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Self Employment Ideas

Depending upon where you live this could be hard or easy. The booms and busts in economic cycles is familiar to construction trades, and they often move to where the work is. There are a lot of advantages to being mobile and chasing the booms where ever they may be. But you may have commitments and be obliged to stay where ever you are for various reasons. This economic recession is global as the banks, debts, governments, and corporations have become so intertwined. In that case you have to be creative. This page will look at a few possible methods to make money for people who are stuck in their present location, or for whom moving doesn't alleviate their situation. The number one thing you need to make money is a good attitude. You'll also need good work ethics and most likely a computer. It also helps if you are looking for work or to increase your income, to look at different streams of income.

  • How to Run a Successful Market Stall - You could start a market stall. The webpage referenced here is about music festivals, but you could sell food, give massages, readings, just about anything under the sun.
  • Drop Shipping - How to run a business online with no stock and almost no overhead.
  • Website Basics – Considering a website but don’t know a lot about them? Read this page.
  • eBaying - eBaying as a hobby or a business.
  • Earn Devcoins By Writing - You could write for Devtome. You are here now, have a look around. Everyone knows something very well so why not share that knowledge. Apart from making some money, you could be empowering others, and you would be increasing the Devtome knowledge base.

Things to Keep in Mind

Working at a career you love is everyone’s dream. The security of a job, if not a career, is a comforting feeling. Knowing what day you are going to get paid and how much enables you to be less stressed and budget appropriately.

Studies done in 2008- 2009 in the USA found that employed workers who felt unsecure in their job had a higher level of stress than people who has lost their job. Stress has been linked to many unhealthy conditions, and no one wants to live in poverty.

If you find yourself unemployed it is hoped that these pages will get you by until you get another decent job. Of course the most important thing is to have a good work ethic and stay positive. Staying positive might be hard if you are unemployed so you have to have some goals. Going for a walk, cycling, any form of exercise is good for your body and healthy for your mind. But you still have to eat. These pages will not make you rich or solve your problems, but if applied and assuming you have a decent work ethic and half decent computer skills, you should be able to make a few bucks. Making money by your self is quite empowering, after all who doesn’t want to be their own boss.

These pages list a few ideas but it would be fool hardy to rely just upon one idea. You might find them not suitable for you, or they might get you thinking about your own ideas to make money. These pages are about creating multiple streams of income. They are not large money makers but all taken together one can build up enough cash flow to get by. The advantages of creating multiple streams of income are that you minimize the risk of becoming unemployed. Should one idea not work out, there are one or two more that might work for you.

The best time to start this is when you still have a job, if possible. Place a note on your wall or fridge with a written goal of achieving multiple sources of income. It might not happen fast, you might procrastinate, but you will be reading this message and imprinting it upon your subconscious. This is how it starts when you are already working.

If you find yourself unemployed you might consider taking a low paying job, to ensure you have enough to eat and pay the rent, and start these ideas, or your own ideas on the side. If these ideas won’t work for you for one reason or the other, look at your skill set and how to advertise it. Online sites such as Craigslist allow one to offer services such as house cleaning, cleaning, hauling junk, etc., and they are free to use. Post a listing offering your skills and see how it pans out. If you are unemployed any work is better than no work.

Be Your Own Contractor

You might have specialised skills but be unable to find work due to economic factors. Depending upon your skill set you might be able to work freelance as a contractor. There are many business incubators that provide start up capital or assistance with hurdles, training, networking, and more. Generally all of these start with the submission of a business plan. Below is a sample business plan which shows the types of questions you might encounter, and the types of responses that will apply. Obviously your type of business and your own considerations and skills will apply.

A Sample Business Plan

These are real responses to a questionnaire that was required to enter into a funding program for emerging small businesses.

Assessing Your Business Idea

Vision

To create a business that builds upon my past experience and training, and that allows me to work upon more challenging projects. This business would provide me with a higher profile position dealing with clients, and providing unique freelance services that are not readily available in Australia. This would allow me to build up a base of existing customers, referrals, and new clients. It would also allow me to work with anyone anywhere in Australia, allowing me a larger customer base.

Recent downsizing at local government's has led to increased out sourcing for many departments and many of these projects that are contracted out have a mapping or database component. The hired consultants often have to out source the mapping component of their project to a qualified person, and there is a distinct lack of those services out there. This is the niche that I am aiming for.

Description of your products and services

The most visible product that would be provided is a hard or soft copy map. These are professional quality maps up to all GIS (Geographic Information Systems) mapping standards, including the use of a title, legend, scale bar, north arrow, data sources, map projection, date and disclaimer. The map must also be pleasing to the eye, uncluttered, and easy to read.

