Re-Focusing on Health is Good for Business

Personal health (negative or positive) often directly correlates to business health.

Recently I have become more aware of how important it is to develop healthy habits as an entrepreneur. Probably because it’s so easy to develop not-so-health ones.

Owning a business is stressful, and the easy fix is to mask that stress by eating unhealthy snacks, or cracking a beer after the work day. Not that there’s anything wrong with either of these things, but as with anything in life: moderation is the key.

It’s easy to slip though, and recently I was slipping.

For roughly two-years I have been actively boxing to stay in shape and to relieve stress. Weather permitting I’d also go for some runs in the nearby forest. However, mid-summer this year I sustained an injury to my hand. Long story short, boxing had to stop.

My workout routine took a serious hit because I couldn’t find anything that motivated me like boxing – which I thoroughly enjoy. And let’s face it, running is boring.

I wasn’t doing very much physical activity aside from taking the dog for walks.

As a result I gained a few extra pounds, but that wasn’t the main issue. The bigger problem was that my unhealthy habits were impacting my energy levels. It became a struggle to get motivated and this in turn was having a negative effect on my approach to business.

Entrepreneurship is about finding (and maintaining) motivation.

The sad truth about being an entrepreneur is that you are only as good as your last “win”.

In the case of LearnDash, we may work months on a really great feature and immediately after its released, people want to know what’s coming up next.

But when you’re in the product space then that is pretty much par for the course. It’s to be expected.

In turn though this means that it is necessary to stay motivated in order to continually innovate. It’s an endless cycle, which is one reason why I truly believe that not everyone would necessarily enjoy owning their own business.

Towards the end of the summer my motivation was on the downward trend, and it was happening in parallel with my physical health. Mentally I was in a weird place as well. I wasn’t depressed, but rather just more negative… if that makes sense. My response to daily business and life events had a negative slant. Things just seemed “hard”.

Fortunately, I have since made a positive shift.

I’m still disappointed that I can’t participate in boxing but recently I’ve replaced it with a new challenge: P90X3. I figure that the best way to shake myself out of the funk was to commit to a structured program. If anything it would help me to start creating healthy habits again.

So far so good with P90X3. I’m done with the first month. I’ve cut back on the unhealthy snacks and drinks, and I cook a bit more instead of making something in the microwave. When possible I try to get to bed at a normal hour… I could probably be better at that one.

As a result I’m feeling like I have a bit more energy to take on the daily challenges associated with business ownership. I look and feel better, and this translates to increased confidence.

It’s possible that I am not always going to be motivated and in a positive frame of mind, even if am practicing healthy habits. And you know, that’s okay. I just won’t be staying in that place.

So here’s to re-focusing on healthy habits, and to keeping them going… even through the holidays! 😯

Should You Use “WP” in Your Brand?

Many new WordPress businesses pigeon-hole themselves from Day 1. Don’t.

As the world’s most popular CMS WordPress has has incredible reach. It’s flexibility has made it an ideal platform to build upon for our learning management system (LearnDash), and certification automation software (SimplyCertify).

Given this immense popularity it’s no wonder why we see entrepreneurs and developers flocking to WordPress. Everything from SaaS offerings to themes and plugins. Developers around the world find in WordPress a platform for fulfilling their entrepreneurial aspirations.

But platform and code are one thing. Creating your business brand is another.

Since the first themes were created for WordPress the overwhelming temptation in the WordPress industry has been to slap “WP” or “Press” into the product or business name.

It’s almost like one or two people did it and then everyone followed.

But when you think about it a bit more, do you have a specific reason as to why it makes good business sense to use “WP” in your brand?

Most people use “WP” in their brand name because others before them have done so. And hey – the domain name is probably available so all the more reason! … right?

Well, not necessarily.

Using “WP” might in fact be a good business decision for you, but if your only reasoning for using it is because it’s a WordPress product then I think you might be limiting your product and brand before you even begin.

The question that forever changed our business…

Not many people know this but before LearnDash came to be LearnDash, it was called “WPLMS”.

