Jason Smith

I'm Jason. This is my home on the web where I write. 

2 things you need to remember before you make any business (or life) decision

2 things you need to remember before you make any business (or life) decision

It worked perfectly

I used to get these emails every day or so from Australia Post to let me know if there was any mail in my PO Box. They'd send them about 70% of the time, which was good enough. It saved me having to check the box if there was nothing in it. 

So one day I get this letter from them saying they're going to make my life easier by making me download a special app onto my iPhone, create a new Australia Post account or something, turn on notifications, and I would get Push Notifications if there was mail in the box. 

I couldn't believe it. Email worked perfectly. I could forward them to staff members if needed. I could set alerts for specific email addresses. I could check them at my leisure, not be interrupted by stupid beeps. There is no world where push notifications are a more useful product than an email... unless you are someone that doesn't know how to use email... in which case I guarantee you don't run a business and have a PO Box. 

Waste of time

I just imagined the moronic, waste-of-time meeting where this idea was pitched. Buzzwords like "apps" and "notifications" and "mobile" would have been thrown around, and managers who wanted to sound informed would have nodded approvingly, as some recent uni graduate who had never started a business in her life showed a slide show with some graphs about how much people love apps. 

People love apps. Here's a cool picture to prove it. 

People love apps. Here's a cool picture to prove it. 

I tried downloading and using the Australia Post app. It was a pile of garbage, and would never work properly. 

Then I had an even bigger problem. I had another PO Box in another town. One was under my business name, one was personal. I emailed back and forth with Australian Post about 10 times asking them how their wonderful app solution was supposed to work. 

Long story short... they couldn't help me. 

I deleted the app, acknowledged that this was typical of government funded businesses, and resorted to checking my mail every couple of weeks, or whenever I felt like it. This was about a year and a half ago. 

And now...

Today I got an email from Australia Post, proudly telling me that they're so smart and they're going to start alerting me by email instead of the app. Nowhere do they acknowledge their little app idea was a huge waste of tax payer's money, just that they've "listened to your feedback".

Look, the point of this isn't that email is a better way of communicating with business clients than push notifications, (although it obviously is). It's that if you run a business of any sort you can't afford to waste time and money jumping onto every bandwagon that blows by. 

I watch newpapers put themselves out of business because they think they need to publish everything to Facebook because that's what the cool kids are doing. All their readers now go "I don't need to buy the paper now coz I can get it on Facebook!" I saw the Geraldton council waste tens of thousands of dollars on a new website when all they needed was a $50 plug in because they believed the idiots selling them a new website. 

So here's the two things you need to remember!

1. Put aside your fear of missing out

There are only going to be more and more new trends, so you need to know what you're doing if you're going to make structural changes to how your company interacts with it's customers. I own and run several apps, but when businesses ask me if they should have one, most of the time I tell them it would be a terrible waste of money. 

The media NEED there to be a new trending thing each year... social media, apps, virtual reality, augmented reality, AI,... etc etc...  otherwise they've got nothing to talk about. Once you realise this you can be a lot more skeptical about jumping on to every new service that comes by. If it's clear that the new way of doing something is better, by all means give it a shot. Or better yet, run a trial and measure the results.

Even if you're not in business, don't approach life always wanting to do what seems to be trendy or worried you're behind. Do your own homework, and do what's right for you.

2. Don't take advice from the people trying to sell you something

You don't ask a Ford car salesman what car to buy. Obviously he's going to tell you to get a Ford whether it's best for you or not. We all know this already. 

But in heaps of other areas of life we take advice from the people that are selling us their shit. We buy the vitamin brand the chemist recommends, (they make more money on that brand). And especially when it comes to business technology, we take advice from the very people that stand to profit from our decisions. It's absurd. 

If you need advice, get it from a third party that will not benefit in any way from your decisions. 

Snippet from Australia Post's email to me today. Yay!

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Doing the right thing vs doing the popular thing

Doing the right thing vs doing the popular thing