Posts

Should you buy a failing ecommerce brand?

Have you been itching to get into ecommerce? Perhaps you’ve watched a slew of training videos. You’re ready to take the plunge.

There are a few ways to get into the ecommerce game. The first option is to get a job in the ecommerce industry, perhaps as an apprentice for a successful entrepreneur.

Another way is to start a business. You could do it as a side-hustle or as a full-time, all-in endeavor.

A third option is to buy an ecommerce business. Many ecommerce companies sell for around three times the annual profit.  A business with $200,000 in annual profit could sell for roughly $600,000, although there are many exceptions.

But what if you have an opportunity to buy a failing ecommerce brand, one with little or no annual profits?

… what if you have an opportunity to buy a failing ecommerce brand?

An opportunity?

A friend came to me recently with an opportunity to buy what he believed was a strong ecommerce brand. But there was one catch: The company had failed. It was not open for business.

He asked me what I thought.

He was clearly excited. He saw a brand with years of Google organic rankings for prime keywords. It had an email list of thousands of customers and prospects and tens of thousands of Facebook and Instagram followers. Supplier relationships were in place.

It seemed like a no brainer.

Have you ever tried to catch a falling knife? That’s a saying from Wall Street. It refers to scenarios that are too good to be true. No matter how attractive the price, some deals are just stinkers.

My friend does not have ecommerce operating experience. Certainly he’s a smart fellow. And he has taken tons of training courses in web marketing and copywriting. But he’s never run an ecommerce business. And no matter how good the metrics seemed, the business he was considering had failed.

Perhaps my friend could make it work. After all, failing brands — such as Brooks Brothers, J.C. Penney — are being purchased this year with hopes of a revival. But the folks snapping up those brands are seasoned operators. Presumably they have a grand plan and know how to execute it.

Falling knives

But if you’re an ecommerce newbie like my friend, I strongly suggest not trying to catch that falling knife, for several reasons.

First, the entrepreneurs behind these brands rarely admit that they failed and, as such, that their brand is not valuable.

For example, a few years ago a strength and conditioning brand failed. I made an offer to buy the remaining assets. The owner had founded the company. My offer was in the range of $100,000. He countered that anything less than $2.5 million was an insult.

I rescinded my offer and wished him the best. He never sold the assets for any price, let alone the $100,00 that I had offered. In hindsight, my offer was too high. I’m glad he rejected it.

Second, the failing company may have an extensive list of customers and social media followers, but do those folks remember the brand? What do they think of it?

Many failing businesses engage in anti-customer behaviors. I’ve seen failing brands sell their lists to spammers, use substandard inventory, disavow warranty coverage, and engage in poor customer service — all to rescue the company.

Third, the brand might have burned suppliers. And suppliers talk to each other. If a supplier gets stiffed, its representatives usually tell others. Thus my friend may think he could resume production quickly. But the reality is he may have to find new suppliers who demand onerous terms.

Think twice

In short, think twice before buying a failing ecommerce brand.

Instead, buy a successful brand. Consider hiring a reputable broker. Conduct due diligence. Many successful entrepreneurs routinely sell strong brands, for valid reasons.

My response to negative Amazon reviews

In last month’s post, I described instances of giving preference to an Amazon customer rather than one from my own site. I hated that. It is one of the reasons I scaled down my Amazon listings.

For me, customer service is paramount. It is one thing an independent retailer can do better than the large box-shifters. But good service is possible only if the business survives, which is typically why merchants migrate to Amazon in one form or the other.

Nonetheless, Amazon has created a platform and promoted it so that consumers think they are Amazon’s customers — marketplace sellers are little more than fulfillment providers. So when they want a repeat purchase, consumers look to Amazon and not the independent sellers. Thus providing good service to Amazon buyers generates loyalty to Amazon, not those sellers. Never forget that. Accept this rule or leave the marketplace.

