Small Business Owner

Tristan Putman - Small Business Owner

Computer Solutions of Alma, Inc.

From it’s humble beginning as a retail store for computer hardware and software sales, service, and support – the business was solidified by standing against the very ideals that the big retailers pride themselves upon.

Our ‘No Geek Guarantee‘ meant that all staff were able to communicate technology terms with customers in a language they could easily understand.

‘No Geek Guarantee’

Unlike the competetion that would ‘Geek Slap’ their customers by speaking over their heads using nonsensical computer jargon, I developed a strong and respected userbase utilizing this technique.
Eventually the Website Design and Development portion of the business became more lucrative than the retail portion and I sold off the retail side to concentrate on building robust, intuitive websites.

Running a Small Business

One of the most challenging aspects of the business involves the tremendous amount of Financial Planning involved.  This can be an overwhelming undertaking for someone who hasn’t had previous experience in that area, including:

  • Raising Capital
  • Building Equity
  • Inventory Management
  • Employee Payroll Processing
  • Federal and State Tax Compliance
However much money you think you need to start a business – double it!  You can never have enough funds available to you, especially in the beginning.  There will always be unexpected costs, unplanned opportunities, business expansions, or whole new markets to explore.  You never know what direction your business will take you.

 

Quickbooks to the Rescue!

How did small business’s survive before Quickbooks was created?  This software has it all.  It takes you through the entire software-side of running your business, including:
Invest in good software and great people. 

 

  • Estimates
  • Quotes
  • Purchase Orders
  • Inventory Management
  • Payroll Processing
It also provides you with all the reporting for measuring your financial success as well as the crucial reporting needed for taxes at year-end.

 

Building New Skills

You quickly realize after you start your business that you need to develop an entirely new set of skills that you hadn’t anticipated.  Building and fixing computers, designing and developing websites – that’s easy compared to the time-consuming and overall complexities of managing employees and providing top-notch customer service.

  • Hiring and Training Employees
  • Handling Employee Turnover Efficiently
  • Sales Incentive Programs
  • Customer Service
  • Marketing and Advertising

 

Time Management

Let’s face it, there just aren’t enough hours available in the day to do all the things you want (or need) to do.  The ability to manage your time becomes crucial. The ability to keep track of your daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual “to do” list is imperative. Utilize whatever tools, resources, applications or anything else you can get your hands on to help you here.

The key is to get your business to a point where you can concentrate on the pieces that are going to make your business more profitable. Everything else you do is just busy work if it’s not making you money.

Special Projects

During the course of supporting several local schools, business, and governments, I had the opportunity to develop several applications specifically designed to meet their special requirements.

Phone System CallerID Website Integration

I created a Visual Basic application that would interface with a hardware fax/modem installed in a computer that was plugged into the business phone line.  Whenever a call came into the business, the application would read the callerid information from the modem and initiate a call to a web service to insert the information into a database.

This allowed for the capture of real-time information and remote monitoring of all incoming calls into the business.

Freight Revenue Tracking 

With my experience in the trucking industry, I developed and sold an application to record information related to the tracking of over-the-road freight and income for several small Owner Operator businesses.  Eventually, I was commissioned by several of these companies to further refine and expand upon the functionality provided.

Driver’s License Scanning

That magnetic strips on the back of your Driver’s License?  It has a lot of information on it.  I developed an application using a USB magnetic card swipe device to read, parse, and store the information on the back of Driver’s License and sold the program and hardware to local Car Dealerships to help them improve the process of collecting the various necessary information on customers purchasing vehicles.