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Progress Report: Tinking Turtle Post Baby

32195098356_fa3b4980bf_bI was once told by a friend that was proficient in email market that you should never acknowledge when you’ve been away from your blog for a while… merely you should continue as you mean to go on, and pick up blogging/tweeting/social networking as if you’d never been away.  But in this case, I think it’s worth a little note.

First a quick general life update: the Turtle household has been moving along at a fairly good clip.  We’ve managed to keep ourselves and our new child fed and alive, and got through the holidays with a minimum of drama.  But everything non-essential has been shunted to the side.

The state of things now looks like this: I’ve been wrapping up the last of my designs that I’ve had under contract, and contemplating how my business is going to pivot with Little Turtle’s needs growing and changing.  I knew, conceptually, that this business was going to change after a child, but the plan was rather vague.  We kept the plan vague on purpose.  I didn’t know what parts of the business I’d be able to work in and which parts I wouldn’t be able to.  Now, with nearly 8 months under our belts, I’ve come to some conclusions.

  1. I want to keep teaching. I love teaching students, and it is much more manageable to work teaching into post-baby life.  I can plan to have a weekend where I teach and Mr. Turtle takes Little Turtle.  I can plan to have every Wednesday night off so I can teach at local venues.  I can plan for fiber festivals and retreats and traveling to other locations.  I have a repertoire of classes, samples and worksheets, and can lean on all the work I’ve done the last couple of years to deliver classes that are great.
  2. I’ll keep up the repair and finishing. I like the challenge of working on different projects, and the repair and finishing provides a steady income, which helps.  I can also work on these projects around Little Turtle.
  3. I’ll be dialing back designing for magazines. I’m discovering that designing, for me, is really really difficult around Little Turtle.  Designing was always one of the things I did better when I had long stretches of times to work – to think out the math of a piece, to draw and sketch out proposals.  I need time to dream and think ahead, and that’s really really difficult to do these days.  My last two designs that I had due after Rebecca were born were really stressful, and I don’t think it’s the best return on investment right now.
  4. Instead, I’ll be working on some designs to support my teaching. I’ve found there are techniques I want to teach where I’ve had a hard time finding a design to teach off of that meets my needs.  Instead of making things work, I’m going to be working on self-publishing some pieces that will support the classes I want to teach.

… And meanwhile, Mr. Turtle will be making sure I blog more.

Maternity and Parental Leave II: Crafting a Leave Policy

Last week I took a first stab at exploring how the arrival of Little Turtle impacts our business, and some of the thoughts we have to ensure both the continued success of Tinking Turtle as well as our own personal well-being through a maternity leave policy.

Balloon LogoAs mentioned before, while a policy or leave of any kind isn’t a federal requirement for most LYS’s and other fiberarts business there are many benefits. These can be realized by taking leave herself as well as providing a leave policy for employees.  Some suggested benefits as compiled by the Small Business Administration (which calls providing this type of leave a “smart option” for small businesses) include: positive morale for the for the perspective parent and increased loyalty of all employees. The International Labour Organization goes further in a broad horizontal review of leave policies, and finds that providing a comprehensive and flexible level of leave across all ranges of organizations can lead to positive outcomes including improved worker performance, productivity, and satisfaction.

Implementation of a leave policy can vary differently whether or not you are a retail shop owner, or a provider of fiber arts services with a work-from-home schedule.  According to allBusiness.com, one of the ways small business benefit by being exempt from federal regulations is the ability to tailor broader policies to meet the individual needs of the company’s employees.  With the rise in teleworking, there can be a “tiered” approach to a policy, both as the child’s birth date approaches as well as for employees returning to work after leave.  The only caveat here is that whatever policy is established, it needs to be applied consistently and fairly across all levels of employees. This ensures there is no risk of an employee filing a discrimination lawsuit due to favoritism.  Having such a policy documented and provided to all employees (in a handbook or welcome packet) for businesses with multiple employees is a good way to ensure everyone is aware of the policy and is treated fairly.

Tinking Turtle maternity leave policy

Here’s our maternity leave schedule and policy!

When you have a single employee or are self employed (as in our situation), how to develop a policy means being comfortable with the business closing, taking a break, or going on vacation for a period of time.  With multiple employees, managing the business can be a bit easier, however it very well may mean reduced hours or services depending on the size of the business and the role of the employee, manager, or owner taking leave.

