Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been trying to get a better handle on our business over at OSTraining.com. Since the launch early last years, things have been growing faster than my ability to analyze and understand it.
It’s been a pretty sobering experience so far and I ended up experiencing some pretty eye-opening problems with all the tools out there?
First, I realised once and for all that the major payment gateways are really living in the 1990s when it comes to their websites. We use PayPal and Authorize.net for payments and “wow!”, they do not make it easy to do any analysis. GaragePay helped us to get the data into a usable format from PayPal (thanks to Kyle from PixelPraise for that suggestion) but I’ve not found a good tool yet for Authorize.
This might be the most expensive blog post I’ve ever written, but here goes …
This week I was talking to a developer who sells open source products and their attitude was that they fight even single customer refund request..
I was pretty shocked – we always, always give refunds. Over at Open Source Training you can get a full refund at any point during your membership – any point, even 5 months and 30 days into a 6 month membership.
I told the developer that we’d write up a list of our reasons to see if he was convinced:
Building an online reputation begins with your website. It is the first place people go to “check you out,” even if you have been highly recommended by clients or peers. So, crafting an effective and powerful message in conjunction with an aesthetically pleasing site, a well-organized site and one with a clear call to action sometimes means hiring a good writer.
There are a bunch of reasons to hire a good content writer, but I will only mention the three I think are most pertinent to web site progress.
- You hate to write! That’s a no brainer in my opinion.
- Your website project has come to a screeching halt! Your web developer has told you that he/she cannot move forward without your content and you don’t have time to deal with that right now.
- You have run out of creative ideas! If you are working solo – this just happens unless you have collaborative partners.
Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day decisions. Not just resolving problems with a particular client, or a bug just won’t get fixed. Not even whether you should be focusing on Drupal, WordPress, Joomla or something else entirely.
There are much bigger trends and decisions to make. If you’re reading this there’s a good chance you’ve already made a very smart career choice … building an Internet business. It’s sad but I’m reminded why every time I leave the office.
We live in North Georgia, less than an hour’s drive from Atlanta. It’s a fairly prosperous area but I was able to take these photos along one small stretch of road just outside the town center. I could have kept driving and snapping all day, but you get the bigger picture … this recession is absolutely killing bricks-and-mortar business models. Even if it doesn’t feel like it every day, and even if you’ve made a few mistakes, the chances are you answered the big question correctly:
There’s a Japanese show that moved to the BBC as “Dragon’s Den” and is in the U.S. now as “Shark Tank”. The format is simple: one business owner stands in front of five millionaires and tries to get investment in their company.
I watched two episodes of the BBC version last week and one phrase kept getting repeated “lifestyle business”. This meant:
- Started primarily because the founder enjoyed doing what they’re doing
- Depend largely on the skills of one person, with a few possible hangers-on.
- Are difficult to scale in income or quantity.
Needless to say, they didn’t get investment. The more I listened, the more it sounded like the situation I was in a couple of years ago.
In the last two weeks I’ve been in Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Washington, New York and even Alaska. Just one more short trip to Charlotte and Nashville left.
The trip taught me something. For two weeks I kept in touch via email and cellphone but had no time for three things I’d been using every day. Two of them I really missed, the other … not so much.
This is a guest blog post by by John Coonen from the CMS Association.
Silver Lining: Will Recession Sober People Up to the Value of Open Source?
Sure, it’s a morbid thought – nobody wants a recession – but it’s a reality.?
Many in the Open Source CMS world know that while Santa will surely be on a slim-fast diet when it comes to gift-giving this holiday season, the forecast for work in the Open Source CMS arena stands a chance of (dare one say) “glad tidings” in the coming months – or at least maintaining its market share.
… or "why Open Source is like WalMart":
"The nation has two kinds of retailers these days: those bracing for a grim holiday season, and Wal-Mart … We know that Mom’s not going to cancel Christmas. We’re
committed to cutting the cost of Christmas. It’s what we do.”" (NYTimes)
I really think we’re lucky to be in the Open Source world right now. We can be the Walmart of the technology sector. As people cut back, they’re not cancelling web projects but they are looking for quality at much lower prices. Whether you’re building a business on an OS platform or if you’re a developer selling OS services, here’s 5 reasons to be bullish right now:
Hitting the wall:
“In endurance sports, particularly cycling and running, hitting the wall describes the condition when an athlete suddenly loses energy“. (via Wikipedia)
Hitting the open source wall:
“In building a project, particularly when giving it away free, hitting the wall describes the condition when an project suddenly loses energy“. (via me)
Last week, I discussed Acquia which provides managed commercial grade support for Drupal sites. This week, I’m going to talk about some companies that don’t quite have $7 million in their back pocket, but are creating new support and hosting products for Joomla.
I’m always fascinated by new business models in the Joomla world, so I’ll let the leaders of these two projects explain what they’re up to: