Today, I am going to restart posting on this blog because I feel more personal experience online can never hurt…that and I need to rant.
In Ostmosis’ most recent project, the client was using an IIS6 Windows server from Godaddy and on the economy account. From all over the world, I have heard how bad Godaddy is in general but had never actually dealt with them before the start of this project. I’m now much wiser. You can view the finished site (and my most recent nightmare) here: Health Mastery Systems.
Everything that could have gone wrong with this site did. I can’t (completely)fault Godaddy with that, but trying to get those problems resolved through their “support” was nothing short of a miracle and my client lost thousands of dollars in the process. They sent me home every day for two weeks with problem after problem after problem with the site (none of which turned out to be accurate). Each of those “problems” came coupled with wrong fix after wrong fix after wrong fix.
A short conversation I had with one of their front-line people:
Me: “The url is pureplantessentials.com. P-U-R-E-P-L-A-N-T essentials.com”
Godaddy Support: “How do you spell essentials in your url?”
Me: “just like essentials is normally spelled.”
Godaddy Support: “No, I mean I don’t know how to spell the word essentials.”
This wasn’t overseas support – these are Americans I’m talking to(now that I say Americans out loud, it almost makes sense). Each time I ended up on the phone, which was probably about twice a day while I was trying to get this figured out, I was on hold for 5-20 minutes and never got a correct answer from any of them.
To add insult to injury, my client’s hosting is about twice as expensive, the cPanel is more difficult to navigate and the service is less reliable than anything else I have used. Needless to say, I will no longer work with anyone who hosts with Godaddy! Thanks for reading my rant – more to come.
If you want quality and reliable hosting for cheap and with good support, check out Bluehost.
– Christian Ostmo
This article was inspired by a homeless man that I found last night sitting on a bench.
It was a gorgeous night and perfect for a stroll through town. This homeless man was sitting on the bench and offered to sell me a flute that he had made. At first I brushed it off my shoulder as nothing, but slowly realized that despite being homeless, and having obvious mental problems, he was working to advance himself. He wasn’t out there begging for change like many homeless people were. He had created something and was trying to sell his creation taking the opportunity to be more successful. The point is that even when it seems like there is no more work left to do, there is always something you can do to advance yourself or your business. When no more work seems to be available, I check Craigslist listings for new web development jobs. 1 in 100 of those actually pays off, but there is an infinite number of them and if there is no more work to be done, it will pay off. Send emails to prospective clients, check statistics, do research – any small thing that may be required or may help you along. Make a list! Work continuously to be successful.
This is a a little off the topic of my other posts, but I recently went on vacation in British Columbia. Me and my girlfriend stayed in Langley. First of all, British Columbia is one of the most beautiful areas I have ever seen. We hiked every trail we could find. Upon driving into the parking lot of one of the nature parks in the area, I noticed a sign that read, “do not leave valuables in your car…” and continued on to say, “last reported break-in was July 31st.” July 31st was only two days before the current day (August 2nd). I thought that was really odd, but we didn’t pay much attention to it because we were in an absolutely beautiful area, and there wasn’t a neightborhood lower than upper-middle class for miles. However, we thought it wise to listen and took all valuables out of the car. After our hike, we returned to find the car intact and nothing stolen.
We left our passports in the glove box because I was afraid that they’d be stolen from our hotel room – I have had things stolen out of a hotel room, but never out of a car. A few days after our first hike, we found an area equally gorgeous with more vertical climb about an hour away. Again, this was far from a poor area. We hiked multiple trails in different sections of the park, and for our final hike of the day we parked near the base and tried to stay on flattish ground. We weren’t gone for more than an hour, but upon arriving back at the car, I noticed the driver’s side window was down a couple of inches. I didn’t remember rolling it down, but did not think much of it. I pressed the electric unlock button on the key but to no avail. I knew something was wrong, but my first thought was that the battery in the key had died. I unlocked the car with the key to find that many of our belongings were gone.
