In this episode of the Commerce Journey Podcast, Brian and Cory discuss how to overcome the fear of starting your eCommerce store.
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Things to consider when fear overtakes you
The simplest determinator of success is often the hardest but most critical. It’s called START. TRY. Attempt. Begin. Go. The First bold step out … and towards something. It’s putting yourself out there. Clicking Publish. Pushing Submit on that application. Taking the sheet off your work and sharing it and letting it see the light of the sun and the world with it ….. so often it’s the simplest step of the first step into the light.
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Machine Transcript – The Fear of Starting Your eCommerce Store
Brian Krogsgard 00:02
Hello and welcome to the Commerce Journey podcast. My name is Brian Krogsgard. I am here with Cory Miller, my partner in crime on all things Commerce Journey. Hey, Cory. Hey, how's it going? Let's go.
Cory Miller 00:14
Yeah, pretty good. I'm eager to talk about this topic today I'm eager to dive back into the Commerce Journey podcast,
Brian Krogsgard 00:22
Like, yeah, we're, we're here. And today we're talking about the the fear of getting started, you know, this is an existing store owner has fear too. But there's something about making the leap, right, when you're trying to make that leap to actually do it for the first time it is, it can be really intimidating. We're going to talk about that. Once somebody does get started. As they're getting set up with their store, though, they can always do it with GoDaddy Pro, the deal we have at Commerce Journey, comm slash go is truly awesome. So that you can get going with your eCommerce website using WooCommerce. And a whole bunch of bundled extensions, a free domain. And it is, what is it $1 a month for the dollar? For three months, I think, yeah, I think it's $1 for the first three months, or dollar a month for the first three months. It's an inconsequential amount of money, and bundles, all these amazing extensions that usually are hundreds of dollars apiece. So we are saving you hundreds of dollars getting started with your journey. So no fear on the financial front, you can bootstrap this baby for almost nothing with GoDaddy Pro, if you go to Commerce Journey.com slash go thank you so much to our awesome partners at GoDaddy Pro, for offering this deal for all of these people starting their Commerce Journeys, we are so thankful for them.
Cory Miller 01:44
And if you think about it, this is a prelude to our conversation today. Three months for $1 is like it's it's a multiple things in one year, three months to get your store ready. That's right before you actually it goes up to I think it's like 2995 or something like that. But you also have a deadline now in front of you. So I think it's it's that offered is really good. And we strategically picked this GoDaddy Pro is our sponsor for that reason. But it really plays into our topic today.
Brian Krogsgard 02:12
It is three months for $1. It's not even $1 per month, it is literally one $1. So for the price of a candy bar, can you get a candy bar for $1 anymore? I think so. You can bootstrap your site and get all the awesome stuff that they include. I mean, seriously with bookings and product add ons and tracking shipments with ups. And even if you do subscriptions, like it's crazy amounts of stuff that they include with this plus all their great templates that they have. There's no better way to get started with your store, literally anywhere they've put together the best deal they got. Alright, that's enough, thanks to GoDaddy Pro. But we want to make sure folks know that, because that's why we've partnered with them on everything that we do, because they are helping new store owners. And you know what Cory, somebody has this fear of getting going. We want to be there to help them to, you know, prevent them from having so much fear that they freeze. Right. So yeah. What are you thinking on this front, because you were really passionate about this topic.
Cory Miller 03:21
I love it. I love it not because people have fear necessarily inner paralyzed, but that this is where we can come in and really give people some encouragement. You know, this started because we were talking earlier this week. And we were talking about our own little stores that were contemplating starting. And you mentioned, if you don't mind me saying like, Hey, I haven't done this before. Even though you've done a lot of things online and made a lot of money online. You haven't done this specific store that you talked about. And I kind of pushed in and I was like, tell me why now because I don't have fear. I have fear. But I live to help people be free of being frozen. You know, I mean, it just excites me because, you know, there's this Albert Schweitzer quote back in the day like in high school I found this is the tragedy of life. It was is what dies within a person while you live. And I really took that to heart I said I want to live my life as best as I can. Not paralyzed by fear or held back by fear. And fear has multiple names fear, criticism, fear of failure. fear of success was just kind of crazy to me, but it happens. Yeah. And so that's why I love this topic. I want to help free people, you and I free people give them permission to go live their dreams to share their talents with the world through Commerce Journey.
