My Spring

I’ve been busy lately. Check that, we’ve been busy lately.

Here’s what’s been going through my head:

LockerPulse is coming along great. I used some of the advanced features quite a bit this weekend. Then today when I used my Google Reader I actually wished it did some of the things that LockerPulse does. In a lot of ways it felt like a step back. That’s a good sign.

That said, massive web development projects are difficult, especially when mixed with all of the other day to day responsibilities I have within the business. It makes it a little tougher to do things like find time to read at night or write a blog post. I’m not sure if we’ll hit our 5/1 launch date or not, but it really doesn’t matter. We don’t need the money. I just have an internal desire to put out a great product as soon as possible. If it’s not 5/1 it certainly will be soon after. We’re not too far off.

Also, Charlie is on vacation this week, John won’t be back until his semester ends, and Greg just had knee surgery last week and is on the Pure Adapt DL. So there’s been a little extra pressure to pick up the day-to-day slack. Mike will be heading to China for most of June on a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and that’s something we’ve begun planning for too.

Oh, and Detailed Image sales have been through the roof, meaning there has been an overall jump in the amount of warehouse work I’ve been doing anyway.

March will be our second biggest month ever, and I foresee us having our largest month as the Spring time heats up. It’s amazing how fast we’ve grown, and even more amazing considering that we closed down Tastefully Driven, got rid of Amazon, and stopped shipping internationally. Already those decisions are looking like no-brainers.

And that’s when I stop myself and tell myself to relax. Having a growing, profitable business doing something I love doing is pretty much all I’ve ever wanted from my professional career…and I’ve got it. How many people can say that? Sure, during times like these I don’t get quite as much personal time as I’d like, but I know that will change in a few months once our team is back at full strength and the LP development is done.

No sense in stressing myself out about it. Real stress would be working a 60 hour a week job that I hate with no end in sight.

It’s amazing how you can view the same situation in two totally different ways. I’m choosing to look at these next few months as a chance to do some amazing things with our business. I could just as easily look at it as a super stressful time, but that does me no good and sort of sucks all the fun out of it.

14 comments on My Spring

  1. Rob says:

    Congratulations Adam, you truly are living the dream.

    I’ve just done my last client job before Easter and am looking forward to a couple of slower weeks.

    Like you though, it looks like a busy few months ahead – a number of our staff are students and are graduating this year so we’ll need to find replacements, one of our best team-leaders is away for the whole of June visiting Vegas & the west coast and it’s looking like we’re going to be busier than ever in terms of client bookings… Just the way I like it šŸ˜€

    I know it’s totally OT, but cleaning my car today got me thinking:

    How often do you & the team detail your cars?
    Do you trade sports collectables?
    Are there any of your own services that you don’t use?

    –Rob

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Congrats Rob – glad to hear things are going great for your business. Also nice to hear you have a break before Easter. That’s one thing that’s a little harder to do with e-commerce unfortunately.

      Great questions.

      Greg and George still detail their own cars and sometimes friends/family when they find the time. They like trying out the new products we get in, but they do rely heavily on our pro detailers (like Todd who commented below) to also give feedback. A few weeks ago George did a headlight restoration on my Mom’s car and she will be eternally grateful. At night time she could barely see, now they’re like brand new.

      Mike and I use a handful of our detailing products around the house and occasionally on our cars, but otherwise we’re not really into it.

      I am still into the sports collectibles industry in terms of reading blogs and keeping up on the news, but mostly because I think it’s a train wreck and I sort of like watching it fall apart because it all could have been preventable years ago if any of the big companies cared. I personally stopped collecting cards and other things a few years ago, but I still have it all and will probably display some of it down the road when I buy a house. There’s a bit of nostalgia – it reminds me of when I was a kid and collecting those things meant so much to me.

      In terms of our services that I don’t use, I can only think of one – iPrioritize. I use Remember the Milk because it integrates with our Google Apps dashboard and allows for recurring reminders. There are a lot of things I don’t like about it though. Some day I do hope to redo iPrioritize from scratch and build my perfect to-do list tool.

