Rebuilding My Business

Lessons From The Trenches: Prelaunch Edition

Those who follow my twitter or facebook account may know that my friend, Bill, and I prelaunched our joint business site. It was the culmination of an amazing, and insane, fortnight. Its called Social Media Solutions and is looking awesome.

In my last post, I talked about how I got into the NEIS program. What I didn’t say was that literally minutes after getting accepted, I contacted Bill asking if he wanted to work together on this project.

15 days. We got the bare bones of a business up in 15 days. This was the closest I had come to a launch and it taught me more than any blog post or course could have.

This post may at times have a slightly negative tone. Thats because the lessons we learned came from mistakes. We had agreed that we were willing to learn on the fly rather than delay putting ourselves out there. It was hard and exhilarating but so worth it. I’ve been gushing about its success to Bill all day.

1. You WILL screw up

Its inevitable. Mistakes happen. Bill and I went through the process so many times to ensure it went seamlessly. Then we moved it onto our server, went public, and everything went smoothly. Until we woke up this morning.

One client encountered about 3 errors all up. They were tiny, and just oversights, but it was still a blow to my self esteem. We’d poured so much of ourselves into this project and felt completely spent this morning when smoothing out the kinks.

The mistakes taught me so much about work/life balance. I learned that its really important to distance yourself from your work. It also taught me about taking care myself so that I could handle whatever stress the day threw at me.

2. Communication is key

Bill and I are good friends. We’ve been helping each other with mutual freelance projects and had developed an understanding of how each other works.

However, 5 hours before launch the communication just broke down. We were exhausted, slightly cranky and on edge. We were trying to work out the bugs in e-junkie and I kept on accidentally undoing Bills work because we never fully clarified how we were going to try and fix the problem. Bring on the unnecessary stress.

I also may have prelaunched the site on facebook while forgetting that Bill had put an IP block on it so only we could see the changes. Fortunately, we were minutes from prelaunching and it didn’t cause a fuss but it reminded me that we were partners in this business. We weren’t just two people trying to do our own thing on the same site. I would like to publicly thank Bill for not yelling at me during this launch.

This was a vital lesson. We now need some processes in place to ensure we are communicating clearly. I know this is something we will be figuring out as we gear up for the full site launch.

3. Be prepared for criticism

This was a fascinating side effect of this launch. I had a couple of people send private DM’s pointing out spelling errors and picking up flaws in the shopping process. These were from friends who I trusted so I was very thankful for their help. Even so, it was tough knowing that you could slave over something and make silly mistakes.

This was a very useful lesson. If you work really hard supporting your network, they will support you. It made me feel really special as I put a lot of effort into my online connections.

4. Not everyone will be as excited as you are

This lesson was hilarious. We were so pumped about the launch that we didn’t realize how small it was in comparison to product launches. The small scale was intentional. We didn’t want to be swamped with work but wanted to promote the brand, and ourselves while working on the main site.

There was some buzz, but I had forgotten one of the key lessons of social media. Building trust takes time. I was able to reach out to a number of my close friends who showed interest and support in the business which was amazing. These people had heard about my struggles with freelancing and were genuinely excited to see me get it off the ground.

Now that we are out there, its the fun part. Now is the time where I get to dive into the community and see how we can help people. This will give us the chance to learn so much before the full launch and also build up more trust in the twitter community.

Note: The business has since shut down.