Brian Krogsgard 04:46
Yeah, that's cool. You know, you talk about the fear of success. But I think another way to think of that is like, hey, if this thing works, what am I gonna do? I'm gonna be so busy or I might have to quit my regular job to go full time on this thing. So like fear of success is real. Like, you want the side hustle, you want the extra income, if it works as well as you hope, and it actually becomes your main gig opportunity. That is scary, like both you and I, we left full-time opportunities to start our own businesses and in its own way, it's terrible times. Yeah, so it's the fear, the fear of starting is real, I totally, or the fear of success is real, I totally get that. Because you're going out on an extra limb, because you're putting your full faith in yourself. And I think that is at the heart of what this means this fear of starting with your eCommerce stores, you're putting your faith in your ability to actually put a product together, sell the product, and sell it with a profit and sell enough of them that it could sustain, you know, the energy that you're putting into it.
Cory Miller 05:49
Yeah, there's a lot in there that you talked about the other day that I've heard in, in had myself over the years, you know, back in 2008, or, I should say, 2007, when I was contemplating. Okay, starting I themes. You know, the biggest fear was insurance, health insurance, we had insurance through the employer I had at the time and I think of these and I'm gonna share what how I got around it, but like, the fears the obstacle, so if it's fear of success, okay, let's push down into that. What is that? Exactly? Where's this fear? Because I think if we can identify the fear specifically, that are obstacles, we can do something about it. So my story was a friend of health insurance not having health insurance. Well, I found out, we could go and Cobra for a year and a half. So I at least had some coverage. For a while now, I wasn't cheap. And the way that's been twice, so then fast forward to 2000 2020. This year, on the other side, actually 2019 I left Liquidweb / iThemes to go back out on my next adventure. And then my wife had all of her health insurance was with Lindsey . Well, back in April, she left Liquidweb. And, again, we had to fall back. We're currently on Cobra Health Insurance. Yeah. Now for those of you that might have serious health conditions and are worried about that, that's a big thing. I don't want to ever underestimate that, no doubt. But if we can drill down in and figure out what those fears are, we can, we can probably find some ways around or through that obstacle.
Brian Krogsgard 07:20
So I think one of the things that we can narrow in here, and you know, talking about the variable of health insurance is a great example. Because it's so common for any entrepreneur in the United States in particular. I think this is where we get into getting over your fear can start with establishing a plan. And establishing a plan means to take all of these things, these variables, whether it's your health insurance, or your cost of initial inventory, or the time and energy to get the website together, or how you're going to do your product photography, or how you're going to do your prototype, or how you're going to manage order fulfillment, these are all variables. Best thing you can do is create a plan and start to start to scratch out these variables, right? Because you, you put them in a spreadsheet, and you say, Okay, here's my dollars in dollars out opportunities, here's what I have to do to break even, here's what I have to do to make enough money to go full time. Here's how much time I need to fulfill 10 orders a week, 20 orders a week, whatever the situation is, you start to take the variables and turn them into plans. And that's when your fear can become something in the rearview mirror. Right.
Cory Miller 08:36
Absolutely. I mean, you got to be clear about that a lot of times, you know, when I push in and talk to people, the fear is mythical. You know, they start to realize they're catastrophizing, or, you know, some cognitive bias that all humans have their, their grandmas in it, or it's black and white, you know, do this myself all. No one's immune to these things. And but so I say mythical, because when you start putting them, let's say on a spreadsheet, like you just, you know, mentioned, okay, well, let's raid it. Yeah, how big is the fear? And then and then ask yourself why? You know, and play the game out for a second. And then give it a couple days. If it's real catastrophe. Give it a couple days and sleep on and then come back and see if the big scary monster is really big, scary monster or a spider crawl on the sidewalk that you can stomp out?
