• Original entry:  5/1/2017
  • Update:  7/23/2017
  • Update:  8/19/2017
  • Update 1/18/19

The last few years I have mostly spent hunkered down, building my Lean & Agile Framework to support my Growth Stack, which is my approach to growth that in my experience, requires the least amount of investment and the least amount of risk, and has the potential to provide much faster, more robust and sustainable growth.

And, implementing it in my own consumer product company I co-own with my wife, to not just apply it to benefit from it, but also to test it out.

A huge part of how I came to develop my Framework is because of the continued advancements in the Internet and technology that have dramatically brought down the cost to implement technologies, while continuing to increase their capabilities and sophistication, so much so that the smallest companies can now adopt pretty sophisticated stuff.

A huge element in this is productivity, which I have found that by adopting so many of these technologies, has absolutely skyrocketed for me.  I can get far more done, faster, cheaper, than ever before, which means I can move quicker in the marketplace for competitive advantage (why I came to call my Framework “Lean & Agile”).

But, there is much more tech I can adopt to increase productivity.  Right now, while I have built my systems, I am just scratching the surface on their capabilities.

Take my database, for example, which I architected and had built by a developer.  I have so much insight into my customers, what they buy, when, how much, what they do on my website, etc., and I am just starting to tap that knowledge to segment my marketing to them.  And, it will get better as time goes on, as I collect more data on them from my website and through appending from 3rd party sources (like purchasing data, which I already do some, but there is far more I think I can purchase for very reasonable cost).

Beyond just using more of what I have, which currently is maximizing the use of my database, I see huge potential in the following, which I am slowly working on:

  1. Dashboards: Building better and more real-time information and key performance indicator (KPI) dashboards.  This is also available, I just have to build it or hire someone to help build what I want;
  2. Personalization, which is having technology personalize the interactions between me and my customers.  This is still more available to high-end, large e-commerce companies, but the tech is advancing rapidly.
  3. Funnels:  I already have a fantastic funnel that I architected and had developers build, which is very rules driven (shows up/cross/down-sells based on what you have or do not have in your cart), but it is still a bit rough around the edges, so I continue to improve it.  But, I see huge potential to improve it with more ideas to entice customers for bigger cart orders.
  4. Customer reviews:  this is a difficult area because it is really hard to get reviews, specially unbiased ones where you are not bribing a customer for it.  Everyone asks for reviews and we are all sick of getting asked for them.  A better approach. I think, is to build what I call a validation engine, which takes into account your customer purchases, repeat purchases, reviews, upvotes, like, follows, etc., and incoroprates all into a backend engine that will dynamically display on your website in real-time so that people can see for themselves what is going on with your sales.  Some of that is already built and included with websites, but I am trying to take it to a higher level to prove that a company is as good as it says through all the activity its customers are generating.

7/23/2017 Update:  A big emphasis also over the last few years with my implementation of systems and technology tools is to make sure whatever I use is cross-platform capable (responsive, in other terms).  I need to be able to use every tool on my mobile just like on my desktop.  Even my database that I had built, I made sure the interface works on my mobile device so I can not just view data, but enter data on mobile if need be.  Because of my cross-platform requirements, I significantly curtailed my use of MSFT office products in favor of Google, which is far more web centric and easier to use. Even though MSFT does have cloud sync and browser enabled its office suite, it is still clunky and I continue to have problems with it.  I have found that this cross-platform requirement has made it so much easier to keep things updated and continue to work;  even if I step away from my desk for a few minutes (like to grab lunch), I take my mobile or iPad and can get through an email or two, or check a dashboard.

1/18/19 Update:  The last system I built out for my productivity improvement was my own operations system that integrates accounting, inventory, facilities and other data together.  This is complete, has been tested and is working exceptionally well.  My 2019 goal is to get more efficient with my systems through further fine-tuning.  One thing I noticed with my databases is that because they are so large now, the SAAS costs has really gone up with my provider.  In the future, if I want to reduce this cost, I could completely rebuild me entire database system in a MySQL database that I can run on my existing hosting server, which effectively would probbaly mean $0 in SAAS costs.  But there is the cost to hire a developer to help me make the transition.  It is not something I plan to do for at least a few years, if not more.