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 £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?

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 training 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 £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 😉

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! 🙂

 

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 £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 £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, 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. 🙂

Have a great day! 🙂

 

 

 

Erm…What?

Sadly, my first gig as Odd-Job Antony hasn’t happened yet. They weren’t feeling well, but they’ve assured me that they will call me when the snow clears and they feel well enough to continue.

I was hoping that the snow itself would encourage people to call me to shovel snow away for them, but no such luck. I did get to help clear the street this morning though, and in doing so met a neighbour that has a few rental properties. She now knows that I’m available, and that I have a page of Facebook. Hopefully, I’ll be hearing from her soon.

I’m going to post more flyers this coming week and check that the flyers I have up have been effective. Basically, I’m going to see if people have been taking the tear-offs. If so, then it’s worth replacing those flyers when the tear-offs are gone. If not, I need to focus on other locations.

I’m concerned that if the flyers are everywhere, people won’t see them anymore, especially if they don’t change. I’ll use the same flyers I’ve already designed this time around and put them in more locations. but when the time comes to replace them, I’ll make them a little different. Probably not much, just enough for people to notice them again.

I had a much clearer victory with my writing. There was a chap on Facebook asking for writers to help with a project. Most of the time many other writers have already responded to such requests, but I asked for more details anyway. You can’t score of you don’t kick the ball. You might not, but you definitely won’t if you don’t try. I ended up having a conversation that got me a writing gig through UpWork.com!

I’ve tried a few times to create a profile for UpWork.com because it’s the go to site for finding freelancers. Every time I’ve been told that my profile has been rejected because there are too many other writers offering the same skills. The client sent me an invite to the site as on outside writer, and managed to bypass this so that I could accept the contract. Which is awesome.

However, it seems that my profile is still being rejected. I’m going to tweak it a little and try to make it stand out a little more. I’m curious to see if the link actually does anything. What do you see when you visit my UpWork profile? You can comment below or message me via Facebook to tell me what you see and offer suggestions. This conundrum has inspired the title of this article!

I’ve also created a Fiverr.com gig, but that hasn’t had any traction yet. I may need to tweak it some more. Fiverr works a little differently from UpWork. On UpWork.com you create a profile and search through available jobs. Clients then decide whether or not to grant you the contract based on your profile. On Fiverr, you tell people what you want to do as a gig and potential clients search through the available gigs to hire you. It requires the client to do the legwork.

I’d like to build a strong enough client base to make £800 per month. That would allow me to rent the flat I’m after (thankfully the landlady has granted me another month to generate a stable income before she gives it to someone else), and have enough for groceries, savings, reinvesting in marketing, and the occasional treat. Ideally I’d blow that goal out of the water and be able to help my sister find her own place and fatten my parent’s retirement fund, but we’ll start small and work up to that!

In addition to trying to get odd-jobs and writing gigs, I’m still looking for part-time work in the nearby cities. This would still give me time to pursue my entrepreneurial endeavours, and also get me halfway to my goal. If I don’t reach my goal by the deadline, it’s not the end of the world. My parents have assured me I can stay with them for as long as I have to. I will, of course, be offering them my odd-jobs services for free in exchange for their kindness, but I’d like to do more.

If you happen to know anyone that needs any writing done, please have them visit my Fiverr or UpWork (if it works) pages and give me a shot. The more I can do to build my portfolio, the easier it’ll get to find work. I also have a Paypal account if you’d rather pay me for work directly instead of going through the freelancer sites. I don’t want charity. I want to earn it.

If you don’t have any work for me, you can support me by buying my short stories and leaving reviews. ‘The Haunted Story‘ is going to become a series, and you can buy the short story that inspired it for just .99c (about 75p I think). I also have a story called ‘Murder Inc.’ published in an anthology called Ubiquicity, which is available as a paperback or ebook. Let me know if you want to get a signed copy.

I didn’t intend for this article to become a sales pitch, but it kinda did. I know some people will think less of me for wanting to get paid for helping people or writing my stories. Art shouldn’t be about making money, and helping people should be something you do just to be nice. I would be happy to do both those things if I manage to generate enough passive income to never need to work for money.