But it's the data that the map is created upon where the greatest value lies. Each data set, for instance cycle ways, would have a data base associated with it. This would contain a number of attributes such as road name, width, suburb, route number, surface type, skill level, date last updated, etc. Each field would have to conform with existing data in regards to the formatting of each field – i.e. - whether fields are dates, characters and number of characters in a field, integers, numbers with decimal places, etc. Most of the work is in the creation and maintenance of these data sets. Although the map is the most visible product, it's the data sets where the long term value resides.

Before starting any project it's important to determine the clients needs and objectives. Many clients don't know what they want and are looking for advice and suggestions to solve their mapping job. This would be the consultation phase and the starting point is where their data and maps are now, where they wish to go, any guidelines or standards relating to their job, and exploring the options that are available to them to complete the work. Advice would be provided as to what existing data is required and then moving into pricing, payment terms, and the signed contract.

Competitors (Direct and Indirect)

Direct Competition

In the past I have tried to help a consultant with his mapping project as he needed to hire a GIS professional. After numerous searches and checking out the results, it became apparent that most GIS trained people were employed either within government or corporations, and those companies that were providing GIS services were not doing so at the technical level, but at more of a programming language/analysis/project management level. The consultant went with the only GIS contractor available and unfortunately the person who did his work must have been an Intern as basic mistakes were through out the work. In addition to that his or her work was sent to the paying consultant without having been checked for QA. It was at this point (about two years ago) that I became aware that GIS technical services (at a basic mapping, data creation and maintenance level)were not available within Australia.

Search engines provide only three GIS consultants or contractors within Australia.

<Enter your competitors here>

Indirect Competition

At first place in searches for a GIS consultant or contractor is Elance (elance.com) which is a world wide freelancing job board. This service provides cheaper talent but there are communication issues, time delays, and unknown competency levels. A larger issue with this for consultants bidding on local government projects is that they are required to list their professional staff on their bids along with a resume or list of qualifications for them. It wouldn't place a consultant in a very good light for winning the contract if they are out sourcing the work to an overseas freelancer to save money.

Strengths

What do you do well?

I have strong communication skills and problem solving abilities. My technical skills are robust and I'm a quick learner of new software. I'm self taught at website design and like to keep on the cutting edge of new technology. I have good work ethics and like to see a job done well. I am a bit of an entrepreneur and have been self employed (as a bricklayer) most of my life. I have the ability to analyse a market, see what service that I can provide that is missing, and to fill that niche.

I have identified that one of my key attributes is creativity and pride in my work. Being able to look at what I have completed, whether it was a map, website, glass block shower, or other project provides me with a sense of satisfaction. I also enjoy my work and pay being performance based.

What are your unique skills?

I have a strong technical background and I'm a quick learner.

There are two main mapping programs in use, ESRI's ArcMap and Pitney-Bowes MapInfo. I am proficient with both of them. Prior to attending college in 2005, I was looking at GIS as a career path and had already completed all the free online training courses with ArcMap. My first job was with Acme Engineering, a federal government contractor, and all work had to meet federal standards and required a strong knowledge of flood mapping.

When I was at the interview stage with The City of Gotham I went through all the free online training courses with MapInfo to get up to speed with it. I self taught myself how to use MapInfo, although wasn't shy about asking questions when needed. I also became self taught with Adobe Captivate which is a program that allowed me to create videos on how to use our internal mapping platform.

I'm also self taught with website design and have successfully run an e-commerce store in the past that was a drop shipping business.

What expert or specialised knowledge do you have?

I understand GIS and data base principles and they are second nature to me. I have an expert knowledge of how local government, federal government, and corporations work, and their GIS needs. Understanding their data foundations and how new or updated data sets will be used by them allows me to provide a quick response to projects that are in line with the organisations requirements. I am able to provide experience with most local government or agencies processes, data sets, and desired outcomes.

I am also able to use CAD (Computer Aided Drafting) which is essential as all surveyor plans are in that format, and may require being brought into GIS to perform updates. Apart from land information maps, I have extensive construction experience and am able to read any type of blueprint.

I have extensive knowledge of land zoning, heritage items, archaeological plans, site maps, flooding, and the guidelines and definitions behind them. In the past I have dealt with engineers, town planners, heritage specialists, strategists, fire and emergency services, and the general public.

I'm also proficient with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, and different formats for image management.

What experience do you have?

<Enter your relevant information from your resume here>

What do you do better than your competitors?