Brian Krogsgard 09:28
Yeah, absolutely. And another thing is, you'll be able to eliminate more variables. And once you get going, that is one of the beauties in an eCommerce store. You can you really can start as a side hustle. It's harder in real life. I have a friend who recently started a business in real life. They started a contracting company. And they know because they put a business plan together. They said I need X number of jobs. They knew what the market price was for the types of jobs they were doing. It's a painting company, right? So they know like okay, well here's how many dollars you Per whatever, however they measure it square foot of wall, you paint, you know, I don't know how to do it. But if you have an X number of dollars per job, he knew I need to, I need to win this many jobs, because I have this much profit margin, all based on the variables that he took out of the equation. And based on the that information, he was able to say, if I need to win this many jobs, how many jobs do I need to quote, in order to know that I can accomplish this. So that's where his testing occurred. Now, an eCommerce store is very similar, right? Because you're, you need to when Enough of your visitors to your website or to your store, you need to convert enough of them into customers, you need to know roughly what your profit per order can, can be, to turn it into saying, Okay, well, this is what I need to accomplish in order to sustain either the energy I'm doing, putting into this for a side hustle, or how much I need to sustain in order to go full time. going full time in eCommerce. It's not like you're a freelancer doing you know, you don't have any upfront costs, right? Let's say you're making 30% per year, per order per year, that is a pretty good return, especially for a new store. A lot of times you have to spend money to make money, you know, and you can operate at a loss for the first, say $100,000 worth of revenue. before it turns into profit. A lot of eCommerce stores do this in order purely to grow, right. They're reinvesting any profit that they have any gross profit that they have. So but let's say you get to this 30% of profit can go back to your pocket. Well, if you do have six figures in sales, you're making $30,000. Preet, let's say pre tax, that's tough for most people to live on. Unless you're just totally bootstrapping can rely on a spouse, something like that in most places. $30,000 is probably not going to be quite enough for you to go full time with like confidence. So you have to figure out why math.
Cory Miller 12:02
Yeah, that's why we talked about, you know, starting out, it's a side hustle. Yeah, you know, the veto bars that we talked about a lot with Anna, it's a side hustle for her. Yeah, she sold about over $30,000 today, it's a side hustle, she's keeping her job with really good salary, and really good benefits, and really good vacation and all that kind of stuff. And this is a side hustle, she can take some of her discretionary, I'll say time and energy and pour into the side hustle that could test it out. But the second thing I want to say something you're talking about, you broke it down with your friend with a painting company. And I liked it. So this is the other part where we start to, you know, catastrophize and just get make the monster so big, right? If we just break it down to numbers, and you started to say that with the exercise with your friend. So okay, I have to put, let's say, you determine I need to put down $1,000 to buy inventory for your product. And then you do some math, you say I'm going to sell it this, you know, and we're just talking, we haven't bought anything right now we're just pull up a spreadsheet, we start saying, we're going to spend $1,000, this is how many units, we're going to be able to sell that here's our profit, like you just said, here's the price and carve out the profit and try to try to be very conservative, don't try to be too optimistic about this. And then break it down and say, where you can see a very small, manageable number a bucket and go. Okay, I need to sell 100 can I sell 100? Yeah, like it was your first thing a day about physical goods was cost. And that's a big thing. For any of us. We don't want to buy a bunch of inventory and say, all that stuff sitting in the corner $10,000 worth of stuff sitting in the corner. But if we can break it down, and just go to do this, we just have to sell 100 or whatever that is break it down and say this is how many units I could sell. I love to break down these things into the simplest one little number that goes cannot do it. That's a black and white number sitting there versus a mythical fear monster scary monster out here. Now we've said, Brian, do you think you could sell 100 of these? Like if you had to even if it took you a year? Do you think he's still 100 of those? Yeah, well, that means you can recoup your investment. Yeah, I love breaking this down. We were just doing this exercise for another property we own right, we're talking about inventory. We're talking about a number we said we want to double what we did. And we start breaking it down we go. Oh, that's 15. Well, that becomes way more meaningful for you now. Do we know 15? Now let's write down the 15 people could sell to you. This is a higher price point we're talking about but like, ok.
Brian Krogsgard 14:34
Yeah, when you look at your sales, it's more of that manual breakdown. With a lot of eCommerce stores. It's like a percentage, right? So it's overall visits. And so what you'll learn over time is whether it's organic traffic or whether you're paying for the traffic, all of these calculations come way into effect when you're paying for the traffic because you're spending a certain number of dollars to get someone on the site and then you learn When I get someone on the site, what percentage of them make an order? And this is where your multiplier effect can really come into. Because you say, Okay, well, I did a test, right? I paid for 10,000 people to visit my website, and I converted 1%. Well, if you could afford to pay for the 10,000 people to visit your website, you converted 1%. Now you have some baseline math, and you sit and you figure out, where can I scale this? Do I pay for 100,000 people to come to my website now and look at my products? Or do I maybe make some adjustments to increase the number of people that convert to 2%? Mm, converting from 1% to 2%, doubles your sales, just like paying for 20,000 instead of 10,000 people to come visit your site.
