Business to Business

When I first moved to Kidwelly, I tried to get a job with one of the local businesses. One of these businesses even gave me a trial shift. I didn’t hear back from them, until yesterday. It’s been months, but I guess with Christmas around the corner they’re looking to hire some extra hands.

This reminded me of an idea I’d considered a while back. Offering my extensive experience to businesses as well as private individuals. My workload is full at the moment, but with winter coming, and gardening work becoming unnecessary, I expect I’ll be needing other kinds of work to maintain a steady income.

I’ve been doing painting jobs, assembling furniture, etc. which has been great, but projects like that end. Once the walls are painted, the new furniture assembled, the curtains hung, the carpet laid, the cracks filled, or whatever other work I’ve been asked to do is done, there’s nothing else to do but hope they find more work for me.

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I’ve already begun making contacts among the local rental property owners and done some work for them. I’ve done handyman work for other local businesses too, gardening. I’d be more than happy to do more of the same, but it never hurts to have more to offer. I am, after all, a true jack of all trades. It would be a shame to leave some of my skills untapped.

So here’s my thinking. Local businesses can hire Odd-Job Antony, just like they might hire a plumber or an electrician, to do a job for them. This might be to cover for an absent employee, or to help with the Christmas rush, or even to do some handyman work. Either way they don’t have to employ me permanently, or even put me on the payroll. I’m a contractor, not an employee.

Here’s what I can do. Even before I got my first job in retail, I was raised to believe that a little good customer service can go a long way. I wanted to be even better, so I studied interpersonal skills, body language, and sales techniques. This served me well as I tried my hand at telesales as well as face-to-face sales positions, bar work, and even a supervisor role at a laser-tag arena.

I ended up back in retail again when I moved to America. I also got my first opportunity to work in a kitchen. It was just a McDonald’s, but it was a start. I got back into sales after that, and found I was good at over-the-phone debt collection. I only quit that job because I had to move. I found out I wasn’t so good at car sales. At least, not then. I’m a little curious if I could now with all I’ve learned since.

I started looking for other ways to make money. Particularly after I got a taste of management and corporate-ladder climbing. I started reading about self-improvement, leadership, entrepreneurship, and marketing. It got me a promotion to the marketing department of the communications company I was working for at the time. It gave me the opportunity to see how demographic data was used to increase sales, and even train people how to sell.

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I learned so much about business and management that I want to try starting my own business. I once spent a whole evening finding names and contact info for 200 people with the intention of inviting them to a tarot reading provided by my ex-wife, but she wasn’t comfortable with the idea of cold-calling strangers. In hindsight she was probably right, but it was kinda fun gathering all the information.

If you want I can tell you more about that little business venture, but it will have to be in person, or a least a private message. I started writing and blogging after that, inspired by the books I was reading. Hoping that the key to building wealth was writing. When I came back home to the UK I went back to working in bars and hotels. Until I moved to Kidwelly.

I found it hard to generate an income from writing and blogging, even using every social media marketing trick I learned. Local jobs were hard to come by, but I applied for every one that popped up. None of them panned out. I noticed though that lots of people were asking for help on the Kidwelly Noticeboard groups on Facebook. I realised there was a need that I could fill, and that’s why I started Odd-Job Antony.

To summarise. I’m a customer service and sales expert experienced in bar-work, retail, hospitality, entertainment, marketing, blogging and entrepreneurship, as well as being handy with a paintbrush, trowel, saw, hammer or screwdriver. In fact, if you can find something I can’t do, I’ll knock Β£10 off the next job. That’s a free hour doing anything you want. You could even use that hour to train me up if yo like. Want to try me?

Stairway to…?

This post is mostly going to be a pic dump showing the progress/process of painting a client’s staircase.Β  It was a fun project, and a little different from the way I normally work. Instead of charging by the hour, I was asked to provide a quote for the materials and labour. Which I did, and they were happy with my quote! πŸ™‚

Technically my client was the landlord, rather than the home’s resident, though I’ve worked with the resident before to mow her lawn and do some other bits and bobs. She and I had already figured out how she wanted the staircase to look, and the landlord was happy to let us be creative.

