I like to read Prototype by Amy Wallace. Her articles appear in the Sunday New York Times. She does a fabulous job of of providing great insights into the nuts and bolts of entrepreneurs and start-ups-kinda like a mini MBA course 😉
Her October 3, 2010 article is called We Got a Mention! Now Let’s Panic. It’s about three entrepreneurs who got a brief mention in O, the Oprah magazine. Their business is called Chocomize, a web based business that lets users create their own chocolate bars from over 100 ingredients. That little mention in O caused their server to crash!! Sweet Jesus, that’s something every entrepreneur hates at the moment but you know sales are going to the moon soon afterwards!
I’m a huge believer in Ready, Shoot, Aim! I’ve seen too many entrepreneurs analyze things to death and don’t ever take the baby steps! However, I’m being a little flip because most entrepreneurs cannot even imagine how a good product with great media exposure will exploit every weakness in your infrastructure. Take a deep breath and know that tomorrow will come.
The boys at Chocomize had your normal issues of not having a dedicated server, no real phone capabilities and lack of employees…a perfect receipe for success. I’ve found that if this does happen to you be honest with your clients. Explain that you got buried with orders and you will keep them in the loop as to when their order will be shipped. If you make this promise you must keep it. People are pretty forgiving and really are very happy for your success and the fact that they are on the inside of a hot new product, so go with it.
Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that when you are swamped with orders you can’t helped but be stressed out. Last year, I hired six sales people to help me get customers for my search engine optimization business. They were so good that in short order we we buried with orders for optimized websites. I needed more coders, graphic artists and support people. It made me be a master of time management and really focus on the management of the business. I had many sleepless nights, but looking back it was a good problem to have and those issues have been resolved.
One other thing that comes to mind about web based businesses is this; build your site and get it hosted before you have every detail nailed down. I say this because it will take a little time before the search engines discover your site and it gets indexed by Google. In the meantime you are doing yourself a favor with the search engines. I recently decided to undertake a joint venture to sell shaving cream and accessories. I got what I felt was a good domain name, Love to Shave and started writing information about shaving cream while I worked out the details of the site. Interestingly enough, the phrase “womens shaving accessories” shows up on the first page of a Google search even though I wasn’t really ready 😉 I would rather have entrepreneurs face this situation than wait an additional six months working on the perfect website.
If you have a great idea I would encourage you to get a great doamin name, get it hosted and wait for Amy Wallace to write about you in the New York Times. Good Luck!!