Gordon Gus’s Web Business Cookbook

My quest to find the no-fail formula for e-commerce


My name is Gordon, but you can call me Gus. I am an engineer, salesperson, marketer, copywriter, bookkeeper, pc support person, pirate, security guard, analyst, product manager, designer, artist, socialite, socialist, capitalist and philosopher. Yes, I’m a web entrepreneur or “webpreneur”. Using both right and left brain is an occupational necessity.

I have opened over a dozen web commerce businesses in the last ten years. I have made all the mistakes found in all seven of the  e-commerce “…For Dummies” books. But with each passing project the ideas get better, marketing gets wider, profit gets bigger and mistakes get cheaper.  This site has become my business journal of the lessons I’ve learned in the hyper-competitive, overwhelming yet intoxicating ether known as web commerce.

From my journal I have compiled so many lists and how-to’s that I decided to compile them into a coherent end-to-end book–or more precisely, cookbook.  This cookbook will contain many different types of  dishes or business I’ve started or been involved in over the years as a web engineer, marketer and sales person.  Like any good cookbook, it only tells you what you need to know to complete a specific dish.

Like many, I had more ideas than execution. My recent successes have inspired me to humbly share what I believe is the simplest formula to planning, building, and running a web business selling digital or physical goods. But first, here are the most common reasons webpreneurs fail.

Eight Reasons Webpreneurs Fail:

  1. Fear of failure
  2. Never formally plan
  3. Never commit
  4. Procrastination
  5. Lose motivation
  6. Over-complicate
  7. Bad idea
  8. Lose to competition

Notice that all but the last reason are internal. In today’s e-commerce friendly environment with cheaper platforms, freelance agents and niche markets, creating a successful online business has never been easier.  At no other time in the history of free market capitalism has the playing field been so leveled. Today, anyone with a little market savvy, money, and persistence can compete with even the biggest companies online. All it takes is an idea, some money, alot of time and of course, “The Webpreneur’s Cookbook”.

What can the Webpreneur’s Cookbook do for you?
  • Take your idea and turn it into a business plan
  • Create an doable project plan with goals and quick successes
  • Set up bite-sized milestones and monitor your success
  • Simplify the many technologies on a need-to-know basis
  • Survey and choose the necessary pieces to your business
  • Pick the right web development including:
    – Brand and Market Research
    – Site Design
    – E-commerce platform
    – Web Copy-writing
    – Search Engine Optimization
    – Pay Per Click Campaign
    – Social Media Campaign
    – Video Marketing Campaign
    – Link Building
    – Blogging and Article Submission
    – Email Marketing
    – Web Analytics
  • Find the right fulfillment or drop-ship solution
  • Choose the right accounting and customer tracking solution
  • Find the most cost-effective local, national or outsource solutions
  • Wash, Rinse and Repeat


An E-commerce Christmas

A few years ago, I decided to give my six nieces and nephews something different for Christmas. Instead of the usual Barbie dolls and G.I. Joes, I gave each of them their very own e-commerce account. The lesson was simple:  When you have an online store open for business, you see the world through the lens of an opportunist.  From that point on they would see a problem as an opportunity,  and every item as a potential SKU. Despite my good intentions, the children looked disappointed and some suspected this was just a lame cover-up for losing the kid’s wish list that year.  I explained that this was their very own store they could design and manage in any way they wished. And that I would be there helping them through every step.  After several “Won’t it be cool to be the only second grader with a store” pitches, their confusion turned to anticipation of opening their stores—or perhaps their next Christmas gifts.

I kept my promise and helped each of them find products to sell, find a market, design a store for it, and merchandise, advertise, and monetize. One sold custom book covers, another wooden boats made by her 4th grade class to fund a whale watching trip (we made sure to advertise this point), but my favorite was a store that sold anti-bullying gear. Items included self-defense and child psychology books, as well as ‘kid-recommended’  hats, shoes, and shirts guaranteed to make any would-be wimp  appear too hip, unbalanced, or well-connected to be bullied in the first place (we had to look up the legal limitations the term ‘guarantee’ on this one).  Two of the young entrepreneurs even started a forum and blog for their products.  What started as a fun web project quickly became a lesson in social bookmarks, wikis, hyper-niches, pay per clicks, conversion rates and capitalism.

Though none of the stores made a profit, the return on investment was beyond our expectations.  None of the stores exist today, but the lessons we learned together live on.  I learned how much I liked being their uncle; they learned how much they liked being entrepreneurs.  In truth, my gift was no accident. It was my attempt to grow closer to my nieces and nephews through a shared purpose. I wanted them to experience the satisfaction and pride creating a business brings and more importantly how the process itself can enrich their lives. Simply put, I create businesses to express myself and connect with those that share my passion.

If animals are judged by their ability to survive, then entrepreneurs are better animals.  I have always respected those that took charge of their own Fate. To resist the allure of job security and question the conventional wisdom that promotes it.  To me, opportunism and risk was a form of raw, natural expression.  Instead of fearing it, I wanted to teach the kids how to embrace and control it. I wanted to teach them how to survive in the world of business and take charge of their lives. I wanted to give them enough confidence to adapt, persevere and succeed even after failing over and over.  In an increasingly competitive world, the ability to find and create your own opportunities as though second-nature is the new security. Leading others through it is the new Fortune 500.

“People and purpose,” my father always said. This is why I love building businesses. The camaraderie and sense of purpose I feel when helping others succeed in their business is the main reason I do it. The process of taking an idea and turning it into a reality is the reason I keep doing it. I suppose meaningful relationships are forged through meaningful endeavors. Or as the kids would say, “the store gives me a reason to keep bugging you Uncle G”. Whatever the reason, I’m glad I lost the kid’s wish list that year.

About GordonGus
"Whether selling products, services or information I have helped others succeed online by clarifying goals, simplifying technologies, motivating players and executing tasks. My energy and perseverance has helped others reach their goals. Of course, some wanted to shoot me in the process."
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