Guest Post: How a Billing System Can Improve Customer Retention

Today’s guest post comes from Elaine Bennett, a digital marketing specialist focused on helping Australian startups and small businesses grow. :

Attracting new customers and expanding your customer base is critical for your business growth. However, customer retention is even more important. Statistics show that the cost of acquiring a new customer can be five times higher than the cost of retaining your existing customers. Given these digits, it’s not surprising that a good customer experience is expected to become even more important than your products or prices by 2020.

In this customer-centered era, your billing system can become a key factor in boosting the overall customer experience and building stronger relationships with them. Let’s see how to use it to increase customer retention rates.

Building Highly Personalized Customer Experiences

Today, personalization dominates every segment of your customer interactions, including your invoice management. People are used to highly customized services, tailored just for them. For example, some of your customers prefer to make payments using different credit cards, while others would go with a bank direct debit. And, before they book your services, they will first check whether you offer their desired payment method.

Precisely because of that, you need to make sure payment options are highly flexible and adapted to your customers’ needs. This is where automated payment processing shines. Namely, the implementation of a direct debit system allows you to manage recurring direct debit payments across multiple sites, helping your customers carry out transactions using multiple payment options and currencies. By providing a plethora of ways to pay, your target customers will be more likely to sign up for a repeat purchase.

Greater Security Builds Trust

The rise of online payments provides cyber criminals with easier access to customer information. And, your customers are aware of that. Precisely because of that, they choose those companies that can guarantee that their personal information will stay safe during the transaction.

Therefore, to get your target customers to choose you over your competitors and come back to you again, you need to meet the highest payment security standards. Of course, this is an extremely time-consuming and costly process, as it requires strong servers and hiring in-house tech support.

However, with the help of automated billing software, you can reduce your operational costs significantly. No matter if they’re used as a standalone platform or they’re integrated into your existing business software, these platforms are cloud-based and comply with PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard). By investing in them, you will make sure that your customers’ sensitive data, billing, and payment processing are out of hackers’ reach and handled at the highest level of security.

Don’t Let Failed Payments Hurt Customer Relationships

Studies show that more than 64% of small businesses face the issue of failed and late invoices. For any business owner, handling this major problem is inevitable. It includes sending multiple dunning emails and reminders that are not pleasant to their customers’ ears, too. Therefore, it’s a great challenge to get your customers to pay you and, at the same time, maintain strong relationships with them.

This is why you need to automate your rebilling efforts. A reliable payment platform will first try to rebill your customers automatically and collect the payment again. Most importantly, it will notify your customers of any failed payments and empower them to resolve the problem as fast as possible.

Real-Time Information Boosts your Customer Retention

To keep your customers satisfied, you need to tailor your billing system to their needs. And, to do so, you need to monitor your business health and performance, track your customers’ behaviors and understand what their major problems are when carrying out transactions. Of course, tracking your major KPIs and creating regular reports manually would eat up loads of your time.  

So, instead of handling a myriad of digits and using complicated Excel spreadsheets and formulas, you can invest in an automated billing platform and generate your financial reports effortlessly. Most of these platforms have in-built reporting tools that you can customize and adapt according to your needs.

With these reports, you will have a full insight into the distribution of billings, a comprehensive customer list, a list of invalid customer information, transaction details, and so forth. By tracking your financial health, you will be able to make better-informed decisions in the future and tailor your business operations to your customers’ needs and expectations. Above all, you will be able to identify the major problems in your billing system and prevent these from hurting your customer relationships.

Over to You

To win your customers over and turn them into your brand advocates, you need to focus on building strong relationships outside your products. And, this is where a solid recurring billing system comes as a blessing from the skies. It will help you interact with your customers more effectively, help them complete the desired actions faster, and tailor your invoicing and rebilling strategies to their needs and expectations. Above all, you will be able to make data-oriented decisions that would boost people’s experiences with your business.

How do you use your billing system to retain customers?

Guest Post: 11 Signs It’s Time to Expand Your Business

As a successful entrepreneur, CEO, or business manager, you know that taking your business to the next level in its development is not much different from launching it. The same considerations and dedication are essential for an expansion to be successful.

Depending on the size of your business, expansion can be as simple as hiring your first employee. Growing your business depends on a wide range of circumstances. Economic forecasts, market considerations, and the business cycle all play a role. Other factors in play include the availability of reliable shipping and transportation, labor markets, and access to raw materials.

