The running joke between QA professionals and Developers is to sometimes call a bug a feature. The premise behind it is pure sarcasm on all sides (well at least I think). What one person may consider a bug may actually be a feature and what another person considers a feature may actually be a bug. In between that “bug” and that “feature” may even be a usability suggestion.
Well last week I had the week of all weeks. On Sunday evening my cell phone gave up on me. On Tuesday my printer was malfunctioning. On Wednesday I was on my way to a business meeting with a toddler in tow, as I had been given permission to bring her. I packed lunch, snacks, two laptops, and all the materials I needed for the meeting and loaded them into the car. I turned on my car and it started saying all kinds of things to me, “CHECK OIL”, “CONTACT DEALER”, “BRAKE ON”, “ALIENS ARE COMING”. Okay maybe I’m lying about the alien thing.
I decided to call the dealership first. When I called the dealership they advised that I call Toyota roadside assistance so they could tow my car to the dealership. I then called roadside assistance and received the automated system. The automated system guided me through the process smoothly (at first). A text message and a link was sent to my phone and I was advised to put my phone on speaker and follow the steps. The automated system then guided me through the app. I was able to fill out my name, the type of car I had, what I presumed may have happened to the car and more.
The problem occurred when it came to narrowing down my location. I was allowed to “allow” the location and after I allowed my address appeared on the screen. However, there was a map dependency where it forces the user to also point the location with the pin on the map. So even though your address has already been allowed you still have to select it on the map with a pin. Between it being an usually hot November day and a toddler walking around the car saying, “Mommy, it’s time to go”, for some reason I couldn’t get the pin right. Every time I adjusted the pin it gave me the address of 2 houses up or it would go to a completely different street. When I tried to override it and type my address in again it would then tell me to select the pin on the map. If I didn’t adjust the pin but save my entry it would give me the wrong address. When I tapped to edit all of the information I entered previously would disappear and I’d have to start completely over by filling out my name, type of car etc. So eventually I decided to leave the wrong address in and type the correct address with a note in the comment section of the app. In the note I informed customer service why I couldn’t enter the correct address initially. After that I got a call from a roadside assistance customer service rep and they confirmed my address and that the tow was on the way.
Before customer service hung up I suggested that maybe the app shouldn’t be so dependent on selecting the pin on the map. If a user enters an address that should override anything else and the map should update. Or allowing the location should be just what it is. Allow the location and let it be. One person may say there were a few bugs here and some additional usability suggestions. Another person may say the app was fine and it was human error. But what I say is that I am very thankful that my daughter and I were in our home garage and not outside on the road somewhere. Whether it’s a bug or a feature people are dependent on technology and in some situations there may be life or death situations. Or maybe a toddler is just ready to go. No matter the issue this is why we improve upon technology and we know that no build is actually “final”.
So needless to say not only did I miss my meeting on Wednesday I also missed the networking event that I was scheduled to go to on Thursday. It was a rough week.
By the end of the week I felt like I loss the battle but won the war. I had a new phone, I resolved my printer issue, the meeting I was going to on Wednesday for assistance I actually conquered on my own and nailed it. I may have missed Thursday’s job fair but on that same day I was contacted about a 2 day contract assignment that I wrapped up by Saturday morning and enjoyed.
I forgot to mention that when I got my car back on Thursday morning the dealership told me that my car battery had died. They said it was a defective cell in the battery that most likely came from the factory.
I now scratch my head and wonder if it was actually a “feature”. A feature to slow me down. I had been so busy that week I missed taking my daughter to the library earlier in the week for story time. We did a few adhoc activities and picked up some new books. I try to do that at least 1-2 times a week. On that Thursday when I got my car back we went straight to the library after and later that evening I started my contract assignment.
Look at you, wondering how Arianna Huffington is my BFF. It’s quite simple, I emailed her and she emailed me back. But, the backstory isn’t that simple.
For two years I had been sending submissions through a general HuffPost online form. Yet, I had never received a response. While searching online one day I saw a blog post from a woman who said she emailed Arianna Huffington.
For giggles, I said let me try this. I never expected a response back. I emailed Arianna Huffington on January 11, 2017, and received a response back on February 13, 2017.
In that short timeframe, I had started to focus on building out the content for my site. By the time Mrs. Huffington emailed me back I was a completely different person. I’m glad I kept going.
The great part of this story is that Thrive Global shares my mission. That mission is to allow others to see the greatness in their lives.
After I tell you the story you might think the title of this article is a bit dramatic. But, it’s not. I did actually have an opportunity to work in the porn industry. Just not the way you think.
