Friday, March 18, 2011

:: choose your own adventure ::

i had something really strange happen the other day. i logged into facebook as up up creative and i posted the following status update:

"I'm thinking it's time for a little coupon code action. What would you prefer: a percentage off your order? free shipping? something else altogether?"

it was like a choose-your-own-adventure book, only the adventure was SAVINGS! but i didn't get a single response. not a comment, not a like. nothing. 

it shocked the freaking hell out of me. and it made me think a lot about my business and its future. i'm still kind of reeling from it, actually, and i'm not sure i can yet articulate what i feel like it has taught me. something about the nature of online retailing, maybe. but also something about online papergoods retailing. about keeping the customers you already have versus going out in search of new ones. about people and paper. about my own buying predilections.

i've spent a lot of time and effort trying to build this lovely e-commerce presence over at, and in the time i've had said lovely e-commerce presence my business has continued its steady growth. i'm profitable. i'm growing. i'm setting and achieving dollar-amount goals. but almost none of my sales have come as direct e-commerce conversions. practically no one orders through my shop, and almost no one ever takes me up on my sales, coupon codes, or other promotions. my business, though it thinks of itself as an ecommerce business, just isn't really an ecommerce business. but it's not really any other kind of business, either. i don't really know how to define it. i don't know what exactly it should be. i've grown this whole thing very organically, putting one foot in front of the other on my path to "making enough money to support my family so that we can start an emergency fund, save for college, invest for retirement, and oh yeah not have to live on credit in the event of even the most minor catastrophes." but the result of that is this: i'm not always entirely sure where i'm going or even where i've been. 

i just keep taking steps and hoping i'll know where i am when i get there.

and the thing is, right now i'm at a point where i really want to have a plan. i want to, i dunno, understand my business model and have a plan. i want to choose a direction and run headlong, leaping hurdles like a grasshopper leaps cracks in the dry dirt - as if they were nothing. i want success, baby -- the kind of success that you can measure not just in pride or even dollars but rather in goals achieved. 

maybe even crazy goals achieved.