Determining the best time to expand can be tricky, but if you know the signs to look for, the decision becomes much easier.

  1. The Customers Demand Expansion

Repeat customers are an indication of ongoing demand for your products or services, as well as satisfaction with what you offer. Loyal customers will request expansion, whether it is a store closer to where they live, an online site or even a local warehouse for faster shipping.

Consider all options before following through on customers’ requests for expansion. Your budget has to be able to sustain opening another facility, adding a line or hiring more employees.

  • The Business Is Busy

Management and staff may find they are too busy too much of the time. If people feel as if they’re spread too thin, then you have more business than you can handle. If the company is not a seasonal phenomenon but year-round, then expansion is in order. Managers who consistently wonder if they can complete their work are managers of a business which must grow.

Expansion is not just increasing the number of employees or shifts—although both of those decisions can pay off. Expansion is finding the next level for the business.

In considering the right number of employees, consider the “Rule of 150.” Businesses and anthropological research find that when the size of a firm exceeds 150 personnel, it changes in culture and quality. Below that number, the structure is much less hierarchical and far more flexible. Above 150, the structure becomes slower and less reactive.

Gore-Tex famously builds a new factory when the staff at one reaches the 150-person level. 150 people is about the maximum number a leader can stand on a chair and address directly before “speak louder” calls begin.

  • The Business is Out of Room

Physical expansion is indicated when there’s no room left in the workplace to function efficiently. People can tell when space is cramped, even before accidents caused by limited space occur.

Poor staff morale is an indicator as is lower production. Meeting clients away from the office because no room exists is another sure sign of needing more space. Clutter and mess are another — everything should have a place and be in its place.

Try reorganizing before relocating or using flexible work hours if possible so employees can share workspaces. 

  • The Team is Solid, Capable, and Ready

Expansion requires people who have bought into the business. They are personally invested in the success of the business and want it to get to the next level — they see that as a way of increasing opportunities for themselves.

With a talented team in place, your company can consider expanding. Talented employees may end up relocating to branch off and create their own remote team, adding further value to the business. Some may decide to take on a new product line. Whatever way your expansion takes place, having people who are part of the team before it takes place — especially if new people are being brought onboard — will make the expansion’s success more likely.

Some employees may be unable to relocate, prefer to work on the floor than be in management or dislike additional responsibility. Don’t assume your team is ready for expansion. Canvas them for feedback.  

  • The Market Is Growing

Businesses in a growing market will face the demand to expand. With more customers, businesses find that current operations are strained. They may even be turning away customers.

Study the market conditions carefully, and make sure this strain is not a temporary or seasonal issue. See what competitors are doing, especially if some customers have transferred their business to them.

  • Developing New Lines of Business

Enterprises develop new lines of business frequently. Many of those new lines are variations on existing ones or are logical extensions of them. For example, a retail men’s clothing store may add accessories, jewelry, and drink glassware into its offerings. A logistic supply company known for cartons and drums may add shrink-wrap, tape, and green shipping solutions to their lines.

New lines of business are as much an expansion as building a new factory. They should fit smoothly into your current marketing model—or the model needs to be adapted so that all lines work within it.

Use focus groups to research if a new line will work. You might think it is a great idea, but the market may disagree.

  • You Have the Capital

For a successful business expansion, you need sufficient cash flow to cover unforeseen costs and investments that won’t have a return on investment (ROI) for several months. Adequate revenue or financing to support an expansion is a good indication you are ready to ramp up your business.

But simply being profitable isn’t enough to justify expansion. Create a business forecast as a reliable representation of your company’s potential indicating the best and worst scenarios if you expanded. If the results between both forecasts are narrow, then it’s time to scale up. 

  • You are Meeting and Exceeding Goals 

If you are meeting your milestones ahead of schedule, it might be time for expansion, especially if other factors like the right team, cash flow, and a growing market are in place too.

If you don’t have the money ahead of schedule it isn’t the time to grow even if you have met all your other milestones. 

  • You’ve Done Your Research

Whether it is adding another location, creating an e-commerce site, or expanding into a new market, do your homework first. If you have well-researched plans in place, it is likely time for growth.

Don’t rush into the next stage of development without extensive research. 

  1. You’ve Outgrown the Local Market

If you’ve tapped out the local market, it may be time to consider another location or even an e-commerce site. Expanding into a different vertical will attract new clients and help your business grow.

Make sure you have explored every avenue locally because most people like to support businesses where they live and work. 

