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WordCamp India 2021 - How I Started My Business During a Pandemic

My presentation at WordCamp India 2021 as a lightning talk on Sunday, February 14, 2021. How I started my business out of one of the strangest times in our lives.

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WordCamp India, 2021
Shanta R. Nathwani
How I Started
My Business
During A
Pandemic
Shanta R. Nathwani
• President & CEO, Namara Technologies Inc.
• Former Professor of Web Development and Design at Sheridan College
• Co-Organizer at WordPress Hamilton Meetup
• Given more than 40 WordCamp talks, mostly beginner and Content
Strategy
Twitter: @ShantaDotCa and @NamaraTech
Website: https://shanta.ca
namara.com 2
namara.com 3
My Dad & Namara
namara.com 4
Me, My Dad & Namara
namara.com 5
Me & My Dad
namara.com 6
The Turning Point

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WordCamp India 2021 - How I Started My Business During a Pandemic

Editor's Notes

  1. Most of the photos you will see today were taken at various WordCamp sessions throughout my tours. Hope you enjoy them. About Me History Lessons Learned Resources/Tools
  2. Last week I launched my own company, Namara Technologies Inc. I was a bridesmaid at my friend’s wedding in Mexico last year. So I love this shot I was a professor at Sheridan College where I taught Web Development and Design using WordPress.
  3. If you had asked me in high school, what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, I would have told you I don't know but I'm not going to work for my father. My father had 22 years of municipal service, working in real estate and buildings departments. In 1989, he decided to go into business for himself and leave the city. He registered his company by handing papers over to a search company to file the papers. You didn't do it online in those days. So, it was up to them when they registered it probably within a few days or a week. When he got the incorporation papers back for his very first company. It had been registered on my birthday in January of 1989. He is a big believer in thing happening on people’s birthday’s as a blessing, so it was fitting. When he finally left the city, and started his own business, he was 46 years old.
  4. Taken in India in 1985. After high school, I worked in a women's clothing store for about six months, before my father came to me and said, “Listen, my assistant, Kelly needs help, and I'd like you to come and work for me under her.” He was very clear about that. And while there was a certain amount of nepotism, let's be honest, he was going to make me work for it. After a very lengthy conversation with one of my managers after I'd been late one day, I decided to hand in my notice. The whole while I was thinking, ‘Why am I putting up with this when my dad has offered me a position where I can grow?’ So, guess what? I went to work for my dad in his real estate development and consulting firm and I was there six years. While I was there, I did my business management certificate at Ryerson University in continuing education. One thing I had to do was further my education while I worked for him. I learned about Project Management, due diligence, contracts, consulting and more. One big thing he showed me was how the “old boys club worked”. I may never be one of them, but I learned to understand the mentality and how it operated. I’ve always been a bit of a tom boy, and typically have chosen male-dominated fields, so this was important for me to learn. I realized six years in that I didn’t want to do real estate anymore, so I said, “Dad, I love you dearly, but I just don't want to do real estate for the rest of my life.” And so, he said, “Fine, what do you want to do?” I realized I wanted to go into computers and that was the start of my tech career. This is still the worst break up I’ve had to endure in my life.
  5. Taken in India 2006 Since I left my father’s company 20 years ago, I’d gone on with my IT career and gone back to school, earning my Bachelor’s Degree in ITM. I worked as a Data Analyst at a hospital, worked on two political campaigns, a professor and a QA Manager. I’ve given more than 40 WordCamp talks and had built a good reputation for myself.
  6. Fast-forward, and we're now in 2020. I’ve been laid off from my job about a month before the pandemic, so at least I have EI to support me going through to figure out my next move. I started looking for jobs and then the pandemic hit and hiring stopped. I’d been involved in WordPress and its community for about 10 years, so I felt that returning to it after a two-year hiatus might give me some inspiration (and some connections!)   I attended WordCamp San Antonio Texas. This was one of, if not the first, WordCamp that had been done online after the pandemic had caused shutdowns in this part of the world. I was listening to a bunch of people saying, “You can do this,” in a number of talks. Though they weren't directly talking to me, I felt like they were. One of the ways that they dealt with things like the hallway track were the sponsors had their zoom rooms where you could hop in and talk to people or ask questions of speakers and so on. So, I went into one of the rooms where some of the speakers have been. And yes, I'm going to name names.   One of them was run by Nexcess, which is a liquid Web subsidiary, I believe. And therein, I spoke with Kori Ashton, Jocelyn Mozak, Nathan Ingram and Chris Lema, most of whom had given a talk during this WordCamp and had begun to change my mind. Any of those of you who have ever heard of these guys know that they know their stuff. It was in there that I started posing these questions such as, “Can I really do this?”. And it was through them and some of the talks, I thought, “Maybe I can offer this or that.” And I finally decided that I was going to open my own business.
