21 Apr

Get Off Benefits and Get Back To Work

That title is likely to evoke strong feelings in almost anyone.  Don’t judge yet, just read!

I think I understand both sides of this based on a variety of experiences; being brought up in a regular middle class family, then meeting a new set of people for whom working was unusual, then going through a year or two of depression and finally becoming an employer.

I’m inspired to write because this morning the news is focussing on the two million incapacity benefit claimants and how the government wants to get as many of them back to work as possible.  I thought “surely there are paying jobs that anyone with a basic grasp of maths and english, a computer and an Internet connection can do?”  I’m writing this to help me explore that idea and to inspire me to come up with solutions (so really, I don’t care if nobody reads it).

So why aren’t more people working?  Here are some examples that, if you have never known any of these people, should open your eyes: Read More

17 Apr

Web Designers, Marketers and Software Developers, how efficient is your business?

In this article, I’ll have a go at explaining a measure of business efficiency which I heard described by Nic Rixon (if you ever get a chance to see this guy, do it) in a business growth seminar, which he calls a “Run Rate”.  The term Run Rate is normally used to describe a company’s revenue extrapolated over time, but as I can’t find another term for this measure I’ll use Run Rate for now.

Imagine if everything was running at maximum efficiency.  If you charge by the hour, this means every employee who does chargeable hours is working all day every day.  Enough sales are being made to keep everyone busy, client expectations are managed so they don’t keep calling, maintenance is low because quality is high, cash flow is easy because prices are right, and staff are productive because they know what needs doing, and have the tools to do it.  Perhaps you’re purely selling time, in which case imagine you could work chargeable hours every day. What would your sales figure be?  Put a realistic number on it.

Now, what are your sales currently?  Take the past 6 months, for example.  Perhaps discount any abnormal windfalls or writeoffs, unless they happen regularly.  Divide that by the previous figure for the same time period.  For example, if you did £50,000 in the past 6 months, but you could potentially be doing £15,000 per month, then you could potentially have done £90,000 in the same time period.  £50,000 / £90,000 is 0.55, or 55%.

Read More

12 Apr

Small-scale Web Hosting Reliability and Add-On Services

I have several customers for whom I maintain Linux servers providing small-scale web hosting, simply because they provide services such as application management, SEO and web design, where the customer will assume that they are also able to provide web hosting.

Generally the setup is simple – a single rented server running one of the popular web hosting control panels – Plesk, cPanel, VirtualMin and the like.  Having managed web hosting services in various capacities for 15 years, I believe this is a perfectly acceptable setup, but it has a few flaws that will catch out the unwary: Read More