  1. Follow Your Gut Instinct

The best entrepreneurs and CEOs have an instinct for good business. Don’t allow success to overshadow that instinct. Always explore your hunches, even when business is a little slow. Successful entrepreneurs can identify market services and products that are not being met, or have an eye for just the right location. Knowing exactly when the iron is hot enough to strike is a trait only the most successful capitalists possess.

You may experience failures from time to time, but trying again is what makes a successful entrepreneur!

Cory Levins is the business development director for AirSea Containers, a family owned and operated company dedicated to the safe transportation of dangerous goods. Cory oversees the development and implementation of ASC’s internal and external marketing program, driving revenue and profits from the Miami, FL headquarters. Linked In:

Guest Post: How Time Tracking Software Can Be Helpful for the Growth of a Start-Up

Author Bio: Jasika Adams is a writer with a passion for writing on emerging technologies in the areas of human resources, startups and business management. she is a talent acquisition manager currently associated with Index Time Clock. In her free time, she loves to play with her kids and reading mystery books.  Continue Reading

How to Use Follow-Up Then to Drastically Increase Your Productivity

Today’s post will be super quick and super focused: it’s a discussion of the absolute best productivity personal management tool out there, follow-up then.

I’ve done a few posts about productivity tools and tips and I have mentioned some of the tools I use to keep me on track but today I want to go into detail on the one that is, in all honesty, the number one key to a lot of my career success. FYI, this is not an ad, I’m not being compensated in any way for this post and haven’t even had any contact with follow-up then besides using the tool, but I seriously love the service and just wanted to share with all of you.

Follow-up then is an awesome email tool that lets you pull emails out of your inbox and have them come back in at a specified future time or date. I am an inbox zero gal and my whole life is organized around my email, so this is life-changing. If you’re not an inbox zero person, this likely isn’t quite as amazing, but it’s still a great tool.

To begin using follow-up then, all you have to do is send an email to whenever you want your email to come back to your inbox at For example, this morning I got an email reminder to renew my website hosting but it doesn’t have to be done for a month, so I don’t want to deal with it now. I do want that email out of my inbox though, so I simply forward that email to and that’s it. It will pop back into my inbox in 3 weeks and I can deal with the renewal process then. It’s amazing.

I do the same if I need to remember to follow-up with someone on something I’ve asked them to do. So, for example, I might shoot an email to someone on my team asking them to create a draft one-pager for a program we offer and I need to remember to make sure it happened by Tuesday of next week. I would add to the bcc of the email I send to the employee and then that email will pop back into my inbox next Tuesday morning reminding me to check on the progress. It’s as simple as that.

Plus, unlike other similar services, which I have talked about before, follow-up then doesn’t have a limit on the number of reminders you can set so you don’t have to worry about exceeding any limits on the free plan and then having to pay. They’ve also been adding some awesome new features like short codes that will make a reminder pop into your inbox every day until you mark it complete. It’s honestly the best tool in my toolkit and I would really struggle to be as on top of everything as I am without it.

Okay, that’s it. I told you it would be short and sweet. I just don’t want to keep kickass tools that can help other entrepreneurs to myself so I wanted to share. This one is integral enough to my workflow that I thought it deserved its own post instead of being lumped into another list of tools.

Followupthen is one of the tools I have in my productivity arsenal, a tool within a 4 step process to get more done in less time. If you could use some help accomplishing what you need to get done more quickly, grab my guide: 4 Steps to Improving Productivity. Click here to get the guide for just $1 and start getting more done faster right away.

How to Prioritize Customer Segments Quickly

Today I want to talk to you about defining your customer segments so that you can improve your marketing.

One of the things I talk about A TON with all of my clients is being very clear on who your ideal customer is so that you can target your marketing only to that ideal customer. This not only improves the power of your marketing messages so that you’re more likely to convert potential customers but also allows you to be more deliberate about where and how you market so that you can spend less money overall by not wasting time, energy, and cash on marketing to people who are not your ideal customer anyway. If you’re not sure what an ideal customer is, check out my post on precisely that

What generally happens when I start having these conversations with clients, however, is that they’re not able to narrow down to just one ideal customer group. Now, it’s perfectly acceptable to have more than one target customer group. It is not okay to be lazy and just say you have a bunch of ideal customer groups because you don’t want to figure out who your ideal customer really is. Remember, this isn’t who will buy from you, this is who is the best customer you can hope to get – they’re interested in what you offer, they get a lot of value from it, they’re easy to deal with, they’re repeat customers, they spread the word about you, they’re not always asking for a discount, etc.

