Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Kool -aid Rehab: Tales From The Trenches

Rabid readers of Kool-aid Rehab know that this is a respite for anyone who is in need of a place to laugh (or vent) frustration when you are a 'new' entrepreneur - ‘seasoned’ entrepreneurs are also welcome.  In fact, encouraged to join the 'fun'….we can all use help in this fox-hole trench.   Right? 

It is a wild ride and for anyone who has ever had a dream (the first sip of Kool-aid) followed later by the aftertaste (when you are well into it) an icy-cold reality of unsweetened Kool-aid (which you would love to spit out) heartbreaking and exasperated, you persevere on! Energy is high…you're never afraid of hard work. 

In most cases, whether it’s a product or a service you are on a quest to gain exposure for your small business  ‘dream’ and you may need professional  'services' – but be aware…. those that ‘look’ like they might be able to help, are lurking.  After all, they are probably a small business treading water just like you! 

It's also important to note; not unlike your brand or service, if you have a slick website it really levels the playing field. The written word is powerful along with pictures and an impressive client list... it's like judging a book by its cover.  What I have learned and more importantly for a lesson; it's about the people and it's also about the contacts they may or may not have and their resourcefulness. (period) ... those are attributes though, which are also difficult  to distinguish until you are knee deep in it.

change 'd' to 'f'
As I lift my head slowly from my own fox-hole- business-nightmare…. my story (told for the first time here) begins with unknowingly hiring a mature – fast-talking (very friendly) older-guy who owned an agency (out of state- so we never met him personally) in my naivety (I'll call him 'Mature-Guy' ) I thought his quirky -manner would be a great way to break-through in social media - an area where we needed help and I knew less than zero about the subject.   'Mature-Guy' had a slick website... but beyond that 'slick' was the optimal word.   He could really ‘talk’ the ‘talk’ …. This guy turned out to not be a ‘duck’ but substituting the ‘d’ with an ‘f’ is a good place to start.  In my own stupidity I wouldn’t even have known his abilities, so it was bad on several levels.  Like a predator after children in the park – this is a tough one  and…. To note and to repeat; it’s very tricky to qualify these-types.   

Another reason, for my #1. Non-negotiationable Rule;  always read as much as you can about a given subject….answers are everywhere, newly written eBooks, Dummy-brand books,  answer forums, smart people who are just generous with their time  (there still are a few nice people left in the world! )… you MUST do your homework!  Do not ever pay for services for something you know ZERO about.   If you are busy....too bad... you have to learn it!

To sidebar this (and from my own learning) …. start with SEO words…. And in the simplest form, begin with thinking of key words about your brand or service (as though you were searching yourself)  also, view your closest competitor  and see where they rank on Google search and what ‘words’ are ranking – it is from that point, which one begins to climb this complicated ‘ladder’ to the first search page of Google. (which is where you ultimately want to be)   It is a ‘climb’ which can leave your hands bloody (seriously).   Get ahead of the research!

Ok, so back to my sad tale of woe …. The mature-age ‘advertising/pr’ Mature- Guy I met (who didn’t know squat himself about websites, particularly social media integration) introduced us to his Brilliant CTO’ …. As in ‘Chief Technical Officer’ she was under age 30 and I believe at the time, we were all breathing a sigh of relief to know we were in such good hands.    Her ‘social’ media skills and website development skills were supposed to be exactly what was needed to propel our brand forward.   Again, be careful and trust no one (completely) …. Not unlike the Big Bad Wolf….The friendly-talk (with minimal results) actually further convinced us to do something monumental.....

…. and naturally, it would be something else we would be paying for….. the advice was to take our beautifully designed (custom & expensive) website and relaunch into a totally new web platform which was ‘socially friendly’ …. and to add, this was to have been ‘a seamless transition’  and would take only 10 days!  ‘as simple as flipping a switch’ … really?!   where do I sign!?

Ok, so here’s the reality;  after 5 weeks of full-on torture, we (all those on my side) carefully were directed to the ‘ashes of HELL’ and we obediently followed with a lame looking website with zero design elements or (even a hint of personal style)! and it was barely working-  she was amazing! (dripping sarcasm)   this resulted in the two of them (‘Mature-Guy’& ‘Brilliant CTO’)  working together (on the next phase of our march to HELL…. Fast-talking Mature Guy’ then issued a press release as this new site was launching… drum roll please... 

We got the green light from 'Brilliant CTO' and we went 'LIVE' .....High web traffic.... Higher Expectation...../ high-interest = ZERO SALES!  Quite odd, hmm?  Since we had prior sales, this made no sense!  HUH? After another quick consult with a smart-friend (the same smart-friend who hit me in the head with a proverbial brick in a prior post) she did a ‘check’ to discover that our ‘beautiful new website’ was launched WITHOUT A SECURITY CERTIFICATE!  (and I’m not making this up!)  so people who were interested in shopping with us were stopped by nasty looking ‘unsecure’ site notices!!  to never return!  Looking back, there are no words for this stupidity.     I was professional embarrassed ….. horrified ….. and really pissed. 

Sometimes (and you can only hope) when fury enters your life – you will find a new religion.  For me, it was the defining moment.... to first....and very quickly sever that relationship!  And second, start getting ‘real’ about the website…..(our first point of entry to consumers)  I began reading and asking questions about this foreign area of business and I ultimately learned it and learned it well and I learned it quickly.   Twitter, FB, Constant Contact, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Tumblr – on and on …. AND writing my own press releases (with researched hyper-linked words)   

....At the same time, during this armageddon,  I hired an independent ‘web-builder’ who was recommended to me from a friend who was currently working with him …. Together ‘Sam’ and I built the site we are still working with today through a platform called Big Commerce – ‘BC’ has design templates (to look custom if you want), it’s socially integrated, and most importantly has a quality staff of tech support available to help you.   After 30 months I have no complaints – editing is easy and my blood pressure is more under control.  ‘Sam’ is no where to be found…but that’s OK, we have it handled. 

So here’s the post script side-bar of this mess….  It wasn’t clear at first, but I later learned by putting 2 + 2 together -  that 'Mature-Guy' and young ‘Brilliant CTO’ actually cohabitate together… fueling the idea that ‘she is beyond brilliant’ and in turn, she can’t admit incompetence, certainly not to her Prince Charming – she stubbornly forged on taking on a project she had no business (whatsoever) to be working on.

… I know I’m not alone in this entrepreneurial foxhole. Comments are welcome! :)

No comments:

Post a Comment

About Me- I'm everywhere!

My photo
anywhere and everywhere, USA, Illinois, United States
I'm a sassy, very distracted older mom...with lots of wild stories (and rants) about my family and life...Daughter 20, college student, sassy, unpredictable, violin playing, animal enthusiast...Son, 17 video addict, Chess playing-star / trombone player...husband (old, tired, chronically stressed and impatient, but a good sport nonetheless) The underbelly of life for me; I’m a bright eyed ‘entrepreneur’ – just now completing Kool-aid Rehab a frightening 12 step process to figure out what I am doing with my life. On the home front, we have a gang of animals that keep the place lively too! 'Emma', dirty ungroomed Sheepdog, 'Lollipop' a smart Border Collie/Chow Chow also referred to as 'Daddy's Little Fatty', 2 cats; one eyed 'Winky' and emotionally disturbed- beyond crabby ....'Babycakes' (it's complicated,) 1 bird 'Tutu', and finally 'Templeton' (a.k.a. Little Shit)- a teeny dog who loves to 'run' .... more trouble than all put together and dumb as a stick. but we love him! :)