Friday, December 19, 2008

Using Teamness to sell flower pots

A friend of mine wants to start a business selling flower pots and she asked me how Teamness may be of help.

I came up with a few questions to clarify her needs and I suggested some ways on how to deal with them in Teamness.

Image by cwalker71

How do you intend to sell the pots, online or in classical shops?

I would first like to start on the web, with an online store. Then I intend to collaborate with existing shops, both virtual and "physical", like flower shops, design houses.

The web site will evolve in a project of its own, having a high activity in the requirements phase, development and testing and at a slower pace afterwards, in the maintenance period. So I suggested separating its administration in a separate project called Flower pots website.

The rest of procedures of the startup can be put in a separate project called Flower pots. The name can be changed at any time, but we don't append startup or something similar, since it's highly probable that we'll use this project to track the whole business life span afterward.

What are the initial issues for this business?
  • Perform an analysis of the competition and try to identify niches, finding missing details, like alternative materials for the pots.
  • Build the requirements for a basic e-commerce website. Once having the requirements, I want to contact a few companies that could help with the whole infrastructure (hosting, server, web application etc) so I can move on to the next step.
  • Discuss with potential partners. I think it's easier to not be alone in this journey.
  • Find storage space for the pots and establish initial stock of products.
  • Contact suppliers and discuss the conditions.
  • Contact delivery companies and discuss the conditions.
  • Calculate the initial amount to be invested.
  • Micro-test the product using Google AdWords.
  • Buy ads in related web and paper magazines, like gardening or blogs about flowers.
Every point in this list is a mini-project of its own, therefore I suggested defining milestones for each.

Breaking down these points into sub-tasks offers a clear vision on the roadmap for each of them.

When she has to Perform an analysis of the competition, she needs to know which competitors to follow, hence the first task: Search on Internet and in the gardening magazines and identify 5 top flower pots resellers.

Suddenly, this rather ambiguous job of analyzing the competition has a starting point. List the type of pots they're selling (material, size, model etc) and the prices, could be the subsequent task.

The result of the analysis above goes into separate messages: List of competitors, Possible niches for flower pots, which also lead to further steps in terms of milestone, like Contact 3 flower shops as a client and ask them why they're not selling a certain type of pot.

Who's going to be involved in this and what are the roles?

For starters, me, then my partner and afterward, an accountant who will take care of the legal finance issues.

My partner will take care of the administrative issues, like finding storage space, dealing with the company building the website and the delivery company.

I will be discussing and making the contracts with the suppliers; I'll design the first set of pots and take care of the advertisements. I also intend to outsource the whole process behind the website, including the hosting and the setup.

The partner is not known at this time, so he/she will get an invitation in both the website project and the administrative one at a later time.

The accountant can be welcome in a separate project, dealing with financial data, since it's not necessary to be involved in all aspects of the business, like brainstorming about the types of pots.

Creating more granular projects for different types of activities offers a clearer way of administrating the work done. People from the company involved in the website work don't need to know the data the accountant works with, so separating their work is more helpful in getting a good grasp on each part.

Also, once a project is completed, it can be archived, leaving more room for active ones.

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