So, let’s say you feel like you have 6 groups of people that might be your ideal customer. You need to prioritize so that you can make the best use of your limited marketing resources so you have to rank those different customer segments and Customer Development Labs has come up with a quick and dirty tool for doing just that.

You definitely want to click the link to see their full post, but here is the basic overview:

Make an Excel spreadsheet where list each of your potential customer segments as a column heading and list market size, pay for value, and accessibility as row headings. Now, give each potential customer segment a ranking from 1 to 3, with one being the lowest and 3 being the highest, for each of the categories. Market size is how many people out there fall into this customer segment or category. Pay for value is how much someone in that category will pay for the value you’re offering them. Accessibility is how easy it will be for you to get in front of them. Then you multiply the 3 scores for each category together to get a total score and use that total score to rank the priority for each customer segment.

This will pretty quickly give you an idea of where you probably want to focus your marketing resources. Now, this doesn’t mean this will turn out to be right. You might start going after whichever customer segment got the highest score and then find out they’re really not as desirable as you thought, and that’s fine. The tool isn’t designed to give you the gospel truth about who your ideal customer is; the goal is to quickly move you from hypothetical to actual testing while still keeping you focused on your likely best customers.

If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, the best thing you can do for yourself is to just get started. Pick up my business planning ebook here to be guided through the whole business planning process for less than $5. More of a video person than a text person? Click here to try my ecourses instead.


Guest Post: Top Franchises for Every Budget

I know it’s not quite time for another post but I am sending another guest post your way. While I don’t have any background in franchises and don’t work with clients who operate franchises, I know that some of you are interested in them, so I have a guest post from Aaron Hiddleston on the topic:

According to a report by International Franchise Association, franchise small businesses will continue to grow at a rate that exceeds the non-franchise business growth in 2016. This type of business shows great capability to provide new jobs (3.1 percent growth in jobs in 2016, to be precise), especially for families and first-time business owners, across all business sectors. Big franchises, such as McDonald’s, require liquid assets of at least $750,000 and thousands more for construction and equipment. Still, there are other franchises that are more affordable and offer the same small-business owner satisfaction. If you are searching for one of those, and think that you can manage in the pre-established system of a franchise, here are some great choices within every budget.

Commercial Cleaning Service

Business facilities are often in need of cleaning service, and they do not want to hire additional staff for that job. That’s why they make arrangements with professional cleaning companies. Since office cleaning can be sensitive due to the potential damage or loss caused by cleaning staff, managers tend to be very choosy when hiring cleaning staff. Owners of a trustworthy franchise, like Jan-Pro Franchising International a service that started in the distant 1991, will have no such problems. You can purchase this franchise along with the uniforms, equipment, starter supplies and training for $3,100.

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Ladies’ Fitness

When it comes to starting a fitness business you should be aware that the female consumer is the driving force of today’s market. It’s no wonder then, that some of the most successful fitness franchises of all time are meant for women (Fit4Mom, EnVie Fitness, Get in Shape for Women…). There are a number of different cost-effective fitness franchises for ladies to purchase, and some of them can be done without a gym/exercise room. Baby Boot Camp, a stroller fitness program for new moms is definitely one of them. The total price (including one-time franchise fee) is between $4,800 and $10,200. Another interesting franchise is Jazzercise, a dance-infused aerobics which costs between $9,000 and $38,000.

Food Restaurant/Bar

This one will never get old – people have to eat, don’t they? Opening your own restaurant or bar can be quite a daunting task, especially when you consider what happens after the opening when you need to convince people to come and to visit regularly. A franchise will always have faster success in that. Food franchises are usually more expensive than the others, but you can find some like Chester’s Chicken for a price of under $25,000. Another growing segment of the restaurant business is juice. The consumers are more interested in healthy industry of smoothies and juices, so if you want to tap into this market, you can start with Juice It Up (initial investment between $10,000 and $25,000) or Jamba Juice with the same fees. If you want to start a restaurant franchise, you might want to consider experts to design commercial fittout that will be aesthetically pleasing and encourage productivity.

