Category Archives: Decisive Flow Buzz and News

Stuff about Decisive Flow

How to accidentally stop blogging

So life got pretty busy there for a while… And suddenly it’s halfway through the year.

Apparently the way to stop blogging, is to not do it one day… or the next, and rinse and repeat until eventually, it feels very weird to be back.

It’s been a crazy year. My attempt to go it alone until Jan 2012, has been wildly profitable, both business wise and emotionally. In my most busy and stressed out patches this year, while lying awake at night, unable to go to sleep because I worked until bedtime… the one BIG HUGE feeling of relief I had was that THIS is the worst it gets.

Compared to about every other stage of business stress I have experienced, this year has been one big happy walk in the park. I may be racing through the park like a headless chicken, but that’s not always such a bad thing.

One cool development as a result of having no ‘dependents’ has been my ability to expand out of my office an work on site. This has been hugely fascinating because I totally issed the ‘work for someone else’ part of my education. I love having a social club, understanding internal politics and hierarchies and processes and the joys of relying on your teammates… Just being one small cog. I now understand what my friends are talking about when discussing ‘work’.

So now we have that out of the way, I have ticked off the ‘do that awkward blog post’ task and will hopefully be repeating this more often :)

Happy half way mark everyone!

Moneyscope: Standing out from the Crowd

One of my favorite customers just sent me the latest review of Moneyscope – a Basecamp style approach to financial planning, that enables financial planners to quickly produce attractive, simple and understandable reports for their clients… As opposed to the typical, hugely complex modeling systems that result in reports no one really understands.

I love this product. I love designing it, I love working with Richard (who is about as onto it as they come), and I love the idea of taking on an industry that, to the ordinary person, is shrouded in mystery and complication.

Moneyscope has never intended to compete directly with the big players – it’s monthly cost and simple functionality attest to that, BUT we are quickly picking up on more and more users switching the vast majority of even their most complex customers to Moneyscope… And this is even before the next release of some cool functionality that will take it to the next level.

Read page 25 of this industry publication for this full review, but I think this sums it up:

The discussions with the users of Moneyscope were quite enlightening. We had expected the tool to be used by the mainstream adviser, for simple cases or for initial engagement of clients. The reality is that it is used by sophisticated financial planners as a core part of their advice process.

Keep an eye out for Moneyscope, it’s got the perfect mix of strict focus, simplicity and a massive need from the market.

MyTours is a finalist for the onyas!!!!

There was much excitement over MyTours email in the past few days, when Glen announced that we are a finalist for the onyas (which for those NOT in NZ, is basically our tech version of the Oscars… Sort of)

The funny thing about making products, is that you spend most of your time just trying to make things look/work better, and as a result, you sort of focus on all the bad stuff and the to-do list, rather than how awesome the product is. And despite a very disparate team who are all very much part time, it’s quite nice to look back and see what we’ve made… Which is pretty darn cool, if I do say so myself!

The judges say:

“Worked well. Like the integration of service website, clear targeting, and a nice-looking app.”

Check out the available apps here or signup to make your own

And thanks gang! There is nothing better than working with awesome people, on an awesome idea and seeing it come together.

allaboutthestory.com Feedback Welcome :)

All About the Story

While the rest of you were sunning yourselves (I love Wellingtonian’s unblinkable belief that there WAS sun even when there is no proof or evidence), a group of us were busy putting the final tweaks on our launch version of All About the Story.

All About the Story is the brainchild of Julie Starr, its a marketplace for QUALITY news stories, images and (more recently) cartoons. The point being that in a media world that is increasingly dominated with freelancers and an internet world that makes bad content easy to come by, we fill a vital piece of the puzzle by enabling great writers to connect with high quality publications.

It’s still early days and we know there is a lot more we can do, but we’ve got some pretty cool publications keeping tabs on the articles that are listed, and some pretty nice articles and cartoons on offer.

Would love to hear your thoughts on anything from the design, to your browsing and listing/purchasing experience.

Can you make tea?

You might think this looks professional, but we were actually charting Kelle's family tree

You might think this looks professional, but we were actually charting Kelle's family tree

I have been worried about Nat ever since I have left Wellington. Who makes the breakfast in the office each morning? Nat assures me she makes her own, but I’m not convinced. I am very sure nobody is now offering to make tea or coffee at 11, and what really keeps me awake at night is that they probably no longer have ANY Irish tea left!