Cory Miller 15:47
I will share this in the show notes. But my good friend and partner Jeff Meziere, CFO for hire, put together a spreadsheet, guess what you're talking about. And it was just to see, put some assumptions to model things out. And then when you modeled them out in a spreadsheet, you take it from this anonymous fear, to an actual rational thing you can look at and say does this feel good, then you can still bench test it with your emotions. But what you're just saying was, then you start to say, I'm gonna be conservative and you know, be more pessimistic than optimistic. And my models, then you can say, if I just doubled that, you know, there's levers you can start to pull and work on. But you at least have something. And this is the other thing, I always tell people, and I try to remind myself of it, start small, don't eat the elephant, man. Don't try to do every like, Don't try to hit a million dollars in sales in your first month. If you do, hallelujah, I'm gonna High Five yet. But that's called a unicorn. If but if you start small and say, I just want to see if I could sell $1,000 worth of something, start small, don't bite off too much. And remember, it's still an experiment, Mandala that with spreadsheets, see what you need to make find out that number that you just have to sell to recoup your investment.
Brian Krogsgard 17:04
And even inside that look for the levers that are the easiest to pull. Yes, when you and I did some business planning, when we first became partners, we said, okay, this is the potential impact. But this is the potential effort for having that impact. And we discovered it, didn't we? Yeah, we did we so we were like one to five, how much energy goes into accomplishing this goal. And where we found the sweet spot was to say, Hey, this is a lower energy on a scale of one to five, let's say it's a one or a two. But it has a four or five impact on the bottom line. That's where the sauce is right. And you really take your fear out because you're saying, Hey, I can accomplish this, even in my spare time, because it's less energy to output.
Cory Miller 17:54
Yes, I'm a big fan of working like, I don't want to have to work 80 hours a week, I don't want to have to like blood, sweat and tears if I don't have to. So I'm a big low hanging fruit. And when we scored that I thought it was so powerful. Because you and I made really good decisions now. COVID be darned. But like, you know, we made some really good decisions on that, because we ranked it and we had feedback and it gave us conversations to talk to and go, man, let's lay hands on this one. This one is the one we want to do. Darn COVID, though…
Brian Krogsgard 18:26
Yeah. Well, that, hey, there's always that's, that's one of the… it's a fear. And you can establish those two, like, what are the risks? Right? Sometimes you have a risk that's like in that category, anyone that's in a contract with like force majeure, or, you know, like an act of God or a, something catastrophic? Well, welcome to the catastrophic in today's environment of COVID. But certainly, if you can outline what are the risks, you know, like, I don't get the visits to my website, I expect, or my manufacturer for my product increases the price by 50%. Or they tell me it's going to be two months later to deliver than they expect things like that. How did those things? How do they affect your plan? How can you work around them to still survive, because survival is the key because if you survive, and you tweak, eventually, you can thrive
Cory Miller 19:21
…in scoring, like we did, you know, say one to five or find some criteria, and put it out there, and then let it set and come back to it. Now, in all of this, it just screaming in my ears. Like most of us, most people have some sort of a partner in the sense of a spouse or maybe a girlfriend, boyfriend, whatever that is right?
Brian Krogsgard 19:40
Or a friend or a counselor or whatever.
Cory Miller 19:42
Yeah, and I think doing this type of stuff shows some due diligence that you're you're in it to win it like you've got investment you've thought it through, you know enough and that you can show people so if you're trying to convince a spouse, I want to do this. I want to take five grand out of our savings and You know, buy this inventory or do this, you have some justification for that. I still do that with my wife I, we're partners in life, man. So that means business too. And so showing her thought through and then, by the way, her monsters, other people's monsters are going to be slightly different than yours.
