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Natalie Crowe Designs Blog | Web Design & Business Mentoring

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Success! – Stage 1 Web Design Office Organised

Success!
– For those of you who saw our earlier post regarding sorting client
files. I’m feeling a lot more organised after setting up the client
summary folders. We have a summary file for each of our active clients
and our filing cabinet contains all of the past files and notes.

The goal will be to have 60 of those by the end of this year.
Currently at 47 with the number rising. As a business owner I want to
offer the very best service to my clients and will we working through
each of those clients files on a regular basis to work out ways that we
can further improve our services.

For all of my fellow stationary-aholic fans out there I had fun on this one.

Streamlining the Natalie Crowe Designs Office

After spending so much time out of  the loop with our clients and generally looking at and working out how best we could improve our services. One of the major points of contention for us was streamlining the process. We have our own system as to how to manage and sort our client files, but I personally wanted to have a more hands on approach to what we do as a business. I want to be able to look at a client  at any given time and know exactly where he or she is in their business relationship with Natalie Crowe Designs, but also to be able to optimise my service to all of you.

After much planning and organising (and stationary shopping etc), we now have 47 active client files which all have a summary display folder with various documents that have been consistently streamlined with in the business.  The folder has all the details I need to know when I pick up the phone to talk to a client, the progress report on their latest development. the previous projects developed, the accounts for that client, a list of products or services that the client currently already has and could possibly use in the future.

 I’ll grab a photo of the achievement when I get back into the office but for those who are interested. Our folders have:

♦ Client Detail Summary Sheet
♦ Current progress sheet – per job
♦ Credentials sheet – what accounts they have setup , who, what where
♦ Current products/service & proposed services.
♦ Accounts to date – summary

The folders are consistent across the board. We still file all of our paperwork in a filing cabinet but this system makes it much easier when the phone rings and you need to review.

Can’t wait to start growing the client list between now and the end of the year.

Slowly progressing

A sight for sore eyes, the arrival of contractors, meant that trenches have been dug and that it’s gearing closer to things slowly progressing in the world of Natalie Crowe Designs. 

For those of you who haven’t been on the journey with us for the past 3 months. We have experienced what has been the most challenging circumstance that ‘we’ as a business, have every faced. As you can imagine, the lost of a primary tool to provide services for clients would be difficult,  but for a small scale, local website design business – not having consistent and reliable Internet Connection and Phone service has been ‘devastating’. The total of losses in client accounts is easily in the $15,000 mark and until we have connection this will continue to increase. It’s understandable not everyone is in the position to just hang around for 3 months whilst Telstra get themselves organised.  Unfortunately this is something that we’ve had to come to terms with…   It’s been heart shattering watching your business fall to pieces when all of these events  have been completely out  of our control.  But it’s on wards and upwards,  It can only get better from here right?

We’re hoping that in no more than a week we’ll have ADSL internet connection back in the office and that we can finally start making solid plans for development for our clients and for the remainder of 2014.

Believe you me, when I say that I will be letting everyone know when we’ll be back online and back in action. We’ve missed all of our clients, fans and followers and can’t wait to  catch up on your travels and triumphs whilst we’ve been  offline.

Have a great day everyone!

Decisions – Temporarily Unavailable until October 2014

Hi everyone,
This is definitely not going to be your traditional business post.  But I need to share with the vast majority about our obstacles as it’s meant down time for the business and an unavailability period spanning into October at this stage.

For those who have been watching our journey over the last 8 weeks, you may have noticed a drop in the number of projects we’ve releases or spoken about via social media, you may have noticed the drop in  communication and others instances – for example not being able to reach us by phone or email. 

We have been working through a number of obstacles – particularly with Telstra,  but things have been given a whole new level of extremity.   We’ve been in negotiations with Telstra since early July trying to get a new phone line in and internet services installed as there have been problems with the ones we currently had.

After several dates with Telstra and estimates to when we’ll actually have services again and what needs to take place we’ve been told it won’t be until late september -early october that we will be back in action with Telstra contractors expected to be out to trench the lines putting new  lines down in order for us to get the services we need to continue operating. 

Originally, we were told it would just be at most a few hundred  $$ and a fortnight and we’d be underway,  I  expected this to be the case and had been working with several clients on jobs and planning projects with the expectation of it being a fortnight before we’d have solid adsl internet at the office. 

