Living by Doing

I'm a single founder working on improving my business and myself.

22. November 2014 11:41
by Anders Thue Pedersen
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Yes! I got it. Damn! I lost it.

22. November 2014 11:41 by Anders Thue Pedersen | 0 Comments

I added videos to my watermark software's homepage recently, hoping it would lover the complaints I got from users who found the software too hard to use.

First, I added a video to the front page, showing how to add a watermark in 41 seconds, secondly I added a video to the help and support page that explained in greater details how to use the software.

Thirdly, I removed the wizard from the software and replaced it with the longer video from the help and support pages.

My reason for testing videos was the steady stream of complaints from people who was unable to use my software that they found too complicated.

What happened next was far from what I had expected, the day after adding the videos I had my fifth best day this year, day three was 'normal' and day four again was double what I used to see when it comes to conversion.

It got my mind going, and as so many times before, I dreamt about having struck gold and made my conversion sharply increase.

On day five, my conversion was around 25% and since then the conversion slowly tanked. 

I honestly believe that I ended up overselling my (hard to use) software, promising to watermark a photo in 41 seconds, and then the user realizes that it takes much longer than that is not a great user experience.

I removed the video from the front page after one month. While removing the video I thought to myself that I would try one more thing that many users requested a longer trial.

Previously a user could test the software once and then they had to pay, and every day I got one or two complaints about the short trial period.  

I bumped it up to 4 times, so they could really test the software and see the benefit before choosing to buy it. (After the trial expires, it adds an “Unregistered Version” watermark to all photos processed)

I really believed the longer trial would affect my conversion because so many people complained about it, and for once, I was right.

Not in a good way!

My conversion slowly got lower and lower through the month of testing, and at the end, I was baffled and stunned why it did not work. As a side note, I still got complaints about the trial mode ending.

This made me remove the “fully working trial” period. The software now adds the “Unregistered” text from the first run, so if you like what it does you have to buy it.

That helped!

My conversion double (in orders, my avg. order value has been lowered a bit) and astonishingly the amount of complaints about the trial expiring has plummeted to zero.

I still get the occasionally complaint that the downloaded the “free trial” version and not the actually free version, but that is ok, those would never buy anyway.

So apparently, charging still beats not charging.

25. September 2014 15:51
by Anders Thue Pedersen
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Friends

25. September 2014 15:51 by Anders Thue Pedersen | 0 Comments

It is hard for me to believe that others find me interesting!

I have struggled most of my life to get others to like me, I have pleased others, done what I thought they wanted me to and generally played the best parrot act I could pull out of my hat.

In the last couple of years, I have stopped pleasing others, and worked very hard every day on becoming myself.

This has led to the most wonderful experience, others has started to find me interesting!

When I stopped wanting to be liked I became liked, when I stopped trying to get people to like me they did.

I just realized that the person I respect the most and has some of the highest thoughts about wants to spend time with me and enjoys my company.

Even though we have known each other for many years, it is still a shock and revelation that he actually likes me, for being me, not because I play a parrot!

To all the parrots out there, I give you the advice that it is ok to spread your wings and fly your own way, and some might even find your way interesting!

28. July 2014 21:13
by Anders Thue Pedersen
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The vacation is over

28. July 2014 21:13 by Anders Thue Pedersen | 0 Comments

The general theme of the vacation was sickness, first my wife, then my daughter and at the end me.

At least the last 4 days was really wonderful and made up for all the sickness, thanks big brother!

Regarding being sick on you vacation - I was emailing with my favorite SEO expert and he nicely suggested that it might be because I was too overworked before my vacation that I got sick.

I had silently made the same conclusion before he wrote, so it was easy to read and accept the truth that I just have been too stressed for too long.

To alleviate me from stress I have decided to make some changes to my business life.

1. No customer consulting Monday

I need to make sure I have a day where I can talk with the employees, help projects get along and work with my own projects. To be able to do this I will book every Monday for the rest of the year and not put any customer into that space.

From now on Mondays will be team meeting, individual meetings with employees about personal stuff, projects and their work situation in general.

2. Improve project management

Until shortly before my vacation every project sailed its own way, its own course in its own time, the new Mondays will also be used to follow up on projects and decide what project will be the next one that we will sprint on.

3. We will start working in sprints on our larger projects.

Currently I think we will do one or two weeks sprints with one week rest between.

