Back in 2008 I started my 2nd business, an ecommerce website that sold retail jewelry.
The business model was simple:
Carry brands that had a lot of search volume
Rank #1 for those search terms
Buy Google Ads for keywords that people were using
Get people on our email list so we can cheaply re-market to them
Buy more of what sold, less of what didn't
Repeat over and over again
Spoiler alert, this business went from $0 to $7 million in revenue in 5 years.
But here's the thing -
We almost shut it down MANY TIMES in the first 2 years.
There were days when it felt like we had more inventory than we could ever sell. At times we questioned how we would EVER make more money than we needed to invest in inventory to get ahead. Most of the time our marketing efforts felt like talking into a broken microphone...tap...tap... "is this thing on?"
But we were data nerds. We kept looking at the numbers. I had projections and metrics that I tracked like a hawk and I could see the turning point. (Granted it always looked like it was around the NEXT corner, but still, it was there).
And then one day it happened. It was noon on Black Friday and I was monitoring our Google Analytics and daily orders reports.
We had 50 orders! (A normal day was 10-20.)
Time to finish off that left over piece of pumpkin pie and get in to the office to start shipping order.
And while we were shipping those 50 orders, another 50 came in, and then another 100.
250 orders in one day and we finally made it around that mythical corner we were chasing. We were officially going to make it. All thoughts of shutting the business down vanished in an instant and we started making plans for expanding to an outsourced warehouse and doubling our inventory.
Granted this story has all the trappings of luck, determination and a strong dose of crazy entrepreneur, but the true unsung hero is my trusty dashboard.
At any given point in time I could see the exact data I needed to determine next steps and predict future outcomes. While most days I was predicting the shut down of my business, there were some days I would get a positive outcome and realize if we did more of THAT, we could get ahead. And because I was measuring inputs and outputs it wasn't guesswork.
When you have a short time in business and not a lot of data, it's really hard to zoom out and find a trend because you can't zoom out far enough. It feels like you are driving blind. But by tracking and analyzing the data you DO have, you can identify positive and negative trends EARLY and start to manifest your success by placing energy where things are making the most impact in your business.
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