Shopify Expert Insights

E-Com Advice from our experienced in-house team

In one of our recent episodes, I had the pleasure of chatting with David Gaylord, the dynamic CEO of Bush Balm Skincare. This brand's story, evolving from a small project at a Shopify offsite to becoming a top player in Ottawa's business scene, is both inspiring and instructive.

Humble Beginnings

Bush Balm's story began back in 2016. It all started with a simple conversation during a honeymoon, of all places. The founders, Tim and Mel, along with David, brought together their collective expertise in operations, design, and marketing to address a niche in bikini line skincare. With just a $3,000 initial investment, they embarked on this journey, balancing it with their day jobs at Shopify.

Turning Points and Key Strategies

  • Product Evolution: Initially planning to create a balm, they switched to oil and scrub products, adapting to their available resources.
  • Audience Understanding: A key turning point was an Etsy show, where direct feedback helped them refine their messaging and focus on ingrown hair prevention.
  • Branding and Storytelling: Investing in professional photography and ad creatives helped crystallize their brand story.
  • Leveraging Shopify Experience: While Shopify provided a solid foundation in business operations and systems, the team learned that the nuances of e-commerce marketing and product development were distinct challenges.

Scaling the Business

  • The Leap to Full-Time: Transitioning to Bush Balm full-time was driven by reaching $2 million in revenue with a lean team.
  • Dragon's Den Exposure: Their appearance on Dragon's Den, though it did not result in a finalized deal, provided valuable exposure and financial discipline.
  • Growth Strategies:
    • Expanding to over 3000 waxing salons and 1000 Ulta beauty doors.
    • Focusing on seasonality and understanding when to scale up or pull back marketing spend.
    • Building a robust wholesale network through smart automation and relationship management.

Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Focus on building a great product and an organic community around your brand. Prepare for slower growth and scale thoughtfully. Invest in foundational elements like email marketing flows, clear website navigation, and mobile optimization.

Looking Ahead

As Bush Balm continues to grow, they plan to expand their reach in the waxing salon market, deepen their relationship with retailers like Ulta, and explore international markets. With a bold strategy of launching multiple new products, they aim to redefine industry norms and continue their impressive growth trajectory.

David Gaylord's journey with Bush Balm is a testament to the power of strategic pivoting, understanding your market, and the relentless pursuit of growth. His story offers valuable insights for any entrepreneur looking to make their mark in the e-commerce world.

Join us as we dissect the Black Friday strategy that drove Shock Surplus to a stellar $1M week. In a special episode of The Unofficial Shopify Podcast, Sean Reyes shares how his team’s well-crafted promotions and strategic planning led to a 40% revenue increase.

Key Strategies for a Successful Black Friday:

  1. Preparation and Early Planning: Start preparing months in advance. This includes campaign design, email flows, and stocking up on inventory. Shock Surplus began their preparations in September to ensure a smooth Black Friday experience.
  2. Implement Tiered Discounts: Encourage customers to spend more by offering discounts based on price tiers. This strategy not only incentivizes higher purchases but also increases the average order value (AOV).
  3. Effective Use of Email and SMS Campaigns: Leverage email marketing and SMS to drive sales and customer engagement. Shock Surplus's campaigns accounted for a significant portion of their November revenue, proving the efficacy of these tools in e-commerce.
  4. Focus on Customer Experience: Personalize your marketing and make it relevant to your audience. Shock Surplus tailored their promotions to different customer segments, understanding their specific needs and preferences.
  5. Utilize Shopify's Capabilities: Maximize the platform's features for promotions and sales tracking. This includes setting up discounts, managing inventory, and analyzing sales data to make informed decisions.
  6. Innovate and Adapt: Sean’s team moved from a non-promotional stance to a focused promotional strategy, adapting to market trends and consumer expectations.
  7. Monitor and Learn: Keep an eye on your campaigns and learn from both successes and shortcomings. This iterative process helps refine strategies for future sales events.

Black Friday can be a goldmine for Shopify merchants. By following Sean Reyes's insights and adapting these strategies to your business, you can potentially see significant growth in sales and profitability. Remember, success is a blend of preparation, strategy, and understanding your customer.

