I started my business in 2001. At that time, my company evolved around creating web sites for smaller companies. This is my story.
The start: Custom programming
I started working on websites back in 1998. In 2000 I started programming my own websites and custom web solutions. They were written in the Lasso programming language. At first the data source was FileMaker Pro, hosted on first generation iMacs. Later, I ported most of the sites to mySQL, still powered by Lasso.
Lasso is a great programming language which is easy to understand. Still, it's very powerful. For a novice programmer like me the low threshold of Lasso was bliss. Since starting out, I've built some quite sophisticated solutions in Lasso. More so than I would have been able to do with PHP (which I find a lot more complex). Another advantage of Lasso is the database independency. Which means you can connect to Filemaker Pro, MySQL, ODBC and loads of other databases. Provided there is a database connector written for them.
I actually built my own CMS in Lasso and MySQL back in 2001. In 2003 I included SEO features like dynamic title tags, meta descriptions and keywords into the system. The system was easy to use and I sold it to a fair amout of customers.
I still program using Lasso. Nowadays the solutions I create are made to show and update data from Filemaker Pro on the web.
For everything else I now use Joomla and have ported most of the clients from the old CMS to Joomla.
After a couple of years running my company things happened in my personal life. I found myself in need of a more steady income and a more social work environment. That made me look for a part-time job. Since then, I've been employed at two different companies, part-time.
The first one was an advertising agency in Sandefjord, south of Oslo. Since my background is in the graphic design / printing business, I got a job as a production coordinator. I was responsible for the technical quality of every design project going out the door and for the communication with the printer. I was also responsible for investments on the IT side, meaning I got to pick which Macs we were going to use, what software etc.
After a year in this job I was offered to join another company as an SEO consultant in Oslo. I was there for 3 1/2 years. During that time, my job was to advice clients on SEO strategy, write search engine friendly copy, create SEO friendly websites (in Joomla), link building and much more.
I always wanted to go back to being independent, though. So I kept my company and kept my network alive. I live in Horten, a smaller town south of Oslo. This is also where I have my business. As mentioned, in February of 2010 I quit my last job as an SEO Consultant in Oslo and went full time with my own company again. After 4,5 years as an employee it was a great feeling being fully independent again.
Simplifying my business
During the last couple of years I've read a lot of books on business. But it wasn't until I read the book The 4-hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss that I found something which took my company in a new direction. If you have read the book and heard Tim speak, he's all about outsourcing and keeping things simple.
Read my review of The 4-Hour Work Week, expanded edition
Fighting the information overload is another thing he's talking and writing a lot about. No, I'm not trying to get to a 4-hour work week. But I've found a lot of tips in his view on how to run a business.
I've also read the book Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier-Hanson several times. This book gives a lot of insight on how to run a business. Not how to make it big and bulky, but make it successful and keeping your life and your sanity. For more about this book, read my Rework review.
Inspired by Tim Ferriss, I started outsourcing a lot of tedious, repetitive and administrative tasks to a company in India - GetFriday.com. It took some time learning how to delegate to an outsourcer in India. Today, however, I'm using the company on a daily basis. My VA (Virtual Assistant) takes care of things like order management, invoicing, reporting, blog research etc.
And I must admit it's a pleasure receiving emails like this:
A pleasant day to you!
As per your request, kindly have the X attached for today.
Have a wonderful day!
Using online software like Google Docs has made outsourcing a lot easier than it could have been, as document versions are taken care of automatically. I also have the possibility of rolling back to previous versions if needed.
If you want to know more about the software I use, read my post Recommended software for your small business
I guess I'm not alone when I say I'm getting a little overwhelmed by all the information around. Twitter, Facebook and other social networks are great for spreading ideas, promote stuff and getting to know people. At the same time they are immensely time-consuming. So I've decided to approach the social media in batches. I read tweets, Facebook and other channels at certain times, using search functions to update myself on things past.
I also use www.socialoomph.com to schedule tweets. That way, I can schedule a tweet that I know people in other time zones than myself will see when I'm sound asleep.
Email addiction has also been a problem for me. I'm on an email detox as we speak, and try to check email only 2-3 times per day. I'm like a person who try to quit smoking, though. I regularly fall back to old habits and have to slap myself to get back on track ;)
Running my own company means some element of risk. Last year, I lost a large sum of monthly commission and a four-figure dollar amount on a client who went bankrupt. That took some time to recover from. But I learned a lot from it. To reduce the risk in the future I have decided to split my business endevours into three areas:
- Website consultancy (mainly focusing on Joomla and SEO)
- Selling products online (coffee capsules through the Virtuemart powered webshop kaffekapsler.no)
As of now, the main part of my income comes from consultancy. My webshop is getting along nicely as well. Blogging takes more time. But it's great fun and I get to know a lot of people because of it. I also learn a lot about Joomla and SEO. It keeps me updated and on the edge.
If you want to support my efforts with this blog, please check out the advertising opportunities.
Please feel free to comment, email me or send me guest posts (not everything will be accepted, but feel free to submit posts for consideration).
So, that was a bit about my world and my new reality. I hope you enjoy reading my blog!