Last week I attended a conference and Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby back in 1998, challenged the notion that businesses need to optimize for profit. What if instead they optimized for freedom? Or something else like fame? Why can't someone choose those instead of profit? And why don't people think about this before they start a business?
I was thinking about this in terms of e-commerce and it's clear that there is no such thing as “the best” e-commerce platform. They each help you optimize a different aspect.
Optimizing for Freedom
When I look at hosted e-commerce platforms like BigCommerce or Shopify they optimize for freedom. They remove complexity, make it easy to setup, and don't have any updates. This makes it excellent for people who don't have a lot of time to maintain a site or people that have no technical skill.
The nice thing about these solutions is that your business could almost run on auto pilot. As long as you have someone or something fulfilling orders you can go on a vacation without having to worry about anything.
Optimizing for Profit
On the flip side are platforms like WooCommerce and Magento that optimize for profit. They're not quite as easy to setup, you have to update your software on occasion, but they are infinitely customizable. This makes it an excellent choice for people who want to have total control over their e-commerce site. Want to optimize the checkout go ahead and tweak anything you like, want to build a custom affiliate program that rewards people based on how many sales they make there's probably a plugin you can install and if there isn't you can make it yourself.
Ultimately a self hosted solution like WooCommerce or Magento will give you all of the customization you need to optimize every part of your site. But when you go on vacation you want to make sure that someone is keeping your site up to date and that everything is running smoothly.
Optimizing Your Life
So before you make the next decision think if that decision moves you towards something you care about. If you care about freedom and you have a choice between freedom + a little money VS no freedom and a lot of money you know which to pick. And it's okay for you to optimize your business for profit and optimize your life for something different.
I enjoy my small side projects like books that are very low maintenance even though they don't make much money.