To hear the full story and gain more in-depth insights, listen to the episode here:

To maximize conversions, your online store's checkout process should:

  1. Feel seamless with your overall brand.
  2. Eliminate friction for customers.

Follow these tips:

  • Brand Consistency:
    • Include your logo.
    • Use your brand colors.
    • Pick fonts that match your site.
    • Mirror your header layout. Position logo similarly, match header color, etc.
    • Maintain brand voice. Customize labels to fit your tone, like "Keep me in the loop!" for email opt-in.
  • Prioritize payment options. Remove those used less than 5% based on your reports.
  • Clarify shipping:
    • Use carrier-calculated rates to show exact details.
    • Limit choices to 2 key options: free and premium.
  • Streamline fields. Omit non-essentials like company or extra address.
  • Cross-sell throughout. Suggest related products to boost sales.

The simpler your checkout, the more customers will complete purchases. Keep testing and improving!

Shopify Themes: Your Online Store’s Fashion Statement

When chatting with potential clients about their Shopify store's theme, the choices can get a bit muddled. Custom themes, premium themes with added tweaks, no-code setups, and where to actually get a theme—all of these options can leave folks scratching their heads. The term 'custom' alone often carries its own set of preconceptions. That's when Anne Thomas, a theme developer on our team, swooped in with her clever suit analogy, which she originally shared in a Shopify Meetup presentation.

Choosing a Shopify theme is like picking an outfit for your online store. It dictates how your store looks and feels to your customers. Let's explore the options you have.

Theme Store

These are themes available directly from Shopify's Theme Store. They're like buying a trusted, well-reviewed brand item from a department store.


  • High quality and regularly updated
  • Supported by Shopify
  • Optimized for conversions
  • Extra templates in premium themes
  • Great value
  • Free unlimited trials


  • Can look similar to other stores
  • May contain unused code
  • Many settings can be overwhelming
  • Updates may not work with some apps


Theme with Tweaks

This is like buying a nice outfit off the rack, then getting it tailored for better fit. You start with a free or premium theme, then customize it with code.


  • More custom design
  • Can update if code is documented
  • Optimized code improves performance
  • Can replace apps with built-in features


  • Too many tweaks can cause issues
  • Changes must be documented
  • Some areas are difficult to customize


Custom Theme

A custom theme is like having a bespoke outfit tailor-made just for you. It's built from scratch based on your needs and vision.


  • Excellent performance
  • Completely unique design
  • No unnecessary code
  • No limits beyond time and budget


  • Higher initial cost
  • Requires ongoing maintenance
  • Dependent on developers' skills


Third Party Marketplaces

In my view, these are the fast fashion of themes - may look stylish but quality is questionable. After bad experiences with marketplace themes, we avoid these inexpensive but often inferior options. There may be some gems, but it's not worth the risk.

Outfit Analogy Recap

  • Bespoke outfit = Custom Theme
  • Basic off the rack = Free Theme
  • Pricier off the rack, altered = Premium Theme
  • Tailored off the rack = Theme with Tweaks
  • Cheap, questionable quality = Third Party Marketplaces

Unlike a landing page tailored for specific campaigns, a homepage caters to a broader, colder audience, and has the prime objective of inviting them in to explore further. Here’s a checklist to ensure your Shopify homepage is impeccably designed to pique interest, guide exploration, and encourage conversions.

Logical Structure: Your homepage should have a logical flow that naturally guides visitors from one section to another. It should start with a clear header, followed by featured collections or products, special offers, and then perhaps a section about your brand, ending with a footer containing essential links and information.

Featured Collections and Products: Highlight a mix of your collections, new arrivals, best sellers, and promotions on the homepage. This way, visitors get a quick snapshot of the variety you offer.

Visual Cues: Employ visual cues like banners, badges, or color contrasts to guide visitors' attention to key sections or offers.

Clear Section Headings: Have clear headings for different sections like "New Arrivals," "Featured Collections," or "Limited-Time Offers" to help visitors understand what they are looking at.

Footer Navigation: Include a well-organized footer with links to other important pages like the contact page, FAQ, or policy pages, aiding in navigation.

Responsive Design: Ensure that the navigation experience remains consistent and intuitive across various devices and screen sizes.

Articulate a Clear Value Proposition: Ensure your homepage concisely communicates what you offer and why visitors should choose to shop with you.

Design Intuitive Navigation: Create a well-structured navigation menu to help visitors effortlessly find what they're seeking. Reflect the variety of your products logically in the navigation.

Ensure Responsive Design: Make sure your homepage renders well across various devices and screen sizes for a uniform user experience.

Employ High-Quality Imagery: Use high-resolution images that are visually appealing and resonate with your brand and products.

Display Social Proof: Feature reviews, testimonials, or social mentions to build trust and motivate visitors to make a purchase.

