How I'm Building my Part-time Business
posted by Michael Olafusi , on ,
Yesterday, I began managing my sales invoicing, official expenses, transactions and customers on Quickbooks accounting software. I already have a company website that costs me about N10,000 per year; I will be reprinting another set of business cards; I recently paid N10,000 to get listed on a Business Directory magazine. I recently paid N13,000+ to join a community of professionals online. And now I'll be paying about N30,000 a year for Quickbooks.
I have been thinking hard about my life. I really want to start my own company and give life to every creative idea I have. And now is the only sure time I have. I have very little to lose. I'm not married. I've got the energy. I've got almost nothing to lose. Maybe I'll lose a steady income and get broke occasionally. But I think it's better now than never.
I'm going all out for it. I'll be taking bigger business bets. I'll be letting go of the cap I have placed on my business expenses. I will spend almost all I have to make the business work. It's already tough and I know it will only get tougher. But I prefer it to being buffeted by the desire to start something big.
I have a long-term plan, a 30 year plan. It's a slightly crazy plan. I divided it into 3 stages. Stage 1 involves me finding the market and building a reputation. I'm in that stage. The only problem is that my market is a sleeping one. People that need my services don't know it. It's like being an exterminator in Nigeria. An exterminator is a professional that helps you get rid of all the rats and insects in your house. Nearly everyone needs the service of one, but no one hires an exterminator. We try to do it ourselves and do a bad job of it. Most of my clients don't know how badly they need me until I do a job for them. One of my favorite client once told me that I would be the first person he'd hire when he starts his company. Most are blown away by the job I do for them. And they get me referrals. Most of my jobs are now referrals and repeat jobs. But they are very infrequent; I'll be dead if I try to live of them.
My new approach is to put in a large chunk of my salary into finding clients and building a strong reputation. I'm fixing my minimum price at N5,000; even if your job requires me to just open Excel for one minute and close it. I would rather do it for free than collect less than N5,000. And I'm now extremely reluctant to do free jobs. I'm paying a lot to be extremely good, to make sure you find me and to pay some fixed monthly costs too. Not to talk of the time gap between jobs, and the price I pay to hang around prospective clients. My part-time job is no longer adding to my income but deducting from it. Every money I get from it goes back to finding the next client and paying fixed costs. Then there are the expensive books I bought. I now know more about finance than the about Electrical Electronics Engineering I spent 5 years to study in the university. Just so I can cater for my biggest client pool -- the finance guys. So I can help them with their financial models, P & L accounts and Reconciliation. Then I'm targeting the stock and investment guys. Some of the books I read are written primarily for Finance and MBA students, making them very expensive.
The goal of Stage 1 is not to earn me big money but to place me at the center of the industry. Then I'll move to stage 2, turning the business into a cash cow. Setting the high hour rates I've seen people charge. And I'll try to build a product I can sell, in order to benefit from economies of scale. A product that will make me money while I focus on other things. And then the final stage: Leverage big time and become a big products-focused company.
But like they say: Plans do often go astray and dreams don't come true. Whatever the case for me, my mind is set.