Tom and Joe, art ecommerce entrepreneurs who built Canvas On Demand and Great Big Canvas before selling to Cafe Press, brought it with power at our 10X Ecommerce Event. Their main stage presentation was a highlight of the event that inspired as much as gave kicks in the butt.


Their first of ten points was brutal: not hitting a goal you’ve decided upon is FAILURE. There is no room here for pleasantries and good tries. Respectable growth is a flop after you’ve set the true mark. When your goal captures your whole heart and not just your ego, you will become decisively honest about putting in place the reality necessary to define your success.

Tom and Joe supplied deceptively simple advice to work backwards from the goal to give your goal real-life context. For example, if your goal is to increase your sales by $1.5 million over the next 12 months and your average order value is $75, this will require about 20,000 new orders. This is about 50 additional orders per day. So, essentially, your business would just need one additional order from every US state each day.

There isn’t one path to achieve your success. There may be dozens of possible paths. Tom and Joe discussed how they compartmentalized their major strategizing to January of each year. The rest of the year, they EXECUTED. Pick a strategy and then carry it out. Love for “strategizing” is a pathway to failure. While there are dozens of possible success strategies, there are zero that will work without consistent execution.

One of their most helpful pieces of advice was to start with the answers. There is no need to reinvent success. Emulate the winners, whether in your industry or outside it. Email campaigns, paid search, websites, etc. – these all have proven strategies and tactics that have led others to success. Study them and copy them. Incidentally, this is a major reason we’re able to achieve such digital marketing success for our clients: we are always learning what works so we can constantly optimize campaigns for the greatest likelihood of success.

Perhaps their most amusing point was that “Debbie will try to get in your head.” Your company must change as it grows. Indeed, that’s the only way you will be able to grow – you’ve got to do things differently that you are now. Yet one thing you can virtually count on is that there will be resistance to change within your organization. Someone will try to talk you out of your plans and tell you why it won’t work. The voices will try to get into your head as your doubts become debilitating. Push through! Recognize where fear of change is being masked as legitimate-sounding arguments.

Tom and Joe pressed attendees to be honest about their assets and visualize both the goal and the path to get there. For more of their wit and wisdom, visit their site.