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Entrepreneur questions, comments, and advice

JC Callender

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If you're an entrepreneur or aspiring entrepreneur, from a babysitter to a big business owner, please feel free to post questions, comments, and advice here.
 

Chomsky

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If you're an entrepreneur or aspiring entrepreneur, from a babysitter to a big business owner, please feel free to post questions, comments, and advice here.
I have nothing profound to say, except this seems an excellent idea for a thread! :cheers:
 

JC Callender

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Ok, I have Excel and have designed a template for receipts and have ongoing problems with it. Anyone have an efficient and professional method for producing quality job receipts?

Also, anyone know of any great art design programs for Windows that are easy to use? I assumed that Office would cover these things, but barely. I'd love to design artwork for my marketing but can't do it with Office and my basic computer art program.
 
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KevinKohler

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Ok, I have Excel and have designed a template for receipts and have ongoing problems with it. Anyone have an efficient and professional method for producing quality job receipts?

Also, anyone know of any great art design programs for Windows that are easy to use? I assumed that Office would cover these things, but barely. I'd love to design artwork for my marketing but can't do it with Office and my basic computer art program.

By art, are we talking graphic design, editing a photo, or "painting" something entirely from scratch, via photoshop style progams?


Office doesn't really have that sort of stuff, you need to look into adobe software, or, go with the many free applications. GIMP would be my suggestion.
 

JC Callender

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By art, are we talking graphic design, editing a photo, or "painting" something entirely from scratch, via photoshop style progams?


Office doesn't really have that sort of stuff, you need to look into adobe software, or, go with the many free applications. GIMP would be my suggestion.

My photo enhancing software is pretty good. I'm looking to create marketing materials and it would be nice if I could create a better logo as well. The thing is, I don't want to spend years trying to learn a complicated program. When I get big enough, I'll have someone else do this stuff. I'm still a small enough business right now to where it helps for me to do these things. Here's an example though of what I have a problem with: I want to print out some sort of card or certificate with words and art for customers that gives them $30 in free work for referrals. Office comes with templates for this sort of thing, but they all suck in my opinion. I want to be able to spend an hour or two to put together a good looking certificate that looks original. I'm going to check out GIMP (lovely name btw) but if you have any other suggestions, please let me know.
 

Lutherf

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Ok, I have Excel and have designed a template for receipts and have ongoing problems with it. Anyone have an efficient and professional method for producing quality job receipts?

Also, anyone know of any great art design programs for Windows that are easy to use? I assumed that Office would cover these things, but barely. I'd love to design artwork for my marketing but can't do it with Office and my basic computer art program.

"Ongoing problems" doesn't mean much without details. What are you running into? Excel should be fine for producing an invoice and you can easily add a company logo or something.

If you want to get more creative with the art Gimp is a free program that will handle quite a bit of image design.
 

JC Callender

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"Ongoing problems" doesn't mean much without details. What are you running into? Excel should be fine for producing an invoice and you can easily add a company logo or something.

If you want to get more creative with the art Gimp is a free program that will handle quite a bit of image design.

I created an invoice template in Excel. Whenever I wanted to create a new invoice though, I had to "create a copy" and move it to a new folder. Ever time I do that, it changes all of the colors of the template for some reason, so I have to go through a couple minutes of editing to make it the way I like it again, which makes it very inefficient. I'm interested to know how other people create their invoices.
 

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I created an invoice template in Excel. Whenever I wanted to create a new invoice though, I had to "create a copy" and move it to a new folder. Ever time I do that, it changes all of the colors of the template for some reason, so I have to go through a couple minutes of editing to make it the way I like it again, which makes it very inefficient. I'm interested to know how other people create their invoices.

If you want to use excel don't treat your "template" like a template. Just open the worksheet, fill out what you need and then "save as" in another folder. That will give you a copy of what you have your customer and won't change the original.

It sounds like you might be better off using Adobe and just creating a fillable form.
 

JC Callender

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If you want to use excel don't treat your "template" like a template. Just open the worksheet, fill out what you need and then "save as" in another folder. That will give you a copy of what you have your customer and won't change the original.

It sounds like you might be better off using Adobe and just creating a fillable form.

I do simply want a fillable form and will check out Adobe.
 

KevinKohler

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My photo enhancing software is pretty good. I'm looking to create marketing materials and it would be nice if I could create a better logo as well. The thing is, I don't want to spend years trying to learn a complicated program. When I get big enough, I'll have someone else do this stuff. I'm still a small enough business right now to where it helps for me to do these things. Here's an example though of what I have a problem with: I want to print out some sort of card or certificate with words and art for customers that gives them $30 in free work for referrals. Office comes with templates for this sort of thing, but they all suck in my opinion. I want to be able to spend an hour or two to put together a good looking certificate that looks original. I'm going to check out GIMP (lovely name btw) but if you have any other suggestions, please let me know.