I took on several projects and started on some new training materials and planned to work when I could using the internet from my mobile and head down to the local cafe’s and setup camp down there whilst we got things sorted. It meant that turn around times were increased but we were getting there slowly.

Things spanned into the 4-5 week mark and we started getting phone calls from clients who were unhappy with the wait times and needed to move on with their projects. Which gutted me to be honest. I have prided myself on great turn around times, communication and quality service. After 5 emails and phone calls and being unable to keep up with demand, we have sadly had to assist several of our clients with moves over to a new web development team. 

With a small family or any family with young children and working from home, you know yourself that you work around the commitments of your family. Having no solid internet at home, meant we’re restricted to  10am until 2pm  work time to be back in time for school pickups, if you include going to consultations during the day and travel time – my business hours are cut in just over a 3rd of my regular dedicated work time.  I love my job, I love my business and I love being able to help my clients put two and two together and  business a solution that suits them…  my regular hours span most often –  from 10am – 2pm for consultations and general business and then 9-12pm  sometimes 1am-2am depending on the projects being developed and the tasks we’re required to complete.

It’s now going on 7-8 weeks and  today alone I have worked through several emails with clients needing to take the next step on projects that we’ve carried from the ground up and having to notify them that if they can not wait until we’re back on track, that they’ll need to move forward with another developer.  A number of those emails have been sent negotiating with other  developers. 

I will admit,  I am very much at loss with all of this , business is business and I completely understand where a lot of my clients are coming from, and there are absolutely no hard feelings regarding them having to move forward.   I wish them all the best with their business. It’s just disheartening to see your own business that you’ve built from the ground up  suffering a loss at the hands of another business.

It’s expected that we will be back in full swing in October, and I will do my best to negotiate a plan of action with every business we were or planned to work with over the next few months. I am exceptionally apologetic to anyone who has been impacted by this inevitable decision, but I can’t continue operate the business under the current conditions.  Until we know exactly what’s happening I do not want to see anyone else let down by invariability of our current obstacles.

As zig zigular says – “when obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal — you do not change your decision to get there”. We’re just moving in a different direction, and I  will be in touch as soon as we are back on track and able to offer services efficiently. 
Thanks for your patience everyone.

Kind Regards,
Natalie Crowe & team here at Natalie Crowe Designs

Technology and Adversity

Taking a different approach to  writing today, as it’s been a over a
month since we’ve been able to write to you all. The last four weeks
have been  exceptionally busy, but more so than that, it’s been a
challenge here at Natalie Crowe Designs headquarters with Technology 
posing a rather extreme level of adversity for us. 

Have you ever
wondered or given a thought to what it would be like working within
your niche or industry without the key tool in which you deliver
services?  Well guess what? That’s been an obstacle that we’ve been
facing since early this month. We’ve had no internet service available,
what’s worse is that we weren’t aware the extensive process that it
would take in order to get the issue rectified, nor did we anticipate
the time delays or additional issues to arise. 

As you can
imagine, being a website design business and having our internet service
go down, it’s made production near impossible.  We sought out wireless
internet and  have use of  multiple techniques to increase the service
quality, antennas, different modems and suppliers, but have recently
found we’re in a “blind spot”  and are only going to get minimal
coverage at best.  At the moment, we’re using a particular setup and the
download speed is barely enough to get the emails through. Which is
frustrating to say the least, particularly when the issue was something
that we couldn’t predict happening.

As a result, we’ve been at a
standstill. We’ve been advised that by early next week we should have a
new line trenched and that with all going to plan we’ll be back on the
airwaves before the end of this month.

We can’t apologise enough
to our clients who have been  caught up in the delays, but we are
working as quickly as we can to get the situation addressed.  

At
this stage, we are offering quotes to clients wanting new work
completed however, the quotes will not be able to be serviced until
September due to the extensive time delays finalising work for our
existing clients.

As a business owner, this has been
exceptionally stressful and I can’t stress enough to others, WHAT
BACKUPS have you go in place for your business?   Don’t be caught up in
something like this, should circumstances out of your control impact you
and your business. 

We cannot say Thank You enough to our
amazing clients, they’ve been patient and  unbelievably forthcoming, 
with clients more recently offering to have us in their home so we can
continue our service provision.

We’ve spoken to a collegue
23/7/2014 who has said we are welcome to utilise their office in the
short term  whilst  our technology issues addressed.

We’re heading out there today, to make the most of this opportunity. 

