Using the Cart Before You Own a Horse, On the Internet
How to build a great website with a fabulous online store full of products, in reverse!
Most people recognize the horse drawn cart analogy in the title, but how many will remember push cart vendors of ice cream or hot foods, moved by man power without the benefit of a horse? Occasionally they are still found at county fairs or country festivals and in small towns speckled across America. Among America’s Amish communities, horse power remains a part of daily life as it once was in every community. Usually, you get the horse before the cart because it is easier that way.
My deep desire to support our troops in a profound way inspired daydreams of starting a non-profit organization that would grow into a great foundation, doing wonderful things for our volunteer military forces. Experience working on fund raising events for Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and other charities enabled me a full blown vision of grandeur. It was a complex vision which would take many pages to describe.
Reading about how to start and run a non-profit group, with all the legal and other complexities, made it obvious another approach was needed. An important part of a great organization is a great website, which was part of the vision. Funds for a business investment were not available, so a search ensued for what was needed at minimal or no cost. Research found some free, self publishing websites that print-on-demand, incurring product costs only when orders are received.
Using the cart to make sales became necessary before the online horse could be purchased. In this case, the online horse was the full service web presence with the depth of online services dreamed of. The web presence needed to be coordinated, assembled, funded, leased on a website hosting server, and then managed.
It started with a small first step. Spending only twenty five dollars, the desired URL address was secured in a two year lease and a small but critical piece of the puzzle was in place. Other available ingredients were a computer and access to the Internet. Graphic art and website building programs were on the shelf as well. A mission of boosting troop morale and knowledge of graphic design for tee-shirts and other imprinted products compelled the preparation and online posting of inspired, exclusive designs that provoke thought. Some designs might make you chuckle too. It was a huge investment in time to create and post about twenty original designs on products to sell but it incurred no cash outlay. Inspiration drove the work onward for months while the cause and results made the work gratifying.
The first offerings were posted on a limited, but free, self publishing website. Limitations of a free service made an upgrade desirable so one was purchased on the same website for less than ten dollars a month. This provided much more space for product expansion and much greater presentation flexibility, resulting in an online store stuffed full of products to be proud of! So the cart has been put out to make sales, with a goal of funding the online horse purchase down the line.
Someday establishing a non-profit organization to serve and inspire our troops may become a project in reality. For now it is only a dream. An IRS tax exempt classification as a non-profit group makes getting sponsorships and grants from companies a lot easier. Tax deductible corporate sponsorship or philanthropist money can make the visions of grandeur possible. So could the rapid sale of shirts and other popular products using a for-profit business model.
Until the non-profit dream becomes a reality, a for-profit model has been established out of necessity. Fifty percent of proceeds will be donated to FallenPatriotFund.org or other worthy causes with other proceeds directed toward the service website envisioned for our troops, which does not yet exist. So far, only the selling cart is posted in a cyberspace shop with unique, morale boosting products offered for sale now. Only time will tell how the rest will develop.
As with getting the horse and the cart, usually a website is built first and the online store with imprinted products is added later. There is also the reverse method explained in this article and driven by necessity.
Necessity is the mother of invention and necessity sometimes mandates using the cart before you own a horse, on the Internet!
About the Author:
Average Joe Boomer works to help you boost troop morale, by influencing voters, with his site at www.votewithtroops.com He also promotes his Sly Dawg character at www.cafepress.com/sly_dawg His publication names include Average Joe Baby Boomer and Joe Ostrich (Getting Your Head Out of the Sand – A Baby Boomer’s Reform Agenda). Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org