Lessons from re-launching my business site
A little over a month ago, my new business site went live. This was after 3 years of having nothing on that domain name, and this was one step in a long journey of a thousand steps. I had been freelancing and consulting for a while and being so busy, having my website up was one of those tasks you file under important but not urgent. It was also a task that would demand many hours of my time and require a firm foundation of strategy and intent behind it. It took a while but I finally completed it. I did it! A person like me who is prone to being very productive getting everything else done but what’s actually important to move me forward towards my goals. These are the principles and lessons I learned from this process.
- Long Term Intent
Before I started work on the website, I had to take several steps back to evaluate my business, what I was strong at, what trends I had discovered and what my goals were. I even defined what I want my business to look like in 50 years. This allowed me to work backwards and sketch out the stages I would probably go through to eventually get there. Understanding the bigger picture provides context to the initial goal of getting the website up and helps drive a sense of urgency towards accomplishing this goal.
- Relevance for today
I did not just understand what my big picture goal was and how my initial goal of setting up the website sets me up for that, I also understood what it would do for me today. Getting this done would crystalize my messaging and be an important step in the sales and onboarding function of my business.
There are many things that compete for my attention and time everyday, from client requests, projects and social functions. I ended up committing about 6 months (I thought it would be 2 at first) to getting this done. This meant forgoing 99% of social functions and limiting the amount of client work I took on. I was now my first and most important client. I spent free weekends doing the necessary groundwork for the website.
- Break it up to parts
Because defining my brand and creating the website was going to be quite a long process, I had to break it up to chunks and work through it systematically. I worked on my brand definition and key messaging, then I created the site structure, found a theme I liked, designed the interface using the theme as a framework and my brand definition as a guide, then eventually setting up the site itself. Chunking helped because I always knew where I was and what to do next to move the project forward.
- Stealing time
Like I said earlier, I get busy, and even though I was able to set aside hours at a time or half days or full weekends to really digging into the project, sometimes I would get really busy. But because I had broken the work into chunks and was working systematically, even being able to steal 30 minutes here, an hour there was vital to getting this done. I would take a spare 30 minutes to quickly hash out the content for a section I was working on, or to reevaluate some design decisions. One time, feeling a bit burnt out and vegging out on the couch, I grabbed my notepad and quickly brainstormed ideas for blog posts. If you know what you are doing, chunks of 25-30mins can eventually go a long way. When I eventually sat down to put in a days work on the website, I had ironed out many of the kinks in those time chunks and things went smoother
Working on one thing for months is not easy. There are many temptations to give up and distractions to derail you. You have to persevere.
- The last stretch is the hardest
The final month working on the site to get it live was tough. There was some design fatigue and it just seemed like the work would never end. 90% of the work was done, but the last 10%, fixing errors, putting in the details, seemed to take just as much time. I just had to push. In the first week of 2017, I set a deadline to go live by the end of the week and that’s all I did everyday, sat down and worked on the site until it was done and I hit publish.
Once the website was live and I made final tweaks, sent off the link to a few friends and colleagues to have a look, I went out and grabbed a bottle of champagne and celebrated with my friends. I finally got some real shit done.
So those are the lessons I learned working on this, and I look forward to getting many more crucial things done as I move forward on this journey, creating the company of my dreams. I hope it helps and inspires you to get your important things done too.