We’ve been working hard; it’s tough to manage a growing internet startup!
Ups and downs and lateral motion provides enough movement to make one sea sick. But it’s been a thrilling ride.
The 8BIT Network is now officially 1 month old (and some change). We’ve experienced some tremendous growth. Here’s a look at what the first month looked like, how we’re doing and where we’re going.
Ready for an inside look?
Traffic and 100,000 PVs
It’s been unbelievable.
Every property has essentially hit the 10k pageview mark (and then some). ChurchCreate came in first with nearly 15k while ChurchIT just barely broke the mark, coming in second place, and then ChurchDrop.
But the big kahuna, this blog here (ChurchCrunch), has broken the 50k mark, which for many blogs is a big ceiling to break through.
In total? We’re looking literally just south of at more than (re-calculated!) 100,000 pageviews a month across the entire network (including 8BIT.io); can you believe that? I literally sat back in my chair for a moment; shocked. God is moving, seriously.
In the last month I’ve expanded my team from literally 1 person (me) to about 6. This, in and of itself, is amazing to me. God has placed the right people in my life for me to easily ask them to join and partner with me in this unbelievable endeavor, and although we had a little hiccup with the coming and going of our Marketing Director, we’re looking to fill that position again and we will continue to grow strong.
Honestly, it’s just tough bringing such high-caliber and entrepreneurial people on board because they have opportunities all over the place to do great things; 8BIT is just one of them.
And I’d have it no other way when it comes to building my team. I want to work with the best and the brightest. I also want to create a culture of balance and of value toward everything that’s not 8BIT. For example, we’re investing in ourselves as individuals and as a team: Weekly meetings, 1 on 1′s, and going through a book together is just the beginning.
Ultimately, I want the culture of The 8BIT Network to be world class. If I can make it the best place to work then I will, and that takes a lot of intentionality and hard work.
Building Trust, Delegation
For me personally I find it hard to trust people. Finding the right people is one thing but then giving them the authority to manage entire properties and trusting them to do it with excellence is tough for me.
Building trust is hard work, takes time, and a lot of faith. The emotional investment is intense! But I’ve found a good group of guys and we’re continuing to move forward.
Delegation, especially, is tough work. There is no one more passionate about this than I, which makes sense because it’s my baby. But I know that these guys are all-in and have bought into the vision that I’ve cast. The tough part is delegating responsibilities and having the courage to let go of things that I’ve always controlled.
I’m not the easiest boss to work for but I’ll take a bullet for you when it’s all said and done.
Building a Business, One Product at a Time
Here’s the biggest secret which isn’t really a secret to an online business: Diversification.
A successful business within the online space requires that you engage in multiple avenues of income; it’s a tough thing to manage at times but is required for sustainability. A one-trick pony is just tough to grow and unless you have a killer, one-of-a-kind product, then you need to diversify.
It’s also just more safe.
So we’ve launched the first of many roadmapped products: The Standard Theme WordPress Theme.
This was an obvious first jump because we built our entire network off the core code. Packaging it up was just plain obvious and building a product line around it was strategic.
As I’ve said before, this is the first product that we’ve planned and we’re excited to release more as the business grows. We’ve got tons of ideas and only a little time to execute.
Focus and Boundaries
I’ve totally ripped and stolen a page out of this guy‘s notebook when it comes to hiring and managing people. Andy Stanley is my personal hero and one of the most legit and capable leaders I’ve ever met.
One of his decisions years ago was to hire people into their core competencies. I’ve done the same thing, except for myself. It was the latter part that I’ve had to backtrack and finally come to terms with.
I managed myself into a generalist spot which is ok to a certain degree but not sustainable long term. Yes, this is a startup and we’re all “generalists” to a degree, but that’s not where I wanted the business to head. So, I asked myself the hard and tough question of where I fit in the organization and what I should be concentrating on the most.
The answer was obvious: Writing.
There’s no one within my organization that can do this nearly as effectively, efficiently, or as well as me. This is not an ego-boost or play but a simple and undeniable truth. And, the fact is that I hired to fill out the areas of weakness and the things that I sucked at. I did that purposefully! So what in the world was I doing trying to put myself into a role of manager-of-many?
So what we’re doing as an organization is shifting again and re-aligning ourselves to give me more freedom and time to just writing, managing and curating the blogs, and leave the rest up to my growing team. It’s tough and hard work to give up responsibilities which is odd because it is so beneficial!
Just my control-freak nature I suppose.
Leadership Through Culture Development
I’m not a great leader.
In fact, I’m all over the place. Ask anyone on my team and they’ll tell you that I’m bi-polar. I’m not a very good visioncaster and I don’t really have many explicit goals. But, what I can do in the little ways I try to do.
I’ve always wanted to run and operate a “spiritual” business. As Founder I get to craft that culture. I get to require that our team invests in other things and each other. I get to require that we pray before and after each meeting.
I love that.
Sure, I can coach, mentor, and train people, but that’s not necessarily my strong suit. But I can lead spiritually and trust (and hire) the right people to do the things that they need to do with excellence. It makes my job easier but the reward is too great to pass up.
Heads Down, Faith Up
Building a business requires a lot of work.
And one of the things I’ve encouraged our team to do is to keep our heads down and continuing to do good work. We’ve received our fair share already of “healthy” skepticism and negativity but we’re not letting that distract us.
What it has forced us to do is trust God even more for the outcomes.
And let’s be honest: What we’re doing has never been done before. We’re trailblazing and pioneering; it’s an unbelievable feeling. As a result, we don’t have much to compare ourselves to or with (but trust me when I say that we’re doing competitive research all the time) and this has been a healthy thing for us.
Sure, it’s also challenging because we want to stay humble and focused. Our “competition” is an internal one focusing on being more excellent tomorrow than we were today.
We’re excited because the future is unknown. We just want to ensure that we’re doing our best work day in and day out and that we can stand before God and hear the awesome words,
Well done, good and faithful servant.
That’s our goal.
Sounds Cool? Join Us.
We’re growing. It’s awesome, scary, and exceptionally fun.
We love our community and we’re going to be asking even more of you (and some of you specifically) in the coming months. We’ll be expanding out our Community Managers and also looking for specific direct roles like the Dir. of Awesomeness.
But please note that this is a startup. We all have Full Time jobs elsewhere. In fact, that’s what is so amazing, that God would bless this little business based on an extremely limited amount of time from a very few number of individuals.
In fact, none of my team is pulling a paycheck, and everything that we’re currently making is going back into the business to help us stay afloat.
Their payment, if anything, is being a part of something exceptionally unique with the hope of growing into something more “typical” long term. But who knows. Perhaps it’s foolishness or maybe it’s faith.
Love you guys. Love this community. Praying for big things every single day.