It's been a month now. An unusually short one since we're in February. Anyhow, we got some things done – we shipped a new website, we tweaked our sales credentials a little bit (it's on version 2 now) and we met with a few prospects. Here's what we have to share:
On launching the new website
mcnto.com has existed as a domain for close to three years now. During all that period, we had the first version of our logo, a description paragraph and an email id slapped on a static home page. We never got a single contact out of this during this whole time. But that is understandable. Who would want to contact this shady network of people without first knowing who they are, where they are located and what kind of services they do? I wouldn't. Hence why at website change was much need. We chose SquareSpace as our CMS (content management system) of choice, and we don't regret the decision. The CMS is powerful and somewhat intimidating at first, but after you get a hang for it, it's extremely powerful and user-friendly. It allows you to hook up your social feeds easily (good for content). Pages are built through dragging and dropping content blocks. Forms have built-in validation and are easily hooked up to a Google Drive account (the best thing if you're not a PHP-database wizard). For eight dollars a month, we're quite happy with it.
On e-commerce, shopping carts and PayPal
This week I was able to upgrade my personal PayPal account to a Business account and got to hook up PayPal Website Payments to my Harvest (getharvest.com) invoicing app. I now have the ability of having clients pay for invoices in US dollars with credit cards, all inside the same page. This is a major leap for us. Still working on getting the money out of PayPal, though. UAE is still not one of the countries you can export the values to a bank account. You are limited to sending it to a Visa credit card or a bank account in the US.
On qualified feedback on our offerings
I've read and absorbed from reading Lean Startup that the fastest way to find a business model that is sustainable is to put it out there for the scrutiny of people. This week was the start of that. We had some good feedback and response on the site, but we've also met one-on-one with a few people. The chat with Peter Bidenko, the Executive Creative Director at Leo Burnett Dubai was pretty enlightening. He had some good pointers to share and we appreciate that.
On printing cards with Moo.com and other possibilities
Our first batch of business cards were printed this week. We used the Luxe Business Cards from the folks at moo.com. They were kind enough to alert us that the copy we had set in gray was too low on K (black) and that it might not come out so well. So we cranked up the K. In the meantime, they got our respect for their attention to detail. There's also a reason why we are using a somewhat pricey cloud service for printing business cards. If this network grows like we are hoping it does, it would be nice not to worry too much about shipping out cards for people scattered all over the world. With moo.com we can have them delivered with a few clicks. We're also seeing how we can make use of their greeting cards and stickers for business processes. A few ideas: send out a printed greeting card for clients after they pay an invoice. Print all service descriptions as separate cards and leave them behind for clients after meetings. Use custom-made stickers for brief reviews and approvals, and to slap into envelopes.
On maintaining momentum
To keep any momentum in a project, you have to ship. Anything will do. An estimate, a proposal, a service level agreement, a sales pitch deck, a blog post. Well, almost anything. Meetings and emails do not count. Most of the meetings you participate in or emails you send out will never make you come any closer to building and sharing anything. Remember to ship and celebrate the small wins.
What are we reading now?
Just finished with "The Personal MBA", by Josh Kaufmann. The book has an awesome premise of saving you around 150K dollars on an MBA education. But that's beside the point. A book that costs less than ten bucks on a Kindle and gives you snippets of all the major topics discussed in MBA courses is definitely worth it. We're off now to a re-read of Rework, the book produced by the folks at 37signals.