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Senior Care

With the rapid aging of the baby boomer population around the world, there has been a growth in demand for quality elderly care services which resulted in large number of senior care franchises for sale. This is a job that can be done without any company’s facilities, so it is also tempting for people who want to start their business. Some of the most successful franchises in this area are Home Instead, Comfort Keepers, and Visiting Angels, and their fees go from $67,000 to $136,000. There are some more affordable options such as Hallmark Homecare which costs between $13,900 and $26,900.

Accounting and Taxes

No one likes to do their own taxes, and if you know your way around numbers, this might be just the right job for you. Accounting and tax operations are tasks that many of the companies are outsourcing, so if you are good at what you do, you can never run out of business. There’s a large number of accounting franchises and their prices will vary depending on the company itself, and the size of the office you choose, as well as the equipment and furniture. Liberty Tax Service will, for instance, require a total investment between $57,800 and $71,900, H&R Block from $31,505 to $148,700, while Tax Centers of America will cost franchisees between $20,300 and $63,550.


In the end, when choosing the franchise, you should count in various different factors, such as the kinds of work you enjoy, the hours you’re willing to work, and whether you prefer to remain behind the scenes or work directly with customers. Profitability is also an inevitable factor in this story. Some general rules are to stay clear of fields that are overcrowded to avoid too dense competition, to offer a relatively well-known brand name, and for the franchise to meet your demands regarding the requirements for investment and incomes.


Arron is architecture student and DIY enthusiast from Sydney. He enjoys browsing the web in search of fresh ideas about residential moving, storage, cleaning, clearance, waste removal, recycling, gardening, landscaping and home maintenance issues. Loves: all things spicy, barbecue, winter vacations. Doesn`t like: bad manners and narcissism.

Guest Post: Lessons a Small Business Owner Can Learn from a Professional Logo Designer

We’re back with another guest post this week. This one comes from freelance writer Melissa Lang:

No matter what size of business you run, every business needs a company logo. When considering changes or rebranding to your original logo think about what it currently says to customers that have no prior experience with you. The big question is, how likely are you to engage with a brand that had a poorly designed logo?

A small business typically needs a logo more than an established brand. Your branding style has the ability to connect with your customer, and your company logo design is a representation of your brand.

For that reason, a great logo should subconsciously influence consumers to believe that your business sells great products. Show your customers your high standards of business with an enticing, quality logo and it is sure to build a connection quicker.


“Symbolize and summarize.”

Logo Designer, Saul Bass created some of the world’s biggest businesses branding from Kleenex to American Airlines. He believed that a logo should send a message to consumers, even at a glance.

Do you believe that first impressions count? Truthfully, Business owners only really have one chance to make a good first impression and this is why so many rebrand. If you are running a small venture, an impressionable logo design could be a great way to catch your future customer’s eye whereas a poor design could damage your businesses reputation make consumers distrust you from the start.

There is a lot of work behind the logo design process and it should not only look attractive but it should show your business’ personality from just one look. It should also be transferable and useable across multiple mediums. There are lots of things to consider, but firstly have a look at our logo design tips, to gain some inspiration for your design:


Remove all personal connection between you and your business logo design. The colours or images you love may not fit in with your business’s needs. By hiring some assistance, a professional they will be able to tweak the design from your imagination for business use. A professional logo designer’s perspective will take a more systematic approach to your design than an amateur would as they will break the process into:

  • research,
  • sketching
  • conceptualising
  • testing
  • final design



In a study by ColourCom, it was proven that colour can increase a brand’s recognition by a huge 80%. Every colour has a different meaning, by telling your logo a bit more about your brand’s personality they will know exactly which of the following colours to use:

  • Red: signifies passionate, high energy and demands a call to action. Brands who use red: Red Bull and Virgin.
  • Blue: portrays trust and stability, often used by banking and finance brands. Brands who use blue: RBS and Facebook.
  • Yellow: stimulates optimism and positivity. Brand who use yellow: IKEA and Macdonalds.
  • Green: Often used to symbolise nature, recycling, and wildlife. Brands who use green: Whole Foods and Green Peace.
  • Purple: Effective when used for luxury and calm. Brands who use purple: Cadbury and Hallmark.


Has your business evolved and you would like to show this in your logo design? Social media brand Instagram have done just that. In recent years Instagram has expanded and have added several new additions to their brand. They created a new design that would reflect how the diverse way consumers are now telling their stories, not just through text and image but through video and collages.  Ian Spalter, Instagram’s head of design believes that:

“Brands, logos, and products develop deep connections and associations with people, so you don’t just want to change them for the sake of novelty”.

