Alex Harris of Alex Designs runs a 100%-online web consulting and design business.
Describe your job/career/business
Interactive creative director managing an agency (AlexDesigns.com) that is focused on Web Based Customer Acquisition and Conversion of eCommerce, Lead Generation and Traffic Building. Our team delivers effective creative that is tested to improve customer acquisition and increase retention while decreasing advertising costs and improving (long/short term) ROI.
How has the web changed your working life?
Alex Designs LLC is a 100% online business. I never travel to visit clients or give demos and we have client around the world. We don’t even have an office. All of my designers and developers are in different states. Plus, I have never met 99% of my clients. This cuts my overhead costs and streamlines everything into a nice productive system. We use web based SAS programs for accounting, project management and CRM. Everything is web based. Now we even work from our iPhones.
Describe your working situation
I work from home and so do the people who work for me. Every once in a while, I will go to a book store or cafe to change up the atmosphere. We create our own hours and work is part of our lifestyle. So some weeks it may be 3 days a week, while others it is 6 days a week.
What are the key web and desktop tools you use?
#1 – Gmail
#2 – Firefox
#3 – Dreamweaver
#4 – Photoshop
#5 – NetSuite (ecommerce, project mgt, crm and account)
#6 – EFax
Describe your productivity system (to do list, goal setting, reminders, etc.)
We have tried several different ways to keep all of our projects in sync, using different project management tools, invoicing tools and to-do list tools. The bottom line is: we use Gmail. Gmail has totally transformed how we organize projects, clients information and other relationships. It’s a pretty simple and very easy to find previous projects with Gmail’s giant storage.
Pre-Project Process: Client visits website and fills out contact form (RFP), client information is automatically entered into CRM (NetSuite), Project Questionnaire and Estimate sent to client via NetSuite and ‘labeled’ in gmail. Client accepts project and invoice is automatically sent from NetSuite requesting deposit payment. Client faxes contract to eFax and is labeled and archived to that client.
Project Completion Process: New project is sent using Gmail with client and designer labeled. Yea, we use labels a lot. Client then reviews projects and sends back changes in a word doc form. We upload the word document to Google shared documents (designer and clients make changes there) and that is our to-do list in each phase. Client approves project and Gmail delivered the files in .zip format. Project marked as complete and the NetSuite will then send the final invoice.
Share your top tip for success as a web worker
Everyone has their own way to work, so there is no need to micromanage employees, as long as deadlines are completed, our virtual workers can use their own system or the one we use. It is tough to find reliable people you can trust, so when you find the right fit for your company treat them well. I never say my employees work for me; they work with me. We trust each other, work hard and play hard. Business and client management can be tough, so my best advice is to learn from each project and learn from your mistakes. Never repeat a bad habit in your business process.
If you want to share how you use the web to work effectively and successfully, send your field report to [email protected].