Choosing a Product to Sell

Building e-commerce software means that I see a lot of success stories: people that quit their day job, get their store up and running, and start growing their own business and that’s awesome. Really awesome. But for each success story there’s a story of someone who tried to open a store and it didn’t go well. Maybe they made a product that no one is interested in, maybe their product isn’t different enough from competitors products, or maybe they didn’t take into account item breakage and returns into their pricing.

There are a lot of facets to e-commerce and thinking about your business model before you start thinking about the e-commerce software will help you make sure it really is the right venture for you. By thinking about the different types of products within an industry you should be able to pick the right product for you. We’re all in different situations with different amounts of time, skills, and money to spend so you need to pick the best option for you.

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My Hedgehog Concept

Do you ever notice how you appreciate a gift just a little bit less than if you bought the same thing yourself? If someone gives you a book it might sit on your shelf for a year before you crack it open.

Curtis McHale gave me a copy of Good to Great and it took me a while to get started. I’m only 1/2 way through and it’s awesome. I’m kicking myself for not getting started earlier. The book is about the strategies companies use to become great. There are too many strategies to talk about in this post (go read Curtis’ review for that) so I’m going to highlight my favorite one, The Hedgehog Concept.

The HedgeHog Concept

Imagine you’re given the choice to either be a fox or a hedgehog. Which would you choose?

Foxes are crafty, sly, & fast while hedgehogs are simple and maybe even a bit boring. The fox may think of dozens of ways to try to trick the hedgehog but in the end the hedgehog can always curl up into a little ball surrounded by spikes. Eventually the fox leaves to find other prey and the hedgehog continues on his merry way.

The author, Jim Collins, argues that the leaders of great companies are hedgehogs. They take a complex world and simplify it down to it’s most basic components. Once you figure out what you’re good at (turning into a ball of spikes to protect yourself) do it over and over and over again until you win. Constantly analyzing a complex world to come up with crafty solutions to catch a hedgehog is draining. It’s better to find your hedgehog concept and own it.

How To Find Your Hedgehog Concept

You can’t just find any old idea and expect that to transform your business. You have to pick the right idea. There are three important parts to pick a good hedgehog idea:

  1. What can you be the best at?
  2. How can you make money?
  3. What are you passionate about?

When you find what’s in the center of these three ideas and you keep working at it you’ll find your hedgehog concept.

My Hedgehog Idea

What I can be the best at:

  • Developing plugins for WordPress
  • Writing books on setting up websites
  • Writing articles about useful resources for building sites
  • Helping people setup their own site

How I can make money:

  • Developing plugins for WordPress

What I’m passionate about:

  • Developing plugins for WordPress
  • Writing books on setting up websites
  • Writing articles about useful resources for building sites
  • Speaking about setting up your own website
  • Creating video courses to setup your website

Passion + Money + Expertise

You’ll see that I highlighted developing plugins for WordPress in each of the three categories. That means that if I really wanted to maximize my side business I should focus exclusively on building plugins. It doesn’t mean I can’t refocus later or occasionally experiment outside of that market. But I should focus on building plugins.

Passion + Expertise

Thanks to blogging for the last couple of years I’m decent at technical writing. That means I could write books, or do affiliate marketing on my blog. I actually tried both in the past year and didn’t have amazing results. With affiliate marketing I made almost no money and writing a book is agonizingly slow. I’ve spent the past 5 months writing the book with at least another month in front of me. In that time I could have built plugins that make 10x the revenue I will be generating from this book.

It’s not that affiliate marketing and writing a book won’t make any money it’s that I can write a plugin that makes as much money as the book in 1/10th of the time.


I love public speaking. I’m still not amazing but I’m working on it. It’s something I can continue to explore and who knows maybe I’ll be an amazing speaker that can charge $10,000 per conference. I’m leveling up my skill but the effort I’m putting into it is personal rather than professional. From a business perspective it isn’t worth the time investment.

I love the idea of doing a video course on setting up a website but I haven’t tried it out yet.


In my 2013 review I had two client jobs and they went OK. I’m good at getting the job done but I don’t enjoy the process. I love helping people but the whole deal negotiation process is something I don’t enjoy. I know that are people that have hacked the negotiation process like Curtis and Daniel but I haven’t learned that skill and that kills any motivation to get into that field.

What I’m Going to Do With My Hedgehog Idea

If I were a business I would put my head down and start cranking out plugins.


I’m not a business. I love exploring business ideas on my blog and in my free time but the keyword is free time. In my free time passion rules all. I’m going to keep trying different things in that list even if they don’t make money or even if I don’t do the best job.

I love this hedgehog concept. In the end it’s all about focus. You have to find spend the time and energy to focus on something and then don’t take your eye off of it until you knock it out of the park. I’d rather be the hedgehog that is productive everyday rather than the fox that’s constantly trying to outwit the hedgehog.

Cold Showers and the Power of Challenges

This is the last post in the Blogging for Hippo challenge and I have to admit, I’m happy that it’s done. On one hand blogging challenges give me the opportunity to find my voice, improve my writing, and share my ideas. On the other hand, it’s completely exhausting.

Despite the exhaustion and the huge amount of time I’ve put into this challenge I’m thankful that I did it. It was challenging and that in and of itself makes it worthwhile.

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Make Your Own Luck

Rolling D20 Die

About a month ago I shared a quote from Seneca:

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”

While I love this quote it’s a bit simplistic isn’t it? The problem is that not everyone sees opportunity the same way. Some people choose to see misfortune instead of opportunity, some are too focused to see opportunity, . People create their own luck and there are a few things you can do to improve how “lucky” you are.

Note: none of these involve superstitious beliefs or lucky charms. They both require a shift in how you think about and look at your life.

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Don’t Spam Email Receipts

Running Into A Wall

I’m not the biggest fan of shopping but sometimes I do open up my wallet when I find a WooCommerce store. I know they’re most likely some small mom and pop shop that setup their own e-commerce store and I like to give something back to them.

Just after Thanksgiving I was doing a bit of shopping and stumbled onto one of those stores and bought a small gift for a friend. The weird thing was that I never received any sort of email receipt. I thought maybe something was broken and I wasn’t going to get my order. :(

It wasn’t until days later when I took a look through my spam folder that I found those receipts. It was unusual that they were in there. I’ve ordered from plenty of WooCommerce stores before and never had any of these problems. So what was doing it?

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My Personal Value of Remote Work

Dogs Playing

When I tell people what I do and that I work from home they usually say, “that must be nice”. But they don’t really get it. It’s not nice. It’s not cool. It’s not easy. It’s amazing. Let me tell you the things I can do from home and then how much (in thousands of dollars) working from my own home on my own time means to me.

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Use Git Bisect to Find Bugs in Your Codebase

I’ve spent most of this week talking about business. But today I really wanted to share a cool tool with you. If you’re a fan of using Git on the command line you’ll love this. I’m going to show you how to use git bisect to find bugs. It will help you narrow down when exactly a bug was created.

You’ll find this very helpful when you start working on repositories that have hundreds of contributors (WooCommerce has more than 300!). Many times it’s hard to figure out exactly when a bug was created and with hundreds of commits between releases it’s critical you know how to go through them quickly.

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