I can provide quicker communication and advice regarding projects as there is no corporate hierarchy to go through. I can also provide more specific information both up front and as the project is ongoing as I am in charge of it all. The difficulty and time delays I have seen a consultant go through in the past when trying to hire a GIS contractor was not only frustrating to him but delayed his delivery of his project as he was waiting for the GIS component to be completed. I am able to make the project frictionless with easy communication and a faster response time and with the assurance that the work will meet or exceed all standards.

My experience allows me to have an inside knowledge of local government and agencies needs, eliminating the learning curve associated with new projects, and I am able to accurately provide a list of existing data that will be required, and to identify any potential issues up front or as they are encountered.

I am proficient in not only GIS but also CAD, Adobe Illustrator, and imaging programs. I also take great pride in my work which is reflected in the data sets integrity and the finished mapping project.

What do you see as the most profitable parts of your business?

With the redundancies affecting many local governments, there is an increase in outsourcing projects. Local government and agencies often hire a specialist consultant to fill their job requirements which might include having some one with professional qualifications, knowledge, and experience to qualify their project. The smaller consultants usually don't have any GIS experience so they have to form partnerships with GIS specialists. This can skew the filling of the contracts to larger corporations that have existing GIS specialists on staff.

Providing these services and marketing them to small business consultants strengthens their credibility and capability to deliver professional results to their clients. Reaching these people and delivering accurate results will result in repeat business as they build trust in my knowledge and services. It also supports other small business owners. Building relationships with consultants where they use my services on future jobs would be a large part of a continuing income stream.

There are also many smaller organisations that don't have the resources to maintain their own mapping needs or staff. They might require new sets of maps at periodic intervals or for presentations. I can provide these services as needed without the costs associated with hiring new staff, and this also could generate more work as they become confident in the quality of the work provided, and knowing that I am becoming experienced with their data sets and desired outcomes.

Weaknesses

What necessary expertise/resources do you currently lack?

I am lacking in the knowledge of contractual terms and conditions that protect my interests and ensure prompt payment. If payment is not forth coming I am not familiar with the processes to follow through to a resolution.

What demand fluctuations may there be in your business type e.g. seasonal, events.

Based upon my past experience with local government there tends to be a slowdown around Christmas holidays due to staff leave. Also should a council or agency find itself in unsustainable debt they will shelve many projects. In my past experience there comes a point where these shelved projects have to be completed and the pace of work picks up again. Having multiple clients should help avoid this type of slowdown.

Are there concerns about financial vulnerability in your business?

Although I have several computers I will require the GIS mapping programs. There are two main GIS programs, Pitney-Bowes MapInfo which works with tab files, and ESRI's ArcMap which works with shapefiles. I am anticipating that most of the work will be with MapInfo as that is what most cost conscious councils and agencies use. The cost for Pitney-Bowes MapInfo is $1500 although there is a 30 day free trail available. This should allow me to install it as needed and complete the job within that time, at which point I can then purchase the software.

The cost for ESRI's ArcMap can be up to $30,000 depending upon the options and tool kits that are required. This is out of my reach however there is a very robust open source GIS mapping program called QGIS which does everything that ArcMap can do, and uses the same shapefile format. QGIS is a free open source program that will do everything that ESRI's ArcMap will do.

Getting this business going will require a small budget for Google Pay-Per-Click advertising but having a presence at specific trade shows to become known will cost money. I can create any brochures myself with Adobe Illustrator but there is still the cost of printing them.

Getting and maintaining cash flow to get the business going is a concern. I will have not only business expenses but also the cost of living to deal with. There will be other expenses that I haven't considered yet such as office expenditures.

Where will you struggle to make money?

The start up of this business until it becomes established will be the difficult part. As most people use search engines to find services, I plan on getting a Google Pay-Per-Click campaign going ASAP. Keeping the business going until I have repeat business will be the challenge. I am also concerned about having an adequate contract and being paid in a timely manner.

Where do you need more education, training and/or experience?

I have identified business contracts and knowledge of how to recover due payments as being a high priority.

Is your business idea changeable, adaptable or are you fixed to one idea only?

I'm definitely adaptable and will change my business plan to accommodate where the opportunity is.

Opportunities

What related products and services exist that provide an opportunity for your business?

A lot of projects are out sourced to consultants as they have the required qualifications, skills, and experience to take on specialised work. There is a lack of GIS support available to these people and that is a niche that I can fill.

Many smaller councils and agencies don't have the budget or ongoing work to hire an in house GIS professional. I can make myself available to provide them services as needed.