I think those were my major contributions to Nat’s office when I was there, though I did occasionally chip in with some advice (mostly unsolicited) and assistance where I could. I wasn’t an employee, I was just the Irish guy that showed up one day looking for an office to work out of. Nat being Nat, she innocently agreed, despite the “No Boys Allowed” sign hanging off the door.

Now that Nat has two empty desks in her office, I suggested she think about offering them out under a co-working arrangement. Essentially that is what I was doing at Decisive Flow and I have previously done co-working in Dublin too. At the moment I am working out of an office in Adelaide in kind of similar circumstances (albeit in an office with two Greek-Australians who perform “financial services” – it is all a bit odd). I guess I am a modern day techie-gypsy.

Co-working is a great way for a freelancer like me to hop from country to country and get to know others, bounce ideas, and generally have another human to talk to during the working day. If I could sum up the advantages of co-working up, I would say it brings to mind an afternoon in Decisive Flow where Nat, Lance Wiggs (who was working from Nat’s couch that afternoon), and myself were crowded around Emma’s computer, discussing her latest design for a site, what we liked and disliked etc.The number of people offering constructive opinions is doubled, but without doubling your workforce.

So, I have offered to write this post to see if there are any techies out there who might be interested in keeping an eye on the ladies now that I am gone. Despite the sign on the door, she will *grudingly* allow boys into the office. Just be aware you will be the one making the tea!

PS: But I know she would be even more eager to hear from female techies: ladies may not even have to use tea to bribe their way in!

Accounting…

Unlike Nik from Code to Customer who is somewhat uptight about making his accounts balance EVERY DAY, I have had a varied accounting history.

I used to have an accounts person who did the day to day bank recs etc but found that this meant I lost my overview of how we were doing and that if I actually just put aside five minutes a day, I could do it no sweat.

However, those early higgeldy piggeldy days have left my accounts a little out of synch, so I spent this Saturday morning, in bed, surrounded by bank statements and went through every transaction for the past two years.

Fun times, but now I am only out by about $300 total across all accounts , which I am happy to wipe off as the downside to having 2 accounts people and me meddle with the accounts for a while.

Does anyone else notice that the Xero balance sheet seems to update randomly (is there a time gap between changes you make to your bank transactions and it updating? I swear it has produced 3 different figures in the past half hour POST me actually making any changes!)

And now, Time to enjoy my weekend!!!

Two Year Anniversary

It occurred to me the other day that it’s been almost 2 years to the day since I took sole custody of Decisive Flow.

This company is my life’s work. It’s the cause of countless tears, sleepless nights, and has caused me to grow up suddenly and often painfully.

I’ve had to fight tooth and nail for it, had my personal life pulled through the mud… I think I was about 20 when I started on this journey and I do believe that I went about this whole thing just about the hardest way possible.

Sometimes, I look back and think about how much I have had to sacrifice to get here. Turning this business into the life I dreamed of was for a very long time, a nightmare. With the benefit of hindsight, I would have walked out the door two years ago without a backwards glance.

I have been taken advantage of so many times, by people I have trusted and who I have gone out of my way for. This has hurt me both financially and personally and has well and truly opened my eyes to a side of human nature i would rather remain ignorant of.

I have ended many phone conversations a shaking, nervous wreck after confrontations or sales pitches. I have woken with terror, because I quite literally did not have ANY idea how to get out of situations or any idea of WHO I could go to for advice. I have realised well and truly that at the end of the day, you are the only one who can fix your problems.

I have been in massive debt, earning next to nothing and been absolutely unsure how I was ever going to get out of that hole.

I have asked myself, often, if I could handle ONE more thing going wrong. And what actually happens to you when you can’t handle it.

I have rung my dad in tears to finally ask for a loan.

I have over-promised and under delivered.

I live life 2 steps behind where I want to be and I cant go to for a drink without work popping into my head.

I have often been on the verge of running out of money with no new work in sight and wages to pay.

Running a business, especially with the way I started out, is so stressful, demoralising and all consuming, that in the bad times, I do ask why on earth I’m doing it.

But, here is why:

I have never had anyone default on a payment. Despite having no formal contracts and often with customers on the other side of the world.