20181010_110901The first thing I had to do was fill the gaps in the wood. The workmen that put the new stairs in used the original banister rails, and they weren’t quite compatible.20181010_110924There were also some MDF pieces, that weren’t quite flush with the pine steps. More filler to the rescue! We would definitely need to use paint here.20181010_110938Then we started masking off the parts that we didn’t want to paint. The majority of the step would be stained later.20181010_124822I used both ‘Frogtape’ masking tape and masking film to prevent as much splatter-related mistakes as possible before I started applying the white paint.20181010_14084320181010_14084920181010_15390920181010_15392220181011_115610When the white parts were all done, I started adding the violet details! Once again I masked off as best as I could.20181012_10282020181012_102826Then took the frogtape off again afterwards to make sure it looked right.20181012_10331820181012_103321Sometimes there was a little bit of ‘bleeding’ despite my best efforts. Where I could I cleaned up these edge afterward with white paint and a small brush.20181012_112312Before we could start staining the new wood, I would have to clean up the dirty paw prints and spills. Some sandpaper took of the surface dirt without having to get the wood wet.20181012_11423520181012_11424120181012_11461220181012_114616After they were dirt free again, then I applied the woodstain. A nice warm yellow tone to compliment the violet.20181012_17343620181017_104258[1]After a couple of coats of varnish to keep the wood looking nice and make future cleanup easier, it was time for final touch-ups and the tile-effect stickers on the risers. They were easier to keep bubble-free than I expected!20181017_114756[1]20181017_114802[1]I was pretty pleased with the finished staircase, and the resident was overjoyed! πŸ™‚

Technically there are still some carpet pads to put on there, and the resident would also like to put mirrored mosaic tiles on the violet not-quite-triangles, but the work I was commissioned for is all done. πŸ™‚

I really enjoyed doing this. Hopefully I’ll have more DIY, painting and creative projects to keep me occupied as the gardening work drops off.

Would you like to see more posts like this? Please let me know what you think in the comments.

Have a great day πŸ™‚

 

Time to Commit

I think it’s time to take the stories down. I need to make this website all about the handyman work. The fiction distracts and detracts from the new direction I’ve taken. So, to that end, I’ll be taking it all down. From now on every page will be related to the Odd-Job business. I won’t take down the old blog posts, they show my journey if anyone is interested, but future blog posts will mostly be about how the business is doing.

It won’t all be business. Sometimes I just want to write about something that’s on my mind. I’ll try to avoid anything controversial, but hopefully these random musings will get people to know me better as a person. I’m a firm believer that people tend to work with people they like. You could be the most talented, experienced and professional handyman in the area, but if people don’t like you they won’t hire you again.

I don’t put on a show though. Part of the reason I prefer working for myself instead of any other job I’ve ever had, is that I can just be myself. I don’t need to conform to what some manager with no trainingΒ thinks the customer wants. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very nice to people, but not because I’m being told to. I’m nice because I like to be nice. It feels good to smile. It feels even better to make others smile.

I won’t tell you I can do something if I don’t think I can or I’ve never tried. I will tell you up front if I have no access to the resources necessary for the job. If I haven’t done something before, but I have a good idea how to do it and I’d like to give it a shot, I’ll tell you that too. I prefer honesty to making promises I can’t deliver on. I do like doing new things though. It’s how I get more experienced, after all. Plus, it’s way more fun doing something new than doing the same boring old things all the time!

Things I really can’t do at the moment includes anything that involves driving anywhere or transporting stuff (I don’t have a van yet), going up to a second storey on a ladder (I really don’t want to die or be severely injured for Β£10 per hour), or raise an army of the dead (I could never find any decent necromancy classes). I’ll try my hand at almost anything else, but please bear in mind that I’m an enthusiastic and helpful amateur, and not a tradesman of any kind. Most of my experience before I started has been from helping out friends and family, and maintaining my own house and garden when I lived in the US.

I’ve been doing a lot of gardening for people, including mowing lawns, strimming, pruning, weeding, trimming, planting, and even burning the garden waste. That season is drawing to a close though. Luckily I’m also getting a lot more DIY jobs like hanging shelves and curtain rails, painting fences, sheds and staircases, building furniture (from flat pack and from scratch), disassembling furniture carefully for re-assembly elsewhere, and I’ve also helped clear out a junk room and walked dogs (though that’s not really DIY).

I’d love to get more jobs that involve making something. It could be anything from helping to make toys and clothing (did I mention I can sew?) to a new partition wall in your house. Anything I don’t know how to do, I can learn. If the client knows how something is done, and just needs an extra pair of hands to do it, I’ll be happy to learn from them. If not I can do the research and get back to them. I’ll show them what I plan to do, making certain it matches their vision and figuring out together what needs to be changed.

