Lessons Learned

As we finish up this semester, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the major lessons I’ve learned. Some of them were reminders of things I had known but forgotten, and some of them were completely new skills or ways of thinking. Some were disappointments.

The biggest skill I’ve learned during this semester has been in understanding and using Adwords. Paid advertising is something I’d wanted to get into for a long time, but had always hesitated because I didn’t really know where to start and was afraid of wasting money. If nothing else, I’ve realized that my fear was misplaced, and I’m in a much better frame of mind now to move forward, not just with Adwords, but with other forms of paid advertising such as Facebook Ads. Of course I’m not a pro, but I feel like I’ve been able to get a decent grasp of the basics and have the skills necessary to make better decisions.

Another thing that has been front and center for me during this class has been the need for and importance of having a plan and working that plan. We started off learning about different business models, then brainstorming and researching ideas for businesses we were interested in. As we progressed at every point along the way, we were pushed to make a plan and stick to it, and then evaluate out efforts to see if they’d made an impact on our businesses. I’ve often been guilty of shooting from the hip in businesses, without really having a well thought out plan ahead of time, but I’ve come to appreciate the process of brainstorming, planning, acting, and evaluating.

The biggest mistake I made this semester was picking a topic that I didn’t have an innate interest in. During initial research of the kayak market, the metrics were very promising and it was definitely a niche that could support a new business. However, I was not the right person to start a business in that niche. After working on the site for several weeks, I started to get burned out on creating content. I had very little knowledge of the subject and no real personal interest in it, and so creating content was very time consuming and uncomfortable. I already mentioned this in a previous post, but going forward I will absolutely not start a business unless I have an strong interest in the subject or a lot of personal knowledge about it, or unless I can partner with or hire somebody that has those qualifications.

To sum up my experience in B250, I say that the time taken to think, plan, act, and reflect on building a web business has been time well spent. I’ve enjoyed interacting with others who were going through the process at the same time as me, and I’m taking valuable lessons with me that I think will serve me well.