too much competition. Either problem can only be overcome with significant amounts of cash (and risk), and it’s just not worth it. The only exception to this is if you already have a ready made customer base through contacts you already have, but it would need to be significant, and you would need to know that they will continue to buy through you in future. The key there is buy – having your Mum and a few neighbors tell you that they’d buy from you doesn’t count, and there is a massive difference between people telling you that they would hypothetically buy from you, and them actually parting with cash.

Additionally, you need to be ready and willing to part with cash to get your project started – but you also need to be tight-fisted at the same time. It will take money to get the business going initially, but every time you part with a dollar, make sure you know where it’s going, and how it’s going to help bring you sales. If you can’t really answer that question, or you’re just “hoping” that spending the money on a some new traffic scheme will make all the difference, then don’t spend it.

Always begin with the end in mind. What do you hope this business will achieve for you? Do you want to be working in the business forever, or will it need to be passive income to achieve your goals? If you need it to be passive, will your business model allow for additional costs to make it so? Will you need to have more than one business to be able to achieve the lifestyle you’re aiming for? Knowing the answers to these questions will help guide what you do right from the very start, and once you’ve started down one path, it’s often not as easy as you think to change course should you change your mind.

Tessa – 

Well Nathan did not leave me much room to add too much new info here! However, an extra point I can add is to watch your time wisely and spend it where it counts. As a start-up (and even as an established business to be honest) you can become side tracked easily with research and social media. While these areas can be important, they are highly unlikely to bring you the traffic, customers and sales you desperately need (and want) as a start up. It is far more important to build your foundations, build up your brand identity and than you can go out and spend time promoting your brand with the likes of Facebook (unless you are predominately a social brand).

To clarify on that point, I am not saying do not have a social media presence, I am just recommending that you pick one at the start, for me this would be Facebook, and automate your blog posts to your Facebook newsfeed, attend to any comments and questions you have, full stop. If you want to, adding an image or joke every 3-4 days is a good idea, but that is it initially. Which leads me into what you should be spending time on. In the beginning you should make sure that you are attending to your customers and driving new customers to your site. How you do this is a whole new blog post!

-What tools would you recommend for project management/systems development/daily implementation? 

Actually we have a list of everything we use on our blog with explanations: Tools You Gotta Use!

-What’s your daily ritual (if you have one)?

Wake-up slowly and have some us time over breakfast. Answer any questions our customers have emailed through and than assess what we want to do that day. Sometimes we like to head out and write content for our sites from a cafe, sometimes we like to travel to a new spot in Bangkok we have not yet explored! We have no set routine (this can be a curse sometimes but most of the time it is just plain fun).