Since my overheads are low (I’m living with my parents rent free and I don’t have a vehicle to maintain), and I’m not a certified tradesman, I can keeps my rates low too, though I do appreciate it when a client feels that my work and my time is worth a bit more. One client that did so without any prompting from me said, ‘If I pay you a decent wage then you’ll keep coming back to me’. He’s absolutely right. If I have a scheduling conflict and I have to chose between client that only pays my base rate and him, I’m going to pick him!

It’s getting so I’m busy every week now, which is great. With luck and kindness, I’ll be able to start saving up for my own place, or a cheap vehicle, soon. It’s been slow going at the moment while I invest in more tools for the business, work clothes, bus travel (I have a client I visit twice a week that lives out of town), but I’m trying to cut back on these expenses so that I can begin making some real head way.

I’ll keep you up to date on my progress when I can. I’ve been so busy that writing this post has taken over a week to write! To be fair, it’s not just the Odd-Job business. I’ve also got a Games & Geekery club started in Kidwelly that’s branched into Family Games Day and a Warhammer group too, plus there’s my personal life. I won’t talk about that here though. Local geeks and gamers are welcome to join the Facebook Group. I also have a WordPress site for anyone to enjoy.

If you want to know the more personal stuff, you’ll have to know me better πŸ˜‰

I’d best wrap this up and get this out, or it’ll be another week before I do. Before I go though, I have a few easy questions. Just to see if you’ve been paying attention.

  1. What’s my basic hourly rate for any odd-job work?
  2. What did I think I could make a career out of before I started Odd-Jobbing?
  3. What else have I been up to in the community that’s been keeping me busy?
  4. Why are my rates so low?

Can you find all the answers? (Hint: they’re in bold!)

Thanks for following, and have a great day! πŸ™‚

 

A Client Read My Blog!

I definitely need to take the time to finish updating this blog. I actually had a client ask me about the book I was working on. I had to tell her that there is no book anymore, at least not at the moment. Doing odd-jobs is working out well for me, and so my writing career is on hold. At least for now.

I didn’t make this decision lightly. I really thought that telling stories for a living was going to be my calling, so I did my research to find out what it would take to be successful at it. I’ve always learned best by doing, so I got writing. I also tried out some of the tricks I’d learned about social media marketing and ran a pretty successful writer’s group on Facebook for a while.

In the process I figured out how to self-publish and learned a lot from fellow writers. I also got to see first hand how much work actually goes into writing a book, and how little readers appreciate it. Writing is a more than full time job. Especially as an indie writer. You need to keep writing, every day, and you need to promote yourself and build an audience.

What this really means is that you spend all day, everyday shut in your office (which in my case is an old card table I put my laptop on in the spare room of my parent’s house, aka my bedroom). It gets lonely and depressing, especially when you and every other writer you talk to can’t seem to actually make any headway.

There are some writers I’ve talked to that have cracked the code and manage to produce enough writing to make a more than healthy living. They do so by studying market trends to see what sells well, and writing to market. They are able to churn out a daily quota of writing because they follow a plan that conforms to their audience’s expectations.

Sadly, this isn’t the kind of writing I want to do. I want to write the stories I have in my head. It’s possible that I could get to eventually if I write what the people want for a while, but my heart just isn’t in it. I can’t do it. It just sucks all the joy out of writing. I thought maybe I could freelance to make money instead of compromising myself, and found that freelancing as ghost-writer and article writer is just as hard to break into as creative writing.

I then thought that perhaps I could try taking a part time job to bring in some cash that way, but found that finding a job in the small town of Kidwelly was almost impossible, and commuting to the next big town over was problematic. I don’t have a car as yet (because it requires money and a UK license) and so I have to use public transport. The last bus from Carmarthen to Kidwelly is at 6pm, and most employers want you to work past that time.

Out of desperation, frustration and impatience, I decided to offer my services as an Odd-Job guy locally. I knew there were plenty of people living here that could use an extra hand or two from time-to-time. I’ve missed the gardening, DIY and small home repairs I used to do when I had a house, and this seemed like it would give me an outlet for the skills I’ve learned, make me a bit of money, and help people out.

It turned out to be so much more than that! It gets me out of the house, gets me using my body instead of wasting its potential at a desk, it allowed me to meet people in the Kidwelly community and hear their own stories, it makes me feel good to do a good job for the clients and see my progress, and I even have other people interested in working with me. It’s a lot of fun.