I stumbled upon what appeared to be an interesting opportunity on a site for contract work. I would have the ability to test software and I’d also write articles about the software I tested. I’d be the company’s driving voice behind their new product. Not to mention the salary they were paying was ridiculous! You would have thought they wanted you to be in a movie. Yeah, it was that ridiculous!
When I first applied for the role I knew it was an adult entertainment company. But, I figured I’d give it a shot. Spending many years in software testing, I’m always intrigued with the opportunity to test new software. I also look for opportunities to broaden my writing portfolio. So I submitted my resume and writing portfolio. I received a response almost immediately.
The representative who responded replied, “You do know this is for adult entertainment, don’t you?” I’m assuming she asked that because she liked my credentials. But realized this would be a different industry for me. She then went on to tell me more about the opportunity. She said that I’d have to think outside the box. Stating that I’d have to be willing to be a little uncomfortable at times.
I thought about the opportunity and even the money. But, I also thought about the type of brand I want to build. I wasn’t 100% sure I wanted my brand to be associated with porn. I’m not saying that this was a horrible thing to do. I’m saying I realized it wasn’t for me. I’m all for stepping out of my comfort zone. But not for porn. I’m not passionate enough about it. I’d never want to take on a project I’m not passionate about. It’s not fair to the client. It’s important for me to give clients my all. I also didn’t want to change the dynamic of the business I’m creating.
In business and in life, we often have to decide who we want to be. Sometimes we go through many phases before we find out exactly who we are and where we belong. Sometimes we will make great choices and sometimes we won’t. On our quest to establish ourselves we shouldn’t break too many of our own rules. We must stand firm where it matters most, so that we don’t step too far outside of ourselves.
I’m coming off a few weeks, that I wish would have been better. I had to take a step back to reflect on the lessons learned.
Here are 5 quick things I’m learning while building a business:
What services will bring in the most revenue
I’m finding that there are things that people will pay for. Things they might pay for if you package it nicely. As well as things they won’t pay for. This is great for me to know in the long run so that I know where to put the most energy. As well as the most financial resources. It will also help me continue to narrow down my exact target markets.
What business ideas I should be looking into that many businesses aren’t talking about
It’s true that building a business means solving other people’s problems. But what about the problems that people don’t know they have? While doing economy research, I’ve found two major things that are important in business. Talking to both employees and small business owners, the majority don’t care. Others didn’t know it was a problem that needed solving. I’m taking the time to learn more about them. As I predict they will be important to people in about 2-4 more years.
Where I will need the most help
I’ve spent a lot of time evaluating my strengths and weaknesses. I completely understand them both. I’m definitely looking to have people around me that are smarter than me. I don’t fear people knowing more than me. Because I like to constantly learn. So I never stop growing myself. This is a mindset I’ve grown into after years of being in the technology industry. Not being afraid of competition is not something that came easily initially. However, I’ve learned how to use competition to my advantage.
An understanding of each role I’ll need an employee for
Understanding a role gives me an idea of the effort it takes to be in the role. Meaning, this helps me learn to layoff when someone says they need more time. It also allows me to monitor them a little when I feel they are taking too much time. I‘ll be able to know the right questions to ask, without coming off insensitive. I must note it’s never good to claim to fully understand someone else’s specialty. So you do have to give them that respect. But it’s also good to have an idea.
How to create educational career paths for employees
I’ve taken different classes and webinars to help my business. I’ve also attended quite a few events. Some free and some paid. For very specific roles, I’ve started to outline what it would take to educate people in that role. As well as making note of the resources I’ve used, the cost associated and what appeared to be effective. Obviously, the type of educational course will vary from full-time, part-time and contractor. But there definitely will be some educating going on, should I get to hire folks.
No, I don’t think I know everything. But I have a vision for my business and it is very clear. Repair the economy!
I recently walked into a small business, made a buy and then asked about the company website. My purpose for asking about the website, was so that I could order even if I wasn’t in the neighborhood. The employee behind the counter told me that there was no website.
Her words, “we don’t have a website, we only have Facebook”. I left the store, went on their Facebook page and immediately found a link their website. Not only was she unaware of the website. She didn’t ask me if I was looking for something in particular. Nor did she try to research to see if anyone else could help me.
During the entire transaction, she was very nice and smiled. Unfortunately, that didn’t make her any less of a disengaged employee. Disengaged employees aren’t always the ones who need a break, as soon as you get to the register. Or the ones that are telling you they hate their job, while you pay for your things. They also come with smiles and are pretty clueless about their job and company.
If an employee does not know the answer to a question, they should either research or ask someone else. Knowing if your company has a website and directing people to it, is pretty basic. If you are a small business owner, make sure your employees aren’t making you lose money.
