Category Archives: It’s just business

Now on location: House on Payne

I’m working away from home this week for the first time since leaving my old job.

Andy and I set up my laptop so I could share files and not miss a beat — whether I’m working at my desk in the office, or sitting in a coffee shop.

Today — and over the next two weeks — I’m sitting in a coffee shop within close proximity of Luke’s summer camp.  Camp is farther from home, and it’s easier for me to be close by rather than driving to and from the house.

I wanted to share a blog post I found really helpful for productivity at home (or even away).

16 Tips For Being Productive While Working From Home


Austin named 10th best city for business

Courtesy: MSN

OK, so I own just a small little business, trying to make my way in the world, but despite feeling tiny many days, this article really made me feel good:

10 Best Places for Business and Careers, by Forbes.

It’s been out for a little while, but it was highlighted on this morning, and it re-energized me.  Austin is 10th best, according to Forbes, and I encourage you to read the entire article.

In the meantime, I’m plugging away at my business and projects for my clients — and loving every minute of it!

It’s true, I’m sleeping less because I’m having to fit time to work in around the daily challenge of caring for my son and household (up at 5 almost every morning, just to cram in 2 extra hours of work), but at this point, I’m glad I made the leap into working from home.

To ballpark or not?

One thing that I have feared is giving a ballpark estimate for a site and scaring off a client.

Apparently, I’m not alone.  A lot of freelancers, especially when first starting out, worry about giving a ballpark figure right from the get-go.

But I read a great blog post about why giving a ballpark is actually a good idea, and it all revolves around the idea that TIME is your most valuable asset.  If you spend a lot of time with a client who will later balk at your price, then you’ve lost precious time that you could be using to develop skills or other client connections.

I really recommend reading the post from Freelance Folder: Why You Must Quote a Ballpark figure.

Austin loves small businesses

Did you know that Austin is one of only 5 cities in the entire country that has a local office devoted entirely to small business development that is not run by the SBA (Small Business Administration)?

I didn’t know that until I took advantage of one of the free/low-cost classes offered through the City of Austin Small Business Development Program.

The BIZAID Orientation class is designed to help potential and new business owners understand where they are in the start-up process and what resources are available to them.  The class was free.

I wasn’t really sure what I would get out of it, since I’m already operating, but I actually learned a lot.  Turns out, I can drop into the Business Solutions Center in the One Texas Center and they can answer any of my questions, hook me up with state and federal resources, help me write my business plan, or just help me refine that business idea.  Just about anything I need is there or on the website.

Plus, Austin has a relationship with a local lending group, and you can set up a free appointment with a business coach, who can talk to you about the steps toward obtaining a loan or whatever other financing you need.

I’m also really happy that I was able to sign up for a Quickbooks class through the SBDP.  The daylong class is SIGNIFICANTLY less expensive than similar classes, even ones offered through ACC, and it’s taught by a professional.

So if you’re thinking about starting a business in Austin — I highly recommend checking out the SBDP.  Or just wander into the Business Solutions Center.  T.J., who presented to our group, says he loves to answer questions and help people out.

Saying goodbye

“If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.” — Gail Sheehy

I left my workplace tonight for the last time as an employee.  And it was hard to say goodbye.

I resigned a month ago from my position so I could pursue my dream of running my own web design business, working from home and setting my own schedule.  It was a very hard decision to make, for as much as I had outgrown the position, I really enjoyed the people and the company itself.  I had also grown very comfortable — I’d been there nearly 5 years.

But the time has come to take a risk, shake things up, and get moving on my life.  My priorities have changed, my goals have changed, and it’s time to make adjustments.

I will always be a journalist.  Once a journalist, always a journalist.  And I will always be a producer.  I’ll just be producing for different kinds of websites.

‘To do’ tool

I’m the kind of person who keeps lists.  Lots of lists.

I have notebooks full of lists of things to do.  But over the years, those lists have become unwieldy, and unless I’m sitting right in front of that piece of paper all of the time, I’m unlikely see what I wrote down that I have to do.

Hence the reason I’ve tried to bring the To-Do list to my iPod Touch.

What genius to have a To-Do list on the one piece of technology that’s always with me!  Right?  Who’s with me?!

Alas, it was not to be.  I tried numerous apps, and all of them… well… sucked.  Still nothing got done.

(To be fair, I did not try any paid-apps.  I’m cautious about spending money on a program that may or may not work for me.  I tend to test out the free version for a while, and then pop for the paid version if I really like it.)

Finally fed up, I gave up, and the To-Do list on my iPod languished.  Until…

Remember the Milk.

I found this To-Do list site while killing time on my iGoogle page one morning, looking for new items for my dashboard.  I started with the free version, and absolutely loved it.

This is why I really like Remember the Milk:

  1. It’s easy to add a task
  2. Tasks can be added through the website, through the iGoogle gadget or through the mobile app
  3. Tasks are updated on the main site, no matter where you enter them.  All you need is Wi-Fi or Internet access and it’s done.
  4. You can tag tasks.  So, say I have a ton of tasks on my work list, but some are for one project, some are for another… I can tag them and search via the tags so I can find everything for that one project with the click of a button.
  5. Completed tasks don’t disappear.  That drove me CRAZY about one of the iPod apps I downloaded.
  6. You can add notes to tasks and even locations, which would be handy if I had to travel for my job.

Anyway, I found myself getting so much out of Remember the Milk that I popped for a pro account so I could access the iPod Touch app for free. That’s the only downside — the mobile apps only come with the pro account.  But it’s a very reasonable $25 a year, so it’s not a bad deal.

What has been your experience with To-Do lists?  What solutions have you found?