The 1-percent rule

It’s possible to survive on Amazon with one negative review or negative A-Z claim. But too many will seriously reduce your order volume. In my experience, marketplace sellers should keep the rate of dissatisfied customers to under 1 percent overall. One way of doing this is by having hundreds of orders.

I recently read about some Amazon sellers creating orders and sending free seeds to unsuspecting customers. This generated hundreds of trouble-free orders, which buffeted the retailers’ statistics and prevented problem orders from exceeding 1 percent.

I adopted a similar approach that was just as effective. I used to sell paintbrushes on Amazon that cost less than $1 each for under $2.  The sales generate little profit, but no loss, either. I sold about 100 sets a day, which created a cushion against unreasonable customers.

Thus over the years of trading on Amazon, I played the system within the rules to ensure Amazon’s customers received no better service than my own. Unfortunately, there are only so many cheap fast-selling items, such as paintbrushes. Other sellers eventually copied the idea. Then Amazon itself started selling cheap paintbrushes, undercutting us all. That’s when I began scaling back my Amazon business. I did not want to spend the time locating a similar (cheap) product. But certainly there are plenty of opportunities.

Going forward

The Covid-19 pandemic is accelerating the trend toward ecommerce. Amazon is well suited to take advantage. It’s easy to start selling on Amazon, and it’s easy to understand why consumers are attracted to the company. Many ecommerce businesses will likely need to sell on Amazon and other marketplaces to grow in the next few years.

My advice? Play by Amazon’s rules, provide excellent customer service, and don’t forget your own ecommerce site.

After 20 years of ecommerce, change is the only certainty

Platforms such as Ebay, Amazon, and Etsy have steadily grew in popularity. This screenshot of Amazon's home page is from August 1999. The site sold mostly books then. Source: Wayback Machine.

Platforms such as Ebay, Amazon, and Etsy have steadily grown in popularity. This screenshot of Amazon’s home page is from August 1999. The site sold mostly books then. Source: Wayback Machine.

Designing, building, and launching a website is just the beginning of an ecommerce business. Attracting and converting visitors is the next, all-important step. A website alone does not guarantee anything.

This is where marketing comes in. Consumers need to find your site and, once there, have a reason to buy from you. Traffic from search engines — via organic listings and ads — can help with the former. Other marketing tools include email and ads on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and many other websites.

But the most critical factor in long-term success is the ability to change and adapt. Plan for change from the start. Don’t build an ecommerce site that is difficult (expensive) to alter or redo. It limits your potential.

The Basics

At the basic level, a site needs fresh content — product descriptions, photos, videos, prices — to help visitors make an initial purchase decision and return for more. For some markets, this is easy. Take shaving. Consumers will always need razors. But even razors have innovations and new ideas, such as three blades or five blades or auto-restocks via subscriptions.

Most products have new or upgraded releases and alternative uses. If your site is quick to receive these updates, compose compelling descriptions of why they are better or different or exciting. You have then given shoppers reasons to keep coming back. Some sites do this with blog posts and news articles.

In my business of selling science fiction memorabilia, an individual staff member knew all about new products and could write clever and funny descriptions about them. This made my site stand out and gain more customers. It helps if your ecommerce site can integrate with a publishing platform such as WordPress. (Or perhaps WordPress is also your ecommerce platform via a plugin, such as WooCommerce.)

Evolution

Over time the accepted look and feel of ecommerce sites evolve. What was once a good-looking site can become dated and stale. Visitors need to feel confident that you are a reliable business — their money is safe, and you will deliver what you say. New customers tend to evaluate a site based on its appearance. It’s difficult, however, for an insider to look at a site with fresh eyes, as new a visitor would see it. But it’s essential.

Perhaps your site requires a new template. Maybe the menu structure or navigation needs a revamp. You may need to move to a new platform to keep the site looking modern. These changes are relatively straightforward if you have planned, ensured that the content is portable, and maintained control.