When we began contemplating a maternity leave policy, with Jennifer the sole revenue generating employee, we knew it would involve a period of time where Tinking Turtle would need to suspend most business operations.  While there are some basic administrative tasks that I can perform, I doubt I could stand up to the quality for designing or finishing that our customers expect!

After reviewing the economics in our annual budget for how much time we wanted to provide Jennifer, we developed a policy and schedule that afforded us the balance to allow for personal time with our new arrival as well as not lose business direction and momentum.  For Tinking Turtle, this came to be a gradual reduction of duties preceding the due date, and then a stair-stepped approach with both taking leave immediately after Little Turtle’s birth and then gradually returning to a “new normal” after our determined leave time.

Once we set this policy for ourselves, our next tasks were to communicate this out to our customers and our business partners.  I’ll write more on this aspect in my next post, as keeping everyone who interacts with your business in the loop is key to implementing a successful maternity or paternity leave policy for a small fiberarts business.

~ Mr. Turtle

Maternity and Parental Leave and Small Businesses

Little Turtle with balloon

Little Turtle!

Ah, Babies.  What greater topic can evoke such an array of emotions from new parents and family & friends alike.  In the business world however, babies and pregnancy are often met with a quiet sense of trepidation; just how will having a child affect an employee and their family?  What does maternity or parental leave even mean?

As Jennifer mentioned a couple of weeks ago, we are blessed to be expecting a daughter of our own.  This is an exciting time of change and discovery for us, as we start evaluating how having a child will affect both our personal lives as well as that of this business that we run, Tinking Turtle.  A wide variety of opinions and ideas exist on how Silicon Valley tech-startups consider pregnancy and childbirth, however this culture significantly differs from the fiber-arts world.  I figured I’d take a stab at documenting some of the items we are considering as we go throughout this process.  This will be a journey of exciting new learning for all of us, so please join me as we work our way through the process of putting all of the pieces together to ensure we can have a warm and happy welcome for Little Turtle.

Maternity leave means time to spend with your new additionUnder the defining legislation currently applied towards pregnancy and birth in the workplace, the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, business with less than 50 employees are exempt from any requirements to provide maternity or parental leave, either paid or unpaid.  Just because it’s not required, however, doesn’t mean that there are not benefits both to the business as well as the new mother.  In a small one or two person shop, this is a difficult decision to make; it would involve essentially cutting back or shutting down operations for a period of time.  With a large majority of LYS’s and other related businesses being owned and staffed by women, this is a doubly difficult consideration given the potential amount of time away to be considered.

Here at Tinking Turtle, we’ve begun exploring just how to balance these two competing factors: providing the time through maternity leave to nurture and welcome a Little Turtle into the family, while still being cognizant of the business landscape and relationships to maintain.

Check out our next installment, where I’ll drill down into some of the specifics on how we hope to accomplish this, and our thought process behind some of these decisions.

~ Mr. Turtle

Goals and Resolutions: Tinking Turtle 2015

Now that Christmas has finished, my eye is starting to turn towards the New Year.  While I don’t normally participate in New Year’s resolutions, I do use this time to put together some constructive goals – some for the business, and some personally.

What are some of the things I’m looking to change for the new year?  Well, this last year had a bunch of designing, and a number of tight deadlines.  On the plus side it brought designs such as Boston Ivy, Mercury, Electrostatic Lines, Riverbend and Lucky Hearts, and Stained Glass Rug to name a few.  On the downside, I’m not sure that pace is sustainable.  I’m going to be taking a good look at managing time and making sustainable decisions. On the plus side, I’ve now got over two years of data on how long a design takes me.  On the minus side, I need to figure out how to leverage that data more.

What did I do well in 2015?  Well, I made it to my second TNNA!  I reached 50 patterns published – a major milestone both personally, and on Ravelry!

50 Patterns Published!

50 Patterns Published!

I got to teach several video classes with Interweave, which I’m still super proud and excited about.

As Mr. Turtle and I meet to have our yearly planning meeting, I’m sure we’ll come up with more concrete milestones we want to hit in the next year, and taylor the long-term goals we have already set.  I think it’s important to keep evaluating your goals to make sure they’re attainable and still relevant.  As life, jobs, and careers take us in different directions, the things we strived for at one point may not be the things we’re striving for at another point.

Do you make crafting, crocheting, knitting or other goals for the new year?  How do you make them?  I’d love to hear!