Sprints will be a period where everybody focuses on one project and helps each other. This do not mean that they shall ignore the regular customers, small support items and stuff like that but it do mean that they should use all available time to help the project that is being sprinted.

We did this the last two weeks before the vacation and it was such a fun and energizing experience where every one of my employees (and me) smiled more than usually and generally had a great time working together.

Seeing a project moving forward at great speed is extremely giving, it motivates and opens you up for doing things faster than usually, thinking in new ways and trying out stuff that you normally would have avoided.

4. Work on projects so that they are complete and followed through

I have been having this image in my head most of the vacation of a golfer at the tee driving the ball down the fairway.

Even though I do not play golf, I do know that, even though the golfer only has contact with the ball for a short instance, the entire swing is important to the length and direction of the ball.

At the moment we hit the ball (delivers the project to the customer) we kind of loose interest in the swing.

From now on, we will focus on every part of the swing, so even where the club ends after the swing is completed is important to us.

I got the inspiration for this from the excellent book “From worst to first” by Gordon Bethune where he talks about how he asks who is most important in the business by comparing it to a watch and asking “what part is most important” and the takeaway of course being that no part is more important than the other.

If you remove one part the clock stop working.

The same way with a project and a golf swing, if you do not follow through it has an impact on the project delivered.

5. DYFR by Brennan Dunn

Keep reading and applying what I learn by reading DYFR by Brennan Dunn.

Even though I have been self-employed for 15+ years I apparently still have a lot to learn!

Status

We are still working on our next non-consulting project, a mobile time registration solution for MS Dynamics Nav – the feedback we get from the beta testers are great and it is really moving forward.

 

9. July 2014 21:56
by Anders Thue Pedersen
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Vacation

9. July 2014 21:56 by Anders Thue Pedersen | 0 Comments

I am currently on vacation, which is the reason for the lack of posts.

The first week I went mostly offline, living on a smallish island, in a tent camp with no electricity, only gas for cooking, petroleum lamps for light in the evening/night and a toilet that is a hole in the ground.

Did I forget to mention that I had to do one task every day, cooking some days, making the fire (for the marshmallows) the other?

Do this sound like vacation to you? Well I am looking forward to this week all year, and I really enjoy it!

Actually, it is the best week of our vacation, and our six-year-old daughter talks about it all year round!

Why is it so good? Because it is so primitive that you have to look around yourself and notice those around you (remember no electricity so your phone dies pretty quick), and when you do you discover that you are among 100 others that are there for the same reason as you and you get a sense of belonging there!

If you did not know it already, that sense is what drives us!

On a side note, a fellow Micropreneur was surprised that I took four weeks of vacation, but is that not what we are working for, the freedom to take a lot of vacation if we want it?

See you in three weeks’ time :)

15. April 2014 17:08
by Anders Thue Pedersen
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Attending MicroConf

15. April 2014 17:08 by Anders Thue Pedersen | 0 Comments

I'm attending the MicroConf conference this week learning how to be even more Awesome and meeting old and getting new friends.

I launched the new website one week ago and the first weekly results are in and the conversion is up close to 50% (an all time high) the revenue is higher than in a long time, even though the number of visitors still keeps dropping.

YES!

7. April 2014 22:24
by Anders Thue Pedersen
0 Comments

The new website is live!

7. April 2014 22:24 by Anders Thue Pedersen | 0 Comments

The new watermark website is live!

www.watermark-image.com

I like it although as usual I shipped before I was completely satisfied.

But I wanted it live before MicroConf next week, so I worked through the weekend and got it ready enough for release.

Now i want to improve the software so it looks like something you would expect from the new website.

The status of my progress is not where I wanted it, I have struggled to improve my revenue and I believe that I must improve the GUI to improve the revenue.

7. March 2014 11:10
by Anders Thue Pedersen
0 Comments

Live

7. March 2014 11:10 by Anders Thue Pedersen | 0 Comments

I was writing a post about how bootstrapping a company is like running a marathon.

But it sucked.

The meaning disappeared and the words were all #%¤%.

What I wanted to warn you about is that when you reach your goals, when your dreams comes true; be prepared.

The best way to be prepared is to slow down and live while life is available.

That is more important than winning, than pushing, than reaching goals.

Live.

Status

So looking at my numbers I get a big surprise. I thought everything was going great, but it looks like it is going worse - the conversion rate is really low and the average order value is going down.

