INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
Life during COVID-19 as a Freelance Web & Developer in Brighton UK
James Browning, founder of JB Web Development tells us about digital business solutions and the impact of Covid-19.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
James Browning: My family and I are coping well in these COVID-19 times. We work from home a lot, and already had a dog, so spent most days going for country walks. Not much changed in our day-to-day lives, apart from less socializing with other family and friends.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded JB Web Development.
James Browning: I started my freelance Web & App Development business in 2011 whilst living in China, as there was a huge demand from companies wanting to expand internationally. After five years in Beijing, I moved back to the UK, and I have established a large set of reputable clients. I then started to work alongside local tech companies as part of their dev teams and networked with other developers and tech companies. Soon I formed my own limited company, JB Web Development, in Brighton UK, and took on a UX Designer to increase the services on offer.
How does JB Web Development innovate?
James Browning: We often go to all the big conferences and tech talks to ensure we are knowledgeable in the latest web technologies and design methods. I often contribute to open source projects too, and constantly have to keep learning as the tech world moves fast.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
James Browning: Back in March 2020, there was a noticeable drop in both work and inquiries. All our long-term clients were pausing to assess how the pandemic will affect their own businesses. After a month though, work quickly returned to normal and then has actually been increasing very fast since. It seems there are a lot of start-ups forming ideas related to helping with COVID-19, such as remote learning software for schools. So I believe most development companies are experiencing a lot of growth at the moment. So we just had our best year to date, and I am now considering hiring more to increase capacity.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
James Browning: Currently I only employ a designer, but have plans to hire an additional developer soon. I have not had to make any difficult choices regarding HR thankfully.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
James Browning: I have always prided on building strong customer relationships, which is why JB Web Development has a core set of long-term clients who we have supported over many years. There are a variety of tools we use, but generally speaking, I keep all direct client interaction personal via zoom, phone, or email. We use Trello for managing our day-to-day tasks.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
James Browning: Actually, JB Web Development did not qualify for any government grants and we really did not need any help. Luckily business has grown as otherwise, I could see how difficult it could have been. As a company director, I would not have been able to get any of the Self Employed grants.
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