We’re in the midst of a series of interviews with WordPress entrepreneurs, picking their brains and experience for the juiciest bits of wisdom and practical knowledge.
Today we hear from Mario Peshev. He’s the founder and WordPress architect at DevriX. Mario has been building web apps and software solutions for over 10 years. He’s a WordPress core contributor and has created more than 20 WordPress plugins for the community. He also does a lot of teaching and speaking.
Focus is what differentiates an entrepreneur from any of the lost freelancers out there.
Ready to talk serious planning and evaluation? Mario Peshev knows business development and shares his insights.
When things are hard, how do you know when to stick with it and power through and when to call it quits and move on?
In practice, when numbers don’t add up or the planning is incorrect, there are two possible scenarios:
- We are headed in the wrong direction and we need to rapidly switch the process and focus on something else.
- What we do just requires more time to get traction—in order to grow a user base or polish a product—until we find a resolution.
I have a detailed business plan that covers everything we believe in and aim for. That includes:
- Monthly expenses and team availability
- Target audience
- Our service offerings
- Niche opportunities
- Prognosis and planning for our products or service campaigns
We try to set targets for each of our departments and evaluate on a bi-monthly basis. If a service isn’t successful, we evaluate the market—do we put enough effort in marketing or do we offer what our customers need? Is the market over-saturated or are we not promoting our work properly? Is it a slow season that we need to “survive” or we are simply planning for something outside of our abilities?
Based on our detailed plan and what we’ve accomplished so far, we decide whether to abandon our venture or set a milestone that we need to hit in the next two, three or six months before making the final decision.
How do you make more money—what are some lessons you’ve learned that can increase profitability?
We focus on specific niches and target markets that could fully utilize our services. Since our rates are higher than most WordPress development agencies, we have several “customer personas” that we work with and target.
If most of our standard solutions are in the $25,000 to $50,000 range, we need to analyze how to invest our skills in a solution that could generate $500,000 or over a million for our clients over the next year. Working with a mom and pop online shop that brings in $2,000 a month makes it challenging. Even if we triple their sales, they will still only generate $6,000 a month which would result in a less than $50,000 ROI for them in the long run.
Therefore we look for opportunities that allow us to work with the right client profile. Building a platform that generates seven figures a year after we launch is something worth paying for—and this is the type of customers we work with.
Many successful consultants, entrepreneurs and small agencies try to offer services that don’t stand out and differ that much from what is being provided by low-cost agencies and freelancers. Building a product or offering a service requires an in-depth research of the target market and a significant investment in targeting the right people through content marketing, social network campaigns, building freebies or calling prospects. This could be implemented gradually or aggressively, but until you test your business model and establish what your target audience is, it is a terrible investment.
I read a quote recently that states, paraphrased: “Content that focuses on everybody serves no one.” Focus on a given niche, build a product or a service that satisfies a certain group of users, and start selling.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
I’ve got three lessons: Networking, recurring revenue and having a proper business model.
1. Networking Is Vital
Entrepreneurs often get overwhelmed working on what they do best—be it design, development, copywriting—and they often forget that their products will simply collect dust on a shelf unless they sell it.
And “selling” isn’t a one-way process. Reaching out to prospects is essential, but there are so many other ways to grow your network and your business together.
Connect with your competitors. Share business insights, adjust your prices or find new ways to sell your products. You may very well start working together in the long run.
Attend conferences where your clients hang out. Talk to them in person. Send them quick questionnaires in order to get valuable feedback and improve your model. This is a great way to onboard new clients or get referrals.
Talk to influencers. It’s possible that the people you respect and follow online are interested in what you have to say, and they will connect you with other people or even share your story online. Why not get a testimonial from them as well?
Networking will help you sell more, improve your service offering, get more work leads, find potential partners (or even employees), reach out to other markets and put the word out there.
2. Recurring Revenue
There are certain services that simply work, sell a lot and the margin is awesome. But there are often slow seasons, or unpredictable income. Find out different ways to generate recurring income that would stabilize your business and let you grow without causing stress after a month or two with low sales during the summer season or close to holidays.
3. Build a Proper Business Model
I’m not saying that you need a 50-page plan for investors (although you may need one), but you definitely need to validate your offering against what you need to survive or grow your business. List your skills and what you offer. See how much you need to survive (or grow), including all of your additional expenses such as rent, holidays or trips for conferences.
Find out what you need in order to grow and make an incredible product—maybe you need to partner with a designer or a content marketer, or hire one?
A business plan will help you narrow down your target group, aim for a number month after month and take it from there. Focus is what differentiates an entrepreneur from any of the lost freelancers out there. If you spend 50, 60, 80 hours a week in the right direction, business will always grow and you will make the difference that you were looking for.