[quote style=”boxed”]I map out ideas and processes using a whiteboard, a text editor or in my moleskine. These ideas are then turned into to-do lists.[/quote]
Jon Hainstock is the co-founder of ZoomShift. ZoomShift provides easy-to-use staff scheduling software for hundreds of managers and thousands of employees worldwide.
He is also the co-founder of Tailwind Creative. Tailwind Creative is a web development agency that works with startups and small businesses to create custom web applications. Tailwind Creative found a niche building tools for marketers including Juxseo.com and Inbound.org
Jon is a professional web developer, digital marketer, graphic artist, photographer, videographer, and musician.
Jon has a B.A. in Advertising from Ball State University.
Where did the idea for [insert your idea, company, organization] come from?
Ben and I started ZoomShift because we discovered firsthand how burdensome scheduling is for managers and employees. Managers who schedule by hand spend an enormous amount of time trying to handle staff availability requests and make schedules each week. Their employees have no way of accessing their schedules online and cannot trade shifts easily with other employees. We built ZoomShift to bridge the gap between managers and employees and facilitate all staff scheduling related activities and conversations.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I begin each day by viewing our recent signups in KISSMetrics and responding to emails. In the afternoon, I work on marketing, sales or web development projects for ZoomShift. I try split up major tasks into bite sized chunks, so I can work in 90 minute sprints with 20 minute breaks in between.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I map out ideas and processes using a whiteboard, a text editor or in my moleskine. These ideas are then turned into to-do lists.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I’m stoked to see small businesses adopting and depending on cloud software to help run their business. This includes everything from Google Apps for email and documents, to online accounting software.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I use to-do lists for everything. As soon as I think of a task I enter it into my main to-do list, getting it off my mind so I can prioritize or assign it later. This mental offloading helps me focus on one task at time, which in turn, makes more productive.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I worked on the kitchen staff at Ball State University and it was terrible. We were responsible for filling the buffet line for the football team. The upside was that I learned how to connect with other staff members and work together to accomplish goals quickly.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
One thing I would change is to focus on user behavior sooner. User testing and funnel conversion testing have helped us see the things that need to be fixed or optimized in order to grow the company.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I recommend spending most of your time experimenting. Everyday you should be experimenting with new marketing and conversion tactics that will help you grow your business. Outline the top experiments you want to run and work on implementing them over time. Track the results of your experiments using Google Analtyics for marketing initiatives, KISS Metrics for conversion testing, and Qualaroo for customer feedback.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
We optimized ZoomShift’s site for keywords people would be searching for to solve their scheduling problems. This deliberate focus on SEO has helped us keep a steady flow of leads every month.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
We released a new version of ZoomShift without a setup guide. This resulted in a lot of missed opportunities and we remedied the situation by creating a step by step setup process.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think that there is a lot of opportunity in building a simple job board platform as a service.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I was born in Seoul, South Korea. I was adopted and came to the United States when he was 3 months old.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
We rely on Basecamp for all project related to-dos and I use Producteev for managing personal/daily tasks. We use New Relic to track app performance, Heroku to host our application, and Amazon RDS to host our database. We use Intercom for customer support and user engagement, KISS Metrics to track user activity and Google Apps for email and documents. I love the simplicity and cost effectiveness of all the softwares that we use to run our business.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I recommend reading “Getting Real” by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson because it gives great wisdom on how to build a simpler and better product.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
I recommend following @dharmesh and @jasonfried
Jon Hainstock on Twitter: @jonhainstock
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.