By November 4, 2014 Read More →

How to work together when you live miles apart

How to work together - Emily Bannister, BulldogClipGot a good business idea but live almost 200 miles apart?

No problem! Emily Bannister of just-launched cost-tracking software BulldogClip describes how she and her father work together at opposite ends of the country:

Hi Emily, tell us how you and your father came up with the idea to work together at a distance.
I was looking for a new direction at the start of 2014 after five years in the Royal Air Force. In the military you are always on the move and with my partner also in the forces, we rarely had the opportunity to be together.

I wanted a new start that gave me the opportunity to reclaim a bit of home and family life. Working from home seemed like the logical way for me to balance business and a home life. 

Having decided that home working was the best solution, I needed a business idea. I had studied brand promotion at university which I knew would be useful in launching a company. My father, Owen, having worked for nearly 30 years in IT consultancy and management around the globe, said he was happy to postpone the retirement he was considering and work together.

He has always loved computer programming and was keen to impart his knowledge. I like a challenge and so, with his help and some online courses, I learned how to programme. So we created Owen Bannister Limited, a small business software design and development company.

At that point I was living near Kings Lynn in Norfolk and my father was living in Swindon. Since starting the business, I have moved to a small village in mid-Lincolnshire, and I will be moving again at the start of 2015 (destination unknown).

Yesterday we launched our first publicly available programme – BulldogClip – an online cost-tracking software for small businesses, the self-employed and anyone wanting to track where their money goes.

A chance visit to a friend sparked the idea after seeing him record all his business expenses on a word processor, add them up with a calculator, package the receipts into an envelope to give to his bookkeeper. It took him hours to keep track of his spending and expenses – and time is money. Computers were not my friend’s forte but we had to find him a better, simpler way to do things. The idea for BulldogClip was born.

BulldogClip is a great name – who thought of it, and how?
My father came up with the name early on. As he puts it: ‘A bulldog clip is a simple and effective way of storing bills, just like our product. When you get back from the shops you can keep all your receipts neatly together in a bulldog clip until you are ready to process them onto the BulldogClip software.’
Although we considered other names we found we kept returning to this one. It just seemed to fit.

Work together - Owen Bannister, BulldogClipHow do your skills fit with your father’s to get everything done?
We make a good team. He specialises in the behind-the-scenes bit, making the cogs go round, and I work on the bits you see, using both my new programming skills and my previous experience in graphic design.

Because our past work experience is so different we can learn a lot from each other. We like to try and share our expertise. It is important that, as far as possible, we both understand what the other person is working on so that we can help each other out if we come across any hurdles.

We both love to pick up new skills and as a team of two we have to wear many hats. But that is part of the fun of home working. Every day is different and you never get bored doing the same task day in day out.

What tools do you use to keep up-to-date with each other?
It can be difficult to work together as a team when your home offices are so far apart. We have found some great tools to help us overcome the distance:

1. We use Basecamp, an online project management program to create to-do lists, allocate tasks, share files and keep up to date with progress.

2. Skype means we can chat to each other through the computer and avoid racking up expensive phone bills.

3. We have even found a program Screenhero that lets us view each other’s screens and operate the other person’s mouse which has been invaluable when you are stuck on a complicated task and need some support.

What’s it like for father and daughter to work together? For example, how do you handle differences of opinion?
You have to try and separate work and family time. If we are at a family event we try hard not to let work take over but because we both enjoy it so much we often find it will creep into discussions.
We are both quite easy-going characters. If we have a difference of opinion we will put forward our reasons and once we have the full picture we tend to end up agreeing on one solution anyway. Or we will trial one idea and keep the other as a back up.

How to work together - BulldogClipNow that BulldogClip is officially launched, how do you hope things will develop?
We didn’t design BulldogClip to be a big money spinner, rather a showcase for our company’s skills and services offering tailor-made software packages to small businesses.

The subscription fees are kept as low as possible and are designed to cover the running costs of the website. We hope that it can save more small businesses time and money by helping them keep on top of their costs.

Going forward we would like to see the software that we develop at Owen Bannister Limited contribute to the success of many more small businesses and sole traders. As well as developing bespoke solutions for small businesses with specific problems we are always on the look out for more general problems that we can solve for the small business and self employed community.

work from home secrets

BulldogClip is available at www.bulldogclip.co.uk with a 30 day free trial.

Posted in: Family, Technology

1 Comment on "How to work together when you live miles apart"

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  1. Great read, always interesting to find out how people work when living miles apart.

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