Being in business should be enjoyable. Of course, it’s not the number one priority of a business, but it is essential. If you bring to any endeavour the energy of someone who needs the money and will get out once it’s earned, it’s a bad start. Unless you are bringing to every day the passion of someone who likes what they’re doing and wants to make a big impact, forget it. You’ll be swamped by leaner, hungrier businesses.
Now, with that said, taking the exact opposite approach is as dangerous in its way. It’s easy to be profligate when a business begins. Especially if you’ve made or borrowed an amount of start-up capital you’ve never had. Executive chairs? I’ll take ten, please! Monogrammed company shirts? I think I deserve those. Silk handkerchiefs? I’ve just seen the first month’s accounts, and I want to cry. So, yes. Yes, please.
While your love for the business can drive real gains, it is also important to bring an analytical mind to things. If you don’t have one yourself, make sure you hire someone who does. It’s astonishing how many businesses have a website that looks great, flows well and attracts traffic. And then, when you look at the numbers, is bringing in a fraction of what you spent on it.
If you’ve got a business site, get used to the idea of conversion rate optimisation. If that sounds boring, then think of it as turning viewers into customers. You know those bookstores that look chic, carry rare first editions and break out the champagne when they make two sales in a day? You don’t want your business site to be the digital version of those. When you get people to your site, you want them to buy things.
There are a lot of mistakes people make with conversion rate optimisation. Among the worst is prioritising style over substance. Beautifully photographed displays of your product. Descriptive content that would make Shakespeare weep. Then you fail to mention the price, or what the product is actually for. Websites – and I promise these exist – that have reams of text about the product, but no link to buy on those pages.
Conversion rate optimisation is essential for your business. Yes, you want your website to be fun, striking and innovative. That will keep people on your site for long enough to make a sales pitch. But if you don’t hone that sales pitch and make them want to make a purchase, it’s just expensive window dressing. You can worry about upgrading it and making it even better with the money that a good conversion rate delivers.
In short, then, of course you want your business experience to be fun. That way you’ll be happy to do it for longer, make it better and diversify when the time comes. But remember to put in the hard yards at the same time, because that’s what will make all of the above possible. It is possible for business to be fun and lucrative at the same time. The moment you forget about one is the moment you jeopardise the other.