From the Business Desk: Small Business Privacy

From the Business Desk is a semi-regular series that looks at some of the important factors in running a Small Fiber Arts Business.  This feature looks at some of the common privacy implications that Small Business owners should have an awareness of.  Join Mr. Turtle as he looks into the practicalities of privacy and small business.

Just the other week, the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced that in addition to the estimated 22.1 million identity records that had been compromised in an illicit hack of their databases, approximately 5.6 million sets of fingerprint records has been stolen as well.  Unlike a credit card or social security number, which can be changed or re-released, this personal biometric data is crucial to keep private, something that the OPM had failed to do.

While most small businesses do not operate at the scale of the Federal Government, they are still responsible for certain privacy requirements around how customer and employee data is collected and used.  In addition to the commonly thought of privacy items like securing data from theft, there are other more subtle aspects of privacy law that govern what a business can, and more importantly cannot, do with someone’s data.  While privacy has been growing in importance with the rise of the Digital Age, it has only been recently that the general public has become attuned to it’s importance in the world of commerce.  As a small business owner, having a baseline understanding of some of the key elements of privacy law can pay dividends in protecting your business and yourself from liability.

In the United States, unlike our European cousins, privacy regulations follow a sectoral approach: each sector of the economy has its’ own set of laws and regulations.  The general enforcement for privacy constraints in the business sphere, as opposed to more regulated sectors of industry like healthcare and finance, is the Federal Trade Comission (FTC).  In its’ creation with the Federal Trade Commission Act, the body is chartered with enforcing against “unfair and deceptive trade practices and acts,” of which case law has held includes taking appropriate privacy and security measures.  For the small business owner, this is important in how you portray your business’s privacy practices to your customers and the general public.

One of the first items a business owner should consider is that if you have a web presence, you should have a written Privacy Policy.  This serves to inform any visitors of their rights to their personal data, and more importantly, your intentions surrounding that data.  This in turn allows users to make informed decisions or know that for instance using a “contact me” form on your website may lead to their email address being added to your mailing list.  Additionally, the State of California in their 2003 Online Privacy Protection Act requires such a notice to be posted on the website if you may potentially be collecting identifiable information from California Citizens.  Given the interconnected web of e-commerce in today’s world, the chances are that this may be happening; ensuring that you have developed a current and accurate document unique for your business situation can cover a lot of your privacy bases in this respect.

Another key area a small business owner should be aware of is how they conduct any email communication and marketing.  As e-mail messaging has exploded in recent years, replacing more traditional postage service mailings, many small business owners have found themselves afoul of the regulations in this space.  Email messaging in the United States is primarily governed by the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM Act) of 2003.  In brief, the Act requires all email messages to possess a legitimate return email address and physical address of the sender, not have any false, misleading, or deceptive headers or subjects, and provide a clear and conspicuous way for the recipient to opt out of receiving future email messages at no cost to them.

Because of requirements such as these, I would recommend that any organization that intends to use email as a platform for outreach to consider selecting an Email Marketing service to assist in managing one’s distribution list.  Many of the commonly used services, such as Mad Mimi, MailChimp, or Constant Contact provide free or extremely cost effective basic plans for small business users.  These services allow the use of email formatting templates to assist in meeting all necessary privacy requirements, and additionally provide a platform by which recipients can individually manage their subscription status and opt in or out of receiving certain types of communications.  Additionally, such services assist in keeping email distribution lists secure, and ensure that when messages are sent out, recipients email addresses are not exposed to other individuals.  It is because of these benefits that any small fiber arts business should consider setting up an Email Marketing service as part of their initial business plan.

While the future of privacy law and requirements for U.S. based businesses may seem murky, a small fiber arts business can take heed of the above principals to best position themselves to be able to respond both to industry requirements as well as the overarching desires of their customer base.  By acting and thinking in the best interest of the customer, and treating customer information as you would have another company treat yours, the savvy business owner can create and maintain indispensable customer goodwill.  And that is an asset always worth having for your business.

Michael Raymond, CIPP/US

“Mr. Turtle”

Talking with Marian Schembari

This morning I spent some time talking to Marian Schembari, a Davidson College classmate of mine.  Marian’s been a person I’ve enjoyed following since we graduated: from her facebook ad that got her a job in publishing, to her dynamic transition from a Couchsurfer user to employee, and finally to the freelance career she has today – she’s always doing something smart and interesting.  Oftentimes I’ve drawn parallels between the tracks of our careers – as we’ve both struggled to figure out what to do when the career we thought we wanted to do didn’t quite work.  While I realized that I wasn’t suited to academia and an office job, Marian realized that publishing wasn’t quite a good fit for her.  In the years since 2005 (when we were across the other in our freshman dorms), I’ve went from being a little in awe of Marian (she had a great roommate and a great sense of style and an amazing writing voice) to being respectful of her as a businesswoman – one who has managed to make several right-turns in her career and still remain passionate and articulate and true-to-herself.