Therefore, it is important to consider the needs and desires of your customers before you rebrand your logo design. Deciding to change your small businesses logo can be risky but changing to a professional logo design could freshen up the appeal of your brand.



“I  strive for two things in design: simplicity and clarity. Great design is born of those two things.”

Lindon Leader, The FedEx Logo Designer hits the nail on the head with this statement. Any professional Designer should know when to close the design and accept that sometimes, less is more. Overworking your design shouldn’t distract you from other elements of your business.

Minimalistic design is becoming more popular for corporate organisations and millennials are starting to declutter their company logos. MasterCard is the most recent example of a brand which has stripped back their logo.

Creative Review claims that their “radically simple design that could only work for a brand as well-known as Mastercard” but there are many benefits of using a simple logo for a smaller business.


Clear: Sometimes a company’s purpose can get lost in a busy logo design. Your small business should create a logo which future customers can associate with your brand. By keeping your logo simple you are keeping it targeted. The message your small business will be sending out will be clean and clear.

Memorable: Think about it this way, what would you find easier to remember – one sentence or one paragraph? The fewer elements there are on your logo design, the easier it will be for your customers to remember, think McDonalds and Coca-Cola! These may be larger organisations but they have barely touched their logo designs – proving that simple can be just as effective.

Understandable: Consumers connect better with designs that they can understand. If a consumer can describe your logo it makes your business more accessible and familiar. This will also be beneficial if your consumer is trying to recommend your brand, as they will be able to describe it.

Convertible Across All Media: The simpler the design they easier it is to publish across different media. Consider how your logo will look on anything from print, web, stamps, material, signs, transfers etc.



Your logo is an extension of your brand just like your e-commerce website or physical business space. It is true that Humans respond better to images than they do to text and can process visuals 60,000 times faster than plain text

This shows the importance to small businesses about having a professional logo design which uses great imagery and typography. A visual identity creates a familiarity between your company and the customer.

Make sure your logo design strengthens your brand and supports your business’ message. There are lots of great logo designer’s out there that can design something that is both eye-catching and unique for your small business.


Melissa Lang is freelance writer from Glasgow, Scotland. She is currently working for Repeat Logo and has a keen eye for all things design.

Guest Post: The Website Builder Secret They Didn’t Tell You

You’ve got a great new idea for an e-commerce website business. Investors have given you the green light and you are good to go.

Next on your to do list is to give your chosen digital agency the nod and your new world beating website will be given the development go ahead.

But wait!

Are you missing something? Is there something they didn’t tell you?

Open Source software may be “free” as in “given away” but out of the box it needs a ton of work to customise and make it look like the beautiful creation you envisaged it to be.

That Takes Time…And Time Is Money

A typical Magento developer on the top of their game charges out at around $100 per hour. And there’s no advantage in paying out at the cheaper end of the market because at $20 per hour it will take five times as long to get to the finished product.

Hot developers are in demand and do stuff very quickly. In a market where constant change is invariable you need to get to market as fast as possible to start repaying your investors.

When collapsed in 2000, with it went £80m of investors cash. The original dot com bubble claimed many victims and this was one of the most high profile.

Lavish offices and thousands of staff on the payroll meant that the company swallowed four times the original seed fund of $30 million.

They had the right idea but the wrong implementation and we are still learning the lesson today.


Ready, Fire, Aim!

The list of internet businesses that have pivoted from their original idea is eye opening:

Did you know that Twitter began life as “Odeo”?

The idea was to let people subscribe to podcasts but when iTunes got established the founders could see the writing on the wall. Odeo morphed into Twitter. Now it’s worth around $10 Billion.

Facebook started as “Facemash”

A “Hotornot” image comparison website. Now it’s worth over $334 Billion.

Instagram was originally a location service…

Where you shared your pictures and “hung out”. Today’s Value? Around an eye watering $35 Million.

If anyone of these bright ideas had run out of investor cash before they transformed from an ugly duckling then they wouldn’t be around today.

With hundreds of thousands of e-commerce stores all vying for attention your focus should not be on developing a new e-commerce solution that drives the competition into submission.

It should be on using your available resources to develop marketing techniques that outsmart them.

Using Customer Experience Tools

For example User Replay is a service that allows you to replay user sessions on your e-commerce website and identify the reasons for abandoned carts or other event based metrics.

Kana delivers software that enables users to take control of their browsing experience and makes online interactions more effective.