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The new Facebook Page pic!

That last part, about the work being fun, is the biggest surprise. I always thought I was too dorky, too wimpy, to be able to do a physical job (I also thought that conforming to a sexist sterotype was inherently sexist). Admittedly, it was a lot harder when I started. My body just wasn’t used to working up a sweat. Now though, I’m disappointed if I don’t get do do at least four to five hours a day of fighting brambles, sawing wood, or hefting something heavy from one place to another!

It’s so fulfilling I feed no need to write fiction. My real life is better. I’ve expressed this sentiment before, but it’s true. I still run my two rp groups, but they’re more of a social game than actual story writing, particularly since it’s just for fun, not profit. I might write some non-fiction later, and maybe some fiction too, but for now I’m happy to let the business grow, and help it along. I’ll go back to writing books when I don’t need the money.

I won’t be able to do physical work forever, it’s bound to take a toll on my body, but for now the aches and pains I have at the end of the day are tangible evidence of a job well done, and it feels good. I feel like I’ve achieved something instead of just waiting for something good to happen.

No more pushing myself to write something and worrying that it’s statistically unlikely to sell a single copy. This is a far more effective and sustainable business model. The next step is to get my bodycam working so I can make videos of what I’m doing that I can then post on YouTube. I’m also working on getting a UK driver’s license so that I can try to get a van. Luckily there’s a guy interested in joining our little Odd-Job Squad that has is an experienced truck driver and is thinking of getting a van too, so I might be able to do bigger jobs earlier than expected! πŸ™‚

I’m really happy, and I never thought it would come from this.

Have a great day. πŸ™‚

 

 

 

What Happened to the Website?

I changed it! Do you like it? Don’t worry, I’m still going to write (in fact I may actually write more frequently), I’ll just be doing it for fun, instead of trying to make a living at it. My main source of income (for now) is performing random tasks, odd-jobs, chores, and bits and bobs!

Most of what I’m doing is gardening. Mowing lawns, ripping up weeds, pruning, strimming, hedge-trimming, planting, etc. Occasionally I get to assemble and hang shelving units, curtains rails and pictures, or to clean up and repaint garden furniture or a fence. I’ve also poured concrete, cleared gutters, shovelled gravel and even helped people to access their emails more easily.

I’m looking forward to some bigger challenges. I have one client that would like to extend their decking. Another has an old wood-frame greenhouse they would like to have repaired (removing the rotten wood and splicing in new, fresh timbers). One of my newer clients has some cracks on the outside of her house that have gone mossy. They’ve been filled before, but they clearly didn’t clean out all the moss. I’ve gotten some expert advice from my Dad on how to fix it properly, and I’m looking forward to it. Even though I’ll have to be up a ladder!

In my last post to try and get more clients (it’s a slow week at the moment), I offered to work an hour for free if someone can find a job a that I can’t figure out how to do. I’m going to do all I can to figure it out, of course, but if it’s beyond me and needs to be referred to a professional, I will happily work an hour for free. Especially if I can work alongside the tradesman that gets the job and learn a new skill. If I have do work of something else, that’s fine too. It will give me another opportunity to impress the client.

I also still have my ongoing referral offer. I hadn’t felt the need to mention it when my weeks were booked solid, but now I have empty slots AND a willing sidekick, I’m going to need to get more work. The referral offer, in case you’re interested, is Β£10 off your next job for every new client you help me find.

I’m considering trying to find some clients in Carmarthen also, however, those clients will have to pay a travel surcharge. It costs me Β£5.50 to get a return/day-tripper ticket from Kidwelly to Carmarthen. However, if I can get more than one Carmarthen client per day, I can split the cost between them. Building a client base in Carmarthen would allow me to potentially move to Carmarthen in future, at which point the travel expense will be removed or modified.

Remember the side-kick I mentioned? During a week when I was booked solid, and I was wondering how I would come with the workload should this trend continued, a lad contacted me and asked if I could use an extra pair of hands! It was great timing, however the trend did not continue. I expect work will pick up again, but there’s a cycle race coming through town this week, so everyone is busy with preparations for that and talking about it in the message boards. My posts are getting shoved down the page, unseen.