What was once a good looking site can become dated and stale.

Strategic

When I launched in 2000, most online transactions were done from individual websites. All I had to do was make sure that mine was better than my competitors and appeared higher on the search results. In time, however, third-party platforms such as Ebay, Amazon, and Etsy began to dominate.

Thus the final type of change is strategic. Decide whether to list your products on these platforms. The decision is not easy. Do you list all of your products on those channels or just the bestsellers or clearance items? Do you set the same prices across channels or make the items on your own site cheaper? Can you vary prices in this manner without violating the third-party platform’s rules? In the E.U., for example, it is illegal for Amazon to forbid sellers from setting lower prices elsewhere.

Further, listing on third-party platforms creates competition for your own site. But can you afford not to use these platforms?

Consider the risks, too, such as being at the whim of the platform. Initially, Amazon was a small percentage of my sales, but it grew to exceed 75 percent. Staying on Amazon’s good side became vital — even to the point of putting Amazon’s shoppers ahead of those from my own site.

Inevitable Change

The point is that change is inevitable. Any company that does not evolve will surely die. Remember that the purpose of your business is to earn profits. Your website is a tool to make money. Change it or, indeed, move away from it as needed.

9 exercise tips for desk-bound workers

I’ve built an entire company around the idea that stronger people live longer, happier, healthier lives. The science supports this, and it’s commonsense as well.

It’s easier to get stronger, fitter, and healthier than most people think. That’s especially true for desk workers, such as digital marketers and ecommerce merchants.

Here are nine tips for desk-bound personnel to get stronger and healthier.

9 exercise tips

Morning routine. A morning routine can prepare you for a productive day — and a healthy life.

Biking

My morning routine includes biking four miles roundtrip to Starbucks. The trip wakes me up and focuses my thoughts. Plus, biking is a fun, low impact sport.

But it doesn’t have to be biking. Occasionally I’ll walk in the morning as an alternative. Walking is terrific exercise — 10,000 daily steps is a common benchmark.

Regardless, a bike ride, a walk, a run: all are productive ways to start your day.

Small exercise sets. This technique is popularized by Pavel Tsatsouline, a Russian trainer. He calls it “greasing the groove.”

Pull-ups

Do a specific exercise routine in small sets throughout the day to improve and increase your stamina.

A common “greasing the groove” exercise is pull-ups. Install a door-mounted pull-up bar. Every time you pass it, do a few pull-ups. If you’re unable to complete a pull-up, try a “negative” — jump and grab the bar with your chin above it and slowly lower yourself down. Before long, you’ll be doing pull-ups!

Push-upsAnother “greasing the groove” exercise is pushups. Do pushups every hour throughout the workday. The number should be manageable and well below your maximum. Soon you’ll be doing many more.

Work on a skill. A friend has a freakish ability to walk on his hands. Years ago, he decided this was a goal — to walk on his hands. He practiced every day until he could do it very well.

I’m working on the skill of riding a unicycle. I bike dozens of miles a week, but unicycles are difficult for me.

Setting a goal for a new physical skill has many benefits, such as providing certainty in an uncertain time.

Leave your desk hourly. Set a timer to leave your desk and move around for at least a few minutes every hour.

Uninterrupted work drives productivity. But the health benefits of moving around for at least a few minutes every hour are equally compelling. I typically set a timer. Some days I walk a bit. Other days I use a rowing machine in my garage for two minutes. That’s a manageable rowing distance that doesn’t get me too sweaty or out of breath. Afterward, I’m clear-headed and ready to work.

Walk-and-talk. Hold company meetings during a walk or even a ride.

WalkingI’m on many Zoom meetings. But not every meeting requires me to be in front of a computer. For those, I have a 2-mile loop around my neighborhood where I can walk and talk. I plug in my headphones, grab a pocket-sized notepad, and take off. Sometimes, for an added challenge, I’ll wear a weighted vest.