Craft Compelling Call-to-Actions (CTAs): Create clear and persuasive CTAs to guide users toward the next steps, like exploring a product category or availing a promotion.

Additional Tips:

  1. Lead with a captivating hook or positioning statement followed by merchandising elements like featured collections, products, and promotions.
  2. If possible, infuse storytelling to establish a connection and let visitors know who they are buying from.
  3. End with a safety net, typically a newsletter opt-in to keep visitors engaged even post-visit.
  4. Considering adding the homepage content last to ensure it summarizes your site effectively.
  5. Refrain from over-stylizing; simplicity and directness over fashion-centric interstitial page designs.
  6. Utilize heatmaps to identify and remove unused sections, optimizing the real estate of your homepage.

In wrapping up, a meticulously designed homepage is your storefront's digital handshake with potential customers. It's the pivotal point where visitors decide whether to delve deeper into your offerings or bounce off to other alternatives. Adhering to the outlined checklist ensures your Shopify homepage is not only visually appealing but also intuitively navigable, convincing, and conversion-centric. Every element, from logical structure to compelling CTAs, works in harmony to usher visitors through a seamless shopping journey. By embodying clarity, visual appeal, and user-centric design, you set a solid foundation for enhanced user engagement and higher conversion rates. So, take the time to refine your homepage, ensuring it's a stellar reflection of your brand's value proposition, and watch it become a bustling entryway to your digital storefront.

If you're in the ecommerce game, you know that collection & category pages are where the magic happens. Or the tragedy, depending on how you play your cards. Let's dive into what makes these pages shine and avoid those facepalm mistakes that we've all seen (and maybe made). These pages are the lifeblood of your online store, so buckle up, and let's get them right!

Common Mistakes? Oh, We've Got a Few...

Pushing Collection Grid Below the Fold

Ever seen those sites where you have to scroll forever to find the products? Yeah, me too. Let's skip the ego-stroking banners and get right to the good stuff. Customers are here to shop, not admire our artistic flair. Let's put the collection grid where it belongs - at the top, making the shopping experience as smooth as a jazz saxophonist's solo.

Infinite Scroll Pagination

Infinite scroll might seem cool, like wearing sunglasses indoors, but it's prone to breaking and annoying your users. Stick to traditional pagination; it's like a reliable old friend who never lets you down. Remember, not every new trend is a winner, and in this case, old-school pagination holds the crown for user satisfaction.

Let's Talk Enhancements

Filtering, Sorting, and Merchandising

These aren't just buzzwords; they're your toolkit for a top-notch shopping experience. Make it simple, make it intuitive, and watch your customers nod approvingly from behind their screens. These tools empower customers, giving them control and confidence, which translates into trust and, ultimately, conversions.

Content 'Cards'

Content 'cards'? Fancy, right? They're not a breeze in Shopify, but if you pull it off, you're in the cool club. They can showcase your unique offers, promotions, or even editorial content, making your collection pages pop like fireworks on the Fourth of July. It's an aesthetic and functional win.

How Many Products on a Page? Goldilocks Had It Right

Too few products, and your page looks like a ghost town. Too many, and it's a chaotic market. Find that Goldilocks zone where everything's just right. Test, tweak, repeat. Your customers don't all think alike, so why should your pages look the same? Tailor the product count to your audience and watch the engagement rise.

Quick View or Quick Add: Not a One-Size-Fits-All

Quick view or quick add features are like spicy food. Some love it; others, not so much. Test these features with your audience, gather feedback, and iterate. They might love the zing, or it might not be their cup of tea. Either way, it's better to know than guess, right?

More Good Stuff for Your Collection Pages

Mobile-Friendly Design

Mobiles are everywhere, like hipster coffee shops. Make sure your pages look good on those little screens; otherwise, you're missing out on a latte... I mean, a lot. A responsive design isn't a nice-to-have anymore; it's as essential as your morning brew. Don't let mobile users drift away to competitors with a better mobile experience.

Clear Call to Action

What's a collection page without a clear call to action? A missed opportunity, that's what. Make it clear, make it compelling, and watch those clicks roll in. Your CTAs should be like a friendly guide leading customers to their next destination. Keep them prominent, persuasive, and aligned with your brand's voice.

Wrap It Up: The Magic Formula

Collection and category pages aren't just digital shelves; they're your virtual sales floor. Play it smart, avoid the common pitfalls, and embrace the best practices. Your customers will thank you, and your sales might just do a happy dance. Invest in these pages as you would in a physical store - they're the gateway to your products, the face of your brand, and the start of many successful customer journeys.

