Categories
Business

What big business can learn from startups

In today’s fast-paced startup culture, there is an often unspoken ambition held by many startup companies to “join the big leagues” and become large corporations.

As businesses grown and evolve, certain magical qualities are often lost. Today, I’d like to touch on a few qualities which big businesses could learn from young startups.

I’m not a business owner, or a CEO. I’m not a venture capitalist or a startup evangelist or any other title like that. I’m an observer. Here’s what I see.

Categories
Business Coding Technology WordPress

Learnings While Scaling WooCommerce

WooCommerce has, at the time of writing, passed over 6 million downloads (and several million active installations) on WordPress.org. What many aren’t aware of is, WooCommerce reached the 5 million download mark with only 3 engineers officially working full time on the project (while working on several other projects as well).

Throughout this process, we took away many learnings which we can apply to all future projects. I was fortunate enough to present these findings and learnings to the group at ScaleConf 2015, a popular tech conference here in Cape Town, South Africa.

The previous time I spoke on this stage at Kirstenbosch was at WordCamp Cape Town 2012, my fist large-scale public speaking endeavour. It felt great to be back on this stage!

Categories
Business Life

Knowing Your Limits And Gaming Yourself

Since starting this blog several years ago, I’ve tried several techniques to keep up a regular blogging routine. From blogging daily for a week or two, to attempting to blog every day for an entire year, I’ve tried them all.

While this blog isn’t a business for me, it’s a great way to share knowledge, thoughts and interesting discoveries. At the same time, I simply cannot dedicate all day every day to blogging, researching and constructing articles. Ultimately, it’s also not how I most enjoy writing.

So here’s what I’ve done.

Categories
Business Life

Fostering creative thinking

At Woo, we recently picked up on the next steps of a StrengthsFinder assessment we conducted within our leadership team towards the end of 2013. This assessment aims to identify your top 5 strengths and assist you in harnessing them, while creating a better understanding of the strengths others possess and how best to relate to those you work with daily. The follow up steps of this assessment included a call with a leadership coach, where in we discuss our strengths, answer a few questions and better understand how to create the next steps in our strengths finding journey.

During my call with Horace (our coach), he mentioned the following, which stuck with me; “If you can explain to someone how you perform a particular task, that task is a learned behaviour. If you can’t explain the exact steps, that task is an inherent strength”. For me, this task was product architecture and analysis.

As I’ve mentioned before, I really enjoy listening to podcasts. I listen to a wide variety of different topics, and attempt to glean value from each, and apply that value in different contexts. One of those topics relates to creativity.

Categories
Business

Crafting meaningful customer relationships

When setting up a service or product-based business, there is a concept referred to as “lock in”, where the customer buys in to your ecosystem and, as they add products to their purchase history, it becomes increasingly more difficult to switch away to a competitor.

While corresponding over an email chain with friends this morning, we started talking about software licenses and how to interface between clients and purchasing software licenses for use on client projects (in particular, referring to licenses for WordPress plugins and themes). The topic of multi-site licenses came up, with the idea that the license can be purchased once and re-sold to several clients who can each cover a portion of the maintenance code. On the surface, this looks like a great idea, as each customer gets to pay a bit less than the overall fee, and doesn’t have any responsibility to maintain the license and pay the renewal fee each year.

Here’s why I disagree with this approach.

Categories
Business WordPress

Maximizing the value of customer feedback

Since appointing Patrick as our dedicated WooCommerce Product Manager towards the end of 2014, I’ve been able to view some really insightful feedback from customers, without customers even realising they’re providing this feedback. One of the tasks I assigned to Patrick was to conduct regular in-person user testing of WooCommerce, in order to pinpoint common pitfalls and benefits customers experience with our product.

The process involved here is Patrick contacting a customer and, in many cases, sitting alongside the customer, recording their screen (with their consent) and quietly observing how they get their online store up and running using WooCommerce.

Categories
Business Life

Create customer loyalty through storytelling

The craft beer craze has been around in Cape Town for some time now. While out for a day in the sun with friends this past weekend, we got onto the subject of what sets craft beer apart from commercially brewed beer. While not a huge beer drinker myself, I found something really special in this conversation.

The key point in favour of craft beer, aside from the taste, is the story behind the beer and the brewery. Through the discussion, we ascertained that one feels more connected to the beer, and thus more likely to purchase and consume it, if one understands a bit about where the beer came from. This is creating a sense of connection and loyalty between the customer and the product/manufacturer.

Lets try and prove or refute this concept by applying it elsewhere.

Categories
Business Life

The 30 Day List

I really enjoy listening to podcasts. Over time, I’ve racked up a few ranging from game design and theory, all the way through to fitness and personal finance. I’ve recently really enjoyed listening to Listen Money Matters (thanks for the tip, Patrick!), a podcast about personal finance.

During an episode I listened to a few weeks ago, the concept of a 30 day list was mentioned, as a way to curb impulse buying. The premise is, if you want to make a purchase, place the items on a list and ignore it for 30 days. Once 30 days are up, revisit the list and see if you’re still interested in making the purchase. If you are, go ahead and plan for it. If not, you know it was just an impulse purchase. I did this a few months ago without even realising it, when I had a sudden urge to purchase the (then new) Nintendo WiiU while attempting to summit Lion’s Head on the hottest day of the year, in 2013. Clearly, this was an impulse purchase, as I’m not a huge gamer anymore (yet I love Nintendo games!).

Categories
Business WordPress

Behind the Woo: Creating The Ultimate Business Building Toolkit

I love WordSesh. This conference is a really great new twist on what it is to hold a conference in the 21st century. WordSesh hosts a talk every hour, on the hour, for 24 hours straight. All sessions are hosted over a Google Hangout, with an area for asking questions and interacting with viewers.

This year was my second presentation at a WordSesh. I decided to speak this year about a brief history of where we’ve come from in product at WooThemes, as well as where we’re headed and why. I received some great questions from the audience around EU VAT regulations, the future of WooCommerce and what we’re looking to explore.

I hope you all enjoy this session and get some great value and insights here. If you have any questions, please post them in the comments below or follow me on Twitter.

Here are my slides for this presentation, if you’re not able to view or access the video above.

Categories
Business WordPress

Use traction to grow your product audience

Earlier this morning, WooCommerce was submitted to Product Hunt, a popular website for showcasing new products. Product Hunt has, since launch, gained traction and become a standard in the tech industry for exposing engaged early adopters to new product and service offerings.

Within minutes, WooCommerce received several upvotes (how Product Hunters show their approval of a product) and several comments. At the time of writing, WooCommerce has had 49 upvotes and is growing steadily.

WooCommerce on Product Hunt
WooCommerce on Product Hunt