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July 16th, 2011

The Ingredients of Success

Posted by liveBooks

Flying has always been exciting for me. Something about being high above it all, traveling at high speed, with views to forever – well, it simply gets my creative juices flowing. So on my recent trip to our office in Romania, with stops in Berlin, and NYC, I had plenty of air time to think about all the little things that make up the ingredients for success.

We launched the new version of liveBooks – Scaler – this past week. We’ve known that the market wanted scaling websites, large images, new thumbnails, but the trick is to do it right. A few other companies having scaling sites, but after studying the compromises made in design, technology and price, we knew we could do it better. It is one thing to design for a specific size and ratio window, but to allow for that design to scale up and down without compromising the integrity of the site—well, that’s tricky— and our brilliant development, design and production teams knocked it out of the park! And our clients still have the flexibility to customize their sites or work directly with our designers for a fully unique design.  Check out the home page to see more about SCALER.

So what lessons are available to us thorough this process?

For more than a year liveBooks teams have honed the vision for Scaler. We met with clients, prospects, art directors and photo editors to understand the market’s needs, wants and perceptions. We assessed the design and technical challenges, and the long term product road map for liveBooks. Defining a clear vision is imperative at liveBooks. Once the vision is defined, we write it down and all the teams use this statement as a guiding principle for driving strategies. Do you have a vision of what success looks like for you? If not, how will you know when you get there? Write it down!

Once we had our vision statement, we began the painstaking exercise of planning. At liveBooks this includes all aspects of the company, from how the product will be built, to how it will be marketed to existing and prospective clients, to how we will support our clients in the transition. For example, Scaler is the photo industry’s only custom scaling website solution. So in our planning we needed to determine how to build the product to allow for this customization, keep the price affordable for our clients, while sustaining the business in the long term. As your plan is developed remember to include allowances—time, money, and resources—for unknowns that will inevitably appear along the way. “Measure twice, cut once” as Dad used to say.

Once we had agreement on the plan, then we set out to execute the plan. A major part of working the plan is continual evaluation of how we are doing. Things change, and new information may challenge your initial thinking. Are the things that you are doing on a daily and weekly basis aligned with your vision? If not, perhaps it is time to reassess your vision or rework your plan. Have you made time in your schedule, in your life, to regularly assess and adjust your plan?

In my experience, another thing happens when you set your vision, create your plan and begin to work it – magic happens! When I say magic, I just mean those special surprises, the unexpected little pieces of help that can come your way. Recently, my friend and old business partner, Bernie DeChant, happened to be in Eastern Europe while I was working in our office in Romania. Bernie was the Art Director at Adjacency and designed many of the very first e-commerce sites in the industry for top clients like Apple, Patagonia, LandRover and Virgin Megastore. He stopped by the liveBooks office in Brasov and spent a few days hanging out with us. It didn’t take long before Bernie was meeting with various team members and providing valuable input on the new product, marketing ideas and our website. Everyone was energized after meeting with Bernie. It was that alchemy of an amazing group of creative people in multiple locations around the world successfully collaborating toward a common goal. So stay open and awake to the unexpected ‘magic’ that may come your way, signaling you’re on the right path.

Clear vision, solid planning, continual evaluation, keeping your eyes open for the magic… and lots of hard, smart work.

“In human endeavor, chance favors the prepared mind”– Louis Pasteur, 1822-1895,

So here’s wishing you lots of success!

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