So I was curious as I sat down to chat with Marian over Skype this morning.  She had put out a call on Facebook, wanting to talk to women who ran small businesses, and I figured it would be a fun way to say hello and reconnect.  It’s funny – despite never being good friends in college (probably due to me often just feeling/being awkward), we managed to chat for just under an hour about so many different things we had in common.

One of my goals each month this year was to call up and talk to someone I thought was neat or cool and just chat.  I’ve mentioned this before (especially on twitter).  The goal was a simple one: the job I have now, on an everyday basis, is a largely solitary one, and I wanted to reach out to people who I thought were neat and just connect.  Also, because I tend to have a fear of calling up people I don’t know, this was a way to work on that problem!  Think of it as establishing my own water-cooler.  I kept the rules loose – the chat could be in person or on the phone, and it didn’t have to really be for any reason other than I thought the person was nifty.  This mission has led to me establishing connections I didn’t think was possible, and even some young friendships.

Talking with Marian brought home why I started this project.  We were able to chat about how our Alma Mater has both been a boon (in friendships) and a frustration (our work-ethic is perhaps permanently warped).  Marian gave me some great ideas about how to talk and present myself online, and I told her a bit about my business and the fiber arts industry.  At one moment Marian shared her love of adult coloring books, and I reached just out of the frame to hold up my mug of colored pencils.  Laughing, Marian reached out of the video frame on her end, to show me a bunch of colored pencils – also in a coffee mug.

It also brought home several things I shouldn’t forget: that I need to remember to keep doing the things I love, in between the things that keeps a business running.

When was the last time you reached out to an old acquaintance?  How did it go?

Making and Fixing Mistakes

darning and fixing a hole in knitting, repairing a mistake

Fixing a Mistake: a hole, in knitting

I’ve been thinking a lot about mistakes lately.

One of my most popular classes is titled “Oops!”  The class hits home with knitters and crocheters: sometime, somewhere, we all are going to make a mistake.  Probably even more than one mistake.  And if it’s a big enough mistake, it’s going to need to be fixed.  It’s a simple premise for the class.  Let’s take the pressure off making mistakes, and deliberately make them – and then learn how to fix the mistakes we’ve created.  Oops is a class, that, at it’s heart, is about being human.  Instead of pretending that mistakes don’t happen, it faces them head-on.

I’ve heard it quoted a couple of times that in Navajo rug work the weaver puts a deliberate “mistake” into their work: the idea being that only the Creator is perfect.  You hear this idea echoed in Indian or Persian rugs, or in Islamic geometric designs.  While some people believe the myth is not true, there’s a point to be made in the story: by being human, we make mistakes, and in some ways we should make peace with it.

The Yarn Harlot’s written about mistakes dozens of times.  Elizabeth Zimmerman held the idea that there are no mistakes in knitting, as long as the results turn out the way you want.  Heck, mistakes are so common in patterns that there’s a word for it: errata.

Yet, two weeks ago I was a stew of anxiety as I went through tech editing for three of my patterns coming out in the fall.

darning a hole in a worn out glove - repairing a mistake

Fixing a hole formed in a worn-out glove

It’s funny: a large part of my income comes from doing away from imperfections: repairing broken things, and fixing mistakes in pieces seen as unsaveable.

Yet, when it comes to my *own* mistakes, I’m hesitant to talk about them.

Perhaps it’s because of the scale. To me, a mistake in a blanket affects nothing except the blanket.  If I make a mistake cooking, or gardening, or in any of my personal activities, the only person harmed is myself (and perhaps Mr. Turtle, if he’s forced to eat my cooking).  In contrast, a mistake in a pattern affects someone else’s life.  It can inconvenience them.  A mistake in a pattern can take hours for a tech editor to untangle; in worst cases, it can derail publishing deadlines and hurt the bottom line.  Mistakes on that scale can be costly.

