As a small business owner myself, I want to do my part to encourage, promote and support other local small businesses. To do this the blog will feature one (maybe more) small businesses a week. They will be businesses that I know to be good quality, built by hardworking people. The first feature is dotjess. Run by the brilliant Jessica Jones, who I am lucky enough to call my business mentor, software tutor, friend and sister! So, lets get cracking and find about dotjess…

Can you tell us a little bit about your small business?

DotJess helps small businesses and non profits have beautiful online spaces. We focus on creating and educating. We do web design, graphic design, social media marketing, publishing and consulting. We also offer one on one tech training and support, and focus on supporting seniors with their tech needs.

Hannah Grace Life
Hannah Grace Life
Jill Emberson and Jess Jones during a teaching lesson. Learn more about Jill’s mission by clicking the Pink Meets Teal logo below
Pink Meets Teal

When and why did you start your business?

I started the business in 2017 after growing tired of working in the corporate world. I thought, you know what, I can do this myself and do it better, so I did! The business has changed a bit since I started; I didn’t know who my main customers would be. I thought I would mostly be helping seniors over 70 and doing small information style websites. Early on, I was fortunate enough to meet Jill Emberson, a wonderful local professional and networker. Suddenly, my main one on one lessons were women in their 50s and 60s. One of these women was Anne Kempton, gallery owner of Timeless Textiles (who I made a website for) and after an intro to her brother Mark, I realised another major client base of mine was non profits – and I redesigned the Hunter Wetlands website. Now, after being operational for around 3.5 years, I am so proud of my work with local professional women and the broader community.

 

What has been your proudest moment in business?

What a tough question to answer. I am proud of almost every single job I complete. I love being able help people everyday, be it helping them organise the folders on their desktop, or represent themselves wonderfully online. I love the community of people I work with. When I think about one group I started, just a few months after starting in business, a group that continues to this day. I had an idea to do a small series of classes based around using an iPad, aimed at seniors. The first class was held at Jesmond Community Centre (and actually, the first class was postponed as I ended up in hospital after a cat bite to the hand… but that’s another story). A small cohort of older women came together, and some of that very same group still meet with me every Tuesday! (With COVID, we have been on pause but will resume shortly). While we have a lot of fun learning new (and old) tricks on the iPad, I am proud of our mini community. At the end of the day, you can make dollars, and you can spend dollars, but you don’t always get to spend time with quality people, and create memories as part of your job. I feel proud to be able to do that ! 

I’m also proud of “being in the room where it happens” as part of the Pink Meets Teal movement to fight for funding fairness for ovarian cancer.

Hannah Grace Life
Jess and Anne Kempton (owner of Timeless Textiles)
at a Pink Meets Teal event
Hannah Grace Life
Jess teaching her online safety course at the Hunter Wetlands
dotjess

What makes you different to other businesses in your field?

When compared with other web designers, we spend A LOT of time with end-users. As half of the business is educating, I see day to day the difficulty seniors (and others!) have navigating websites. We are able to put this daily user experience knowledge into practice in each of our website designs. We also combine a wealth of experience without agency prices, allowing other sole traders, small businesses and non-profits to get high quality output at affordable prices.

 

What is the one piece of advice you’d give someone starting a small business?

Find your advocates to help you get started. Word of mouth recommendation is still the best form of advertising. If you find people who are happy to share and promote you early on, you can build a strong base to grow your regular customers. I guess a second piece of advice would be to look the best you can from day one. I talk to a lot of people starting up businesses and I am surprised about how many don’t want to invest in even a lightweight website, or a logo. Looking professional helps you as the business owner feel confident, and helps the customer know you are willing to invest in yourself. Bad branding, logo design or web design does reflect badly on you, even if it is just a subliminal thing.

 

Hannah Grace Life
Jess and the rest of the Hello Newy East crew

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your small business ventures?

I am so grateful to have wonderful business mentors (Michael Kelly from Grenada Promotions and my dad Jack van Netten) and wonderful supports around me. My wife, who also runs her own business, is supportive of the sometimes intensely long hours I work to get a job done. My family is a great sounding board when I need to talk things out. My recent addition of a 2IC Hannah has made a great difference to my day to day work, allowing me to be more efficient and productive (and to see more customers!) I am grateful for my long term customers – the customers who keep coming back, even if it is for a small graphic design job, or a quick question. As a small business, every single job I get – big or small – helps me with my day to day living. Every single recommendation by a customer reminds me how lucky I am to be doing a job I love, in a community I love. Not every day is easy in small business. It’s learning to ride the waves and have faith that the next job is only a conversation away. Did I mention you need to be your own best advocate too? You need to talk to every single person you meet about your small business. You never know who might need your services in the future. I once rang a guy with the intent to buy a second hand 4WD for camping, and by the end of the call we had lined up a time to meet and talk business. Chris from GoSourcing is now one of my long term ongoing customers! Take each day as a new day to do the very thing you want to be doing. You will work harder then ever, worry more then ever but your successes will be better then ever. Not everyone is cut out to run their own business, but it doesn’t mean not everyone should try!

 

Hannah Grace Life
Jess and Bev. Jess has been teaching Bev one-on-one since the starting dotjess back in 2017
Hannah grace life
Wendy, one of the original Wetlands iPad class members. Wendy attends any dotjess event that she is able to and has been a passionate supporter of Jess throughout business

Personal Profile:

Hannah Grace Life

Name: Jessica Jones

Age: 31

Favourite colour: Red and blue (Spider-man colours) 

Interests: Camping, birdwatching, gaming, reading, writing poetry, cooking

Favourite music: My fav singer of all time is Liz Stringer, followed closely by the Indigo Girls. Some of my fav genres are Aussie hip hop, musical theatre, Aussie folk music and pop. 

Dream job as a child: For a while I wanted to be a vet, or a doctor, as it seemed to the intellectual pinnacle of a career. Now, I am so happy with my career.

Three gratitudes:

  • Access to public health care
  • My family, friends and pets
  • Being able to walk freely in my neighbourhood