Last week we saw the release of new program by Etsy called Pattern. We discussed it a bit in our member forums (go here to view it you're an #ahasmember) and the conclusion for most was that it would not work for them. Which got me thinking that often when something shiny and new comes along it's easy hop aboard the excitement train that everyone has about it (or sometimes, conversely, the negativity train). That should be ignored and instead you have to evaluate it based on the only business that matters-- yours.
Here are four ways to think about tools that are new.
1) Is This Something My Business Will Grow Into?
I would say this is the #1 complaint I have about Pattern. While Shopify or Squarespace or other platforms might feel like they give you more functionality than you need at the moment, your business will one day likely need those services. This can be hard to predict, but it's good to be aware of.
For instance, I started my email service on Mailchimp. It's great and I definitely did grow into a paid plan after starting out free. I joined the paid plan even before my list hit 2,000 (when Mailchimp automatically starts charging) because I wanted features like automation and optimized scheduling. I'm so glad I didn't have to completely abandon the platform.
But now that I am wanting new features for my list, like better segmentation, that Mailchimp does not do well. Everyone has been BUZZING hard about Convertkit's ability to do this. And it was very appealing to me, as well. But for my needs it really fell short, especially as I looked to how I know my business will be growing. I'm now ignoring the buzz and going to start trying Get Response.
Suffice to say, can you predict all of your future needs when you are starting out? No. But don't dismiss features (like say, a blog) as "I am not doing that now, so it's not important to have that" when you hop onto something new.
2) How Does This Affect My Customers?
This even includes potential and current customers. Will this make it easier for them to buy? Will it help me connect with them more? Those two questions are HUGE. Your business is here to make money, which means you should always either be closing a sale or nurturing customers for a new sale. If this new tool doesn't help you do this OR if it hinders this, then really consider if it's something you need to invest in.
3) Is There Any Risk of This Service Going Away?
While I don't think there is a risk of Etsy ever going away (any time soon at least!), their M.O. for the last year or so is to throw new programs at the wall to see if they stick (anyone remember their crowdfunding platform? their program to create more licensing deals between big brands and makers?). Which means, if Pattern does not get enough traction, they are going to pull the plug on it (or at the very least stop investing in it).
This is a huge thing when dealing with tech-related products. New companies can sound so cool, but being an early adopter can sometimes backfire. But that's not to say don't take the risk-- if it's calculated. For instance, building a website around an entirely new platform is risky, but maybe using a new social media scheduler is less risky (since you know, you can still make sales in your business even if your social media slows it roll for a bit).
4) What Problem Does This Solve for My Business? Does It Solve It The Best?
I will go back to my example of Mailchimp, ConverKit and Get Response. All of these platforms have very similar functionality-- sending emails (as well as a few other things)! When I really started to feel like Mailchimp and I were battling too much with lists, it was very easy to feel like going to ConvertKit to solve my problem and I should jump ship. And it would solve that problem, but as I looked it also created other problems that essentially made it a lateral move. As I have looked at Get Response, not only does it seem to solve the problem I was getting frustrated about, but it also has other features I was looking for elsewhere (like webinar capability!). So, I am very glad that I was not quick to just jump to the first platform that would solve the problem that was annoying me most because that problem would not have been solved the best by them.
I'd love to know-- how do you evaluate if something new is right for you business? Let me know in the comments below!
p.s. For more detailed evaluation about Pattern, #ahasmember Danielle of The Merriweather Council did a great post on it that you can read here.