We talked to James Browning, founder of JB Web Development, about digital business solutions, and this is what he said about it.
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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