I’ve even conducted meetings while biking. But it’s not the best for safety and common courtesy.

Consider a garage gym. Build a garage gym (or a home gym) or just grab a kettlebell.

Garage gym iconsThis is what Fringe Sport is all about. We are believers in garage gyms. We all tend to use fitness tools more often when they are convenient. Building a complete garage gym is easier and less expensive than you might imagine. But for this article, remember that having the workout gear nearby makes it easier to use.

Get a buddy. Accountability is a motivator to meet your health goals. Consider teaming up with a family member or friend to track each other’s progress and stay on track. Put out a buddy call on your Facebook or Instagram feed.

Get a coach. A coach is like a buddy for hire. Years ago, during the first few years of my strength journey, I coached myself. Once I retained a professional trainer, I made much faster gains and improved my form. Today there are more tools than ever for coaches and clients to interact.

Do something! As we say at Fringe Sport, “We’re all fighting the couch.” Something, anything in the strength and fitness sphere, is better than nothing.

The 3 rules of ecommerce design

My ecommerce website went through many visual changes in the 20 years that I operated it, from 2000 to 2020. Sometimes I retained a designer, and sometimes I did it myself using the ecommerce software I was using at the time. One of the worst designs was by a professional in 2002 who persuaded me that my demographic of science-fiction geeks would love it.

I don’t know what I was thinking. The spaceship icons were on a starfield background (now missing from the Wayback Machine screenshot, below) and blinked when the cursor passed over them. Sales plummeted. We quickly moved on.

This post is the third in a series on starting and growing an ecommerce business, following “Launching an ecommerce business: the first steps” and “Lessons from 20 years of ecommerce.”

Kulture Shock’s ecommerce site in 2002 as archived by Wayback Machine. The starfield background is missing.

The 2002 redesign and other similar processes were fruitful, however, as they taught me three rules about ecommerce design.

3 Design Rules

1. Focus on profits. First, effective web design for ecommerce is not what looks good. It’s what sells. Ecommerce sites can look amazing with all sorts of fancy graphics. None of it matters. What matters is the bottom line.

Consider Amazon. The site has been tested and re-tested. It looks boring and safe. It is not an artistic masterpiece. But it is a ruthlessly efficient selling machine and makes a lot of money.

So never forget that your site is there to sell products. It has to look professional enough to convince visitors to spend money. It has to be simple enough to find things to buy. It has to be easy to use. It’s critical to monitor your sales conversions to ensure that it keeps doing this. On occasion, you may need to change the appearance to keep up with current trends. Let the numbers tell you when to do it.

2. Content is key. The second lesson is the value of good content. An ecommerce platform is a content management system. The products, their descriptions, and pictures are the content, which is the true value of your site. You can change platforms, templates, menus, and categories. But what cannot be easily changed is the content. Good product detail pages can take several hours to create. A site with 1,000 products can be the result of thousands of hours of work.

Always make sure that you can port this content when you move to a new platform. This typically involves exporting the data in a comma-delimited file or similar and then importing it into your new system. Take the time to get this right so you don’t lose this investment.

Another consideration is whether to move customer data — names, addresses, and contact details. This may seem to be vital marketing data, but in my experience it’s not necessarily worth porting. It depends on your business model.

For years I ran an email mailing list in-house. As time grew, it became harder to manage. The essential tasks of updating and maintaining it took much effort. Eventually I moved to an external email service. This meant that key marketing content was stored on a different system and not on the ecommerce platform. Thus the need to port the customer data when switching carts diminished considerably.

3. Control and ownership. The final lesson — control and ownership — is, in many ways, the most important. I always registered my domain names. This ensured that I was the named owner and named admin and named contact. No one could take the domain away or prevent me from using it. I never used the web designer’s registrar.

Thus if I had a dispute with designers or other experts, all I had to do was remove their access. I never had to worry about being held ransom by a third party. Even when I used employees to develop my site and expand its content, I always held the master key.