There are many more customer experience tools available to delve into the mind of your buyer and implementing any one of them will put you way ahead of the competitor that chooses to focus most of their energy and resources on developing e-commerce software.

It’s for that reason that online website builders are beginning to be taken seriously.

The combination of a scaleable hosting solution together with proven reliable architecture mean that there is far less risk to take onboard.

Development is quicker and far more cost effective than traditional website building techniques.

There is no point in reinventing the wheel.

Online website builders like Shopify, Bigcommerce, and, more recently, Lemonstand have an approach to e-commerce website development that can give you results far superior to standard digital agency output and at a fraction of the cost.

Here are some of the advantages to be gained by building your next e-commerce store “in the cloud”:

Hosting Scalability

By creating your website using the latest in Content Delivery Networks (CDN) you will be building in a secure and robust environment that will scale as you grow.

There is no need to employ server specialists to monitor your own servers and deal with the endless upgrade cycle of the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) platform. It’s all taken care of for you.

Customisable Templates

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for being afraid of using a mass e-commerce platform is that you’ll end up looking like everyone else.

Most e-commerce providers have around eighty responsive templates for you to choose from and they are all highly customisable using simple website development techniques.

In fact the latest templates from Lemonstand use Open Source libraries that make development of your own custom look and feel a breeze.

Third Party Integration

When online website builders first came to prominence they were clunky and difficult to use.

Now, instead of trying to incorporate every feature into their design they use integration with third party “best of breed” solutions by default.

Now you can integrate your e-commerce solution with Accounting and Salesforce functions or email solutions like Mailchimp and GetResponse.

Low Cost

The monthly fee charged equates to what you would pay for a decent server to host your Open Source solution. What you save by managing it yourself is lost in maintenance and hosting fees.

Giving You Back Your Most Valuable Asset – Time

If you are paying developers to produce a custom e-commerce solution then they are using up your time bank. Time is not infinite. We only have so much of it to use before our work is done.

It’s far more preferable to begin with something that does the job and evolve it as you gain customer feedback. Using customer experience tools will show you where to invest wisely.


Building your e-commerce solution “in the cloud” allows you to take advantage of the very latest in hosting technology and build quickly on “barebones” e-commerce technology.

You don’t need to sink large sums of money into website development to start taking orders quickly freeing up cash to spend on customer experience analysis.


TonyCooperTony Cooper

Tony Cooper has been building e-commerce websites since he first discovered the Internet in 1999 and has worked for several successful internet startups.

Now he runs a website dedicated to e-commerce website builder reviews and associated tools to help the startup entrepreneur.

You’ll find all the information you need to build a successful e-commerce website at

How Your Second Language Can Help You in Business – Trust Me, It’s Not What You Think

Today is a quick and somewhat quirky episode, but it’s a really unique tip I want to share that might help you make better business decisions.

I’m a bit of a Freakonomics addict. While I still run this business, I have also started working as the Director of Entrepreneurship at the Chicago Urban League and I need something to keep me entertained during my commute. That something is usually the Freakonomics podcast.

On a recent episode, they were talking about the value of learning a foreign language so they were discussing some really interesting research that showed that when people think and talk in a non-native language, their emotional connection to whatever they’re thinking or talking about is lessened. So, when people hear the word love in their native language there is a different reaction in the brain than when they hear it in another language, even if they speak that other language excellently. People were also more likely to take calculated risks if they were asked if they wanted to do so in another language – they wouldn’t be as influenced by the typical human fear of loss outweighing potential for gain and were more likely to assess the probability of outcomes and make a decision based on that probability.

So, if thinking and talking in a non-native language makes people less emotional and more able to think clearly and logically, this is an amazing tool for the business world! Whenever you’re having trouble with a decision, think through it in your second language and you’ll be more likely to make a logical decision. I know this sounds silly, but this could be huge! Anything that can help you to avoid psychological traps that can lead to poor decisions – like falling victim to the sunk costs trap or a fear of loss or a fear of missing out – is something that can make a HUGE difference in your success is business. I am going to start trying to think through all of my tough decisions in Spanish instead of English and, hopefully, it will help me make better ones.

Now, if you don’t speak any other languages, this can’t help you. Unless maybe the decision you’re trying to make is whether or not you should learn a second language.

If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, the best thing you can do for yourself is to just get started. Pick up my business planning ebook here to be guided through the whole business planning process for less than $5. More of a video person than a text person? Click here to try my ecourses instead.