  7. Let me be clear, throughout my entire career, I've always said, I never want to run my own company. I didn't want to have to deal with the marketing, or the accounting. I don't want to have to worry where my next paycheck is coming from. I just wanted to sit, do my work, do my thing and not have to worry about all of that stuff. I mention this because there might be many of you who are on the same boat. At one time I did think about opening my own dojo but thought better. I was afraid that I might not be able to follow through and if I failed, I’d be letting people down that might depend on me. The Namara group of companies would have been 31 years old, but about a year ago, my father decided he's finally going to start retiring and he wound down the website for his company, which by the way was the first domain I ever registered. My father had always wanted me to take over the company, and there’s a perfectly good domain and company with some name recognition, so why not use that? Almost like a full circle.   Jumping back a little bit into history, if you recall, my father had had his first company opened in on my birthday. My dad's birthday is in April, and because of the pandemic, I haven’t been able to see him. I call up his very good lawyer friend, and I said, “Listen, I need to incorporate a company, but I need it to be done on this day.” And that's what I did. I opened up my very first company under the Namara name, which was his original company, on his birthday. Now, instead of building physical real estate spaces, we're building digital spaces. It turns out that I registered on his birthday, (on purpose) but oddly enough, what I realized later was that I am now the same age as my father was when he opened his first business. So now we have Namara Technologies, Inc.
  8. Great. I have a company name, domain and an idea. But what do you do with it? I thought, I'm just going to focus on building, whatever my business is going to become. I'm going to start from the beginning, I'm not going to make all the mistakes that everybody else makes.
  9. Wrong! One of the first people about a week after I was laid off, that helped me get my first client was the guy who laid me off, and they are still my client today. And it's been a great working relationship. They have helped work with me through a lot of these challenges that I've had in learning about how the WordPress world works, how a company works, even though I knew a lot of this already. Interestingly enough, I’ve ended up with three clients in my lap, all from different places.
  10. I at least looked at tools and templates because it helped me find a way through. Others have done this before, so why not learn from them? That’s why you’re here, isn’t it? With the way my head works, I needed things to keep me structured, give me reminders, plan my time, even if they were overkill. But at the end of the day, it’s what works for you. I spent a lot of time looking at different tools, even for the most basic things, and tried to narrow down the number of apps that I needed to touch, but still did just enough rather than too much. I wanted things that did at least 80% of what I wanted to do and then find something else to fill in the details.
  11. One of the errors that I made initially was I started looking at all the tools I would need without actually understanding what I was going to be doing with them. You know, you need accounting software, you need perhaps a CRM, you know that you need the underlying infrastructure for your business, for digital infrastructure and so on. But until you know what it is that you're building, this is a waste of time. So, learn from my mistake here. The challenge, again, is that I had is that I already had a client that was on the go, and they wanted to start working on this. I had to hit the ground running.
  12. I did a technical audit for a client. The client then said, “Great, those are fantastic. Now we need you to fix this.” And I said, “Well, the problem that you have isn't just a matter of switching one for the other. You have to redesign the site.” When I said redesign and I'm realizing even after I got my third client, that the term ‘redesign’ really scares people. So, I started calling it after the third client a ‘rework’, because ultimately, they have the design work. And what I found was most of these clients, all three of them had ended up with designer type people to build their websites to design them, but they weren't functional in one way or another. And the biggest way in which they weren't functional was that they were slow. And they weren't performant. So for those of you out there who are designing these lovely websites with beautiful looking themes and everything else, if they aren't up to speed, Google will shut them right to the bottom of the page, or bottom of the search engine, because they're not performant enough, especially if they're not mobile.
  13. But you will get back up. Jinsei Nana ka’robi ya’oki - Life means falling down seven times and getting up eight.
  14. This was taken at WordCamp Rochester in 2017. This is the Canadian contingent if you can believe it! First rule of going it on your own: You don’t have to do it alone. There are others out there that will help, support and give you advice, even give you referrals. Reach out to your network and find the people that are going to be able to support you for good or bad. Know the bad ones and just get rid of them from your life. But they could always lead to something else and they will teach you a lesson. And that's what I had. I give a bunch of talks, I help co-ordinate my local meetup, teach for Canada Learning Code and manage the WordPress Canada Slack team. This positions me to know what people are looking for, whether it be the products or services that I offer and keeps me top of mind when people are looking to hire someone to do their website. It also shows that you have a level of authority and knowledge in a given area.
  15. Reach out to your network and find the people that are going to be able to support you for good or bad. Know the bad ones and just get rid of them from your life. But they could always lead to something else and they will teach you a lesson. And that's what I had. I give a bunch of talks, I help co-ordinate my local meetup, teach for Canada Learning Code and manage the WordPress Canada Slack team. This positions me to know what people are looking for, whether it be the products or services that I offer and keeps me top of mind when people are looking to hire someone to do their website. It also shows that you have a level of authority and knowledge in a given area.
  16. To be fair, at this point, I have not yet found a niche, but that is an ideal thing to do. I'm taking the clients that are coming to me, and anybody will tell you, that if you got to keep the lights on, hey, just do the work. It's better than starving. To be fair, I’m not starving. I have good supports and great family, but you do what you have to do.
