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The Story of A Small Business Fail

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Around 2007 or 8 I realized that the store I was using (Miva) was not going to be able to support my online business as it just didn't scale very well. I was growing so fast. Business had quadrupled in one year. We looked all around into various solutions and companies to work with to make my website thrive. On the recommendation of a friend we went with https://www.itpdx.com to redo the backend of our website. It was all downhill from there.

I didn't do my research and depended heavily on what the professional told me. ItPDX advised me to move to Magento for its scalability and robustness. ItPDX was supposed to build out a custom module and an incredible (tremendous) new store in Magneto. The transition was going to be smooth with these professionals, right? We sat down and I went over what I wanted. I thought we were on the same page but the solutions weren't coming the way I had specified. Very basic usability issues. The project kept going over budget. As it continued, it began to dawn on me that perhaps Brad, the owner, was not able to convey my specifications to his developers or he didn't have a solid team of developers behind him.

The professionals also failed to work into my new site a solid redirect plan. It was never even mentioned except for them to reassure me that after a couple of weeks, google would index my new site and I'd be back. So after launching the new site my business began to plummet. I began doing research and discovered it was due to losing all my juice. Because there was no plan in place for site redirects it was impossible to write code to automate them. I began the formidable task of manually redirecting over 15k urls. My rank dropped from #1 to #3 and then to the 3 or 4th page. With the flood of new competitors on the market with cool baby clothes I never regained my position.

As time went on I had to let my two long term employees go until it was just me managing a beast of a store. For anyone who has worked in Magento you know what I speak of. I hired developers online through odesk.com. I worked with Marcin in Romania for over 4 years.

After he moved on I went through a series of other developers. The problem was because I didn't understand how Magento was set up, I didn't have much say in the solutions various contractors came up with and on odesk, contractors are often just trying to find the quickest solution to your one issue. It continued to cause more damage to my website but after a certain point it was so dead it didn't seem to really matter. Plus, I had two kids, was playing music, writing, painting. It all got away from me and didn't seem a worthwhile endeavor to continue working on.

But, my guy, a Microsoft developer, finally talked me into redoing my store myself and learning how it actually worked. I decided to jump to Magento 2.1 as I was going to be attempting to learn the entire file structure, css, javascript, ssh, php anyway.

It's been an interesting journey thus far as a lot of my time has been finding workarounds to the bugs in Magento 2 and I am so grateful to the online community at stackexchange and github.  Anyway, the end result will be a very simple store with no customization and very few bells and whistles. Over time I will be adding in new features like my products, gift wrapping, my blog.

But, I am also excited as it has pushed me delve into coding which is so very far removed from making t-shirts. I hope you all stick with me through this journey.

Hopefully this story ends well.

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