It did occur to me today that, in a town as small as Kidwelly, I may reach a maximum number of possible clients. Some people aren’t ever going to be interested, no matter how much marketing I do. Others will never be able to afford it. There may even be a few that weren’t happy with my work and will never call me again. So it makes sense to try and expand my client pool to include Carmarthen, and possibly Llanelli too. We’ll see.

A van would help me get around, and let me transport more materials and equipment.

I’m also considering creating a GoFundMe for a van, so I can work further afield and do jobs that will require the moving of materials, waste, and equipment/large tools. Crowdfunding would allow me to acquire the vehicle faster than saving up for it, and I doubt I’d be eligible for a loan, even if I wanted to take on a debt. Rewards would include ad-space on the van. The bigger the donation, the more space they’ll get. Starting with 1cm square. I just need to figure out which van I want, how much usable and visible surface area is on that van, divide the cost of the van by the number of 1cm squares there are available in the usable and visible surface area, and set up the campaign.

I might pitch the idea to various van dealers, or even the vehicle manufacturing companies, to see which of them wants to be involved and if there’s a particular van they want to promote. After the campaign is set up I could then approach both local businesses and large brands I like. Mountain Dew/ PepsiCo would definitely be on the list of big businesses I’d talk too! Perhaps a tool manufacturer like Bosch too. I’d also talk to the local builders merchant, Travis Perkins, and the other two big names in town, Gravells,Β and Burns.

I need to get my British driver’s license first. starting with a few driving lessons to get me used to driving in the UK. Perhaps the driving school will want to put their name on the side of my van too?

If you know of any businesses and people that might be interested in sponsoring my transition from foot-slogging my way to every job to driving to jobs in a nice new van, please let me know. Either by commenting on this blog post, emailing me, or messaging me via Facebook.

You can also contact me to ask me to do something for you, or just to chat. πŸ™‚

Have a great day! πŸ™‚

 

 

 

Better than Fiction

This website is going to undergo some changes soon. It was originally intended to be a way to showcase my writing, build my fanbase, and maybe get some freelance writing clients. It didn’t work out though. Every time I tried to get serious about my writing career and get organised and disciplined, it stopped being fun, and I would find myself putting it off.

In the process of putting it off I found myself making friends, starting a local handyman business, and actually having a life away from my computer desk! I was surprised to discover I love the work, and that I’m beginning to like my life.

It’s unlikely that I’ll stop writing. I’ll just stop trying to force my creativity to clock in to a 9 to 5 schedule. I’ll write when I want to. When it’s fun. I know that the writing market is hard to break in to. I know that to get in requires discipline, and I just can’t do it. Yeah, yeah. I know there’s no such thing as can’t if you really want to do something, and apparently I don’t wanna ‘get serious’ about writing and taking all the fun out of it.

I’ve written articles talking about my determination to succeed, but it started to seem like a poor investment of time and effort. Especially since I’ve been able to make money faster by actually getting out into the real world and talking to people. With writing, I would have to spend years writing a book that might not even sell, and then try again, and again. By helping real people (instead of fictional characters) I’m getting instant feedback that people like my work, and it feels great!

I think I’m getting to the point where I’d rather live my own real-life adventure than create fake ones. There are exceptions of course. I love running my roleplay games with cool people. Again, I think it might be the real-time social feedback I get. I love it. I want more interaction. More friends. More real life please!

So, this website may get a makeover at some point. When I feel like it. To change it from being all about me trying to be a professional writer, to be being about whatever the fuck I want to write about that day. Perhaps even run an exclusive rp story-game similar to The City of Gate or The N-Viron Network. Both of which continue to be fun.

I want to get people talking too. Maybe make this our own little social media clubhouse. I want to know what you want this website to be. I hope you want to interact here and make it our little home away from Facebook. I could create pages about topics you want to discuss, or for a game as I previously suggested.

I dunno. I suppose it’s okay if I just continue to use it just to blog mutely into the ether, but the way I’m going, I’m likely to abandon this website altogether if I don’t get to use it to make myself a few more friends. You can challenge me to write about specific subjects, ask me anything about anything you want, and suggest other things I can do to make this page a fun place to be.

I really want to change the name. I’m trying to tone down the self-aggrandisement, and just be myself. Hopefully this will also reduce the number of self-pitying posts too. Failing isn’t something to lament. It’s a lesson. Sometimes it just means you’ve found a better path to walk. Or at least a more fun one anyway. πŸ˜‰

Sincerely, have a great day. πŸ™‚