After the hysterics of realizing we had been robbed wore off, we assessed what was missing. Naturally, we were missing my girlfriend’s wallet, which had about $100 of cash and her bank cards in it, and a few valuables like my jeans and headphones. Money and things that can be pawned are understandable – I can live with that, but that’s not all this person or these people stole. They also stole the American change out of the ash tray(doesn’t even work in Canada), our phone chargers, one shoe, my girlfriend’s license, my social security card, my birth certificate, our passports, and OUR BAGELS – things they can’t even use or things we would report stolen and cancel long before they could use them. The sick thing is, these people were more out to give us a bad day than to make money. They had to have known we were Americans and yet stole all of my girlfriend’s ID and all of mine that wasn’t on me even though they could not use it(this obviously made getting back into the US very difficult). They broke the front window to get in causing more monetary damage than they could have possibly stolen out of the car. He/she/they unplugged the battery to turn off the car alarm, leaving us initially with a car that wouldn’t turn on and two dead cell phones (remember they took our chargers) miles away from the nearest phone. We plugged the battery back in and it was almost dead – we had just enough juice to get it started.
Before leaving we looked around for signs indicating that break-ins were common like what I saw in the first park, but we couldn’t find anything. We drove to the first house on the road to call the police and report to the bank that my girlfriend’s check cards had been stolen. Everything seemed to go smoothly, but the person who lived there said that break-ins were very common and locals often dirt bike and mountain bike the area and never leave valuables in their cars.
We were located in the city of Abbotsford which is by no means a low class area. It is a city of 170,000 people and 217+ police officers. Looking back, I can’t help but think that the least they could do is put signs up indicating that break-ins are common. To summarize, we were very ill-informed of the circumstances(very far from solely our fault; warnings were not posted anywhere around the park nor on their official site) and the people who robbed us walked away unscathed and about $125 richer after causing us over $1000 in monetary damage in addition to making us have to go through secondary inspection every time we want to cross an international border(which takes anywhere from 1 to 5 hours longer).
Excuse my language, but if there is any single thing that will slow down your progress, it is your refusal to answer emails as they come in. If you return a client or partner’s email right away, they tend to answer in kind. In my experience, answering an email right away leads to a back and forth conversation, and sometimes work that day! Whereas waiting a little time to respond to that email has costed me weeks of progress on projects and even whole projects themselves, because a client is more likely to just brush it off of their should and think, “I’ll just answer it later” and forget about it.
“I don’t always have time to answer all of my emails right away.” is a common response to my above statement. The short answer: Yes you do. They say in development, an interruption in your train of thought can cause as much as an hour’s worth of progress. This, in many respects, is true(although probably exaggerated). However, you often get interrupted anyway. Most people are no longer bound to their desktops. If you are a web developer, or anyone else, you probably have a tablet, a smartphone, or a laptop, in addition to or instead of your desktop. Your train of thought is easily interrupted by eating, using the rest room, getting water or coffee, that “interesting” ad you clicked on. Send your emails then! They often only take a few seconds. Keep your phone or tablet by you when you are “relaxing” or watching tv (you are a small business owner now, this probably does not apply). And check your email before you go to sleep. Don’t be lazy; answer your emails ASAFP.
Starting this company has brought adventure, fun, strife, tears, frustration and dignity. The pride that goes along with owning a company is like none other. I used to get mad at people who, after being asked what they did, would say, “I’m the owner of…” or “I own…” so they wouldn’t be classified with the lowly people that merely work there even though it sounded much more awkward, but now I see the advantage. It feels good! I now do the same thing. I do though, try to keep it to a minimum because I know (from first hand experience) what people think when someone does that.
The goal of this blog is to give advice and share my experience with first time business owners as well as new and experienced web developers. I have come up with quite a few tactics for gaining clients and partners, some of which I plan to share, but many of which I can’t quite yet publicly, but if you’d like a few of those tips and tricks, feel free to email me with a description of your business and any questions. Check out my Wordpress and HTML workarounds here: tips.