a story of failure
(4 min read)
Do you know why some companies' websites make them millions in sales and others just… don't?
My name's Leon, the designer behind Stakra, and I want to share with you how I found out why some websites work and others never will.
But first, let me tell you how being a lousy designer helped me grow my business.
Being a freelance Web Designer was very difficult when I was younger; I struggled but eventually earned an okay amount each month. However, I felt as though I had hit a glass ceiling.
I was never going to be able to go on holiday twice a year, get the car and build the house I've always wanted on these amounts.
So at the time, I assumed that I was never destined to be in this line of work. But I thought to myself "...I could possibly put my skills to better use in developing another company in a different industry."
My friend, Dave, and I always fantasised about building a business together. We were worlds apart, though. He was a self-employed Electrician. I was a Web Designer and Marketer.
So after a lot of conversations, we agreed that we could combine our skills to build an electrical contracting firm to bid on the big projects. Before any of that could happen, David said, "You need to spend time on the tools to understand the industry, first though". I remember being excited and thinking, "it's not what I had in mind, but I love learning new things, so…".
I quit freelancing and teamed up with Dave, but the problem was we were a few months in without any decent work and relying on a personal loan. We were spending a lot of money each month on advertising, and it just wasn't working.
We were no different to any other company; if anything, we looked bigger and better. The website was probably one of the best in the industry if I do say so myself.
But with no work and no hope, it felt like the story was coming to an expensive end, so I started looking at our online competition in-depth.
It then occurred to me.
We offer the same as everyone else in a saturated market. We were a commodity of the construction sector, and to win jobs meant a pricing race to the bottom.
We were probably less than six months from going completely broke.
In a last-ditch attempt, I doubled down on my effort to transform our business and website into an energy-saving specialist. The main focus being LED lighting upgrades that save companies money.
I put all my attention into working out the perfect proposition that demonstrated value to potential customers.
It was a risky, last-minute business pivot.
Within a week of advertising again, we started to get some good leads, and they only got better and better.
Don't get me wrong, we had to put an insane amount of work in and take the rough with the smooth.
Still, we went from making tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands within a year and then turned over a million pounds three years later.
We worked for schools, local councils, and household names such as Toyota, Irn Bru and some of the largest construction companies in the UK.
I used to think that having the 'best website' would mean the best chance at success online. To a small extent, this is true, but now it's apparent that more than anything else…
Your value proposition is perhaps the single most salient factor in selling goods or services.
It's a simple known fact that your potential customers use your website to evaluate you. We don't mean to be, but we're very judgemental creatures on the internet.
So honestly, ask yourself, are you a tree amongst the forest, or does your website convey a unique value proposition?
Probably just like you, I've been through hell and back with multiple businesses. I've learnt the hard way how to make your website really work.
I genuinely built these businesses with a full head of hair and left bald.
When I realised I was wrong about not being a good enough designer, I exited these businesses in early 2021 to pursue design again and founded my studio, Stakra.
It seems this experience was simply part of my own personal development journey. I just had to jump in the ring and go toe-to-toe with real experience of the ups and downs, putting everything on the line and making enough mistakes to know what does and what doesn't work.
The devil is in the detail, in a small space between commercial acuity and customer empathy.
This is where we start our work. We produce a website built around your best bits. The best bits that perfectly demonstrate your value and set you apart from your competition.
If you've made it this far, that's certainly 4 minutes of your life you'll never get back but you might as well spend a few more by emailing or arranging a call so we can talk about your business' website.