TL;DR - This sticker, one of the original set I printed to market Contact eCommerce, looks like hell and likely has had the opposite of my intended effect for the people that have it. It is the perfect illustration of the learning process that comes with starting your own business and you better be prepared to embrace the tough lessons that you will undoubtedly face.
I was trying to come up with a good cover photo for this blog segment about the lessons learned from running this brand new company and idea.
One day I commented to my wife that the sticker I originally printed to promote the company was the perfect illustration of the learning pains one goes through when starting a company.
In short, it looks like hell and likely reflects poorly on me for the few hundred people that already got one. This is a perfect illustration of the entire process I have experienced so far in the two years since forming the LLC.
I have a post upcoming about the challenges of "analysis paralysis" and how easy it is to freeze or embrace inaction because you haven't had a chance to fully digest all the available information. I'll summarize here though and say that you have to dive in at some point and embrace mistakes and learn from experience. They say that experience is the teacher that gives the lesson before the test; I would say then that running your own company is nothing but experience after experience.
This sticker proves that. What a terrible marketing product to have a ratty sticker fade away on whatever people put it on? Even worse, I can't even scrape this sticker off! It is leaving behind faded paper stuck to the Nalgene bottle and generally has just made the bottle look awful. This is probably the exact opposite of what I would have wanted from a marketing material.
Yet it captures who I am and who this company is. We learn from mistakes. Now I know what the "shiny" sticker really was. I didn't buy it because I thought it was some superfluous feature to a cheap sticker and had no idea that the "shiny" part was going to keep the sticker safe through the dishwasher.
I'd love to place part of the blame on the vendor website for not clearly articulating the value of the more expensive shiny sticker but ultimately, everything that this company does or fails to do is my responsibility and that is why I enjoy running it. I bet none of the people out there with a crappy Contact sticker care what my excuse was for buying those stickers. The only thing you can do, and the best thing you can do, is quickly learn, adapt, and move forward.
That is why this ugly sticker is the perfect illustration for running a new company.