Last year I had this idea, that I would start a side business and help people out with web hosting, web design, and technical support. Well things did not work out as I expected but the journey was always incredibly interesting and I learned quite a lot about myself and business in general. I hope that following helps out others, or at least proves entertaining.
The Business Plan
I did not have one and perhaps I should have written one out. The problem with business plans is that they need to be done by the accounting person. The type of person who knows how to manage money and who has an eye for business managament. I am more of a rush into things and see what comes out of the chaos type of people. Essentially I thought I could make a business of helping people by selling basic design services and support at really affordable prices. However, this did not work. Most businesses need high tier clients, namely they need big accounts. Trying to survive on making $25 websites really sounds like a good idea, but in practice it does not work. Half-way through the year, I decided to change course and concentrate less on getting customers and instead on doing what I enjoyed. WebKeyDesign went from a pagerank zero site to a pagerank 5 site in less than a year. This ended up being my big success for the year and along with this I even got a few more clients along the way. My best advice is if you are going to do a business, make sure you do a business plan if this will be your only work, but if you are doing it as a hobby or side business, then concentrate on what really matters. Enjoy the work you put in to it and it will be successful.
Incredibly, the hardest part of selling yourself and your abilities, is actually having to say no to some people. It is actually very easy to find yourself with the wrong client and end up having a bad argument which you really did not want to have. Avoiding the wrong client is crucial and the best way to avoid this relationship is to say no. It is okay to say that you do not offer certain services. In some cases you simply can’t deliver what a client wants and in others, the client really does not understand what they are asking for. You cannot please every potential client, so do not try to. At times communication works against you, you sometimes misunderstand a client or vice versa, so it is important that you establish a good relationship when speaking to clients.
One of the first things to pickup about business is that spending is something you need to control from the very beginning. Good businesses spend very little, great businesses spend accurately. What this means, is that you need to spend very precisely. Marketing campaigns need to be examined to see how effective they really are. You might be spending money and not actually getting anything out of it. The less you spend the more profitable you will be, but most of all you will have the funds to use in case a good opportunity presents itself. All of this requires prudence and research on your part.
With a little persistance and motivation, success is only a matter of time.