The Purpose

An ecommerce site should be ever-evolving and relevant. Its content needs periodic refreshing. Old and dead stock should be removed. New stock should be highlighted, giving customers a reason to return — plan for this from the very beginning. But don’t forget that the purpose of the site is to make money, not to win design awards.

Amid Covid-19, it’s time to build

“It’s Time to Build” is a popular blog post by Marc Andreessen, the Internet pioneer and investor. He wrote it in April 2020 at the onset of the worldwide pandemic.

Andreesen believes the pandemic is a failure of all of us to build governmental and commercial solutions to current and future societal needs.

The post is controversial to some. But not to me. Covid-19 is here, and it’s not going away anytime soon. Ecommerce businesses are lucky. Amid the global pandemic, our industry is thriving and pushing forward.

Fringe Sport, my company, exists to improve lives through strength. We do this by helping folks build amazing garage and community gyms. It seems a lot of people want to build a gym in their garage these days, and we are here to assist.

I’ve taken “It’s Time to Build” to heart. Perhaps all of us in ecommerce can focus on it.

What does it mean to build?

With the coronavirus, there is a strong desire to maintain, to wait it out. We must reject that. We must create. We must make things better. We must help people.

Help your customers

The first people to help are customers. Starting in the early days of the pandemic, Fringe Sport experienced a burst in sales. People (customers) were looking for certainty in a time of uncertainty. But for us, this burst of sales strained (or broke) our operations. We had to prioritize what to fix.

First, we focused on being able to ship orders quickly. This was not easy! It meant a lot of work on our processes, procedures, and systems. It also meant hiring more employees. We hired seemingly anyone we could get our hands on. Referrals from employees and friends led to awesome new team members.

Next, we scaled our supply chain. Early on we recognized that the sales burst could continue. We worked with our suppliers to increase deliveries so we could get products to our customers. We were successful, but the process is not complete.

Another bottleneck was customer support. What we thought were infrequent customer service issues became an avalanche. We built out the team, processes, and systems to provide quality support. Our customers are desperate for products to improve their strength, fitness, and mental health during a pandemic. They wanted certainty in a world without it.

Help your employees

I’ve always strived to make Fringe Sport a fantastic place for the right employees. We have a robust benefits package, which we’ve expanded with Covid. We provide masks for every employee. We explain the Covid risks. We encourage them to comply with masks and social distancing, even when they aren’t at work. We also remind them that if Covid affects them or their families, we’ll stand behind them with time off and other resources. We’re looking at adding even more benefits to make Fringe Sport an even better place.

Help your business

Build your business! We’ve long struggled with systems and processes at Fringe Sport. And then Covid hit. It was transforming. We had much less time, yet we were able to move quickly to fix the broken areas. There’s a saying, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.” When we got busy, we got things done!

Help your family

Don’t neglect your family. The pandemic has created uncertainty for everyone — including our families. I mostly work from home now. I’ve assisted my wife and kids to stay safe and feel safe. I’m trying to provide leadership that my family needs.

Help the world

And finally, I’m striving to help the world and my community. There’s now massive global confusion and a lack of leadership. I’m trying to radiate calm and certainty while avoiding political bickering.

In short, I’m here to help. And I’m here to build.

Lessons from 20 years of ecommerce

My first ecommerce site was a supplement to my brick-and-mortar shop in 2000. There was little online competition. Amazon sold only books. Most of my competitors were small independents like me, and it was easy to stand above the crowd. I advertised the site on shopping bags, on leaflets at conventions, and in an occasional magazine.

This post is the second in a series on starting and growing an ecommerce business. The first installment, “Launching an ecommerce business: the first steps,” I published last month.

As my online business grew, I hired a specialist company for search engine optimisation. (Note the spelling of “optimisation.” I deliberately chose a company in the U.K., as my customers were mainly there.) Soon I had doubled and re-doubled my visitors. The company taught me many things — the most important was metrics.