  17. For those of you out there that are hiring developers and designers, learn a little bit about the language that we use in our world, and we'll learn a bit more about yours. You will find all kinds of courses, free things, and what I’ve learned so far, is that the ones you pay for are the ones that you are committing to. If it’s free, you can put it off.
  18. I got out some banquet paper that I had and started mind mapping. Nothing specifically traditional, but I did a big brain dump of all the things I thought I’d need. Everything from what tools I might need, who I know that might help me, what services I can offer as well as what I need to retain. I still haven’t implemented all of them, but this exercise helped clear my head and stop worrying about what I might forget later. It also helped me to prioritize what needed to get done sooner rather than later, and surface questions that I might need to ask, such as ”am I required to carry errors & omissions insurance?”
  19. My Tools: When I go through all of this, I will tell you if there is an affiliate code, but these are the tools that I've been either using or investigating as part of my process. I am still working through a lot of my manual processes at this point.   Monster Contracts: You’re going to need contracts. One of the things that I found extremely helpful, not just because it gave me a contract, but it gave me almost like a small snapshot of a process and explained why it was done the way it was done. For contracts, the master services agreement, as well as a web service contract is Monster Contracts. This is a product by Nathan Ingram, who’s after me today. It is written for the US, but I found that the language is well enough that you can use it in Canada, which is where I live. WordPress Project Management Roadmaps: Adobe: I also invested in the Adobe product, because of things like Adobe Acrobat and Sign. You can literally write your contract in Microsoft Word, put in Adobe Sign and then show the client where to sign. Adobe will actually send it off for you, automatically get people to sign it, send reminders and then send it back. It also tracks the document opens, signatures and sending. Jira and Confluence: You may not necessarily need an entire project management, because you may not be working in a team. It may be overkill, but I like to be able to set all these little details, because I'll forget them later, or they're in a block of text that I just won't notice. I need to be able to filter things. Slack James Burchill: Some great time management resources and chatbots
  20. One of the things I'm still on the lookout for is a good note-taking program, I got rid of Evernote because of several reasons. I started using OneNote. Because of its integration with the rest of my Microsoft products, I did look at Notion, but I found it really hard to use. I did invest in it for a couple of months, and then I hit a limit with the amount of stuff I could do. I tried to also narrow down the number of sources that I had. So, things like automating, I didn't want to have to go to something like Zapier here when I had a premium Microsoft thing that uses things like Power Automate. I’m learning whether or not that's a worthwhile endeavour, and I've got it for about a year so I'm going to see if that works. The other thing that I haven't got yet but I need to really focus on is a good CRM and or marketing tool. One of the big ones I know is called keep Keap which I think was an Infusionsoft product, which deals with things like your sales funnel and things like that. Insightly, I think is another one. HubSpot, I’ve heard of a lot. I had a lot of problems working with that at my previous place of employment when they replaced our service desk with that product, I did not like HubSpot at all. Their documentation was terrible, and I didn't like the support. I try and stay away from HubSpot as much as possible and this is probably going to continue.
  21. DragonTeach is a platform that I use to teach WordPress, rather than using local. You’ll have full cPanel access, which I think you’re going to learn about in the next module. I highly encourage you to connect with others. There are help and event channels as well as ones for each region. The west has been pretty quiet! 5. Formerly known as Lynda.com. You can usually access this through your local library here in Canada. And remember, Morten is Canadian!
  22. Let me be clear, throughout my entire career, I've always said, I never want to run my own company. I didn't want to have to deal with the marketing, or the accounting. I don't want to have to worry where my next paycheck is coming from. I just wanted to sit, do my work, do my thing and not have to worry about all of that stuff. I mention this because there might be many of you who are on the same boat. At one time I did think about opening my own dojo but thought better. I was afraid that I might not be able to follow through and if I failed, I’d be letting people down that might depend on me. The Namara group of companies would have been 31 years old, but about a year ago, my father decided he's finally going to start retiring and he wound down the website for his company, which by the way was the first domain I ever registered. My father had always wanted me to take over the company, and there’s a perfectly good domain and company with some name recognition, so why not use that? Almost like a full circle.   Jumping back a little bit into history, if you recall, my father had had his first company opened in on my birthday. My dad's birthday is in April, and because of the pandemic, I haven’t been able to see him. I call up his very good lawyer friend, and I said, “Listen, I need to incorporate a company, but I need it to be done on this day.” And that's what I did. I opened up my very first company under the Namara name, which was his original company, on his birthday. Now, instead of building physical real estate spaces, we're building digital spaces. It turns out that I registered on his birthday, (on purpose) but oddly enough, what I realized later was that I am now the same age as my father was when he opened his first business. So now we have Namara Technologies, Inc.