Happy Small Business Saturday everyone!
As the editor of this cycling blog and the owner of BikeShopHub.com, I generally find myself as deep in the weeds of small business as I am in immersed in the world of cycling. And I’m often tempted to write about my various small business trials and tribulations here at this blog. Most of the time, I manage to keep my business musings in check in favor of keeping this blog focused on what people are here for, cycling insights and knowledge. However, today is Small Business Saturday, so I hope you won’t mind indulging me as I take this opportunity to talk about this small business.
BikeShopHub.com turned 10 years old this year. But I wasn’t very inspired to celebrate being that we are in the middle of one of our toughest years. The short and sweet of it is that our website is becoming very out-of-date. Over the last three years we’ve been spending a very significant amount of time and money on fixing this problem.
The results of an out-of-date website and spending probably way too much money on website development with nothing yet to show for it, has been that our sales have been dropping off significantly since our high-water mark in 2014. Other factors have contributed to our sales decline as well. The biggest factor was that, at the start of 2015, the ending of our three-year-long clearance of Chariot branded bike child trailers, connected to Chariot being purchased by Thule in 2012. A dip in the overall cycling market, low gas prices and the high value of the dollar have added to our decline in sales as well.
But, like I said, the biggest factor has simply been that our website is way behind the times. But there is hope yet! We are achingly close to finally releasing our new website. In fact at the moment, we are in testing mode, sending limited amounts of our web traffic to the new version of the site.
Fixing up our new site has been a very trying experience. I don’t want try to tell the whole story because accountability on a project of this magnitude is a messy and confusing thing to throw around, and at the end of the day, I stand in the middle of all of it. What I can say is that to help see my way through this, I really had to dig in deep and expand my knowledge of eCommerce and web development. The most important key to me figuring this out, was spending a year knuckling down and becoming a beginner web developer. In doing this I gained the critical skills that I needed to understand why it was so challenging to get the results I needed from the web developers I’ve been working with. On the eCommerce side, I’ll give a shout out to eCommerce Fuel, which has been an incredibly helpful community as I’ve waded my way through.
As part of my learning process, I decided to work on a learning project. I launched a new eCommerce business, LocalBasket.com. And yes its a real, live business now. You can go there and check out our gift baskets of awesome sweet and spicy treats, most of which are made locally here in Tucson.
Launching this new website on my own, was an incredibly helpful way for me, as the owner of an eCommerce business, to really get a much more solid grasp of all of the technology pieces that must come together. Now and moving forward, I’m certain that I will be much better at making strategic decisions for BikeShopHub.com’s website needs.
Beyond serving as a learning project, we did have some bigger ideas for LocalBasket.com:
#1 it is a business that can do well even as the cycling season slows down.
#2 it is a business that my wife Melanie is very interested and wants to help develop.
#3 it might just be a great business opportunity.
Those things said, our strategy is to gradually launch LocalBasket.com, putting in a low-key, casual marketing effort. Marketing a new business effectively is a full-time effort. Right now I really need to be putting 99% of my focus on getting BikeShopHub.com back on track with the launch of our new website.
If you’ve read this far, you’re likely interested in the trials and tribulations of running a small business or in this particular case a small, niche-focused, eCommerce business. So thank you for listening to our ever evolving story as a business.
And finally being that its Small Business Saturday and all, I’ll appeal to your small business supporting sensibilities and ask you to consider sending a little business our way. At BikeShopHub.com, we have our best sales of the year going on right now.
Or if you’re not in need of any cycling gear at the moment, now you can support us with a purchase at LocalBasket.com!