Yes, it’s a mouthful.

I even had the domain name ‘wplms.org’ (still own it in fact).

In 2012 I made an aggressive push to build awareness for the brand. The WPLMS blog was growing and the interest was starting to build. I even began to see our brand mentioned in a couple websites after a few short months of content marketing.

But then I got some very candid feedback from someone showing interest. They weren’t rude, but just straight to the point…

“Why are you calling it “WPLMS”? It’s hard to remember… and I keep forgetting that it’s “.org” and not “.com”.

This individual highlighted some glaring problems that I didn’t consider initially.

First, I didn’t own the ‘.com’, but figured that the ‘.org’ version was just as good, or better given that WordPress and all of its plugins live on WordPress.org.

I was wrong. It’s worse.

I realized that people will always assume your domain is “.com” the first time they hear it.

Always.

Plus, even if they do remember the actual domain it’s likely that their “finger memory” will resort to typing “.com” anyway. It’s just what people have been accustomed to. It’s why Android smartphones have a quick “.com” button but nothing for “.net” or “.org”.

Not too long after receiving that feedback I found myself speaking to someone over the phone prior to our official release. The conversation is pretty forgettable, with exception that I clearly remember myself having to spell out the domain name very deliberately so they could understand it. When I was done, they asked me: “So what does WP stand for again?”

It’s at that point that I realized people might not be looking for a “WordPress” solution, they are just looking for a solution.

We scrapped WPLMS and switched the name of our LMS to “LearnDash”. I still consider this to be one of the best decisions we made for the business. It’s catchier, a helluva lot easier for people to remember, and it doesn’t pigeon-hole us to just the WordPress die-hard fans and users.

We aren’t the only ones to do something like this.

By way of example, the WPValet dropped “WP” back in 2016 and just become Valet. Valet’s founder Mason told me once that one of the reasons for this switch was because not all of the work they did was necessarily confined to WordPress and they felt like they were limiting their market potential.

It just goes to show that even if you’re using “WP” right now, it doesn’t mean you have to keep using it.

Well-known WordPress brands bypass using “WP”.

Ever hear of WooCommerce? Of course you have. Notice… no “WP”.

Same can be said for OptinMonster.

And GravityForms.

And Jetpack.

And EventEspresso.

And Easy Digital Downloads.

And Paid Memberships Pro.

I could go on but I’m sure you get the point. While most of these plugins require WordPress they decided to build their brand to be “WordPress agnostic”. My question to you is why not do the same for your WordPress business?

The advantage that these brands have by not using “WP” is it allows them to more easily enter markets that aren’t directly associated with WordPress.

WooCommerce can more easily go up against Shopify while OptinMonster is in a better position to take on LeadPages. We find that LearnDash is able to snap-up some of the target market of Teachable and Thinkific. If the name was still WPLMS, I know we’d have a more difficult time in that segment.

Just something to consider.

Using “WP” isn’t always a bad thing – it can be quite good as well.

I do want to make it clear that it is perfectly fine to use “WP” in your brand if you want to.

If based on your market research you feel like this gives you a competitive advantage or helps to clearly articulate your core value, then by all means you should make a point to use it.

WPEngine WordPress hosting is a great example of a business that has built an extremely successful brand by using “WP”. It works, and works well. You get an immediate sense about what it is they have to offer and who they serve.

Another great example is WP101, the popular site offering WordPress training. In this context using “WP” makes a ton of sense. In an instant you get an understanding that they offer WordPress based courses (and good ones at that). It’s recognizable and incredibly easy to remember.

Deciding what to choose for your brand.

So how do you know if you should make “WP” a part of your branding strategy?

There is no hard-set rule. It comes down to your primary industry and customer — which requires that you do ample market research (something that’s so often neglected by WordPress entrepreneurs).

But here’s an example.

Let’s say you have a WordPress plugin that is designed for design firms to manage projects. It’s sort of meant as a replacement for Basecamp, but is a little different.