In what ways are competitors failing to adequately service the market?

There is no one providing the technical services required to create, update, and maintain GIS data sets, and provide map creation services. The companies providing GIS services are operating at a higher level acting as project management subcontractors or developers for government or engineering corporations. They are ignoring the market for 'as needed' work of a simpler nature. A couple of years ago I tried to assist a consultant in finding a GIS contractor and he had no luck finding anyone interested in his project. When he finally did find some one to take on his job, they delivered poor quality work, which showed that an inexperienced person had worked upon it, and that there was little to no oversight of this work in regards to quality assurance. His deliverable work was delayed, the GIS component was found to be unacceptable, he was out of pocket for the funds he had paid for the GIS work, and his reputation was damaged.

What areas of demand exist in the market that no one seems to be fulfilling?

There is no one catering to the smaller jobs within GIS that need completing. There is no way to call some one up and get a quick assessment of their GIS job. There is no one in Australia in GIS providing any of the services that I can offer as they are already employed by government or corporations.

How can you use technology to enhance your business?

The use of a Google Pay-Per-Click campaign with the correct key words and landing page will be the biggest passive way of driving traffic to my business. Having a professional looking web site is the public facing side of the business and is essential for providing that first impression.

What trends might affect your business?

Redundancies within local governments and agencies can work both ways for me. Redundancies immediately create a reduction in new projects, but also a lack of skill sets within these organisations. In the long term I see redundancies and staff cuts as positive for my business as making these organisations aware of my GIS contracting business will provide them with an as-needed option to complete their GIS tasks.

Is there an unmet need/want that you can fulfil?

Seeing the difficulty that consultants have to produce quality maps and data sets, I see a strong need for these services. There is a lack of GIS freelancers and a demand for these services.

Threats

What obstacles are there to overcome now and in the future?

Purchasing software packages as required is an initial expense. Generating income and repeat business is the first main goal. I have to ensure that I have hard drives to back up data, an extra PC or the funds to purchase one if required, and the cost for an ongoing advertising campaign.

What are the strengths of your biggest competitors?

They have the resources to take on larger projects and are known to industry insiders. They have a reputation while I am starting out. They also have the staff, skills, and expertise to take on and deliver projects that are above my skill set.

What's going on in the industry? How might this impact you?

The biggest thing going on is the advancement of technology and the increased functionality being rolled out with new software packages. Being a technology business it requires staying on top of new developments.

A lot of local governments are not that big and don't have the dedicated staff to keep their GIS data current, or to keep their resources (such as asset management systems) up to date. This is a market that I'd like to tap into.

What's going on in the economy? How might this impact you?

There is economic uncertainty which has been ongoing since the global financial crisis of 2008. Many local governments are operating in debt and reducing staff and/or services. Funding from state and federal government has dried up or been greatly reduced for many projects and municipalities. This has led to many projects being delayed or finished. But it has also increased the outsourcing demand and I see that as an opportunity.

I have a friend who was laid off from her administrative job and she began offering her services as a contractor. She has found that she is busier now than when she was working full time. She says that the lay-offs and redundancies look good on paper but when work needs to be completed the companies now need to hire a freelancer. Based upon my past experience I can see this happening within GIS also as there are skills sets and performing workers who are no longer there to complete the work load.

What critical steps in your product/service delivery are dependant upon a third party?

I am dependant upon having a functioning PC and daily data backups to ensure that the work gets done and that it is saved in the event of a computer failure. I'm also dependant upon having access to the specialised mapping software to perform my work. Maintaining a website and an advertising presence (Google Pay-Per-Click) is essential for my public presence and visibility.

I am also dependant upon receiving payment in a timely manner.

What new developments might affect your customers situation or interest in your products?

If there was competition for the same services that I can provide this could affect me. If there was an economic downturn of more serious proportions it could affect the credit worthiness and cash flow of my customers.

Your unique selling proposition

I am providing a technical service aimed at consultants, local governments and agencies, where they can get quick accurate advice on projects, followed by the timely and accurate delivery of GIS data and maps. They can expect professional communication, responsiveness, and the means for them to provide more robust services with the certainty that the work being performed will fill their needs and enhance their reputation. Once they have used my services there will be no going back and I will have repeat business.

Where do I see myself in 3 years time?

I would like to see myself fully engaged with GIS work, having a steady stream of repeat customers, and financial independence. I'd like to have a reputation for competency, ease of communication, the submission of quality deliverables, and to be the first person that my customers go to for their needs.

Commerce | Business


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