A Business Almost Anyone Can Start


There are plenty of reasons to work for yourself rather than for someone else. Many people can’t accept the hierarchical structures of some companies and the haughty attitude of supervisors, managers and directors – especially if those people appear to be less than competent. Others resent the fact that they are basically surrendering their time for a price – people who work in call centers, for example, are simply surrendering most of their waking life in return for a fixed, and usually small, amount of money. They have very little control over their work, no creative input or outcomes and no sense of achievement. While this type of job is suitable for someone whose main focus is elsewhere – perhaps at home, or in the gym, and who intends to use the job as a kind of stop-gap – most people find it soul destroying and begin to hate the idea of work.

Transforming oneself from an employee into a business owner can be a daunting prospect. To some people, this may conjure up images of downing the mop and brush and picking up the projector clicker – dealing with staff disputes, finance, I.T. failures and so on. In reality, such a leap almost never happens, at least when there is only one person involved.

Another reason people are put off the thought of going it alone is that they mistakenly believe they don’t have any skills that they could use in business. The fact is, of course, that most employees do have such skills. Take the cleaner in a school or a hospital, for example. They probably work for an agency which sends them to a dozen or so institutions per week. They have to learn about the different requirements of cleaning different surfaces and making sure the whole process is done safely. They most likely work unsociable hours and are paid embarrassingly badly for their efforts. The employer – in this case, the agent – is basically making money from the fact that the employee believes that they cannot work without the agent. The reality of the situation, of course, is the reverse, but it can be difficult for people who are juggling family, work and other issues, who are often uncomfortable expressing themselves in English, to actively realize that.

As soon as the cleaner begins to consider the possibility of working for themselves, it starts to become more and more likely that they will do just that. If they, as employees, walk away with $60 a day – what could they make, for the same amount of work, if they were dealing directly with the client? They already have the skills and the knowledge to do the job well, the overheads are minimal, too: if the cleaner has a car or a truck, they can carry their equipment from job to job. If they don’t have their own transport, they may be able to store it on the property of a large client, and travel there by public transport. There are always places on the internet with offers on such equipment which can be hard to beat.

The most important point about dealing directly with the client is that they can foster a long-term, trusting relationship which allows them to progress in their business. If a client is willing to pay $10 per hour and have you clean their offices for six hours per week, they will be paying you $60. This is selling your time. Instead of approaching the work this way, negotiate a price for the completed job, carried out with excellent attention to detail. Don’t forget that the relationship you build, and ease of communication is a major benefit to your client, too. All of this together should see you able to negotiate an agreement with your client whereby you are paid for delivering a service, not for your time.

This approach to doing business for yourself is simply setting yourself up for future success. When paid for your services, you will have the incentive to work more efficiently, deliver great results, perhaps take on staff and move on to an administrational and management role. If you simply accept money for your time, you might just end up daydreaming on the job and wishing the clock would tick faster, day after day, week after week, month after month.