We hope everyone has a great day today and we’ll post up some additional blog posts  we’ve been working on in the down time. 

Thanks in advance.

Tony Robbins Rapid Planning Method

 I found this great video on Rapid Planning Method (RPM)

Personal Time Management Guide

Natalie’s Personal Time Management Guide Notes: 

I can’t remember exactly what resources I compiled these from but these are the questions I ask myself whilst working out my goals, both general and self development goals or to look at my values.  To get my actions in check with my goals and all looking at what I truly want.

Some of these are information from my personal notebook others are questions to ask yourself. 
Hopefully they make sense. 

If you find any of this helpful please feel free to  message me via my facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/nataliecrowedesigns)

GOALS

       ♦ What are your goals?    1 to 5 years
       ♦ Who, what, when for the future
       ♦ Home & Family Goals
       ♦ Work & Business goals and contributions

Self Development Goals

       ♦ What would you do if you won the lotto?
       ♦ What would you do if you only had 6 months left (this question looks at values)?
       ♦ What one great thing would you dare to dream if you knew you couldn’t fail?
       ♦ Goals must be in writing – clear and specific

ORGANISED PLAN OF ACTION:

       ♦ Taking action without a plan is inefficient
       ♦ Take your objective and write down every step required to achieve that goal.
       ♦ Organise and plan action steps required, prioritise more or less important tasks

ANALYSIS

       ♦ Making a list improves productivity by 25%.
       ♦ Each item is checked off when completed
       ♦ The idea of the list is a accomplishment successfully completing the list

PRIORITY

       ♦ Establishes the 20% relevant and 80% irrelevant.
       ♦ What is the most valuable use of my time?
       ♦ Is this the top pay off

I am short on time this afternoon, but in a later blog post I will  put links up to documents I use to get myself on track.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.

Remember, An attempt failed has more chance of success than making no movement forward at all. Do the best with what you have.  You can achieve anything you set your mind to.

Kind Regards,
Nat

Webinar Tax Basics for Small Business

One of our wonderful facebook fans (TONI) has just brought this to our attention. For those who may be interested. The link below is a webinar looking at the fundamental principles of income tax deductions that apply to all businesses and the tax treatment of different deductions, including depreciation of assets.

https://www.ato.gov.au/Business/Bus/TB2-Tax-basics-for-small-business—income-tax-deductions/

Facebook declines, Business Growth & words of encouragement

Recent Facebook Post, that I wanted to share on my blog.

” After a long chat with a lady who I have known for years and who has
watched Natalie Crowe Designs grow over the years. The conversations
about progress recently, got me thinking about a lot of things, say 2-3
years ago, I had personally felt like I had such an amazing connection
with all of my facebook fans, more than just the limitations created by
facebook themselves… more than the now limited post reach and the
other facebook restrictions we now have. There was so much more
involvement, fans seems more eager to participate, to interact, more
eager to strike up conversation, to learn, to grow and most of all to
share their knowledge and resources.

For those of you that
have been a fan of ours for a while you may have remembered some time
ago we’d have weekly network events, we’d have fans regularly just drop
by our page or send us a message to see how things were going.. — as
obvious as it sounds, this form of social media was exactly that
social.. Nowadays with less of you seeing our posts, more of you being
frustrated with the post visibility, it is any wonder that businesses
owners are putting their hands up in the air and saying what do we do..

I have read all of the posts going around about getting fans who
genuinely want to see your posts to do this and do that,(normally
there are “500” posts like this on my news feed – at this present point
however – I couldn’t locate a sample.. ) but I just want to you all,
that I appreciate ALL of you.. and all of the effort and time you each
take to stop by, comment on our posts and participate in this page. The
community you’ve helped build and the contributions you’ve made in the
past, present and future.

I know we’ve been exceptionally
quiet of late, with small bursts of posting here there and
everywhere…. At the present point in time, I have still not decided
to take the business further and expand the operation to include more
staff.. However, with the whiteboard currently listing 22 clients and
this list is constantly growing. Natalie Crowe Designs is the busiest
it’s ever been in the lifespan of the business and to be honest, I feel
such a sense of excitement and thrill at the concept… but it can also
be a scary thing! Business Growth!

I personally set some rather
large expectations this year for myself and I am so stoked to say I have
all bar progressed beyond those goals, with one final goal to conquer
by the 27th of August this year. It’ll soon be back to the drawing board
to work out my next direction… but this crazy workload is the reason
for my absence.

