Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

Yes, I’ve been that busy.

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

A gentleman stopped by the shop yesterday to ask some computer questions. We got to talking, and he asked if I owned the business. After I told him that I did, he said “I own my own business too. Isn’t great, being your own boss? You can take a half day any time you want, and you can even pick which twelve hours you work that day!”

I laughed, because it’s true. I routinely work 10 hour days (twelve yesterday). If I was an hourly employee, the overtime would be awesome. Not the case now; the more I work, the less my time is worth. Still, it’s necessary. The first year is always tough, as we’re paying off a promissory note. I’m not one to turn down working coming in the door, and when you add in all of the administrative duties and promotion, I don’t have a lot of free time at the shop.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I’m looking forward to the day when the freaking construction is done, and when I have policies and contracts set in place for my business clients, and I have a streamlined and efficient intake process. And some sort of intern to answer the freaking phone. I always had concepts and ideas in my head as to what running a business would be like; I didn’t think it would be me hitting the ground running. Hey, that’s the business world.

LIKE A BOSS – Two month status report.

Friday, February 11th, 2011

I’m now two months in to owning/running/worrying about my own small business. It’s been tiring, chaotic, fun, exasperating, awesome, scary, and and bizarre, sometimes in the same day. Occasionally before lunch.

Sure, it’s been stressful Yes, it’s been scary. I learned pretty quickly that all of the things that I used to do as a tech (billing issues, time management, etc) that bugged the hell out of my bosses now make my life extremely difficult. When I screw something up, it’s all on me, and I have to pick up the pieces.

Overall, though, the benefits far outweigh the handful of challenges. There’s a multitude of examples, but the one that I think of instantly is the following scenario. In my first week working for my previous company, I made a requisition for blank CD-R’s. Pretty simple, really. I mean, CD-R’s are a pretty standard shop supply, as necessary as printer paper. I’m constantly burning back up discs, boot discs, etc.

I picked up my requisition for the shop at our weekly Friday meeting. I ask for a spindle of CD’s. I received six. Not six spindles of CD’s, containing 50 CD’s each. SIX. INDIVIDUAL. CD’s. I thought it was funny. I learned, pretty quickly, that my shop was on an extremely tight budget, which would only get worse over the year. Eventually, I just started paying out of pocket for the daily use items that I needed. Cans of compressed air, CD’s, DVD’s. I used my own software tools, I brought in my own rebuilt systems for use as file servers. It was fairly decent training, really, for when I would take over the shop just over a year later.

For larger ticket items, however, I would go through the company procurement process, which functioned like this. A client would need a part, such as a laptop LCD screen. I would get the necessary information (make and model of the laptop), and send off a parts request to our procurement department. Two or three days later, I would get a quote for the part, at which point I would contact the customer. The customer would then come in, prepay for the part, and I would send off an order request. Two or three days later, the order would get processed, and then I would wait for the part to come in to the main office. I would then pick it up, notify the customer, and then install the part. Pretty much anything I needed to order involved a two week waiting period, and I wound up dealing with a lot of grumpy clients. Towards the end, I just started ordering parts myself and putting them on my expense report. It just made more sense, even if I did catch a lot of flack for it.

It seems ridiculous that I’m so focused on how awesome it is to be able to order parts without all the red tape, but it’s little things like that that make my job SO MUCH EASIER now.

That, and Beer Fridays.


Friday, December 3rd, 2010

So here’s the deal – I bought a business.

It was an extremely long and convoluted process, full of a lot of tension, and I probably have the start of an ulcer because of it. Totally worth it, because on Tuesday it was official, and Wednesday I started the first day at my new job – running a computer repair shop.

There’s no way I could pull this off by myself, and so joining me in this adventure are two other brave souls; my wife and my former employer/longtime friend Orac. While I’ll be handling the day-to-day operations of the shop, my wife is taking care of the financial stuff and advertising, and Orac will be handling tier 3 tech duties as well as some of the business support. It’s exciting, terrifying, and awesome.

So how did all this happen? It’s a long story, but the summary is as follows. Back in September, I was notified that my company would be selling the office I work out of. I guess I wasn’t all that shocked, as things had been rather chaotic since the branch manager left the company. They had brought in another manager to work with me, but they eventually pulled him back to the main office, and while I enjoyed the solitude, I was getting increasingly annoyed that they had essentially abandoned me. What I didn’t expect was to get a text message on a Sunday night at 9:30 from the CEO, asking to meet the next morning at 7am at a nearby coffee house. I knew what was coming, but was still pretty surprised. Basically, they were going to try and sell off that part of the operation, and barring that, close it. I would be out of a job in October.

I decided to stop at home before I went in to the office, and on the way there I came up with a pretty crazy idea – maybe, just maybe, I could buy the company. I immediately called my wife, who liked the idea, and then called Orac, whose experience would be very helpful in getting things rolling.

The next three months were pretty tough. I found myself in a pretty dark place, alone all day working for a company that didn’t want me anymore, not knowing if I would have a job in a few months. It was a bizarre situation; since I had a vested interest in keeping up a good name for the company I might be buying, I worked EXTRA hard to keep customers happy. I made plans for how we would do things IF we owned the business, and still had to work within the guidelines of my previous company.* Over the following weeks, we met with advisors, put together a business plan, formed an LLC – but really, it seems that EVERYTHING basically happened in the last three days or so.

After haggling about the price and working out the details, everything happened pretty fast. We signed the purchase agreement Tuesday, my last official day with my old company. Wednesday, which was the first day as the new business, involved me spending five hours with the previous owners finishing up the day-to-day operations changes. Thursday my wife was in the shop with me, setting up the financial side of the business. Today I spent a few hours with Orac working on the customer database and invoicing system. I’ve also been absolutely SLAMMED with work at this time, which I guess is good (POSITIVE CASH FLOW FTW), so I’ve had an insanely hard time focusing at the office, having to keep up a pretty hectic technician schedule while at the same time answering hundreds of questions. I have a hard time focusing on more than two or three things at a time, and it has been very difficult having to figure out why this desktop won’t boot while trying to diagnose a wireless network issue and trying to figure out where that damn Vista x86 DVD is while answering questions about AR balances that are 90 days out.

Once we get into the swing of things, this will hopefully calm down a bit, but I’m enjoying the craziness. I worked way too hard without benefit for my previous company, and I’m looking forward to working way too hard for something that is actually MINE.

Also, Donut Friday is now Beer Friday. COMPANY POLICY.

* Although I didn’t work really hard to follow my company’s guidelines. What were they going to do, fire me?