My experience running a business at home

Jon

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I've been wanted to tell this story for a while, it's basically my Journey from Rags to some riches and then quitting out of it ;).

Many years ago I spend 2 years running at 'ICT support' business from home. At the time It was what I did in my day job and just seemed a natural move to try and use my skills to earn an additional income.

I bought a domain name and registered as self employed with HMRC and I was good to go. I wanted to offer home ICT support at a good price and with excellent quality of care to the people of North Leeds.

At the time the 'tech guys' and all that stuff were all over the TV and I didn't want to try and tap into the market. I wanted the 'retired from home' market who maybe had got a laptop and needed some training or didn't want to bother with the big boys when it came to getting some repairs.

My advertising budget was not very much so I started by paying 50p a week to advertise with an A4 poster in about 8 newsagent and post office windows. To my surprise a few days later the first phone calls started coming in.

I wanted to price myself where people would be happy to use me despite my lack of history and so charged a criminally low £11 an hour for the first year with the idea being that I could always put the price up after a year and would hopefully have a customer base by then. I didn't have a work room at home and so when I had laptops or desktop PCs to fix our bedroom ended up being the work room (Which my girlfriend was never impressed with lol). As time went on and word of mouth spread I got more and more customers. Retired folk talk and pass round numbers it seems to coffee mornings and other social events and this was doing wonders for me. I also got some regular training appointments that I ran on Saturday mornings in peoples houses taking them through everything from learning how to use the laptop to photography and using digital cameras alongside their new laptop.

Things were going well but I was very busy. Full time job 8-4pm and then in the evenings it was back home and into the car. See when people rang me up I stupidly offered to go and collect their broken laptop and bring it back .. Fix it and then drive back out to return it.. All for only £11 an hour. This was fine when I first started and I targeted who I was advertising to but as the business grew and word of mouth was getting me more and more business I was doing 20/30min drives out to north Yorkshire to pick up laptop and then return it later. Not good sense, so I made it so that the broken hardware had to be bought to my house for me to fix and they can pick it up later.

After a year of doing this I upped my price to £14 an hour and the customers kept coming however I was really struggling as I was working a lot of overtime in my main job as well and on top of that I had customers who wanted the same quick turn around I had always offered them whenever they had problems.

Things reached a head and I just decided that I didn't want to keep spending my evenings fixing ICT equipment and I sadly knocked it on the head and then moved into doing other things to earn money online.

It certainly was a journey and showed me that there is still a market for decent local custom but you just have to have the time to provide it.
 

mbmetro100

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Hi Jon, Yes, it's always good to expand any business online or offline, but there's a line you have to draw with regards to income and becoming a busy fool. One of my Fiverr mates who does excellent articles had the exact same problem and where did he end up - in the hospital with mental exhaustion! He was growing his online freelancing business, but ended up stressed and burnt out.

The lesson should always be to find a happy medium between work and rest. It's good to make some decent cash, but at what cost? Your health is your wealth and that should always be one of your main priorities.
 

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Crikey that doesn't sound good - Hope he is OK now.

A Happy medium is very important I agree. However sometimes the things you want to do you can't do without earning the cash in the first place..
 

mbmetro100

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He's back offering the same services on the site and unless he changes his approach, he'll probably end up in the same situation again.

Nearly everything is about trial and error and although it's not an exact science the 80/20 rule is quite accurate - 20% of the online work you do gives you 80% of the turnover. When you become more experienced in your field, that number gets less and if it doesn't then, you're doing something wrong.
 

Jon

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Just taken a Look at your fiverr page

This is quite an offer you have going on there for 5 dollars.

Bet you get a lot of people to take up that deal
 

mbmetro100

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Jon@TheMoneyShed said:
Just taken a Look at your fiverr page

This is quite an offer you have going on there for 5 dollars.

Bet you get a lot of people to take up that deal
Yes, there are a fair amount of people and I make about £400 - £500pm from the site. The main thing is time and you should aim to do any task on the site in less than 20 minutes or you'll be working for less than the minimum UK wage.

I have all my bookmarking URL addresses in a template on my desktop, so doing the manual service including keyword titles, description, tags and link takes about 15 minutes. It's all about preperation and making the correct use of your time.
 

Jon

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nice income you got going on there ;)

How did you come up with offering all that then? Is it your background?

Do you sell the services on fivesquids as well?
 

mbmetro100

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Thanks Jon. I got in with Fiverr in February 2011 when it was still a fledgling micro site business and offered bookmarks and backlinks (+ my own bonus) from companies I used for my own sites and blogs. I built my reputation early on and gained TRS in June 2012 and since then, the orders have been steady.

The first year at Fiver was quite difficult, but like anything if you stick at it then, it normally pays dividends in the long run ;D
 

Jon

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Is this home business your full time job then?
 

mbmetro100

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Jon@TheMoneyShed said:
Is this home business your full time job then?
Yes and although the first couple of years were difficult and I had to dip in to my savings on a regular basis, but I now make a four figure income every month.

I think anyone who works at home should aim for about £1000pm after year three or they're not doing something right with regards to what works and what doesn't and how to feed a hungry market.
 

Jon

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Would agree with that

After year 3 you would think you can make a turnover of at least £1000 from whatever it is you are doing at home.
The only thing I would see making a dent into that is if you worked full time as well as unless your business is 100% passive income it can be quite hard to get to £1000 a month i imagine.
 

mbmetro100

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Jon@TheMoneyShed said:
Would agree with that

After year 3 you would think you can make a turnover of at least £1000 from whatever it is you are doing at home.
The only thing I would see making a dent into that is if you worked full time as well as unless your business is 100% passive income it can be quite hard to get to £1000 a month i imagine.
I suppose we all have different predicaments. I was fortunate enough to have money in the bank by making a good profit from the sale of my flat nine years ago. This enabled me to leave my job and become a full time financial trader six years ago, but I realised after a year that, this wasn't for me and especially when my trading account started going southwards. I got in to online marketing by accident about five years ago, learnt about HTML, web design, hosting, domain names, creating digital products for sale and created my first website in June 2009 and still have to this day.

In this business you have to give youself at a least a year and preferably two in order to see what works and what doesn't. It can be like learning to drive and as you get more experienced things just start to fall in to place. Initially you have goals or realistic targets like one sale per month, then it becomes one a week and eventually one per day and that's when you know you've turned the corner - Your bank account will tell you when you're making a decent online living.
 

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