I know someone who will sit in someone’s office on my behalf until a payment is made, And I have never even met her. I have other friends who will willingly, and without payment, go into battle for me when I can’t do it any more.

I have steadfastly refused to work on project I disagree with and I refuse to give up on a project until the customer is happy.

I might work till midnight sometimes, but when the sun shines, I also sometimes head to the beach. I control my life, finances and work. I am free to do as I please, when I please.

I meet exceptional people who treat me like an exceptional person.

I face a new challenge every day, and the number of times I have achieved something I thought was impossible astounds me.

I am surrounded by people who will drop anything to come out for a drink, or who will hug me and spend hours helping me calm down and form a plan when I turn up at their doorstep, sobbing.

I never had to get that loan from dad, because I turned the company around and paid all my debts and (very significant) bills with profits from 6 months of hard work.

I proved to some very doubtful people that I could do it. And I proved to myself that I could.

PHP Freelancer wanted!

After three or even four years, this week, we are saying goodbye to Kelle.

I’ve been plotting her replacement and am contemplating a slightly different strategy. While I know we will eventually want someone full time, I’ve never been a huge fan of the ‘meet someone once at a job interview and make your decision’ approach.

We currently have a desk or two spare (complete with lovely big imacs) and we need some PHP expertise. If there is anyone out there in Wellington who would like a desk and is open to the idea of doing a couple of hours (or more) work a week with Decisive Flow, then I’d love to hear from you!

We make a lot of Silverstripe sites and a few updates on custom PHP sites. We work with lots of interesting people and businesses and are generally easy to get along with!

The First Baby Tuatara born free in 200 years

Tuatara photo from stuff.co.nzTuatara are one of the coolest creatures in NZ.

“The two species of tuatara are the only surviving members of its order, which flourished around 200 million years ago”

Translation: Tuatara = DINOSAUR

My friend Claire works at Karori Wildlife Sanctuary as a tour guide. Apparently she was one of the guides who were able to take a look at this wonderful little guy, the first baby to be born on the mainland in 200 years.

This is HUGE for the people at the sanctuary (which by the way, is a must see when you come to Wellington). It was the first of it’s kind in the world and they have just started to really reap the benefits of years and years of hard work.

Congratulations!

(Photo from stuff.co.nz)

Dump your granny’s power company

Since I took over Decisive Flow solo, I have had my eye half open for a cool startup opportunity.

Last last year the perfect one presented itself, and since we already had a team who had spent the past few months discussing working together, we dived in and started our own power company – Power Kiwi.

A bit of background

I hate power companies in the same way that I hate banks and insurance companies and all those old fashioned industries that tie you in to long term contracts that are hard to leave (even if only because of the effort it takes). Once these companies have got you, they CAN up their prices, offer terrible support and leave you feeling miserable but with no other option.

Powershop

Powershop changes that.

The good people at Powershop wanted to create a electricity marketplace for people like you and me. It started as a shootoff from Meridian (so you can trust that they are legit) and Powershop means you have the power to choose who supplies your house with electricity EVERY TIME you pay your bill. Power Kiwi is one of the first power suppliers on Powershop.

Why i LOVE Powershop

  • I will probably save about $200 a year off my electricity bill
  • Because ALL electricity comes from the same un-differentiated grid, one of our brands (The Green Power Company) is the greenest power I can buy. We offset the carbon emissions that go into creating the electricity to your house.
  • I am part of a group of people who are genuinely revolutionising the way we buy power… for the better, using a model that CAN be pulled across to some other old fashioned markets.
  • You have as much control as you like. Either swap suppliers every time you login or choose one you like for now. If you are even more lazy, you can just leave it to Powershop to give you the cheapest power every month and automatically deduct the amount from your bank. It’s really that simple.

The Powershop marketplace is still early days, they have just launched, some things in the user experience are still being ironed out, but don’t let that put you off. I signed up a while ago now for my house (got to eat your own dog food right?) and was just given $50 free power for my efforts (which you can also take advantage of it you sign up quickly!)

But wait there’s more!

Flower PowerIf you sign up to Flower Power soon with Powerkiwi’s Daisy promotion, you get another $20 off your power bill.

So dump your granny’s power company and take control of your power bill. There’s really no reason not to!

And in case you needed further proof that this is the future, check out Powershop’s twitter page