"Business Devt" Category

Current State of Business

2009 Apr 19   category: Business Devt   author:  

The ideas outlined in this post are prompted by commonly heard question these days: “How is your business weathering the current economic downturn?”. The first thing to state definitively is that FlagAndMap is not in danger of going out of business. FlagAndMap is still in an early development stage where growth is more important than profitability and modest long term investment ensures that the business does not encounter cash flow problems. For us the question is really about the impact of the current economic conditions on our rate of growth.

In fact, we have seen growth remain steady over the last six months, when correcting for year-end seasonal effects. Our stretch goal is for the number of customers and our revenue to grow by 50% year on year. In broad terms we are still achieving this despite the economic gloom.

In fact for an enterprise like ours it would probably be a mistake to use a recession as an excuse to relax growth goals. Companies in an early stage of growth are either riding the wave of an emerging market or, like us, trying to break into an established market by capturing market share. In the latter case unless the market has been catastrophically affected by the downturn (think car industry) the growth of a newer company based on market share capture should not be severely hampered. It may even be helped. Established players may be suffering – cutting costs to remain profitable, shedding resources due to overcapacity and struggling with cash flow issues. Newer ventures on the other hand may have none of these challenges – they are not currently expecting to be profitable, capacity has probably always lagged demand and long term investment for growth ensures that cash is on hand.

Of course FlagAndMap is a modest enterprise in comparison with some but the above considerations should be equally valid. We are therefore not intending to use the current recession as an excuse to relax our goals. Fortunately, so far this year we are not failing to achieve them and who knows, perhaps as the economy emerges from recession we may enjoy an unplanned boost.

Flagandmap.com Business Startup

2008 May 04   category: Business Devt   author:  

So how did flagandmap.com business concept begin?  Well it really didn’t begin as either a business or a concept.  Instead it slowly evolved from a rather more limited activity.

It began with a rare concurrence - time away from corporate servility and sufficient funds to pursue some personal interests.  It began with a casual attempt to see if artwork could be created and sold online.  And it really began after a drift away from ‘artwork’ and the discovery of something that did sell.  (Yes, you will notice that flagandmap designs aren’t especially ‘artistic’ – yet!).

As soon as the relative popularity of flagandmap designs became clear, all efforts were focused on creating a comprehensive range of designs on a number of products – a goal that has yet to be fully met.  For a long time this was being accomplished solely by means of a gallery/store on the Zazzle site (www.zazzle.com).  Only later, after appreciable progress toward this primary goal, was effort devoted to the development of a decent flagandmap website (www.flagandmap.com) and were funds applied to internet marketing.  Only now are we ready to start the blog that you are now reading.

So the above approach was to start small, to test the waters with a number of ideas and then run with the one that seemed to be the most promising.  Even at that point investment was modest and growth of the business continues to be gradual.  We suggest that this approach is sensible if resources are limited and the opportunity being addressed can be divided up between many smaller operators.  Clearly this approach won’t work if the intention is to set up something like ’ebay.com’ where most of the opportunity is captured by an early and aggressive entrant.  Nevertheless, there are many smaller internet business, such as those operating through ebay,  where the lessons learned here might be applicable.

Perhaps you have a comparable or contrasting experience with a similar kind of internet based venture - it would be great to hear from you.  Please feel free to add a comment.

Welcome to the FlagAndMap Weblog

2008 May 04   category: Business Devt   author:  

Finally the website has a voice!  We’ve been selling products for some years now and the website (www.flagandmap.com/) has steadily been gaining functionality but it required a little extra learning to create a blog design that matched the appearance of the website*.  We hope you approve and will visit now and again to see what we have to say and add your thoughts too.

Blog topics will include development of a small internet based business, news updates on the FlagAndMap business and occasional observations on our global marketplace.

* Thanks to WordPress (www.wordpress.org) whose excellent open source software makes this customized blog design possible.