I’m not one to let go of my own mistakes lightly.  In 10th grade, on a field assignment, I broke a thermometer that my teacher was letting me borrow.  I was heartbroken and that night I cried myself sick, thinking about telling my teacher the next day that I’d let him down.  The whole day before I could go see him, I worried the situation over like a sore tooth: poking and prodding at it, envisioning the worst case scenario. By the time I got to last period when I could speak to him, I was physically sick and trembling.  My small mistake had become so big in my mind it has physiological effects.  When I went to tell him what was wrong, I ended up just crying from the stress.

It’s why I love working for myself: I can choose the people, and the situations, where I’m held accountable.

I’ve grown up since 10th grade, but big mistakes still have the ability to immobilize me, at least a little.  Crafting an email in response to an irate customer can still leave me feeling queasy.

So two weeks ago, when I had not one, but two patterns in tech edits with some significant problems, I struggled to keep my composure.  In a conversation to my friend Becca, she put things into perspective.

A while back I hired a woman to help me crochet some pieces that were on a deadline.  They were samples, and the patterns were already written, but they needed to be worked up in different yarn.  I had very specific instructions.  I handed off the yarn to her, with a firm emphasis that if problems came up, if her gauge was off, if she made a mistake, she should contact me right away. I knew that she might make mistakes, but as long as she communicated with me, I could manage things.

Unfortunately, when she made mistakes, as sometimes we are wont to do, she kept working the pattern, hoping that if she went further the mistake would be less obvious.  Instead, when I got the pieces, I had to do quite a bit of work to fix things she hadn’t shared with me.

I was angry.  It wouldn’t have been a problem if she had just gotten in touch with me, but instead, she waited until the deadline to inform me of the problems.  It left me with very little time to do damage control.

In the same manner, Becca pointed out, I should handle the mistakes I make.  If I made a mistake, I should be upfront about it.  I shouldn’t cover it up.  Instead, I should communicate what my problem is, and ask for help.

Not so very easy.

Why am I talking about all this?

Well, I’m thinking about how mistakes are viewed in crafting, in the knitting and crochet industry, and in my own personal life.  And I’m thinking about ways I can both respond to mistakes I make, and other’s make, with more grace.

Have you made a mistake in your personal or professional life?  How do you handle them?  I really, really would like to know.

New Website!

Welcome to Tinking Turtle

New Welcome on the Landing Page

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been working on a new website with Cultivar Designs, and it’s finally done. If you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to click through and take a good look. It represents a much needed change – while the old design served it’s purpose, I was growing out of the tools I had at hand, and it was time to make a change.

So, what has the new layout got going for it? Let me count the ways:

  • The layout now scales to any size screen, be it mobile, tablet, computer, or big-screen TV.  It should be easier to pull it up on your phone to show your friends, if you want to share the wonderfulness that’s Tinking Turtle.
  • I’ve got an easier way to contact me, if you want to ask questions or drop me a note.
  • Some of you found the old way of commenting on my site very difficult.  I’ve moved over to another comment system that allows you to login in a variety of ways, as well as commenting the “normal way.”
  • If you’re interested in having Finishing done, the new form is a little more responsive, and allows me, on the back end, to get in touch with you faster.
  • The site reflects the way Tinking Turtle is now – a little older, a little wiser, but still full of fun energy and silly humor.

Much of the credit for the great website is due to Cultivar, and I’ll be talking a little bit more about the experience of working with them next week.


 

On another note, tomorrow I’ll be heading off to TNNA.  This year will be my second year, and it’s quite a start to realize how much more relaxed I am this year than last one.  For one, I’m packing this evening instead of say, three days ago.  For another, this time around I’m much more willing to let things flow as they will.  I’m looking forward to the event – it’s wonderful to be around people who “speak your language.”

And when  I come back, I’ll have lots of pictures to share – both from my travels last week, and my travels this weekend!  I might even have some stitching things to share – so stay tuned!

As a last note, if you haven’t already, now’s a great time to signup for my newsletter, to keep up-to-date with everything.  You see the new button to the right?  You should click on it.

 

 

From the Business Desk: Leveraging your Strengths

From the Business Desk is back.  From the Business Desk is a semi-regular series that looks at some of the important factors in running a Small Fiber Arts Business.  This feature revolves around market evaluation, and some tips to find the right niche for your business.

As any small business owner knows, it’s a fierce world out there to break into any market.  Be it establishing a LYS, becoming your own design company, breaking into the teaching circuit, all of these arenas seem to have well established entities that have solid client bases that seem to have everything put together.  How will you ever be able to differentiate your new business and your ideas from the existing market, you may ask yourself.  One of the handiest tricks of the business trade to help you accomplish this is the SWOT analysis.  Standing for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, this analysis can help you start to make sense of your business’s place in the market, and areas which you can develop to better differentiate and market your ideas.