Brian Krogsgard 20:17
Yeah, well, they may bring up all new fears. But they may or they may alleviate some of yours, they may be like, hey, you need to have more coffee, you're good at this stuff, you know, like, or they'll be there to encourage you. And then they'll also be able to, you know, find the holes in your armor, and they'll, somebody, somebody to bounce off your ideas, take your spreadsheet, your, you know, your big plan, your business plan, if you do, like, you know, proper write up, especially in the ideation phase, like saying, Hey, here's my actual plan, what I intend to sell what the addressable audience is, all those cool things. Yeah, you're eliminating variables. And then you're asking people close to you, who you trust to poke holes in them. And in a constructive manner, like, they're your friend, they're not, they're not your enemy, they want you to succeed. So, you know, having the right person to help you do that is important, but we're going to take that part for granted. And you want their and you want their feedback, you don't want to hide your plan from the people that you trust, because they're there to help you, they want you to succeed, and they're gonna help you eliminate your fears
Cory Miller 21:24
and prevent you from you know, your blind spots. Yeah, we've all got blind spots. And you and I have different perspectives on things. And that's a good thing, because for me, it's preventing the blind spots of what you know, could potentially happen. My partners Jeff and Rebecca, they are fundamentally they operate fundamentally different to me. And oftentimes, it's a push-pull thing, but we always want to thoughtfully at a better decision, you know, and so if you approach it that way, too, it's, it's a, I think, such a great thing. It's why I have partners is why you and I are partners, yeah. He said, I don't want to do this alone, I want to do it with somebody else. So you have like somebody to read shotgun with you on the journey.
Brian Krogsgard 22:06
So let's, uh, let's just think about one other thing that I have on my mind, which is, okay, let's say you've got all this stuff, you're starting to eliminate the variables, but you're kind of stuck on something, right? There's something that is, it's there, and you're like, I don't know how to solve for this one. Or maybe it goes differently than you planned for, right? You make estimates, but the forecasting, the, I took some, a lot of statistics in forecasting type classes in college, and one of my professors would always say, the first rule of forecasting that is that all your forecasts are wrong. And if you don't acknowledge that, before you even start, then you're just gonna pull your hair out, right? So you're gonna have to tweak these things over time. So something's not coming out the way you put it in, in terms of the potential outcomes. How do you? How do you prepare for that before you even start, so that, you know you'll be able to adjust on the fly?
Cory Miller 23:03
I often think about Lewis and Clark and the expedition. In fact, I was like in a bar, you're like trying to find some good biographies on them, just to think like, entrepreneurship in eCommerce in particular is is an expedition. Most of us don't have a crystal ball, and it tells us exactly where to go, you know. But I think about Lewis and Clark journeying across the Northwest and like, how did they approach that? You know, I don't know if people had gone before they got reports back or whatever. But like, I use every piece of data I can, and models are great. Now, but you can forecast. And just knowing the other way I heard that said was no plan survives the first bullet in action. You can have this plan for this battle. And then once people start shooting at you, it's a whole different story. Yeah. So I like it. So you have some direction to head in. But for me, it's this I think it's an analogy, but is to hold it in your hand, the forecasts and the plans, but don't grip, it's so tight, your knuckles are white, and you don't let go of it. Like you can't change directions. I can almost promise you 95% of the time. You know, entrepreneurship, somebody starting a business pivots and change in tweaks with the direction they're doing, based on customer feedback, like the almighty dollar, or whatever currency you're in, someone willing to spend is a vote in the direction that you're going. And so you either got to last long enough to share with the right people and then pay you or change directions. And so that's what I say like with the models and stuff, business plans, they're all good. You know, but don't hold them so tight that you have to be like letter of the law. This is the way it goes forever. That is a recipe for doom.
Brian Krogsgard 24:45
Yeah, I've heard that a similar idea in terms of how coaches work. So like a football coach. I've heard people talking about how this particular say offensive coordinator. They know exactly the first like 12 plays they're gonna run in the game. Like they have a perfect diagram of if they have a first down and they do that, you know, whatever. So they know the plan for the first like 12 plays. And if an average game, let's say they run, I don't know, 6070 offensive plays, the rest of it is an adjustment based on what they learned from those 12 plays. So they know, we're tweaking our game plan, because we got feedback, we got response, how is the enemy, how's the defense responding to our first 12 plays, so that we know where to go from there. So it's almost like feelers. And we can do that in our stores as well, right? Like, we can plan. Here are our first steps. Because we need, we need process, we need like, this is what we're going to do. And then we're going to see what the responses we're going to see what happens and we need to make sure how do we sustainably make the first 12 plays equivalent for our eCommerce stores, so that we then know how to tweak.
