Saturday, June 11, 2022

The Entrepreneur

Photo by Garrhet Sampson on Unsplash

NOTICE: This post was originally posted on Medium, but has later been moved to the official World Of Card Games blog to consolidate all posts.

This weekend, I clicked through a long list of emails in my inbox. I’d been busy with my other job for over a week, and hadn’t had time to check email for World of Card Games in a while.

Even when I get busy, I make it a point to respond to all questions, eventually — except for the most rude ones!

But I have to admit, it wears me down.

Ninety percent of the emails that land in my inbox fall into one of two categories. The first category is the tech support email. The writer is using the site, and it doesn’t work the way that they expect. So they send me an email with a question.

In fact, I’m delighted to get these emails! This may seem odd. However, most often, the person writing to me just doesn’t realize that, in fact, World of Card Games can do what they want. I’d prefer that they write to me so that I can explain how they can use this or that feature. I hope they can use that information to have more fun playing cards just the way that they want! If someone is playing cards at World of Card Games on a regular basis, I’d hate for them to be frustrated by the experience. I always tell people that if the site doesn’t do what they want, they should go play somewhere else. And I mean it! The site is there to entertain you, and I want people to have a good time at it. If I can help by pointing out an undiscovered feature to a person with a problem, that makes me happy.

The other category of email is the one with the angry complaint. A person has become completely frustrated or angry by something that happened at the site, and they are going to blast me about it — even if there’s nothing I can do to help or it isn’t my fault. This type of person sometimes gives me business advice. They tell me that I should run the site this or that way, and if I don’t, then I’m an incompetent nincompoop. Sometimes they rant at me for being a bad software developer. After all, if the site suddenly stopped responding, it’s 100% my fault, and has nothing to do with their Internet provider, bad WiFi, or old computer…

I try not to take this category of email personally. I guess some people need to vent, and don’t understand that it’s actually extremely difficult to run a multiplayer game site — especially as a solo developer. There are no big corporate bucks behind World of Card Games. I provide the site free of charge. There is a column on the right side of the page with space for one or two ads. The ad revenue makes it possible for me to keep the site running, but it doesn’t provide me with revenue to hire staff to support or build out the site. It’s just me and it probably always will be.

When I get an angry email, it surprises me how much perfection some people expect from a free service.

I don’t often get emails from those people who are happily enjoying the site. And I don’t expect it, in fact! Why bother? Most people — including myself, I confess — don’t think to make a comment when everything is going right. In fact, you may not notice when everything is going right. It’s when things go wrong that you’re more likely to jump off your couch to register a complaint.

Prior to running World of Card Games, I wasn’t an entrepreneur. I guess you could say I was a “wantrepreneur”. I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I didn’t know how. I was always a full time employee, and I had trouble coming up with ideas for how to develop a profitable business, doing something that I could at least tolerate (or, heavens, maybe even enjoy!).

Once World of Card Games fell into my hands, I became a real entrepreneur. It has turned out to be a mixed bag. It’s not highly profitable. People complain. A lot of the feedback I’ve gotten is negative. There have been many times in the last few years when I’ve wondered why I keep doing it. And in fact, I’ve had to stop working full time on World of Card Games. I find I can make a better living doing other things. It’s now my side hustle, which is why it can take me a while to respond to email.

This brings me to the topic of this post. Today, I clicked on an email. The person had written the following to me:

No complaints marya just a thank you for your site. There is a occasional {should not be there} person but most are very nice people who love playing Euchre. Thank you for putting up with all of us.

At the end of the email was a little smiley face.

I practically broke down and cried. It has been a stressful week. I don’t expect emails with a simple thank you. It’s rare, and this person just blew me away with kindness. I wrote back to let this lovely person know how much I appreciated the thoughtful email.

Since I became a business owner, I’ve made an effort to give positive feedback at businesses that I frequent. In my experience, entrepreneurship is difficult and often thankless. If someone’s small business brings me joy, I want them to know about it. I encourage you to do the same. Let me be clear, this is not a request for you to send me a thankful email, although obviously I’d appreciate it 😃 But the next time you go into someone’s diner or shop, and you enjoy the experience, maybe take a moment to say thanks! Some days, a kind word can make all the difference!