Ensure that they are not just nice, but that they can speak to your products and services.
When people ask me what is it that I do, I’ve started to tell them, “Repair the Economy”. That’s my new business pitch. My mission is very simple. I’d like to get employees and businesses on the same page.
The importance of small businesses is that they are job creators. In a Gallup Killing Small Business Report in 2015, it was stated that small businesses were responsible for 65% of job creation. In that same report, it was also stated that middle-class jobs are the heart and soul of America. Which means that small businesses need employees and employees need small businesses.
For whatever reason, this is a hard concept for some to understand. Meaning we need well trained and engaged employees in these jobs to keep the GDP growing. In order for the economy not to go broke, we need the GDP to be about 2.5%. Right now we are performing at 2.2%, which is why some economist predict a mini-recession in 2018. Not as major as 2007, but they say there is a possibility of a recession if we keep performing as we are now.
Here’s a funny story; I was at a vendor event in early May with other small business owners and it was a really great event. My company floor sign had my mission statement and it also said, “Making it cool to say I work for someone”. I connected with some really good people because of it. A few people really respected the message and what it stood for. Unfortunately, a few folks were shocked that I was actually at a small business event talking about “working for people”. The nerve of me!
One business owner at another table decided to come over and tell me how he felt about it. He said he had seen my powerpoint presentation on the screen (which talked about my career and how I want to help people). He then said from all of that he figured he’d tell me I need to want more out of life than just working for someone. He actually said, “you need to stop working for this, AQ’s Corner”. He pointed at my sign very aggressively as he said it.
I allowed him to continue to talk because I wanted to see where things were going. So essentially he wanted me to join in a company that he and his wife had. Guess what, the way the business is structured, I would have been working for them. I ended up stopping him and explaining all of my services to him in full detail. I also said that I was “AQ’s Corner”. He was still confused about the value of taking care of employees. He gave me a speech about how people should be responsible for themselves. Like I didn’t know that already.
Obviously, everyone is responsible for themselves. Unfortunately, with 70% of the US Workforce disengaged, we have to ask ourselves why. We have to try and find solutions. In 2013, Gallup State of the American Workplace report, employee disengagement cost the US 450 billion to 550 billion that year. Can you hear me now! I’m not changing my business model to fit in with anyone. I’m here to fix shit and talk about a real problem.
Obviously, since this is my business, I can terminate a relationship when necessary. However, as a business owner, I’d rather talk about the importance of a good and engaged employee. In the process, my business model is also structured to help small businesses. I don’t feel that I can help one without helping the other. I’m here for the CEO’s and the people who don’t want to be CEO’s. That’s the mindset that will help repair the economy.
I AM HERE TO REPAIR THE ECONOMY!!!!! Get with it or step aside and let me do work!
One of my friends launched a business and I had suggested that she make her presence more known on social media. So she created a Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram page. When it came to Twitter and Instagram it was very easy to find her pages and @mention her.
However, when I tried to @mention her on Facebook nothing came up. This issue was mind-boggling to the both of us. It was also annoying. Even when people searched for her on Facebook they couldn’t find her. It was almost as if her page didn’t exist, but it did. In order to find her, you’d have to know the exact full url of her business. The nightmare part of it was, if you searched for her other businesses with similar names and similar niches would come up immediately. So from a business perspective her competition was winning when others would search for her.
So I did some additional research and found out that there are instances where Facebook may not index your page immediately. Which I guess makes sense if you think about it. Maybe the data algorithm wants to ensure that you are going to be actively utilizing the page before it indexes you. As someone who has spent years in software testing, I was definitely wondering if this was a bug or a feature. I do question if this is a feature since it doesn’t seem to happen all of the time.
Nonetheless, I recommended that she post to her business page no less than twice a day. I also recommended that if she wanted people to be able to get to her page directly, that she should either give them the direct url or simply hashtag the business in her post. As when she started hashtagging the hashtags showed up in search.
With the hashtags themselves, she was able to get visitors to her page immediately. So her other friends and family started to do the same thing when they posted about her business. However, the consistency of making about 2-3 posts a day is what helped Facebook recognize her. It’s important to note we had to do this for about 2-3 weeks straight.
This may not always happen but just in case it does, here’s a good video to watch. Out of everything I viewed on this issue, this was the easiest to follow and understand.
I’m just going to jump right into it. Recently I went to a small business and purchased a few items. Upon leaving I asked the employee behind the counter if they had a website and her exact words to me were, “No, we only have Facebook.” That was the end of her “company pitch”. She didn’t try to further investigate or ask me if there was anything in particular that I needed. When I left the store I was immediately able to find their website on my own.
