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Why I’m Doing the Shopify “Build-A-Business” Competition

07.10.2012, Business, Tech, by .

I signed up with Shopify today to enter their Build-A-Business competition.

Why Not?

The first reason is because… why not?  Looking at the Shopify Pricing Page the lowest level store is only $29/month + a 2% transaction fee.  This means that even if I sold $0 in products between now and the end of the competition, I will have lost at most $210.  Even a store that is for the most part a failure should net more than $200 in income over the next 7 months.  In addition the signup and administration process through Shopify has basically zero friction.  I’ve setup and tested Magento before for someone else and while it gets the job done, the experience was a little painful (even for a developer).  I also found Magento to be quite bloated and slow.


I’ve spent a decent amount of time learning and testing how to sell ideas using various marketing channels, but I’ve never actually testing selling a product.  I want to add value to the world, through my blog and other ventures, and what better way to do so than through things that I have not yet done.  Selling products is definitely something where I am not an experienced veteran so participating in this promotion should give me a better understanding of the business world, while helping me appeal to a wider audience.

Access to a Mentor

I’ve read books by two of the four mentors.  Tim Ferris, best known for his book “The 4-Hour Workweek” and his blog, is a self-promotion legend who was able to turn a little snake-oil into a multi-million dollar business.  He then followed that up with a NYTimes Best Seller and was voted Wired magazine’s Greatest Self-Promoter of All Time in 2008.  In other words, Tim knows how to do a lot with a little.  I considered entering this just based on the fact that I think Tim would be an interesting person to interact with though, if you have read one of this books then you know that, it’s likely you’ll just end up interacting with one of his outsourced virtual assistants.  The person I ended up picking is more of an up-and-coming star in the startup/entrepreneurial world.  Since releasing his book “The Lean Startup” last fall Eric Ries has become a bit of a thought leader in the realm of “how to run your early stage startup”.  The methodology he developed, as the CTO of a small virtual-world avatar-based startup, is simple: prototype ideas, test, gather data, make informed decisions, prototype ideas, test, gather data, make informed decisions, lather, rinse, repeat.  In addition you need to track certain derivative metrics that are a better at indicating the relative health of the company, and pivot when you are not making a positive enough affect on those metrics.  What I’m hoping to get from Eric is some specific suggestions on how best to set up my analytics.  FYI, I own and have read have both of these books cover to cover.  If you haven’t read them–you should.  Eric’s book gets a little repetitive toward the end, and Tim’s book is 10% crap.  But neither of those things detract enough to make them not worth owning.  Actually come to think of it, these are the only two books that I’ve bought in both audible and printed text format.

E-commerce Can (eventually) Be Put On Autopilot

Like everyone else, I’m busy.  E-commerce does take work to setup, but after the initial setup it is as easy of a business as there is to put on auto-pilot.  Yes, the margins might not be quite as high as some other ways of making money, but the hourly pay rate can be as good as it gets.  When you have many other projects going on, income streams that are more or less able to be put on auto-pilot are a nice thing to have.

Additional Exposure

An e-commerce store is yet another place to get myself some exposure and refer traffic to my blog.  I haven’t quite come up with the precise specs for how I will do this, but owning another online property certainly can’t hurt in that respect.

I Might Just Win

Given the number of entries in past competitions, it’s a long shot.  But I might just win.  Ohh, and signing up gets you $100 in free adwords, and $100 in free mail chimp.   Plus they throw in a free $12.99 domain which brings the total promotional value to just over that aforementioned $210.

One Response to Why I’m Doing the Shopify “Build-A-Business” Competition

  1. Pingback: The Basics of Retail and Starting an E-Commerce Site | Forever Learning

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