      Otherwise, I have a Music-Alerts feed in my Google Reader that works very well, and I use Z.ips.ME every day to shorten links on the DI Twitter account and on my personal one.

  2. Nice post once again Adam. I especially like your view on the challenges of growing your own (successful) business and the pressures of a new project at hand. There’s a completely different perspective when doing this for yourself than when doing it for somebody else.

    I too am faced with a growing number of hours and responsibilities this spring as business is absolutely exploding right now. I realize that it is all an investment in time for greater things to come.

    -Todd

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Todd – I think you’re the busiest person I know – I’ve never met anyone who does so much. It’s like you have 36 hour days! Your investment in both your detailing business and the Ask a Pro section will definitely pay off. It’s amazing how far you’ve taken the Ask a Pro in just a few short months. I’m always excited to hear about all of the things that George tells me about that you guys are doing. It’s fun to sit back and watch how fast everything has grown and come together.

  3. Rob says:

    Adam –

    Awesome, I’m glad to hear that you continue to use the services you’ve built – I love music-alerts and the wishlist service and think it’s stunning that they weren’t available before!

    You bring up an interesting point about ecommerce making it difficult to take a break – has this been much of a problem so far? I know obviously everyone needs a holiday and people get ill occasionally, but does it bother you that you can’t really have a “guys week away” or similar until further down the line when you’ve got enough staff to make that possible?
    I seem to remember Nev mentioning on his blog about going on vacation and taking the laptop to fulfill orders while he was away – something that can be possible with drop-shipping but is nonetheless a downer when comparing the small business owners’ lifestyle to that of the employed.

    Also, in the post you mentioned that how you spend your time will be changing to compensate for people being away and different projects etc. Obviously we get a very Adam-centric view of PureAdapt by the very nature of this blog (though I did read Greg’s blog when it was around and look through Mike’s when something new comes up) – so we know much more about how you spend your time than how your partners spend theirs. I’m interested to know how you and your partners actually decide how much time to allot to each task/project and how that changes during the peak seasons or when people are away; do some things simply get put on hold, or does everything scale back? Do you each have a 70-20-10 type arrangement for how you break up your time?

    • Adam McFarland says:

      “You bring up an interesting point about ecommerce making it difficult to take a break ā€“ has this been much of a problem so far? ”

      Again, good question Rob šŸ™‚

      For me, it is. I think that will change as we get the right employees in place. Mike going to China for a month is the first extended trip anyone has taken, and will be a good indication of how we handle these things in the future. I certainly want some extended time away myself within the next year.

      The worst for me is Christmas. We’re so worn out from being swamped from Black Friday until 12/24 that I don’t feel like I get to enjoy the holiday as much as I’d like to. I’m so worn out that I feel like sleeping instead of spending time with my girlfriend or family or friends in town for the holiday. For the first 25 years of my life, in school and work, I always had a few weeks time to wind down and relax before the new year. It’s been kind of a shock for me the past few years.

      “Iā€™m interested to know how you and your partners actually decide how much time to allot to each task/project and how that changes during the peak seasons or when people are away; do some things simply get put on hold, or does everything scale back? Do you each have a 70-20-10 type arrangement for how you break up your time?”

      I think we all shoot for something like 70-20-10, but in reality we’re dictated by the day-to-day nature of things and we do a lot of adjusting on the fly, which I’m OK with. We definitely put things on hold when people are sick, away, or we’re in a peak season. First and foremost the priority has to be getting the day to day operations done correctly. Sometimes that’s all I/we have time for. I think getting the right employees will help a lot with this, which we’re in the process of doing.

      Overall I think we are able to spend our time better this year than last because of our part-timers, and hopefully with 1-2 full-timers and a few more part-timers, we’ll get even more freedom/flexibility.

  4. Rob says:

    It sounds like having the employees around makes a huge difference to you, allowing you to focus your time on working “on” the business rather than “in” the business, as Michael Gerber would put it.

