Tag: entrepreneur

SmartDraw: An Entrepreneur’s Secret to Success

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Building and maintaining a successful business from the ground up isn’t easy.  For entrepreneurs who make it, the difference between giving up and persisting can be a matter of having the right tools and knowing how to use them.

In this week’s post, we’ll hear from Lesley Cowan, Director of Lesley J. Cowan Professional Services, based in New South Wales, Australia.  We’ll discover SmartDraw’s role in her continued success as an entrepreneur.

Can you tell us about the work that you do?

I deliver business solutions in the areas of procurement to governments, both Commonwealth and State.  With a strong background of legal practice, communications, and project management, I continually assess and adjusts my business practices to reflect the changing client environments enabling me to learn and evolve as a practitioner.

My prime customer, at the moment, asked me to set up all of their management systems – quality assurance, safety, and environmental. I write all of their policies. I do all their legal work and I also maintain all their systems and train people in their operations.

Why did you select SmartDraw?

SmartDraw, well, I had never heard of before. But it was an economical tool to use for the company because they didn’t have great amounts of money to spend on software.  I’ve used MindManager, in my legal work, where I was devising complex contracts for Defense.  It actually helped me organize my requirements and flow them down to other sub-contracts.  I’d use flowcharting in doing policy writing. And I was quite amazed to find that SmartDraw did both and they did them well.

You mentioned that it’s a powerful tool for small companies.  Can you elaborate?

“First of all, it’s economical.  Secondly, it’s multifaceted.  I’ve managed to do some pretty complex things with it.”

Secret #1: Create Resource Management System Diagrams to Organize Information


I have a quality assurance website which is a quite a good way of putting our current versions of our quality files, procedures, and forms for everybody to be able to access.  Because normally, you would put paper copies out.  It gets lost and it’s hard to keep current.  It’s been fantastic.

Secret #2: Flowchart to Increase Understanding of How Everything Relates

“I flowchart everything. That way you can see how it interfaces with everything else.  I find the flowcharting function I do use constantly.”

Secret #3: Mind Map to Breakdown Ideas Into Components

“I use the Mind Map function quite often to breakdown ideas that I have into components because I can also download it into an outline format.  So, it helps me manage ideas.  And I find that quite useful.”


Secret #4: Maintain Org Charts to Reflect Organizational Change

I also use the organization chart facility.  In order to keep current in your quality system and to show what your organization is all about, you have to change the organization chart to reflect the change.


Secret #5: Share Information By Inserting Diagrams into Documents or Emails

We share our organizational charts in several ways.  Number one, our current chart is on our QA website so people can print it out, in pdf version, off of the website if they need it. The other thing we do is in all of our tender writing, we can implant them as a pdf insert them or Windows metafile and just insert them into a document I’m writing.  We send them in emails. You can implant them or attach them to your emails.

How would you describe SmartDraw?

“It’s a great tool for a small company who wants to achieve big things.”

Mainly because it’s versatile.  You’ve got a lot of templates to draw from and you can be innovative and creative with it.  Whilst I really like different things about different programs, this one accomplishes many things.

What advice do your have for future SmartDraw Users?

“I’ve been using it for over 5 years now. I’m still learning new ways to use it.  I have become really obsessed with what I do with it.  It’s a very good tool.”

Turning Vines Into Wines, One Vineyard at a Time


As a wine enthusiast I am excited to share a recent discovery of some amazing work done by a local San Diego business owner, Greg Maness and his investment partner, John Keily, at Maness Vineyards Estate & Casi Cielo Farm.   I recently had the pleasure of meeting with Greg to learn more about a new vineyard design he was able to achieve using SmartDraw.  In this week’s blog post, we’ll see how Maness Vineyards is helping San Diego turn vines into wines, one vineyard at a time.

Can you tell me about Maness Vineyards?

We install turn-key professionally designed vineyards.  We sell vines, consult on vineyard design, oversee installation and provide vineyard maintenance services.  We can also recommend all the proper equipment, tools, and the best organic fertilizers necessary to maintain a worry-free vineyard.  We’ve consulted on vineyards throughout San Diego County.

Why were you looking for a new design tool?

I draw all of our vineyard designs by hand.  I always have.  I recently shared one of my hand drawn vineyard designs to an electrical company for review.  They were surprised at the format and refused to work with us.  I was embarrassed. The embarrassment angered me enough to find a software I could use.  That’s when I found SmartDraw.

Why did you choose SmartDraw?

You guys rock!  I watched a few videos, downloaded the trial, and played with it.  I knew . . . I gotta have it.  It’s flexible, easy to use.  It gave me access to tons of symbols. I have the ability to create layers, apply textures and colors to objects, and I can display dimensions.

What is the “Revolver Vineyard”?

The Revolver Vineyard is the new addition to the expanding Highway 94 Wine Corridor in Jamul, California.  The Revolver Vineyard design is an example of the new design concept that we are exploring at Maness Vineyards.  It’s where vineyards are shaped as objects rather than the traditional square or rectangle shapes.  Overtime the vineyards will mature and when viewed via satellite from Google Earth the vineyards will appear as shapes.  When I shared my SmartDraw diagram of the revolver design with the owners of the vineyard, they flipped out. They absolutely loved it.

Maness Revolver Vineyard

Click to view the Revolver Vineyard design in a pdf.

How did you create the “Revolver Vineyard” design?