If you’re wondering why someone not knowing whether or not their company has a website is important here’s why. I felt like the store had a good selection of items and just in case I wasn’t in the neighborhood again, I wanted to be able to order online.
I shared my experience in a Brand Building group that i’m a part of and the stories just kept getting tackier and tackier. One woman told a story of how she went to a store to get some sweet treats and briefly read the banner behind the counter. What was interesting about the banner behind the counter, was that the banner told the story of the store’s origination and it’s founders. The store was created by 2 boys after a bake sale.
The woman asked the employee (who stood directly in front of the banner) if the boys owned the store with their parents. The employee had no idea what she was talking about and asked the woman where she heard the story. The woman (who was the customer) explained that she had just read it on the banner directly behind the counter. The employee then said she’s seen the little boys with their parents but didn’t know the story. Another woman called a store and was directed to their call center and the employee didn’t know the store hours. I guess the employee was only prepared to answer questions if the store was open?! Other commenters talked about similar issues with bigger brands, to which i’ve encountered as well .
Having said that, if you run a business, I don’t care what kind of business it is. Or how small or large it is. Your employees need to “ABC”, Always Be Closing. You need employees with an Intrepreneur mindset. You need employees who are not just great at their job, but can assist with other needs in your business as well. If they can’t assist a customer with something immediately, they need to be able to at least provide customers with the appropriate information. Otherwise your customer base will leave you for companies who not only hire, but “train up” their employees to be Intrepreneurs.
If you’re reading this as an employee and saying, “why would I do that?” That’s the first sign you’re working for the wrong company and you should probably find a new gig immediately. As you should always feel motivated to help keep your employer in business (within reason).
It all started when I responded to what seemed like a simple request for services quote on a well known site (not Craigslist if that’s what you were thinking). I reached out to the client and after a few days I received a text message directly from them.
In the text the client requested my email address to send the details to. Initially the email came to my gmail spam box which I thought was weird, but I figured that things happen.
He sent me the details for the project via email and everything looked well researched. I was actually pretty excited about the project and had already started doing keyword searches for the SEO aspect of the project. My job was to do the Web Design, SEO, and Layout for an Agriculture website of 11-20 pages. It was supposed to be an ongoing job with monthly maintenance.
I gave him an estimate and he advised it was fine, so I drew up the contract. I worked on the contract that night and some of the next morning. I sent him the final contract by 11am the next morning as I had advised him I would.
Here’s where things started getting weird. Now that he had the contract he was more focused on paying me than signing the contract. I advised that I couldn’t move forward with payment or work unless he signed the contract. He said he understood but was more focused on giving me all of the money upfront so he could reach the deadline for his site launch.
My second and final red flag was when he wanted to pay me via a credit card and funnel money through my bank account for another contractor. The other contractor was supposed to be responsible for the Logo and web content.
All of the sudden he had a cancer diagnosis, was in intensive care, with a collapsed lung (yet he was still contacting me). He needed a “little favor” from me (a stranger) and advised he would give me an additional $100.00 for my stress. I was the gatekeeper to help get his very important agricultural website up and running.
I ended the conversation with telling him I could not start work without a signed contract and ethically I could not accept funds for any business other than my own.
If you’ve ever started a business, you know that in the beginning there is always more money going out than coming in. Right now every time I turn around there is some new expense that I have to pay for.
Today I sent out my first online contract to a client and I was debating on which tool to use for contract signing. I created my contract using Lawdepot. I’m no longer in the trial period, so i’m currently paying monthly for the service. I copied and pasted my contract over to Google Docs and considered using Docusign. However, I didn’t want to get wrapped into another monthly contract since my trial just ended with them.
So I searched for free signature tools and found a free add-on in Google Docs called PandaDoc. It’s the most amazing tool. It works very similar to that of Docusign. You can store your signature and add it to your contract. Afterwards you can add name, date and signature fields to the contract and assign each of those fields to your client.
PandaDocgives you the option to email the document to your client. Once you’ve emailed your client you will see and be able to do the following:
You will receive an email when your client opens the document for reading
You will receive an email when your client signs the document
You will receive another email advising that both you and your client have signed the document
You will have the option to download the fully signed document
Once you download, you will see your clients signature in a seal advising that their email has been verified.
You can get 3 free additional docs by inviting family and friends. As per the site “For every friend who registered via your referral, both you and your friend will receive three free docs”. So go ahead and make it a “family” affair!
Here’s a youtube video below with more detail. This is my first time using the add-on. Both my client and I enjoyed the ease of use. I’ll continue to use PandaDocand report back if necessary.