    You said a while ago (could have been a few years…) that you had some kind of internal blog/wiki – I guess this helps keep people on the same page when someone’s away and keeps processes going – like if it’s always one person doing the procurement you can carry on doing that in the same fashion without them, is this right? Pity it can’t be done as easily with your programming work as with something like procurement…

    Not having run an e-commerce business (though currently getting one off the ground, and having had our first order before the site’s fully live, woo!), I don’t know what exactly goes on behind the scenes – you said about a 70-20-10 split, but what are everyone’s 70, 20 and 10 actually spent on?

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Yup, I love the Michael Gerber working “in” vs. “on” analogy.

      And yes, we do have an internal blog. The blog is used to communicate day to day things. I usually use it to post minor programming fixes, just so everyone knows about them. Everyone uses it to post about warehouse related things like what we’re out of stock on and what was delivered on any given day.

      Congrats on your first sale! You’ll have to shoot me a link as soon as you release the site to the public šŸ™‚

      The 70/20/10 question is a good one. I think everyone has misc things that they spend their 10% time on, and for the most part I don’t even hear about what they’re working on unless something actually comes of it. For me, LockerPulse started as a 10% site that I was casually researching and then bubbled up to being a more important project. I would say that Z.ips.ME and Music Alerts were also 10% time projects that never really elevated out of that status.

      The 20% stuff is easier to quantify. We all have projects that we’re working on that are definitely in our plans but don’t have a specific release date. I suppose LockerPulse now is in our 20% time, but for Mike and I the time allotment is more like 50%. For a long time, George was putting together the Ask a Pro Detailer blog on Detailed Image. Greg is constantly researching new products for us to pick up.

      I’m never quite sure where to put this blog, or the feeds, magazines, and books I read. I suppose those need their own time allotment…

      I consider the 70% time to be our responsibilities with Detailed Image that keep the business running and growing. Might not always be 70%, but it’s the core stuff that we almost “have to” do. For me that’s the routine technology and programming maintenance and subtle improvements. For Mike it’s planning the sales and designing the newsletters and banners. For Greg it’s answering customer service emails and managing inventory. For George it’s managing our finances and helping Greg with customer service. There’s a little more to it, but those are our basic responsibilities.

  5. tim says:

    I’m really happy to hear that sales are up even though TD, Amazon and International sales have been removed. I know you guys were very cautious when making that decision and while it may seem like the obvious right thing now, it was a well thought out and carefully considered long before you pulled the trigger. Much like most great ideas, they seldom start as such, sometimes they seem unthinkable at first glance.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Thanks Tim. It definitely was carefully considered and wasn’t always the obvious thing to do. We had been mulling over ditching international since the big chargeback in early 2008. We ran the numbers, talked it over, ran some more numbers, and then made a decision. I wasn’t sure if we’d still have growth like this a few months later, but we have. Turns out March ended up our biggest month ever. Even when I wrote this post earlier in the week I didn’t think we’d surpass Nov 2009.

  6. George Dushensky says:

    Just a minor update / followup … March WAS our biggest month ever šŸ™‚

  7. Vicky Spath says:

    Hey Adam, it’s Vicky Greg’s girlfriend. It’s nice to read your blog finally. Greg has always told me to read it but I haven’t had the time. I can’t believe how much Detailed image and Pure adapt have grown since I’ve been dating Greg. When we first met it was just him and George in Greg’s House and it has just BOOMED from there. It is really nice to see all the progress you guys have made as a somewhat “outsider.”
    Well I will be reading your blog and trying to get my own tips for starting my own blog! Hope all is doing well and I have enjoyed reading your posts! Keep up the good work with the business!!!:)
    Vicky

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Thanks Vicky! Good to hear from you. Definitely let me know if there’s anything I can do to help when you decide to get your blog up and running.

      • Vicky Spath says:

        Thanks so much I will definitely let you know if I need any help. Greg and I are going to talk about it later today so I’m sure he can keep you updated as well on my progress I am very excited about this new little project of mine and you are a great example to follow! Hope to see you soon

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