You’ve gotta think outside the box.  I wasn’t able to find an existing outline of a revolver in the Symbol Library, so I used the Line tool at the top.  From the straight to curve to freehand, I was able to draw what I needed.  To top it off I did it all to scale since SmartDraw allows you the option to draw with the dimensions displayed.  I also like using the fill-in color choice when adding water lines on the vineyards.

With whom do you share your vineyard designs?

Our team is responsible for design, installation management, consulting, and maintenance education & services.  Yet, we are not alone. We work closely with landscaping and excavation teams as well as companies whose expertise range from soil analysis and Organic Fertilizer recommendations to functional water saving drip irrigation systems with seasonal timer controls.  With SmartDraw, I can easily export my .sdr files into a pdf that I can send via email.  It’s that simple.

What happens when vineyard installation is complete?

We have a big celebration where we present the owners of the new vineyard with a gift.  In the past, I’ve framed my hand drawn vineyard designs.  Now that I have SmartDraw, I’ll be framing our SmartDraw vineyard designs for all of our new vineyard owners.

Greg Maness presenting the Revolver Vineyard design to the new proud owners of the vineyard.
Greg Maness presenting the SmartDraw diagram of the Revolver Vineyard design to the new proud owners of the vineyard.

You’ve had SmartDraw for 90 days now, how would you rate it?

I’m getting a bit more used to the features.  Yet, I would rate the product a 10 out of 10!  I won’t draw another vineyard design without it.

Any advice for new SmartDraw users or potential customers?

To be honest, I am not really good with technology.  So far, I love SmartDraw. The software is easy to use and you get some great results.  There’s lots of cool stuff.  It’s worth every nickel.

Do You Have a Story You’d Like to Share?

How do you use SmartDraw?  I’d love to hear your story. I’m always intrigued to find out how other members of the SmartDraw community are using it.  Send me an email at rjbitner@smartdraw.com.

Take a Look at the Innovative Mind of a Modern Day Inventor

The urge to create or build is natural, we’re all born with it.  Due to societal norms, our upbringing, and circumstances, the notion of being an inventor or entrepreneur is restricted to a privileged few. They are an elite minority to whom we attribute exceptional powers, of creativity, of “genius”, even. The truth is invention is possible for everyone: as a hobby, as a way to make a living, as a way to live life.  With SmartDraw your innovative ideas can come to life.Purchased Image iStock_000007320959Small

This week we have the unique opportunity to explore the innovative thinking of a member of our SmartDraw community, Gregory Robinson, founder of PanJammi Innovations.  We’ll explore how his latest invention, the PanJammi Mini Meat Smoker, came to be.


What inspired you to create the PanJammi Mini Meat Smoker?

I wanted to create the PanJammi Mini Meat Smoker because a vegetable smoker just wasn’t going to do the trick.  I am a huge meat lover.  I knew that I wanted to create something portable and convenient.  It’s perfect for tailgating before the big game, camping trips, cookouts, or an afternoon at the beach.  And if you live in a home with limited storage space,  it’s easy to store.



Why did you choose SmartDraw as your design tool?

To be honest, SmartDraw was actually the last drawing tool I tested and it turned out to be the best.  But after all the drawing programs that I have demoed nothing was intuitive as SmartDraw.  I was able to design and build my first meat smoker. I won’t use any other program.

What was your experience using SmartDraw?

I opened the Engineering Diagram template and just started drawing.  It was intuitive.  It just spoke to me.

engineering category

Drawing was a piece of cake.  It had all the elements I was used to using from my desktop publishing software.  That’s what made me fall in love with using SmartDraw.  I’ve got no complaints.

Box End View 2015 Finished 4in x 18in Pipe Mini-Smoker Hot1 Top View 2015 Finished 4in x 18in Pipe Mini-Smoker (2) Left Side View 2015 Finished 4in x 18in Pipe Mini-Smoker


What features and functionality did you use the most?

I drew everything manually.  I didn’t see it as a hardship.  It was so easy to use. I found everything I needed at the top of the screen.  I just clicked and dragged shapes I needed.  Then I’d use the fill, gradient, and effects features. That’s how I made my drawings appear 3-D.  The lock objects button came in handy.



Why now? Why not create it when you first had the idea?

When I had the idea a few years ago, I didn’t have the time and I couldn’t find a reliable welder to work with.  Now, I have a fabricator I can trust to transform my SmartDraw diagrams into a product I can be proud of.  As we speak, our final prototype is being made in White City, Oregon at J.W. Hurd Fabrication.  This will be “the one.”  In fact, the current one being built will be the base model.  I need to get this out ASAP so I can have revenue to develop the next version, our premium model.

Compilation 2015 Finished 4 inch Pipe Mini Smoker v2 02

Where can we find it?

The PanJammi Mini Meat Smoker is not available for sale yet.  We are using this time to improve our design and to test for high heat issues.  We should have this resolved by the early part of Spring 2015.

What’s next for you and PanJammi Innovations?

I have some big plans for the premium unit from collapsible or modified legs to digital or analog temperature gauge or even an optional electric coil in hot box to ignite the wood chips.  Ultimately,  I’d like to be able to build it myself.  That’s why I need to go back to college and take some welding classes.  Now, that I am entering college again, I will need this [SmartDraw] for planning out my wood and metal projects. Sweet!


How do you use SmartDraw?  I’d love to hear your story. I’m always intrigued to find out how other members of the SmartDraw community are using it.  Send me an email at rjbitner@smartdraw.com.