Small business and startup issues: choosing the wrong software Ross | November 30th, 2010

More than ever, small businesses and startups must execute and bring their software-based products or services to market quickly. As Groupon has demonstrated, there is often (but not always) a huge first-to-market advantage.

One risk of moving fast involves selecting software technologies that allow you to bring your products/services to market quickly, but that ultimately may not easily scale to accomodate increasing traffic.

Of course, you always should strive to pick the best technologies. But what if you make a mistake? What should you do if the software technology you pick doesn’t work for you later on?

We struggled with this issue at crowdSPRING in 2009 and completely refactored 100% of our code by the end of 2009, moving from PHP to Python. It was not a fun process.

I hope you never have to go through anything remotely similar. But if you find yourself in a situation similar to ours – here are five suggestions for what you should do when you find that your existing technology just isn’t good enough.

Do you have other suggestions, based on your experience?

Need something designed? Name your price. Pick from 110+ entries. Love it or your money back.

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  • Bowerock

    Our company has been around a long, long time, but earlier this year we started a complete restart of our retail website, and emarketing plan. We’re always taught to fail early, and recognize that failure.

    Oh we failed early alright. We built our website on WordPress, which was fine. Unfortunately, our boss chose a free shopping software that wasn’t robust enough to handle our needs, on top of that there was zero customer support.

    When starting something new, we should always keep in mind that there will be unforeseen problems, and need someone to turn to. Because of our need to cut corners, our website is only producing about 10% of the transactions it could be. (This being based on how many people get to the final checkout area, and are then turned away from a dysfunctional shopping cart).

    We are now switching to a new, full-featured, shopping cart, but this ordeal has been increasingly frustrating and has started to wear down on everyone involved.

    Lessons: know what you need, don’t settle for less. Pay pennies, get peanuts.

  • http://twitter.com/rosskimbarovsky Ross Kimbarovsky

    Thanks for sharing that story. Shopping cart problems are tough and obviously impact you in your most strategic area. Glad to hear you’re making a move to a full-featured cart – good luck!

  • Tracie

    I have a wordpress site linked with paypal, and I just link services/products right to code from a paypal button and it works great. Here is what I want to know..how do you know if transactions aren’t successful? Do you just assume with low volume the cart is faulty or are customers telling you? Just curious… thanks..

  • http://twitter.com/rosskimbarovsky Ross Kimbarovsky

    Tracie – ideally, you’d hear from customers. But here’s a tip: whenever we adjust our software code dealing with payment, we always conduct one or two LIVE tests with our own credit cards to make sure that payment is working correctly. We’re able to reverse those payments quickly so there’s no cost at all to us (check PayPal – you also may be able to do so). But even if we were not able to reverse and had to pay a few dollars in credit card fees, we would still test this way because it gives you piece of mind and ensures that you won’t lose sales because your cart isn’t working.

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