So what you want is basic graphic design. Adobe illustrator is the gold standard, but it's expensive.
 

beerftw

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Gimp. It's not got all the bells and whistles, but if you have an eye for design, it'll work for you.

Gimp is awesome, the only downside I have found is that it is nowhere near as user friendly as photoshop. For someone trained in such software it is only a minor issue, for someone who has never used either, photoshop is like using a chainsaw to cut a tree, and gimp an axe.
 

JC Callender

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Gimp is awesome, the only downside I have found is that it is nowhere near as user friendly as photoshop. For someone trained in such software it is only a minor issue, for someone who has never used either, photoshop is like using a chainsaw to cut a tree, and gimp an axe.

That sucks, I was looking for something easier. Any suggestions?
 

beerftw

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That sucks, I was looking for something easier. Any suggestions?

The only easy you are going to get is by shelling out a small fortune. Gimp can do nearly everything photoshop can, but it does not idiotproof it.

There are tutorials on the web to use gimp, if you are creative, and do not want to shell out license fees for photoshop, gimp is very good. outside gimp if you want easier try mspaint?????:lol:
 

KevinKohler

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I figured our gimp. You can do it, JC. Not easy. Will involve invested. Is a couple hours a day playing around worth 1,200 bucks to you? It was to me.
 

DifferentDrummr

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Anyone here run a web-based enterprise of some kind? (And ideally do your own coding?)

I ask because I thought it might be fun to compare notes on hosting, ad service, creating back-end apps for mobile support, and any other related topics.
 

Mach

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Most graphics artist type work (logos, signs, fliers, etc.) are created with something more like Inkscape (Vector Art) rather than Gimp (pixels, photos). Both are free and pretty powerful, but all such tools take a lot to get good with them. Inkscape lets you draw the shapes, outlines, tweak edges (corners rounded, etc.) gradients, and they scale to any output size, etc.

Yeah, I feel your pain. When I first started out, I did everything myself, and learned quickly that in general it was surprisingly painful and frustrating. And likely whatever you do will still look amateurish. Bottom line is you could probably instead spend that time shopping around for some Odesk or something for someone who does that sort of thing cheap and likely on a fixed-bid basis if you can. Show them a mockup of what you want with as much instructive detail as practical (graphics can suck, but show everything you want, where roughly, etc.). Then get quote for it, like 3 samples to choose from, then they polish it. And be amazed at what you get back.

This has the advantage of ensuring you never get stuck doing it again, likely will start out more professional, and gets you adding contacts/delegating...two things you need to do for business. You should be finding ways to direct money to your profit. Not doing graphics art work. You don't need to create logos or signs or invoices, etc. beyond boiler plate stuff IMO, from my experience, and when you DO need those things, outsource it. Everyone does those sorts of home-grown things early on, and probably everyone I know that has, feels silly looking back.
 
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JC Callender

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Most graphics artist type work (logos, signs, fliers, etc.) are created with something more like Inkscape (Vector Art) rather than Gimp (pixels, photos). Both are free and pretty powerful, but all such tools take a lot to get good with them. Inkscape lets you draw the shapes, outlines, tweak edges (corners rounded, etc.) gradients, and they scale to any output size, etc.

Yeah, I feel your pain. When I first started out, I did everything myself, and learned quickly that in general it was surprisingly painful and frustrating. And likely whatever you do will still look amateurish. Bottom line is you could probably instead spend that time shopping around for some Odesk or something for someone who does that sort of thing cheap and likely on a fixed-bid basis if you can. Show them a mockup of what you want with as much instructive detail as practical (graphics can suck, but show everything you want, where roughly, etc.). Then get quote for it, like 3 samples to choose from, then they polish it. And be amazed at what you get back.

This has the advantage of ensuring you never get stuck doing it again, likely will start out more professional, and gets you adding contacts/delegating...two things you need to do for business. You should be finding ways to direct money to your profit. Not doing graphics art work. You don't need to create logos or signs or invoices, etc. beyond boiler plate stuff IMO, from my experience, and when you DO need those things, outsource it. Everyone does those sorts of home-grown things early on, and probably everyone I know that has, feels silly looking back.

I agree. Sometimes I get caught up in the little things a little too much when I'm not super busy. I need to concentrate more on finding good people, as you've suggested, to do these things at a great price. I actually have a Home Depot near me where many of the female employees have really well drawn cartoons on their aprons, and finally I asked who drew them, and was pointed to one particular employee. So I think I'm going to ask that employee next time she's working if they would be interested in doing some artwork for me. She certainly wouldn't be as expensive as a pro and would more than likely have some original ideas that the pros may not have. And she's doing her work solely on passion, not because she earned a degree. So basically, I'm really trying to find people like this to help me with my business. I think the best owners are those who understand how to find good talent and then bring out their best potential. And I believe employees really love it when their potential is realized as well. Anyway, thanks for your advice!
 
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