Unveiling the Magic of ChatGPT for Unparalleled Market Research

Friends, marketers, entrepreneurs, lend me your ears. Let's take a radical ride through a new way of conducting market research using the marvel that is ChatGPT.

Step 1: Gather Your Reviews

Start by exporting your Shopify product reviews in a CSV file. You're basically amassing a wealth of customer insights, ready to be unraveled.
If you need to extract reviews from Amazon, a browser extension is a great tool for the job.

Step 2: Prepare Your Initial Prompt

Craft your initial prompt for ChatGPT like this: "You're a marketer working for [COMPANY]. I will give you their top 100 customer reviews then ask you questions about the given reviews." It's like giving your AI a job description, setting the expectations right from the get-go.

Step 3: Address Lengthy Reviews

If the content turns out to be too big for a single paste, then try the ChatGPT PROMPTs Splitter. This open-source tool handles up to 15,000 characters per request, ensuring nothing gets lost in translation.

Step 4: Employ Follow-up Prompts

These prompts serve as your roadmap for deeper insights:

  1. "Can you provide a condensed version of the reviews provided?"
  2. "Pinpoint the repeated themes appearing in these customer reviews."
  3. "Spotlight the main product features as mentioned by reviewers."
  4. "Assess the overall emotional tone of the compiled reviews."
  5. "What motivations for purchase can be inferred from the reviews provided?"
  6. "Highlight standout quotations from the supplied reviews."
  7. "Select the most compelling and pertinent review quotes for social media sharing."
  8. "Craft a detailed customer profile using the insights from these reviews."
  9. "Construct an FAQ section derived from issues raised in the reviews."
  10. "Create attention-grabbing headlines for Facebook ads using these reviews."
  11. "Propose enhancements to the product based on the feedback in the reviews."
  12. "Sort the reviews into different categories according to their main subject of focus."

Afterward, I paste the best answers into a Google Doc, format it, and share that with the client.

By following this SOP, you're effectively enlisting ChatGPT as your dedicated market research assistant, ready to analyze, summarize, and extract wisdom from your reviews. With this workflow, you're setting the stage for a more efficient and insightful market research process. Enjoy your journey to customer understanding.

You now have the power to give ChatGPT custom instructions that persist in the background. This saves you from having to repeatedly define the same parameters. All it takes is answering two simple questions:

  1. What information would you like ChatGPT to know about you to enhance its responses?
  2. How do you prefer ChatGPT to respond?

I decided to give ChatGPT the responsibility of a 'prompt engineer' to assist me in crafting my instructions.

Below are ready-to-use templates for each question that you can simply copy and paste:

What information would you like ChatGPT to know about you to enhance its responses?

I'm Your Name, a dedicated Your Role and the Your Position at Your Organization, a Type of Organization where our mission is to What Your Organization Does. My core expertise lies in Your Field or Area of Expertise. I'm located in Your Location. Having a deep passion for Your Passion or Interest, I am its vocal advocate, striving for a world where Your Vision or Goal.

How would you like ChatGPT to respond?

'Before answering any query, measure your confidence in delivering a precise and beneficial answer on a scale of 1 to Your Preferred Maximum Scale. Use examples for clarity, such as 'Confidence: X/Y'. If your confidence score is below Your Preferred Threshold, seek further clarification with a follow-up question rather than risking an incomplete or incorrect answer.

Elucidate your thought process step by step prior to presenting a solution or response. This insight into your approach strengthens the reasoning behind your eventual answer.

Craft your responses in a Desired Tone tone, employing Preferred Communication Techniques to express your message.

Adhere to a Desired Reading Level to guarantee comprehension. Strive for concise writing.

After filling out these templates, copy and paste them into the 'Custom instructions' field found in the context menu of ChatGPT. If you'd like to fine-tune them further, you can ask ChatGPT for help by posing the question: 'You’re a prompt engineer. Can this custom instruction prompt giving you context of who I am be improved?'

Every digital journey starts with a single click. For Shopify store owners, that click is the gateway to success. But how do you get visitors to embark on this journey with you? The answer lies in effective traffic generation strategies. Let's dive into the world of SEO, social media marketing, Pinterest pins, podcasts, and YouTube tutorials to explore how they can pave your path to success.