The author's ecommerce site in December 2000. Source: Wayback Machine.

The author’s ecommerce site in December 2000. Source: Wayback Machine.

Learning the Metrics

An ecommerce merchant can gather many numbers about visitors — their behavior, where they land on your site, where they leave, how they search, and so on. A merchant can spend hours looking at this data and tweaking the site.

And I did.

Eventually, however, I concentrated on just two metrics: The number of visitors and orders. I drilled down on the orders to ensure they were profitable. That is the goal, after all: How much profit does the site make?

Over time I moved to pay-per-click advertising using Google AdWords. Metrics became essential, especially the conversion rate, which is the number of orders divided by the number of visitors. If a site has 100 visitors and receives one order, the conversion rate is 1 percent. The cost per 100 visitors must exceed your profit on that order or you are wasting your time.

If the conversion rate exceeds your competitors’, you can pay more for marketing. You could potentially double or triple your conversion rate by, say, improving your descriptions, images, and menu structure, and offering a no-quibble 30-day return policy (as examples). Increasing the conversion rate results in more profit from the same number of visitors.

Discovering Email

An email list drives conversions. Capture the email address of every customer and then offer products based on their interests. Targeted promotions have a much higher conversion rate. Assembling an email list was easy when I started. There was little or no resistance to spam and no regulations. Now, in 2020, merchants must explicitly obtain permission from each customer.

In my experience, the key to successful email marketing is restraint (not sending too often), relevancy, and list hygiene (promptly removing unsubscribes and bounces).

Order Management

As my business grew, a growing proportion of sales came from the website. Online sales were an extension of my physical shop and were easy to manage. As online sales increased, however, the process became more involved. Items sold in quantity on the Internet did not sell in the shop. Products and quantities started to diverge. Buying stock became more complex. The Internet allowed for pre-orders, which helped calculate order quantities. I expanded to eBay and Amazon. eBay was especially good at selling overstocks and collectibles, such as signed books. And sales from Amazon escalated, taking revenue from my own site.

Offering items in more than one place creates stock problems, such as selling a single product simultaneously on, say, Amazon and my own site. Order management is minimal with just one or two orders per day. But it can be a nightmare with many dozens per day. I chose software called Linnworks to manage orders from multiple channels. Linnworks tracked my inventory across all channels and reduced available stock levels as appropriate. It also automated shipping, fulfillment, and customer notifications.

Like many order management platforms, Linnworks includes features that I wished were different. It was cheaper, however, to bend my processes to the software rather than vice versa. I used Linnworks for many years, and it was essential when I began processing more than 100 orders a day. It easily paid for itself. However, Linnworks kept increasing the price. I had to move to a cheaper, less feature-rich alternative.

Payment Processing

There are now many providers that offer services to ecommerce companies. The fees of many of those providers are a percentage of the order value. I avoid these providers as the percentage is typically the same for orders of $1 or $1,000, for example. Why charge so much more for the $1,000 order? It becomes a travesty when the provider’s fee is more than your profit!

The one exception to a fee percentage is credit card processing. The processing companies take a risk, which increases with the order value. Nonetheless, it’s daunting to find an affordable processor that fits your business.

The one exception to a fee percentage is credit card processing.

When I started, I used the credit card machine from my physical shop for online orders. My ecommerce site would send an encrypted email with the card details, and I would type them in on the credit card machine. This was the height of security then. These days it’s laughable.

For many years I used a merchant account for online trading only. I paid set monthly fees for the privilege. I had an annual Payment Card Industry (PCI) scan and audit. I completed PCI compliance forms. I spent thousands on making sure my checkout was both seamless and secure so that shoppers did not abandon their carts.

Eventually, I gave up and switched to PayPal. Customers had to pay via PayPal by leaving my site and then returning to consummate the transaction. I paid a higher fee percentage per transaction, but overall it was cheaper. Surprisingly, my conversion rate increased, not decreased as I thought it would. Apparently my customers preferred PayPal.

