81 - How To Take Lessons Learned From Tragedy To Create Something Amazing With Andy Hayes

starting a business | Dec 01, 2017

When tragedy strikes, you have two choices you can pick yourself up and walk on or you can wallow in your tragedy. Andy tells us his story of having to pick himself up and create something amazing from it.

Tell us about your journey and the path that it created. While working for a huge software company, traveling the world, long hours, working with great leaders and mentoring others, all good things came to an end. He was the victim of several business acquisitions and in the end he kept trading money for opportunities but loosing a little bit of himself in every trade. At the end he found himself in a very toxic work environment with many different health issues. Along the way he had always been told that he would make such a great consultant but would always counter the idea and say that he could not be trusted in a risk-taking situation. But the toxic work environment opened his eyes to see that it was more of a risk to take and stay in the environment than it was to take the risk and branch out on his own.

With the support from his community and many people telling him that it was possible that he could take that next step, he left his job. What made this possible is to keep the positive around. Finding the right people to help you see the right way out is the best thing. With a childhood hobby of making magazines, from drawing the pictures to writing the stories he found himself in the direction of creating his own magazine, while he had his community of friends, thought “great idea but start smaller." The popularity of Word press and Facebook fan pages had just started to come into social media so, taking his idea online everyone thought he could be an innovator with success. It was very slow going and not as easy as just putting up a website and moving forward. In the meantime, he picked up consulting jobs because many heard that he was out of a job.

However, in picking up the consulting jobs because it was money in the door he lost focus on the real piece and it started to fall off to the side because he was so interested and consulting on projects that he really loved but was not allowed to do because he was held back by his past jobs. All the while he turned into that crappy boss that he had left, by doing tasks just because of the money. It was at this point that he figured out why he was struggling with the writing piece and it was because there was no real message. At this point he settled on an internal journey of what he was set out to work on and create a business around. It was at this point where two worlds met and he realized what the direction was for his business yet also his mom passed away after a six-year fight with breast cancer. It allow for the perfect path and direction to really see where the need was on the next step in his journey. It was making the most out of the life that you have and are given. At this point business took off and he really was clear about the direction, when he allowed himself to see life for what was in and around him. Look at the message for what you want or what your customers want out of the message that is being brought to you by your business.

Tell us about Plum Deluxe and how the message became clear on where you wanted to take the business. The message that he wanted to share is to help people create a life that they loved. However, that seemed very scary and that was not the direction he wanted either. So he broke it down and made it easier to digest and then the tagline was formed for Plum Deluxe, “making moments matter." And from the message is how he decide how and what content is  publish. A new article is published every day centered on the statement “making moments matter." The business model in the beginning was started around sponsorships. However, he did try affiliates but affiliates for those that do not know are redirecting your business to other business but getting paid for that redirect and that did not work because he wanted to keep his customer.

During this realization he determined that he needed a product that needed to go along with the theme that he had already established and so the choosing of a tea business to couple with his business model of “making moments matter”. He reached out to one of the writers for Plum Deluxe and asked for some help as she had written about teas and he was seeking her guidance in regards to how to make the whole concept work between the tea idea and the theme of the website to date. She mentored him and taught him about tea and he launched with the teas and it was a total flop. He started with a subscription option and then he would put up a la Carte teas and the concept totally flopped. He went back to the drawing board and his peer group and reevaluated again. After review of the copy that he on his site and looking at the feedback it really did not give the whole feel of what the reason and thought was behind the whole concept. When you launch and you want people to understand the concept you need to offer samples and establish a relationship. In doing so he re-launched with an e-commerce site, having a selection of teas only. As sales started to move forward with a following of customers the next addition to the site was the “tea of the month." A part of the site that he once was so excited about was just an addition at this point because he really was working on doing the right thing the right way. After all the trials and tribulations he is at a point were he is back in the excitement of what this was all started about and for.

Your main source is to get website traffic and what have you done to be so successful to this point with driving traffic to your site? After all the reworking on the philosophy and what the company stood for the one item that change was the name of the site. In the beginning it was something about travel because so much of the content was about travel but it needed some thing with meaning and that is where Plum Deluxe was established. In changing the name there was a huge hit to the traffic that was looking at the site and that is a very hard loss for the business as well. In order to get eyeballs to your site you have to use the rake strategy, which just means using as many ways to drive traffic to your site as possible. The most effective way for the tea business is Pinterest and Plum Deluxe has optimized the use of pinning articles and free downloads to drive traffic back to the site. The company as a whole took the time to understand the workings of Pinterest and what it will do for their company. Also, Google plays a huge part in the traffic that the site generates with SEO. They look at keywords, metatags and metadescription on the site on a monthly basis so that they make sure that the website is doing the job that it is designed to do. One walk away piece that he learned from his days in corporate America is to make sure that you have a very clean site that is not overloaded.

You can find Andy at Plum Deluxe.

More about Andy: Andy Hayes is the founder and creator of Plum Deluxe, the website that helps you create moments that matter. A published author, prolific writer, tea lover, and public speaker, he is based in sunny Portland, Oregon. Featured in sites and magazines such as CNN, Wall Street Journal, and National Geographic, Andy is known for his fresh ideas on living a good life.

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