The Change in Our Business
We are no longer offering computer repair services. That was a difficult, HUGE decision for us. For the past three years, we have worked constantly – many MANY hours a day, often 6 or 7 days a week. The stress of never having any time off came home to roost in March when Steve caught the flu, which was followed by pneumonia, bronchitis and finally pleurisy.
It was beyond a triple-whammy. He was in bed for nearly three weeks. We barely kept him out of the hospital, and only managed to avoid hospitalization with the fine care of Dr. Jeremy Stich of AccessMed.
Once Steve was on the road to recovery, he finally admitted that he was worn out.
We have always had amazing clients, and they were quite understanding while he was sick and recovering. He pushed to work half days after he started getting better, just to avoid disappointing anyone. Personally, I worried that he would relapse again.
We had a serious discussion when he recovered a bit, and Steve finally agreed that he couldn’t continue at the rate he’d been going. He worked with me on client websites, but was on his own with the hardware. He didn’t have anyone to help out when he was sick and I was struggling to meet client needs on the website and marketing end of our business while he was sick. He’s the custom programmer, after all, and I need those skills on some of the websites!
Aside from the business perspective, I was genuinely worried about his health. In nearly 7 years together, I’d never seen him sick. Not even a cold. He always bragged that he didn’t get sick and he was right, until now.
Last year, we were looking at hiring someone full-time to work in the shop, were looking for a replacement for our clerical/receptionist employee (another full-time position) and were considering bringing on a part-time employee for graphics and programming work to lighten the load and continue growing the business. We had reached the point that we needed to hire to meet the demand of our growing list of clients and to have an occasional day off.
At that point, the City of Danville added more taxes to anyone who employed people in their small business. We disagreed with this step, we were vocal about it and it passed anyway – effectively discouraging small businesses from hiring people and growing.
It was a mistake, in our opinions, not only for our own business, but for the whole of Danville, and for our local economy. (The City said it was necessary to provide basic services but also approved a $750K+ revamp of Wiesinger Park which seemed counter-intuitive to us and to most people who we have talked to.)
We are not a fan of taxes or overreaching government, so we decided to not hire employees. At every opportunity, both in business and personally, we “vote” with our wallet. We chose not to support this decision financially. We quit taking applications and talking to potential new employees when the tax hike passed.
Instead, we retained a boutique approach to our business and cut back our client load. We quit taking on new individual computer clients and focused our business on helping other small businesses with their technology needs. We felt that as two people with only 24-hours allotted per day, the most important thing we could do – with the most impact – was to help other small businesses grow. That would help our community, individuals AND small businesses.
Our business continued to grow, even with the cut back, even though we were turning away computer clients. People were so understanding — so much so that it made it hard not to take on their work and help them!
Small business clients continued to pour in for computer help and, as a result, our hours of work each day and the days worked per week continued to expand to meet the needs of our clients. After March and Steve’s illness, we decided that working constantly was no longer a feasible option for either of us. We were both exhausted. Something had to give.
We had been looking for a new office location as our landlord on Hustonville Road made physical changes to the environment that made working nearly impossible (like constant construction and jackhammers during work hours that literally vibrated my keyboard and made it dance across my desk while I was trying to work on websites.) Seriously. It was awful.
We made the decision to focus our efforts on building websites, offering marketing services and photography and video services for use online. Steve had recently added a professional model drone with a high-def camera to his professional video equipment stash to meet the needs of one of our website clients and the multi-media aspect of our website and marketing services continues to grow as client demand for more high-tech options expands.
(The problem with having a multi-talented business partner is that he’s good at so many things and narrowing services isn’t easy!) But, the time had come and we started planning how to shut down the computer hardware repair portion of the business.
This business decision meant we would no longer need the shop for working on computers, or the classroom space for teaching technology classes to clients and the conference area could go. We no longer would need the nearly 4000 square feet of office space. This opened up our options as we looked for the perfect space to continue to grow our Cool Jazz Web Design Studio and it allowed us look at smaller spaces closer to downtown.
We needed a quiet location, a space that nurtured the creativity our website clients had come to expect from us, and a place that suited our personalities and our brand. We have now found that location and will be announcing it on May 9th!