I wanted to share with you these thoughts, but
also wanted to bring a real factor to the business. I am a real person, I
am a mum, a business woman, a friend and I guess on a very genuine
level… I am just like you…

I never want Natalie Crowe
Designs to be put in that same category as those “face-less” large
companies… You’ll never be just a number.. my clients are treated like
they are friends and family, and on the two way street of the client
and designer/developer relationship it’s a mutual agreement and
understanding..

My aim is to be approachable, down to earth
and realistic. It takes more to running a business than being a well
known name .. it’s how your customers feel, and what you do for your
customers that matter and … at the bottom line… You – my friend are
on the top of our priority list!

Sending you all loads of
positive energy and the knowledge that I believe in you and your
business. You can do anything you set your mind to! Even the smallest
step is movement forward!!! Any movement towards your goal, brings a
chance of success, where as sitting on your hands and waiting for the
perfect time brings you no reward.

I get a little carried away
when I post, but if any of this post spoke to you, please feel free to
comment below, I love hearing from you. Have a great night lovelies!”

Cessnock Motorcycle Club’s website is almost ready to be launched

In May 2013, Craig from the Cessnock Motorcycle Club contacted Natalie Crowe Designs in regards to getting a quote for a new website.  They already had a website in place but they were looking for something more “member” or “community” focus, something more modern, something they could edit and update on a regular basis without having major issues.

When I did my initial research and I  looked over their  existing site, it was VERY clear that previously the existing site was given a lot of attention, the website also had a lot of content and photography for the club. I knew that this was someone’s prize project that had so much potential and with a little know how could be given new life and a way to be able to capture the heart of the club but also provide an online presence that would make communication with club members, committee new and old easier to work with.

I asked craig to complete our Client Questionnaire and also go through and put together a list of things that they’d like to have on the site,  do through the site and be able to do in the future..  The more information and detail I could  acquire about their development the better.  

Based on this general information they provided I put together a rough quote and  submitted it to the club.

I can’t remember the exact coversation, but  after a few follow-ups Craig came back and said they would be back in contact when they were ready to go head..

The existing website had several issues with the functionality,  they’d also been hit by, what the experts call “Malware”, where advertisements or some sort of error message appears on the website, which the superceeded the time and experience they had to be able to fix the issue, and over the years managed to have evolved into  literally 50-100 individually managed pages, each individually coded and styled which meant a major effort to change simple things like a heading or the styling over the overall site.

In November 2013, craig contacted Natalie Crowe Designs again and formally accepted our quote. At the time, some of our regulars fans/ readers would remember, we were  exceptionally busy with the “11 websites in the 11 month” promotion we did.  We booked the development for the first quarter of 2014  and come January we  finally got the wheels turning on this project.  

Craig and I got together and have had several meetings both online and face to face since 14th of January and it’s been a long time coming developing the ideas for the website, collecting content and resources from all of the individual parties, crafting the overall website and design and building the primary functionality, – we also had several additional tasks that we appended to the development that were outside the original development plan, so this also set us back  about 2-3 weeks, but these were “scope creep” items that we felt needed to be included to be able to complete this stage. We negotiated the goal line and  went for gold!

Some of the key elements of the new site include:

♦ Online community website  – with online members areas including access to members only content and features – such as a forum.

♦ Ability for the public to  join Cessnock Motorcycle Club online by completing and paying for their Single Person Membership, Family Membership and  Race Day Events online, this also extends to Members who are able to renew their membership  using the same functionality.

♦ Custom developed forms complete with Rider Number Checker for Events  

♦ Ability to provide a central location for all the information regarding the club and the ability to  update and edit that information on a regular basis or at the club’s leisure.

Now the 30th of April and we are at the  final leg of this “event”.  

Natalie Crowe Designs is waiting for the last  committee members to  provide feedback and testing on the site before we go live early May.

I am so excited  to see come together and it goes without saying a MASSIVE thanks to Craig from Cessnock Motorcycle Club for all your efforts!

Although this is not the end of the line for Natalie Crowe Designs and Cessnock Motorcycle Club, stage 1 of the website development and  I think it’s time to bring out the champaigne!

When ready the new website will be  available:
http://www.cessnockmotorcycleclub.com.au  
and http://www.cessnockmcc.com.au    

Currently the landing page is in the place.  
We’ll keep you posted on the proposed launch date when it’s been confirmed!!