Unexpected Growth

I have been running a small business since 1997. First a computer shop, then a web design company that became a web-based application service provider because of the demand. Competition made prices go down, and development time shorter. Companies were killing each other in the market in the Philippines. Concentrated only in Metro Manila, and with so many web design and development companies around, the work was just too much already for the amount of money received. Many people started to concentrate on receiving off-shore outsourced projects trying to compete with India who is known to be the highest ranked in sales of these kinds of IT projects.

I took a different route, with a my company, I decided to go to the US. Working at a company doing the same thing I have always been doing, making websites. And still maintaining the business I run after working hours.

Being in the business world since 1997, I have faced basically all the challenges a business encounters. But since this is a small business, the problems I encountered were at a small scale. I already know the challenges of growing too fast, and not growing at all. Sometimes it is more comfortable growing just at the right rate.

Right now, I am growing at a faster rate than I expected. This is a good problem though since more earnings are coming in, but I still have a little fear of not being able to deliver all the responsibilities I may have. But I have already learned my lessons in the past.

And from these lessons, as a counter measure, I decided to stop selling anything. And I need to streamline all operations, from billing, project management, customer support, sales, everything. But if the clients come to us, we do not turn them down. It is still a manageable amount of clients. But we only do passive selling, only selling to those who come to us and not going and seeking clients. And so far we are still selling based on client referrals alone.

My server was a home to less than 30 websites when I came here to the US in July 2004 and I have been in the business on serious web hosting starting 1999. Today I have more than 90 websites hosted on the server when I started selling in Dec of 2004. It is not even one year yet, and my clients have already tripled. I decided to sell hosting actively when I did a server upgrade last September of 2004. Both sales in the Philippines and US picked up. 2/3 of the earnings are still from the Philippines and 1/3 from the US.

I advised the company to stop selling in August 2005 so we can streamline all operation processes. Right now there is no serious problem. But once 3, 4, 5 or even more clients need customer support all at the same minute and are the impatient type who may have some temper on the phone, this will be a big problem already.

Since last Friday, September 9, 2005, I have been having less sleep just doing some damage control. Fixing everything there is to fix before the real action comes. I am currently fearing the potentiality of events that are not even happening yet, but I have experienced similar situations in the past and I never liked that situation. So I am trying to build up my sand bags before the flood comes. The earlier I start, the better, the faster and harder I do, the more comfort I will get when it becomes hard.

I do back ups more often now than before. Information management is also a must process. I really got a lot of data to manage that look totally unmanageable, but I am slowly getting there. Just a little more time, things will be ready.

Many thanks to my all around office manager, sales manager, assistant web support, customer support, billing, accounting, everything assistant Amor Lopez. She gets many task out of the way.

Thanks to my wife who has been doing good as a presenter of out business. Just like a pro IT professional.

Thanks to my backup people, Mike Lopez, excellent backend skills, good logical thinking. LAMP opensource advocate. John Kelly, who is helping out in a design right now.

Thanks most of all to my clients who believe in my business as I work very hard to give you the best service possible. Thanks for referring even more clients.

Now it is back to work for me. Less sleep again and let’s get all of these things done. And have a good night sleep again a week after.

Working Convenience

While working at home… I have two desktops and one laptop. All emails and PDA synchronization runs on the laptop. That way if I need to be on the go, all planning and client correspondence comes with me.

One PC is mainly for work, and the other PC runs all sorts of stuff like TV, radio, CDs, music, and other entertainment while I work.

But with the tables I got, and how they are arranges, sometimes even just opening the other PC makes me lazy since I have work to do on the work PC. So the PC that serves as my TV is just there doing nothing. My laptop… all my emails are there… I sometimes find it inconvenient twisting my body all the time since the laptop is on my left. And with my table… my legs go all the way in and my legs cannot move freely to turn to the left.

All these extra efforts I believe affects my productivity and health as well putting my body in various contortions just to reach stuff.

Now I have seen all these nice corner desk at various office furniture websites. But all of them will still require me to spend some money. So I decided why not still give it a try with whatever I have and try to make it work. So I started rearranging things and the two most time consuming parts in doing this is the bunch of wires which I often call spagetti.

I still don’t find it convenient facing my laptop at where it currently is. I rather slip out of the table to free my legs and face the left completely. But then I will need a new table. So I still spent some money… I bought a Tabletote. The Tabletote is a product of Instand, manufacturer or portable laptop tables.

This product could be taken apart and easily fit a good laptop bag. So aside from having a new table, if ever I will be on the go with my laptop, I will bring the table along as well.

Although my Tabletote has not arrived yet, and I chose the longest shipping period since that is the cheapest shipping rate, this is the result of my current setup.

Big Fire

I woke up today with fire trucks passing by at 10 minute intervals. At first I thought they were the police and some major crime is going on, maybe some hostage thing… Or maybe some big accident going on where ambulances were going back and forth bringing people to the hospital. Being the Filipino I am, I even felt like going there on my bicycle and figure out what is happening, the Filipino “Oshosho” thing where Filipinos mysteriously like watching danger enfold in front of them unmindful of the danger. But I am not in the crazy world of the Philippines, where the country is a circus.

So I decided to check the news instead. There was a big fire in the mountaneous areas of Rancho Penasquitos. It was hard to determine where it really was with the areal views of the fire, but as the helicopter cameras panned from side to side, checking the shapes of the mountains and taking note of the location of the focused residential areas, I fired up Google Earth and it was pretty easy to figure out where everything was.

In the middle of the mountains are walking paths that are regularly cleared by bouldozers for people that jog/walk/hike/bike in the area. These paths that I have personally jogged and biked through sometimes seemed to stop the fire from spreading further into other bushes.

The wind was making the fire continue and go on and was moving it towards the north and east at times. My location was at the southern part of the fire. And residents living at the houses where the fire was heading were asked by the police to evacuate and most were being brought to Mt. Carmel High School that is a close walking distance from where I am. If they were bringing people there, I guess we already in a safe location.

TV news says there are 3 planes and 5 helicopters dropping water and fire retardants. It is already 6:30pm. Still hearing all the fire trucks passing by every now and then. Low flying helicopters passing by every few minutes. The news says, the fire is not yet dead and may take about 2 more hours to consider the fire completely exterminated. The news says people at the relocation areas may be allowed to go home at about 9pm. And even if the fire it not yet completely dead, they say it looks like the worst is over.

This all happened in the middle of the mountains, not a sigle residential home got burned. This is not a big forest, but mainly full of shrubs and bushes. So if ever there were people in the middle of the mountains, it is not that hard of a terrain to get out or get lost. Some areas are just too steep to run down, because if you trip, you might tumble down the mountain just like how Jill did when following Jack when he fell down and broke his crown.

Philippine Web Awards

I was cleaning up my hard disk deleting tons of documents, useless images, a bunch of junk.

I saw one picture I got from the Philippine Web Awards.

That’s me in the middle, that looks like I’m going to fly like Superman. This was during the awards in 2000. I also won in 1999. I was a pre-finals judge in 2001 and 2002. Then…

2003, I was a spectator only. I had no website that I think qualified to even join. Same in 2004. I was not a chosen judge… I feel my skills have depleted, but was planning for a comeback.

2005, the contacted me again to be a pre-finals judge. As for joining, my company has 3 entries, but the one that I have worked on is only one of them. The other two are by Eric Mangoba. I hope they at least get to reach the final 5.

I may need help from my friends to vote for the people’s choice award if ever they get into the finals.