This is actually an avenue I’m looking into. Earlier today I was watching a video pitch for a business that suggested I could make thousands of US dollars every day for just 30 minutes work, but then you get to the end of the pitch and find out that the reason why the guy is making this much money is because he’s charging you to use his system. I suspect that you’re then supposed to sucker other chumps into the scheme in order to earn your commission through affiliate marketing.

Maybe I should have tried it. Maybe it would actually work. However, I’d still rather be writing and/or doing odd-jobs for a living than by luring people into the same scam I’ve got myself suckered into. The search for a way to monetise my blog without compromising my brand, or my integrity continues.

Have a great day 🙂

 

 

Odd-Job Antony!

 

I have put the idea I had while writing ‘The Hunt Continues‘ into effect! I am now an odd-job man!

My first gig starts on Tuesday (unless another client asks me to work in Monday)! They’ve asked me to clean their sunroof, dig up some bushes, bag up the mulch on their flower bed, straighten up a leaning clothes-line pole and paint the bathroom. I won’t be able to get it all done in one day, and that’s fine by me. I’m really looking forward to it.

One of the things that seems to be missing from modern employment is a feeling of having actually accomplished something. Some jobs may have certain metrics you’re expected to reach, and if you do you’re expected to keep going. The job isn’t ever ‘done’. You don’t get to sit back and admire your handiwork. When you get up tomorrow, there will be more of the same repetitive work to do.

As an odd-jobber, I’ll be able to see my progress, check each job off as it’s completed, and then do something else! It’ll will also feel better to be doing something physical. We all know the health benefits of exercise, but it always seems so boring and purposeless. This way I’ll be walking to the client’s home and doing physical activity of some kind with a clearly defined objective.

Accomplishing things feels good. Helping people feels good. I may not make a ton of money, but that’s not what this is about. It’s about being the best me I can be and feeling good about myself. I also like writing, but I have a feeling that I’ll feel more motivated, energised and happy if I’m also doing something physical, helpful and productive.

If I can make enough to get by with odd-jobs, and possibly a local part-time job (if I can find one I like) to keep a roof over my head and pay for groceries, then everything I make from writing can be reinvested into marketing my books, improving my website, and investing in myself to become an even better writer. By the time I’m too old to work odd-jobs anymore, it is my hope that the passive income from royalties I will fund my retirement.

What I actually want is to start my own publishing business, but I’ll start with my own place and full belly and see how it goes from there! One of the ways that I might be able to generate additional income is by posting ads on this website, or by participating in affiliate marketing (in which case I’d be actively promoting certain products an services in an attempt to earn commission). I’d rather not to that.

I’d also rather not crowdfund. I’ve tried it before, but my heart wasn’t in it. Partly because I feel like I need to offer something tangible to feel like I’ve earned the money. Doing odd-jobs to raise the money I need to get by feels right. I’ve tried offering writing services too, and I’m still willing to do that, but it’s a very hard market to break into, with a lot of competition.

I’ve also seen websites earn income by offering ‘products’. Usually these take the form of a slick video course, a pdf format e-book, or a package that combines the two. Something like that may be interesting, though I’m thinking my ‘products’, if I ever do such a thing would probably be campaigns for role-play games like D&D, Pathfinder, ShadowRun, or even the upcoming UbiquiCity roleplay system. Perhaps. We’ll see.

One step at a time. I’m just excited. One thing I may do is set up a separate website just for the odd-jobs business. That might include ads and product reviews (ie. affiliate marketing) that would fit the home, gardening, decorating and DIY theme. I’ve already set up a Facebook page for Odd-Job Antony. It would help to have a website associated with it.

I’m going to look into that idea a little, and also research what I should be charging. The clients I’ll be working for on Tuesday asked me what the ‘going rate’ was for odd-jobs, and I realised I have absolutely no idea, so I’m going to research that a little too. I had been thinking that people can pay me (or barter with me) for whatever they think the work is worth, and what they can afford. It would help to have a basic idea of what others charge though.

I’d best get on with it. Have a great day 🙂

 

The Hunt Continues

I may have to give up on my goal of moving into my own place next month. I’m continuing to apply for jobs in the area and not getting anywhere. I did have a job as a lead generator for a telemarketing call centre, but I found it difficult to lie to people and be surrounded by people who felt so comfortable with being dishonest.