If I were starting today I would use just PayPal or another well-accepted payment platform, such as Amazon Pay, Google Pay, Apple Pay, or similar. It avoids the need for PCI compliance and it shifts the security headaches to the experts.

Lessons

What did I learn over the years? Having a quality ecommerce site is essential. It requires excellent content, such as detailed product descriptions and clear pictures. Easy and secure checkout and excellent communication throughout the order process will bring customers back. A decent inventory system is fundamental so that customers are never told that we cannot fulfill their orders. And finally, produce a consistent email newsletter that customers want to receive. These are the foundations of a good ecommerce business.

How I maintain mental and physical health (to grow my business)

Managing a fast-growing ecommerce business is not for the faint of heart.

I’ve picked up a few practices over the last decade to keep my mental and physical health while scaling FringeSport.

Family and friends

The first and most important is my support structure. My wife, my kids, and my family are critical for my mental health. There’s the old saying, “If momma ain’t happy, no one is happy.” I found that to be true: If my wife and children aren’t happy, I’m not very happy at work. Then everyone suffers. Employees don’t get the leadership they need. I don’t perform as I should. It’s all bad.

So, while focusing on my family is the right thing to do, it also helps me become a better entrepreneur.

My friends also provide invaluable support. I need to commiserate with trusted buddies and blow off steam. They understand, to some extent, what I’m going through.

I’m a member of Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a non-profit with a mission to “Engage leading entrepreneurs to learn and grow.” EO has been amazing in creating a support structure of friends and peers.

If my wife and children aren’t happy, I’m not very happy at work.

Negativity

My next weapon is avoiding negativity. I used to think that people who couldn’t accept criticism or bad news were weak. Now I realize that it’s an emotional energy drain.

To be sure, I try to know what people are saying about my company or me. But I don’t take it too seriously. Otherwise, I’ll fixate on the negativity, which impacts my headspace — my productivity, leadership, and even happiness.

I’m now almost pathological about avoiding negativity and negative people.

Physical fitness

My next weapon in maintaining mental health is near and dear to my heart: exercise!

I work out almost every day. Almost every morning. I ride my bike, use my rowing machine, or walk with my wife. It helps me start the day on the right foot (so to speak). I jump out of bed and look forward to the activity.

I also try to log everything that I eat. I’m using an app called Noom. I’ve also used MyFitnessPal.

I tend to eat more mindfully when I record it. Plus, with healthier food and less junk, I tend to have a better headspace and better physical condition.

I also protect my sleep. I do this is with an Oura ring, a sleep and activity tracker on my finger, like a wedding ring. I monitor my sleep with the ring, and I look at the app almost every day.

I try to improve my sleep and make sure that I’m getting enough of it. I used to feel guilty about this. But now I realize that an adequate amount of sleep makes me more productive and more effective at work. Sleep is critical for my mental well-being.

Routine

Another helpful practice is a consistent daily routine. I try to get in a groove and keep it going. When I look at unproductive periods in my life, something had knocked me out of routine.

My routine sets me free.

I’ve recently picked up journaling. Almost every morning I write in my journal. I have just three prompts:

  • What am I grateful for?
  • What would make today great?
  • I am and I can.

Addressing my gratitude and a few tasks to complete keeps me focused.

Another helpful practice is a consistent, daily routine.

Guilt

My final tactic in maintaining mental health has taken me 40 years to learn: releasing guilt. I used to feel guilty about not doing this or that or failing in some manner.

Now I just let it go.

I even journal about my guilt. Sometimes I cup my hands, place the guilt on my hands, and blow on it until the universe takes it.

The long haul

Scaling an ecommerce business is tough work. It’s harder if you don’t take care of your mental and physical well-being.

I’m a human. I hope to perform for the long haul. These days, I think I’m doing all right.