Damn.

Last week

I discovered an error in my build script, so i fixed that and made it so the dll's needed for the software is embedded into the software.

This week

Still working on the new share feature and the new website

Status

Week Orders Revenue Visits Conversion
40 147% 181% 109% 135%
41 212% 275% 111% 190%
42 141% 185% 105% 135%
43 206% 254% 113% 182%
44 171% 215% 107% 159%
45 229% 285% 104% 220%
46 247% 313% 109% 226%
47 300% 395% 106% 283%
48 312% 413% 96% 323%
49 300% 423% 96% 312%
50 271% 349% 93% 291%
51 218% 303% 85% 256%
52 171% 209% 75% 228%
1 259% 315% 86% 301%
2 282% 382% 98% 288%
3 247% 333% 93% 266%
4 241% 288% 96% 251%
5 218% 273% 91% 239%
6 247% 311% 91% 271%
7 276% 369% 87% 319%
8 259% 381% 96% 269%
9 271% 371% 85% 318%
10 218% 299% 93% 235%

3. March 2014 20:41
by Anders Thue Pedersen
0 Comments

How to do a reality check when you doubt your abilities.

3. March 2014 20:41 by Anders Thue Pedersen | 0 Comments

When you live in a world comprised of hacker news updates and tweets/articles/podcasts from high profile thinkers and entrepreneurs like James Altucher, @Patio11, Seth Godin and Swiss Miss it is easy to lose some perspective on reality.

You might think that you have nothing to offer to the world. That everything has been made before and that the stuff you are dreaming about is useless and not worth making.

Second reality by Future Crew

I certainly think like that from time to time.

This happened (again) last week after I released the new higher price point versions and after the initial high over my accomplishment, I started to get some mental jitters again.

Small bubbles of worrying started to creep in asking if anyone really needs my product, I worried if anyone needed the new features, and questioned if it really works.

At the same time I have been working on a new upload feature, and since the documentation for the API I am using is [redacted] it has taken and astonishing long time to get it to work(ish).

All in all a lot of doubt and uncertainty has been creeping into my brain.

I believe this is all normal.

Being a single founder and entrepreneur is a hard and bumpy road.

The thing that helps you get through this kind of mental obstruction is

  1. How normal you realize this is
  2. How little you fight it
  3. What tools you have at your disposal to help you work through it.

I am getting pretty confident that it’s totally normal to get these kind if thoughts – and if you don’t take my word for it, go read some of James Altucher post’s – he is the master of “normalizing” the “not normal”

I am still a beginner at not fighting it, but I am (painfully) aware of the importance of this point.

This time I ended up relying on one of the essential mental-realigning tools when being a single founder, my mastermind group!

I went to a mastermind meeting and one of the other attendees said that he thought i was a success and that i had “made it” and that he thought of me as a success.

The thing that really made me realize that my “problem” perhaps was a little off scale was that I actually is looking up to this guy because he has taken the leap and has built a SaaS web app and is making recurring revenue (= the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow)

So I have had my mental energy return to normal levels and started moving forward once again.

Status

Last week

I worked on the new sharing option (and made a little progress) and tweaked the website a little, most notably I added a price slider to see if I could bump up the sales of the Share and SecureShare higher price point versions.

The last thing I did was reaching out to three (3) sites that had articles about windows tools for WordPress, and the result was amazing – I got two (2) responses the same day that they would review my software!

Next week

Work on the new sharing feature, hopefully launch the new website.

The numbers

I had higher hopes for the revenue and even though it is high I had hoped (dreamed) of beating the record.

 

Week Orders Revenue Visits Conversion
40 147% 181% 109% 135%
41 212% 275% 111% 190%
42 141% 185% 105% 135%
43 206% 254% 113% 182%
44 171% 215% 107% 159%
45 229% 285% 104% 220%
46 247% 313% 109% 226%
47 300% 395% 106% 283%
48 312% 413% 96% 323%
49 300% 423% 96% 312%
50 271% 349% 93% 291%
51 218% 303% 85% 256%
52 171% 209% 75% 228%
1 259% 315% 86% 301%
2 282% 382% 98% 288%
3 247% 333% 93% 266%
4 241% 288% 96% 251%
5 218% 273% 91% 239%
6 247% 311% 91% 271%
7 276% 369% 87% 319%
8 259% 381% 96% 269%
9 271% 371% 85% 318%