The Hard Thing About Hard Things

The Hard Thing About Hard Things

The good times

In this post, I’m going to talk about the hard times and what we are doing to try to recover and keep moving forward. LightSpeed has had an exciting journey and many good times since I launched the company in 2003. 

In 2014, I decided that our team should start working remotely. Everyone supported the change wholeheartedly, mostly because they didn’t need to spend wasted time in peak hour traffic any more, but it still took quite a while for the team to get used to it.

We have tried many different online work management processes, checklists and tools over the years, and we have never stopped learning. Systems that we put in place worked well during one quarter, but weren’t effective in the next quarter. We have now more or less defined our preferred set of remote-working processes and tools, and our team is fully onboard with how they are expected to work.

LightSpeed was selected by WooCommerce to join the WooCommerce Expert Program in 2015. As a result of becoming a WooExpert, Mailchimp invited us to join their partner program.

Being listed as an expert on both of these outstanding platforms has given us great deal of credibility over the past 5 years.

Our technology partnership with together with our own in-house developed open source Tour Operator plugin helped grow an international customer base of Tour Operator companies. 

The combination of releasing our software for free and our technology partnerships have facilitated the best 5 years LightSpeed has ever seen.

The hard thing about hard things

To say that 2020 has been a challenging 8 months for all of us would be the understatement of the year. No one could have predicted just how much of an impact the pandemic that is still raging worldwide would have on us, both personally and professionally. I would say that 2020 qualifies as “hard times” for everyone in some way or another.

When the pandemic started to surface in South Africa in early March, I was contacted by an old school friend of mine who is an experienced chartered accountant. After auditing our financials, he made some tough recommendations that were difficult for me to process, but his advice helped me to start putting plans in place to mitigate financial losses wherever possible.

During my discussions with Joey, he recommended I listen to an audiobook called The Hard Thing About Hard Things. This audiobook had a profound effect on me and, along with Joey’s advice, made me realise that we had to face facts and start preparing for the worst.

Reflecting on lessons learned

At the start of 2019, our website was performing well in search results. This resulted in us receiving quality new leads on a daily basis, but it also meant we were receiving lots of spam via our website forms. The success of my business strategy at that time allowed us to pick clients with projects that best fitted our solutions and skills. As a result, we decided to simplify our website by removing most of our services & packages pages so that we could focus on our  WooCommerce Stores, Tour Operators & Mailchimp services.

We neglected to monitor the effects of these changes on our website because we were too busy on client projects for the rest of the year. As the new decade dawned and the fallout of the pandemic started to have such a profound effect on the business world, I realised just how poorly our website was performing in search rankings. By not paying enough attention to our own website, we had caused such a negative impact on our sales pipeline that we were getting practically no organic search traffic that had converted to leads. 

SEO audit of our own website

Improving our website rankings was a daunting task that could not be solved overnight. Here are the steps I took to get us back on track:

These SEO tools helped me to decide what site structure changes are needed, set out a keyword strategy, create an internal and external linking strategy, and also figure out what cornerstone content I need to generate.

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