SWOT Matrix overview.  Image courtesy of wikipedia.org

Fitting neatly into a 2 x 2 matrix (one of my favorite visualizations for many different business strategies), the SWOT analysis can help you identify some key attributes both about your business as well as the marketplace.

Strengths are the things that your business does quite well or has a key competitive factor; items could include physical location of a shop in a high-traffic downtown area, or having a well rounded resume of instruction at a variety of locations.

Weaknesses are known areas where you could use some improvement; an example of this could be that you don’t really possess a strong skill-set on computer tools like Excel or Microsoft Publisher as a designer.

Opportunities are areas that in your opinion the market or industry has not fully realized, such as there being a wealth of crocheters living in a particular town, but no dedicated crochet instructor.

Threats can be anything externally that stands the chance of impeding the growth and progress of your business.  Threats can be micro, such as the fact that there is already a teacher who has been teaching a particular class that you want to start teaching at a regional fair, or macro, such as the overall state of the retail yarn market in a particular state.
Remember, these should be fairly high-level; while it’s good to have an in-depth analysis of your business and the market, for the first time that you do this exercise, try to distill it down to the top three or four attributes in each category.

Once you have developed your ideas and thoughts, it’s time to tweak the matrix to help understand how this can lead to a strong business plan development.

SWOT action item Matrix

By combining each of these categories in a grid, you can identify specific action items that emerge from the attribute clusters.  The two most important areas to be aware of and consider are the Strength-Opportunities  and the Weakness-Threat quadrants.  These two reflect the immediate areas for business development and defense strategy respectively.

Breaking down your businesses’ market position utilizing the SWOT analysis, you can simply and easily lay the groundwork for a comprehensive business plan that can help you take advantage of market opportunities.  One final note about the SWOT analysis; it is not meant to be a static market.  Over time, both your business strengths and weaknesses as well as your perceived opportunities and threats in the market can significantly change.  It’s a good idea to review and update this grid on a regular schedule (here at Tinking Turtle we review our SWOT items quarterly and develop a new SWOT matrix annually).  By doing this, you can ensure that you are aware of where you need to focus your business development objectives for the near future.

~ Mr. Turtle

From the Business Desk: Finishing Projects

After a delay due to some career changes that Jen talked about earlier, From the Business Desk is back.  From the Business Desk is a semi-regular series that looks at some of the important factors in running a Small Fiber Arts Business.  This feature revolves around ensuring that all of your business projects have fully completed.


As a small business owner, staying on top of everything necessary to run your business is no small task.  With a constant turmoil of new projects, new customers, and everyday business inquiries, it is important to understand what is required for you to close out your existing projects; by successfully and formally closing out a project, it can be put to rest with all parties comfortable that their requirements have been met.

Not all Project Management needs to be this complicated. A few
simple tips can keep you on track to successful completion.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gantt_chart

One of the first items to be aware of in the closing stage of a project is that it’s important to identify up front what the final items on your project or to-do list are.  For example, if you are working on establishing and running a new class at your shop, you may think that the project is complete when the class runs.  Thinking this out ahead of time can help you identify  items that are always good to check off before putting a project to bed  Namely, ensuring that all compensation and contractual terms have been met and a project post-mortem to document lessons learned.  Following through with these steps ensures that you don’t forget some of the important elements of a project for any business: getting paid, and meeting legal obligations.  A post-mortem, either publicly or internally is a good time for one or more parties involved to learn from the project, documenting what went well and what could use improvement for next time.

This is an example of using Insightly to keep track of project tasks.
This is the project list for the pattern Sweet Strawberries.

Keeping track of all of this can be overwhelming; fortunately there are several options available that are easy to use in web form.  I’d recommend ZOHO Projects or Freedcamp as two of the better solutions available out there for someone just getting started.  Other options include systems that link Customer Relationship Management and Project Management.  Here at Tinking Turtle, our CRM system, Insightly includes an integrated Project Management module.  This provides additional functionality to link projects to various associated parties, and track when a project is waiting on a third party to take action.

No matter how extensive or basic your knowledge of projects is, ensuring that you take some time on all of your projects to double check that your steps are completed is well worth the peace of mind..  The more projects that can be completed without final steps left un-done, the easier managing the entire workload of your business can be.

~ Mr. Turtle