Time for this month's report - I can't believe how time flies when I have something in place, like this, that puts a marker down each time a month passes. It's been a busy but successful and targeted month. Knowing that I have this report to write at the end of the month gives me extra motivation to get things done. So here is what I have been up to this time.
Profit and Loss
This has been a mixed month in terms of my recurring income. Income from web site customers and hosting customers is up although income from SEO customers is down.
I've taken on 10 new customers this month for web sites / hosting but lost one as they moved away. SEO income is down partly due to me not keeping my management spreadsheet up-to-date (one customer had paused their service but I'd forgotten to update my reports and another customer had signed up last month but has asked to delay proceeding until she finishes updating the text on her site. Not a major issue as both will come back again but that's why there has been a drop this month.
Overall though there has been a slight increase in profit - 0.01% compared to last month. This is not a huge amount and certainly not what I would be aiming for however it has been a busy month where I have been focussing on installing a new e-mail spam filter, reducing expenditure, installing a new web site monitoring system and reducing the number of hours I work each week.
After starting to monitor the number of hours that I work each day and then collating this information for the month, I have realised how many hours I am actually stuck behind my desk. Despite all of the extra, one-off projects that I've been working (more on these below), I've managed to reduce my working hours from 160 in March to 140.5 in April - a reduction of 12.19%. I am pleased with this but there's definitely more to do.
I should also remember that this has been achieved whilst still making, albeit a modest, increase in profit. I've worked less and earned more and that's what I should focus on.
Despite stopping my marketing for the web design businesses, I have still managed to take on two new customers this month with another three who have expressed an interest. I'm in that wonderful position where I am busy enough and would like to reduce my working hours but I also don't like saying no to business. As I said, I'm not actively marketing so I am just taking on the work from referrals or people who are finding me.
One project which I am just awaiting confirmation from the customer for is a new build for a business web site. They initially expressed an interest back in January but things had gone a bit quiet. I assumed it was because the quote that I gave them was a good 60% higher in price than what I normally charge they would find someone else to do the project. Back in January I was swamped with work and didn't want to take on any more customers but I thought if I charge a ridiculous price and they say yes, I would do it. If they fell over after looking at the quote and went to someone else, I wouldn't be worried. They came back to me this week and said that yes, they did want to go ahead! Sometimes it is worth testing the water to see if you can make more money for doing the same amount of work.
As I mentioned in my last post, I recently swapped over to a new company who now look after my servers that all of my customers' sites run on. Overall the transition from the old company was seamless but there was one issue which started to use up more of my time in trying to fix it and deal with customer complaints. The company that I moved to had a different and it turns out far inferior spam filtering system. At first there wasn't an issue but over time more and more spam messages were getting through. Not only was this annoying for me as it was impossible to keep my inbox clear, I was also starting to receive complaints from customers.
My thinking is that if two or more customers mention something, it's highly likely that most, if not all of my customers are feeling the same way. Some people just get annoyed at an issue, don't mention it and then move to a different company. I didn't want that so I needed to find a fix, fast. I spoke to the MD of the company and he agreed that the current system wasn't working so between us we installed and set up a new system. This was a lot of work. Firstly they had to buy the necessary equipment, set it up and test it. Once ready, I had to manually move over all of my customers to the new system. It took a while but the results made it worthwhile.
Instead of the thousands of spam messages that were hitting our system every day, we're now down to single figures.
I also tested a range of web site monitoring tools after one customer's site's SSL certificate expired without us noticing. This took the site offline and so caused a bit of an issue as none of their customers could get in touch. I evaluated quite a few systems but they were either prohibitively expensive or didn't do what we needed them to. Some systems just 'pinged' the server every few minutes and if it didn't receive a response, would send us an alert. The problem is that in this situation the server was online and so would have responded to the 'ping'. What we needed was a system that would actually check the site to make sure it was online and working. I eventually found this great and free tool. It allows you to add as many web sites as you would like and for each one, it will identify particular text on the site and if it can't find that text (because the server is down completely or the web page is just inaccessible) it will send an e-mail to let you know.
The Business Backpack (this site)
Last month I installed Analytics to start monitoring the number of people who have visited the site. I don't have anything to compare this to at the moment but hopefully I will see a steady increase month after month.
I have started blogging more regularly - four in April, along with these monthly reports - so hopefully it won't be long before Google picks up that the site is now fairly active.
I have started adding in new sections such as the 'backpack' page which lists some of the equipment that I use to run my business. This is partly to give readers an idea of what they might want to consider if they are creating their own backpack but also as a way for the site to pay for itself as most of the items are on Amazon and so I can add referral links to them.
I've been busy migrating more of my customers' domain names from the current registrar to a new, cheaper one. This should save me around £6,000 over the course of a year but is a slow and time consuming process as each domain has to be moved individually. I'm working through them as they come up for renewal so the work is spread out otherwise I would be banging my head against the desk through the shear monotony of it.
This month I am aiming to further reduce the number of hours that I am working. I'm not sure I'll manage another 12% reduction but I certainly need to focus on working even less. I've been suffering with awful lower back pain due to spending too much time sat in the office chair so if nothing else, I need to do it for my body's sake.
I'm also aiming to start a new dropshipping business. I have found a supplier and built the web site, I just need to populate it with product information. This should only take half a day so in next month's report, I should be able to share the details.