It doesn’t help that I’ve also been fighting the cold from hell. It’s been over a week and I’m still snotty. I wouldn’t have been able to work even there if I wanted to. At least the coughing and sore throat have mostly gone and the dizzy spells only lasted a day or two.

I’d like to get a job lined up soon for several reasons. I made a promise to the landlady that I would be able to move in March 1st and pay the first month’s rent and deposit. I’d feel terrible if I had to break that promise. I’m currently living with my parents and I don’t want to have to impose upon their kindness for long. Partly because they’re wonderful people and I don’t want to take advantage, and also because I don’t want to get too comfortable and become a stereotypical jobless loser playing videogames all day.

It would be great to have my own space, in the middle of town. Able to fend for myself, invite people over when I wanted, and still be close enough to family to come by when I want. However, since no-one has offered me a steady income to write everyday, I’m going to need a day-job to do that, and I don’t want to go back to telemarketing.

I consider myself an expert in customer service. Most of my jobs since I started working have involved some level of customer service. I like to make people happy and to feel like I’ve genuinely helped them. I’ve also enjoyed training others on how to make customers happy. Presenting to a group, one-on-one coaching, and leading by example.

Perhaps I’m going about this all wrong. Instead of trying to find an employer, maybe I should be finding clients. People who would be interested in learning what I know about how to help people, or about how to self-publish, or participate in writing classes, and be willing to pay me for it.

At this point I’m willing to do odd jobs for people, like walking people’s dogs, painting and wallpapering, doing people’s dishes and ironing, unblocking sinks or fetching their groceries. This does have a certain appeal since I would like to be a part of the local community and make some new friends.

If I post on the Facebook noticeboard that I’m available to do odd jobs, I’ll have to word it very carefully to avoid panicking the landlady. Or just tell her that it’s unlikely I’ll be able to move in after all. Which is a shame because the flat is awesome and it would be a shame to lose the opportunity to live there.

I have less than two weeks to secure a job, or find some other way to earn at least £800, or I’m going to have to let it go, and sponge off my parents a while longer. If you have something that needs doing let me know what it is and how much you’d be willing to pay someone to do it, and if it seems like something I can do I’ll do it.

What I’d really love to do is to tell stories. This could be reading stories to people that can’t read for themselves anymore, or that are still learning to read. However, ideally It would be a story game, a narrative rpg, similar to The City of Gate.

For those that don’t know what that is yet, The City of Gate is a text-based (forum-style) roleplay game I’ve been running for the last seven years or so. Every Sunday I post the next part of the ongoing story and tell the players what happens next to their characters. The players then have a whole week to comment, in character, to act on the new situation. It’s a lot of fun.

The City of Gate is a fantasy story. It’s centred around a City that grew up on the doorstep of paradise. A huge fortified gate blocks the way to a land of plenty where everyone is happy and takes care of one another. Only one person is allowed through each day. People line up at the gate every day to barter, bribe and beg the guards to be allowed through. The City grew up around them, mostly populated by people who were turned away and had nowhere else to go, and merchants that saw an opportunity.

Brawl

The players pick all kinds of different characters. Elves and dwarves, vampires an were-creatures, bakers and farmers, mages and hunters. Anything you want to be, I will run with it and incorporate it into the story. There’s no rulebooks, no dice, and no graphics. It’s entirely story-led based on the imagination of the players and myself, and it’s awesome!

We could start a new story in the same setting, but at a different time. We could run a game that’s based around a different town in the world, such as Traveler’s Rest, Coal City, or Skelbania. It doesn’t have to be related though. I can create an entirely new fantasy, sci-fi or horror setting for the new game. I have two questions for you though. How much would you pay per month, or per week, to participate in a game like this? And what would you like to be?

If the story game doesn’t appeal to you, I can do lots of other things. I can write. I can do origami. I like to build flat-pack furniture and I know my way around a tool-box well enough to repair furniture and fix a leaky pipe. I get along great with dogs. I can keep children amused for hours with games, stories and crafts. I also enjoy gardening, cooking, and just listening to people talk.

If there’s enough demand for me to design a training course in how to write and self-publish, or how to be the ultimate customer service rep, or even how to blog, then I would be more than happy to do so.

What would you have me do?