The Spiel Pro Retrospective – 2016

I've decided to continue doing the retrospective format I used last year to look at what has worked and what hasn't at Spiel Pro in 2017. It was interesting reading last years. Let's hope this one does the same for me next December. What went well? Revenue We doubled revenue this year. I know there are faster ways to do this, but many of those methods come with a fair bit of risk I'm just not interested in taking right now. We have a slow flame on right now. I'm pretty good with this. Doubling again next year would fit nicely into my plans. The percentage of overall revenue from Spielpro.com is growing. This makes me very happy. This means my work on the site at the beginning of last year are paying off. Setting up others to run the store My niece and nephew helped me run the store fulfillment while I was out of town a couple times this year. This was...
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42% of bullshit is bullshit

Lot's of people like to tell you that WooCommerce powers 42% of e-commerce stores on the internet. It's not true. I spend a fair bit of my time consuming e-commerce related media. Nobody is talking about WooCommerce. Maybe it's just confirmation bias on my part. I tried using it for Spielpro.com, but didn't like how much time I needed to spend trying to make it perform. Despite that, WooCommerce is a stable e-commerce platform that is popular and free. I just don't think it is a pervasive as POWERING 42% of e-commerce. Anyways, curiosity got the best of me, today I decided to reach out to BuiltWith and ask them how they came up with the number. Here's how Gary Brewer from BuiltWith explained it. We've just added a new method for WooCommerce called 'WooCommerce Add To Cart' that will start to populate next week - we might move WooCommerce to Ecommerce (non-platform) shortly because what has happened over the years is theme developers have built...
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Would you like your newspaper in plastic or paper?

Lots of day job drama these last couple of weeks. New directions. Old conflicts. Oh, and a fair bit of uncertainty thrown on top. Guessing that was the cause of the really bizarre dream I had last night. I was working in a grocery store but it was really a newspaper. In the dream, people from both of those eras were interacting in this weird mishmash of worlds. The copy desk was in the office just behind the customer service booth. There was some argument about the headline and what aisle the baked beans were on. These are both former careers. I worked for a local grocery store for about 11 years before I walked in one day and quit. Did much the same with my newspaper career of 10 or so years. Now, I've have workplace dreams on a pretty regular basis for as long as I can remember, but this is the first time the streams have crossed. I like to think it...
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Ask the right question

For the last 3 or 4 weeks, management type people have been asking if everyone has added their holiday time off to the calendar. Over and over again they ask. Every gathering, every meeting, they would ask. The problem is they were asking the wrong question. The right question was, "Who HASN'T put their holiday time off on the calendar." When I asked that question, nobody responded. Everyone had already put their time in. I'm guessing the expectation was that we ALL were taking time off, and when they didn't see names on the calendar, they assumed we weren't doing what they had asked. Quit asking the same thing OVER and OVER. Take a moment to understand if you are asking the right thing. Then ask it. Have you put your time off on the holiday schedule?...
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Things to Consider When Launching a New Product

I found this list particularly useful when thinking about launching a new product. Exactly what problem will this solve? (value proposition) For whom do we solve that problem? (target market) How big is the opportunity? (market size) How will we measure success? (metrics/revenue strategy) What alternatives are out there now? (competitive landscape) Why are we best suited to pursue this? (our differentiator) Why now? (market window) How will we get this product to market? (go-to-market strategy) What factors are critical to success? (solution requirements) Given the above, what’s the recommendation? (go or no-go) What's your go or no-go list?...
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The Spiel Pro retrospective

I thought this would be a good time to look back on the year and see where I stand. I'm sure I will make a top ten list type of deal, but I want to try the retro question format to get a better handle on the things I should focus on as the New Year approaches. What went well? Sales are up. Tracking - Up until the middle of this year, I wasn't tracking weekly sales. Yes, I'm a moron. I made a very conscious decision to change that by actually writing my daily and weekly sales on a whiteboard in my office. It has really helped me understand a great deal about my cashflow and growth. Although this is now automated with ShipStation, I still post weekly sales in a visible place. I find the connection invaluable. Amazon - Product growth on Amazon is incredible. I wasn't able to sell in the Toys and Games category last year due to my being new to...
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Rethinking the Hunters Database

I've started working on the Hunters Database again. Why? Without ANY marketing or work it had 42,000 pageviews last year. It also has organically gained 400 users. And it has reached near the top ranking on many, many hunting search pages. It's not HUGE by any means, but if I've learned anything in the last year doing e-commerce - that's a very nice platform to start something on. Problems still remain though. There is a small part of the hunting community that I despise. I hate their attitudes about guns, conservation, nature and animal rights. This is the biggest turnoff for me. I'm hoping I can temper my abject feelings about the vocal minority by staying focused on the large part of hunting community that I really enjoy. There are so many great people out there. The data creation is time consuming. I recently did some testing of virtual assistants to convert PDF data into something HDB can use. It was a breakthrough. VAs are...
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Top ten business books I’ve read

I've been running Spiel Pro for a bit now and I will be honest, most of my decisions have been by the seat of my pants. I want and need to change that. So, I've started forcing myself to read more business books. The post title is a bit of a lie, since I'm not even close to a top ten yet. Here is a look at the books that have made it so far. I will keep adding and adjusting the list as I come across worthy books. What books have made you understand your business better? 1. Boost E-Commerce Sales and Make More Money This is less of a book and more of a giant checklist. A really, really good checklist. You could spend years reading blogs and listening to podcasts to glean as much basic information that is provided in this book. I keep going back to it over and over. I may just make a big todo list...
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Repetition and the Junior High Basketball Coach

My post on how playing soccer has helped my business got me thinking about my early adventures in team sports. I had a growth spurt early and I was much taller than most of my peers. (They of course caught up to me in high school.) When we first moved here from Texas, all the coaches were so very super excited to get to know me. Little did they know that I sucked a sports. I just wasn't that interested in playing. The only sport I was remotely interested in playing was basketball. I liked basketball. I had friends that played basketball. We played a lot of basketball. This doesn't mean I was actually good at basketball. But, I was tall so I was on the team.I'm horrible at remembering names, so we will just call him Coach. As I think back on these days, I'm pretty sure Coach was a super-secret basketball genius. I'm really not sure why he didn't go on to become the coach of...
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How Playing Soccer Helped My Business

How Playing Soccer Helped My Business

At the age of 44, I started playing soccer. I was fat, slow and middle-aged. To top that all off, I've never been much of a team sport kind of guy. I did play some basketball when I was younger, but I quit the team when I started high school. American football always seemed stupid to me, as younger husky Andrew was usually cast in a position that got hit a lot. I've always liked soccer, yet, for one reason or another, I never really got the chance to play much. That changed last year when a close friend taught me you can play soccer at any age. I have been playing pretty much twice a week ever since. My new hobby has done much for me. I quickly lost 20 plus pounds. I've made new friends. And I've become more comfortable playing on a team. It hasn't been all fun and games. I really sucked at soccer when I started. I was fat and...
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