Based on the target market information alone, do you think it would make sense to call your plugin “ProjectMangerWP”?

No, it doesn’t.

You could call it that, but design firms don’t necessarily care if the solution is on (or related to) WordPress. They just want to manage projects.

Okay, I cheated a little because this is an actual product from my friend Ross Johnson.

Ross didn’t use “WP” for his brand and came up with the catchy brand name in Project Panorama, which in my humble opinion gives his product a lot more reach.

As you build out your product (or better yet, before you build out your product) try to really identify who it is that will get the most value from it.

Take the time to create customer profiles and then based on those profiles you can make an educated decision as to whether “WP” actually adds value to your brand, or if it instead limits market and growth potential.

7-Months Owning a Dog

Dogs are a joy, but not always enjoyable.

For years Kloé and I have contemplated getting a dog, and finally this year we decided to take the plunge.

In April we brought Romy into our home and she has been a welcomed addition. Well, except for the cat. She’s not a fan.

Entering mile two…

Romy is a French Brittany Spaniel which means she was bread to be a hunting dog.

Except we don’t hunt

So, we have a really energetic dog that needs heavy stimulation to replace what she’d normally get “out in the field”. 🙂

This means we go for walks. A lot of walks. Four to six miles a day walks. Needless to say my health has definitely improved since getting a dog. Seriously, if you are looking to make a healthy lifestyle change then forget starving yourself with diets, just get a dog. They’re more enjoyable anyhow.

Besides walks though she has a good number of “dog friends” that she gets to wrestle with every week, so that helps to deplete her energy levels as well.

While our experience with the dog has been a positive one, it doesn’t mean that we always enjoy it. Honestly, having a dog with this amount of energy can be a lot of work. Some days are definitely harder than others.

If you are thinking about getting an dog then make sure you heavily research the breed. If the breed is a hunting breed then here are some things you can expect…

  • Three walks a day (mileage depending on breed)
  • Super intelligent, to the point where the trouble they get into is pretty sophisticated
  • Multiple “fetch” play sessions each day
  • Always on alert and will run to the nearest window to look for (bark at) God-knows-what because you didn’t hear anything

Some days dealing with the above can be a challenge, but these are also the qualities that make up the personality we enjoy so much.

As someone who has always been more of a cat person I can say that getting a dog has made life a lot more interesting. More laughs, new challenges, and new life habits.

Plus, one positive byproduct about all these walks is that I get a lot of time to think about our business. I’ve come up with some really creative ideas while hiking through the forest. Something I would otherwise be missing out on.

While I am by no means a seasoned dog owner, my only piece of advice would be to make sure you research the hell out of various breeds before you get a dog (assuming you don’t go the rescue route) so that you can get a dog that fits best with your lifestyle. You will be happier, and so will the dog.

One Is The Loneliest Number

…As in, this is the first blog post.

I have owned the “.com” version of my name forever.

For a long time it pointed to my LinkedIn profile as I never really knew what to do with it. I considered starting a personal blog many times, but this time it’s different.

In the past I had grandiose plans of building up a “personal brand”, but I no longer have that interest.

Well, scratch that. It would be nice, but being an entrepreneur has taught me some valuable lessons about building a brand… least of which is that it’s freaking hard.

I simply don’t have the energy or hours to dedicate to such an endeavor.

So what’s the point of justinferriman.com?

Over the years I have learned that I need to create headspace if I am going to be effective as an entrepreneur, husband, brother, son, friend, etc. My mind has been known to hold me hostage if I don’t get my thoughts out “on to paper”.

This site is that paper. It’s the place where I get to share things that I feel are important.

You might not find these same things important. And I’m okay with that.

You see, once my thoughts are out and “on paper”, they are no longer spinning in my head and it leaves space for me to think about other (important and not-so-important) things.

So here we are. The first blog post of hopefully many, but I really don’t have an agenda. This site may go weeks without a post, or may get multiple per week – I suppose it all depends on what I need to get out of my head.