SEO and Content: The Unsung Heroes

Imagine you're walking down a busy city street, browsing through the stores. You're more likely to step into a well-lit, inviting store, right? That's what SEO-friendly content does for your Shopify store—it illuminates your online presence. By creating engaging content like how-to articles, product guides, and even quizzes, you can attract organic traffic like a moth to a flame. Just remember:

  • Formulate a content plan based on customer queries
  • Research relevant keywords
  • Publish regularly and consistently

Social Media: The Digital Town Square

Remember the time when the town square was the hub of all activities, from commerce to entertainment? Today, that town square has gone digital, and it's called social media. By actively engaging with your audience and sharing valuable content, you can funnel traffic from your social platforms to your Shopify store. Think of it like a modern-day town crier, proclaiming news, promotions, and updates about your products and brand.

Pinterest: The Digital Bulletin Board

Remember pinning interesting flyers to your bulletin board? Pinterest is the digital equivalent. Its shoppable pins feature has become a game-changer for e-commerce, allowing you to turn casual browsers into potential buyers. Think of it as pinning a flyer with a direct link to your store.

Podcasts: The Modern-Day Radio Shows

In the golden days of radio, being a guest on a popular show was a surefire way to gain publicity. Today, that role is played by podcasts. By sharing your unique insights and experiences, you can reach out to a whole new audience, just like I did when I appeared on the E-commerce Insights podcast and saw a significant uptick in traffic to my Shopify store.

YouTube Tutorials: The New DIY Guides

There's a certain joy in building something with your own hands, following a DIY guide. Now, imagine if that guide was a YouTube tutorial, and the creator was you. By creating engaging tutorials related to your products, you can drive traffic to your Shopify store, just like when I created a step-by-step tutorial on building a birdhouse using the supplies from my store.

Conclusion: Your Roadmap to Success

Your Shopify store's journey to success begins with a single click, and these traffic generation strategies are your roadmap. As you embark on this journey, remember to provide value, engage with your audience, and most importantly, track your results. After all, in the digital world, the journey is just as important as the destination. Now, it's your turn. Which of these strategies will you embark on first?

Harley Finkelstein began his entrepreneurial journey DJing and selling t-shirts. Today, he’s the President of Shopify.

How did he get from point A to point B? Some may sum it up to a meeting in a coffee shop with Shopify’s CEO, but Harley’s entrepreneurial work ethic is also a big piece of the puzzle.

He sat with us to share his story, discuss his thoughts on the growth of Shopify and eCommerce, and provide some wisdom for fellow entrepreneurs based on his more than two decades of experience in this space.

The Origin Story

Harley has always been an entrepreneur at heart. When he was 13, he decided to be a DJ, so his dad created business cards for him. He pinpoints these simple business cards, made on a home printer, as a pivotal moment that showed he could make any dream he had a reality by taking the first action step.

In 2001, Harley set his sights on college and attended McGill University in Montreal for undergrad. That same year, his parents fell on hard times financially and could not support him. Forced to figure out how to make money, he gave entrepreneurship a real try at 17 years old. Harley started a small t-shirt business selling fan shirts themed around McGill University. He would sell his t-shirts to the university, and they would turn around and sell them to consumers. He began scaling the business, selling directly to multiple universities. A mentor noticed his small success and let him know that he would soon hit a ceiling. He recommended that Harley go to law school if he really wanted to succeed as an entrepreneur and figure out how to grow a successful business. This advice led him to pursue an MBA and law degree from the University of Ottawa—a decision that changed the entire trajectory of his life.

While attending the University of Ottawa, Harley joined a group of founders and entrepreneurs called the “Young Entrepreneurs Club.” One of the few members of this club was a computer programmer, Tobias “Tobi” Lütke. Tobi owned a snowboard company and wrote a piece of software to sell those snowboards online. This software later became known as Shopify. Harley believed in Tobias's work and opened his store as the 136th shop with Shopify.

“This is The Entrepreneurship Company, not because of Shopify, but because of all the people involved with this community. Every one of us has decided that entrepreneurship is the greatest tool to self-actualize, to solve a problem, to find success, and to find ourselves.”


From Shopify seller to Shopify President

Harley graduated from law school, passed the bar, and went to work for a law firm (as most people do after law school.) His Shopify shop supplied the magical feeling and sense of community, which he felt was pulling him back when he tried to walk away from entrepreneurship. Less than a year later, he left his job as a lawyer behind, reached out to Tobi, and asked if he could help him build Shopify.

Harley officially joined Shopify in 2010 as Chief Platform Officer, but he was the “jack of all trades,” helping with business development, law, finance, marketing, and more. Since then, he has worn the hat of Shopify’s COO and now of Shopify’s President since September 2020.