Cory Miller 26:02
I really love that, because you think about this really good parallel to entrepreneurship and eCommerce is map out your first 12 plays. Yeah, but then be open enough to know you're gonna get, you know, the bullets are gonna fly, you're gonna get smacked in the mouth, and you got to adjust. But think about it as, again, a personal experiment. What are you learning? And the keys for me is this acronym I've kind of been thinking about with all the projects I'm involved in is MAPS. What you're trying to learn is Message, Audience, Product, and System, to me that is in a nutshell. So I actually should start with like, amps or something like that. But it's MAPS, because audiences first for me, you know, who are you trying to serve and support? And do they know, you know, there's questions you can ask around that? Do they know they actually have a problem? And they need this? Are they looking for this actively this product messages is, am I connecting their needs the audience's needs and wants to my product that comes next the message is one thing. Then you got product, which is pricing, bundling packaging, features in the product, all that kind of stuff, the mass back to message max backs to audience, the final is s system. You think about an eCommerce system as a system. You know, like, this is a game you've ever played the game mousetrap, you know, you set up the little board. And if you get something just out of alignment, the ball drops and doesn't go all the way around to you know, trap the mouse. That's what MAPS is is like tweaking these four dials, system thinking through all this other stuff. What do I need to go back and says, Do I have a system to keep repeating and getting cells? those four things if you venture into this and start tweaking those little dials, generally speaking, those are the ones I pay attention for every project for Commerce Journey in particular. We were talking about that the other day. Yeah, we started with the audience. We were like, do we know, you know, again, are we affirming our hypotheses, you know, like, this, this audience is that audience, we're tweaking our message a little bit, we're looking at our product, we're thinking about the system of how we get things shipped out, and all that kind of stuff. I think those four keys with MAPS is key, and it's commerce training. That's what we're trying to help help you work on.
Brian Krogsgard 28:17
Yeah, I love that. And, you know, one other thing you talked about, I mean, we talked about these analogies first 12 plays and then iterate. You know, the, the battle plan was soon as far as bullets fired, chaos ensues, the individual player, so like, and then once you're in it, your instincts take over all the training that you've had in your life of how to do business, you know, you, you are doing this, it may be your first business, but you have been in businesses or in organizations and you know how to operate. your instincts are going to take over your fears come from, you're at the starting line, those you know, or the race hasn't begun, the game hasn't gone, the battle hasn't begun, your journey has not begun and your fear is going to go away because you've begun and survival instincts and your practice and your process takes over. And you will lose some of your fears just because you start.
Cory Miller 29:11
Absolutely. In fact, here's one of them in conflict a lot lately, especially as I'm starting things you and I are starting things like I will tell you in this whole conversation about fear. The simplest determinator of success is often the hardest, but it's the most critical and it's called start to try. attempt. Begin, go. It's the first bold, bold step out there. It's years ago when you click publish on the first post status news article. For me, it's the same clicking publish, clicking Submit pushing your little lemonade cart out into the sun and letting people see the prices and the message and all of what you're trying to do and potentially buy from you and say, No, that's not what I want. I'm going to pass go and continue on but it's taking whatever you're working on and push it out into that light into the arena that rose Teddy Roosevelt talks about that bold action, that bold first step, run, I'm telling you over and over and over in my life, that is the one thing is just taking the bold step to do it, put it out there, most people are in the camp of the Albert Schweitzer thing. They're in the tragedy camp, they are sitting on their art, their great work in the world, and not pushing their ideas out that could help other people. And I'm saying, we're saying today through Commerce Journey, push your lemonade stand out into the light. Be willing to test your ideas and just see, you know, the definition of failures if you never try right, I mean, that's the truest thing for me in this whole getting over your fear of getting past your fear and getting down into the light and let people say yes or no and vote with their dollar of what you're trying to do. And that's why I say it's the simplest step but it's often the hardest for people.
Brian Krogsgard 30:58
I got nothing to add to that. Cory that is where we're leaving it because I don't know about other people around fired up. So get out there. Do the thing. Go to commercejourney.com/go to get started, subscribe to all our stuff. Check out Commerce Journey on Facebook. Talk about your fears. Next time