Harley has received numerous accolades, including the Canadian Angel Investor of the Year award, Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 Award, and Fortune’s 40 Under 40. He was on the board of the C100 from 2014-17, was inducted into the order of Ottawa in 2017, and was on the board of directors of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation from 2017 to 2020.

He equates many of his successes to the fire that the growth of Shopify has lit beneath him. To this day, he works hard to continually qualify for his job through learning, meeting people smarter than him, and gaining knowledge through mentorship and coaching.

“The entrepreneurial way to grow a business is the optimistic way, the way that I’ve always wanted to live my life, which is ‘challenge accepted.’ If Shopify is going to grow at this ridiculous pace every year …I need to keep up.”


Is Shopify still the go-to platform for eCommerce?

Shopify’s growth has been explosive in recent years as eCommerce adoption has grown rapidly, now being the norm rather than the exception. Shopify now accounts for more than 10% of all eCommerce retail sales in the United States, second to only Amazon.

Shopify has become the go-to platform for eCommerce due to its focus on user-friendliness and simplicity paired with advanced features for the modern eCommerce marketer. The recent adoption from major companies such as Glossier, Spanx, and Mattel is proving its evolution in scale and mass adoption.

Shopify’s app store is also growing, and the platform’s features are constantly being updated. When deciding which to update and focus on, their motto is: “making the important things really really easy.” One example of this is their new checkout functionality, which allows merchants to change the overall feel, look, and function of their checkout experience to match their brand—making branding easy.

“There is no company that is more future-proofing eCommerce than Shopify. If you are at your mom’s kitchen table and want to start a business, we’re making sure it’s really easy. At the same time, if you’re a publicly traded company, you can use Shopify, too.”


Shopify during the pandemic

When the pandemic hit, many entrepreneurs still did not have an online platform and were forced to adapt to the online format overnight.

Shopify was there for them and earned their trust. More merchants are using more of Shopify’s products than ever before, and Harley attributes this growth to the trust Shopify earned during the pandemic. These same entrepreneurs are now replacing their in-store POS systems with Shopify’s, so their omnichannel experiences are built with Shopify on the back end.

“I’m very proud of how Shopify operated during the pandemic. I think the pandemic was difficult for everybody—even the pandemic winners. But Shopify earned incredible trust with businesses and merchants during the pandemic.”


Wisdom for entrepreneurs from Harley’s failures and successes

Entrepreneurs know what it means to take risks. This also means they know what it’s like to fail and to persevere in the face of failure. Harley shared some advice for entrepreneurs based on his experiences:

Prioritize Hiring: Hiring the best people is important for the growth and expertise of your company. In the early days of Shopify, Harley says he could have done better at really focusing on hiring, and it has taken him many years to realize just how important those decisions are.

Delegate: You may be great at doing every part of your business, but you don’t get to scale when you try to do everything yourself.

Find an easy way to explain your offerings: The more your customers know about your offerings, the more they can purchase and benefit from your company. One improvement Harley thinks Shopify needs to work on is explaining what service they offer merchants.

Be transparent and admit when you’re wrong: Whether you make a mistake internally or publicly, admit your wrongdoings and try to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Learn from your mistakes. In the summer of 2022, Shopify had to lay off 10% of the team due to predicting eCommerce growth wrong, based on COVID-19 pandemic predictions, and overhiring. Tobi, Harley, and other leaders of Shopify have been very vocal about this mistake and what went wrong in press releases and interviews.

Finally, and most importantly, Harley wants people to know that entrepreneurship is for anyone. The idea that entrepreneurship is only for people with experience and money is old-school thinking. Yes, it is difficult to stand out amongst competitors, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

“This is the greatest time ever, in the history of the world, to build a brand new business.”


Next Steps for Harley

Harley’s success with Shopify has not stopped him from nurturing his entrepreneurial spirit. He recently started his own business, Firebelly Tea. Harley’s own anxiety being amplified by coffee during the pandemic inspired Firebelly. A friend introduced him to green tea, and he thought, “Why don’t I make a small business from this?”

For Harley, the highlight of his return as an operator is the joy of the day-to-day work of owning a business. He feels that although everyone’s measurement of success is different, being an entrepreneur gives you the control to do work you love.

“That’s where you get into this concept of life’s work, and we are so frickin’ lucky we can do our life’s work. Most people only end up doing their life’s work after their life is over and after their career is done. Doing your life’s work during your life is incredibly wonderful.”