Some of you reading this blog are probably at stage where you want to work online or be your own boss but really don’t know where to start.
A little background
For me the decision to make the leap was simple, I was fed up with they way some large corporates are run and simply couldn’t take it anymore and I was prepared to do anything else. Up to that point I had worked for a variety of companies as a permanent employee, mostly in the robotics & automation sector. I must be honest, most of them were really good to me. I was motivated and earning well and had a can do attitude. I’m not going to mention names or companies but you can check out my linked in profile if you want to see my resume/cv.
My biggest mistake was leaving the robotics & automation sector mid 2007 for the promise of much more money. Don’t get me wrong, the money was great. The work was easy. But in this new corporate style environment you have to put up with a lot of red tape and aggressive management motivated in everything besides quality of life. I could not wait to leave, in fact, I was so desperate I left for another company which seemed great but it was almost as though the wool was pulled over my eyes during the interview. Working conditions were horrible, equipment was broken, I didn’t even have a proper functioning chair to sit on. And this was a large international corporate making buckets of money. Again the money was good perks were nice but I could not take it.
My lucky break came in when I received a call from a previous employer asking me to come back into the automation and robotics sector. I was hesitant at first but then they convinced me with the following line. ‘We know that you don’t want to work for us as an employee, so how about as a contractor. And you get to work from home‘.
That was the clincher. This was less than a week into my new job. I handed in my resignation and left. My shortest and last permanent position in my life.
I must admit that I was lucky. But that luck was as a result of all the hard work and due diligence I had put in at those past companies. I always gave it a 110%.
So what did I do next?
Well, the first thing I did that day was to register my company. Back when I was in college studying in South Africa, I ran a company as a spending money generator. I had called it Gadgitech. It is a spin on my surname Gadiagellan. Within a few minutes I had my company registered. It is quite quick and easy to register your company online in the UK. So they day I left that desk job, Gadgitech was born.
The next thing I did was get contracts in place with that previous employer who contacted me. You can find generic contracts online quite easily. With robotics and automation comes the possibility of an accident that can be potentially lethal. So the next thing I did was find some insurance. For my sector it is slightly more challenging to get insurance but I would assume that for most other sectors it is a no brainer. So after lot’s of Googling I found a insurance company to cover Gadgitech and I was on my way.
Moving on, I thought I would need better exposure and what better way than to create an online presence for Gadgitech. Being a high tech company, I needed it to have a website at the very least. So I registered the domain name Gadgitech.com and created a quick website which I must admit was a very poor attempt. (I’m an electronic/software engineer – wish I had more artistic talent). That website had evolved to what you see today. I had it professionally designed and developed using nothing but oDesk. I’ll create a walkthrough soon on how oDesk works and how to get things done easily, as well as why you should delegate.
Up to this point I’ve done a few things that I’d like to summarise
- Made the decision to quit and jump back into my niche – robotics and automation.
- Registered a company.
- Created an online presence. You can find a walkthrough here to take you through the process if you are looking to register a domain and create a website
- Established my first contract.
As I said previously, I was a little lucky in that I knew what I enjoyed doing, and an opportunity arose for me to get started in that specific niche. Let me add that there was no promise of a guaranteed income or even a long term contract. I had to take these steps for when I needed to look for other opportunities. This site would be an advertising platform for my services. I believe that the steps are very similar for both contractors or companies.
In the rest of this article, I will try and help you out with the first part. Your niche and why it is important.
What’s your Niche
What is a ‘Niche‘ you may ask. Simply put, it is an area of expertise or a segment in the market.
The first thing you need to do is to identify what it is that you would like to do. What I would recommend is that it is something that you find rewarding or are currently good at. It avoids the steep learning curve required to take on something new. Don’t mistake me though, I do encourage you to take on something new and exciting but it will depend a lot on your individual situation and available resources. For example if you currently don’t have a job and no savings to support you, then you may have a stronger urgency to get something going. You need to find work now. If you were someone that already had a desk job or some other income stream and wanted to supplement it, then taking on something new is generally not a problem as you have more time to spend in that learning curve. In all things, whatever you decide to do, ensure that you want to and like to do it. The worst thing is being stuck in something that you begrudgingly do every day.
Forbes has a nice article on finding your niche. It sums up quite well what I’ve mentioned above. The jest of that article is
- Do something you love
- If you can afford a risk, the get out of your comfort zone
- Don’t over analyse. As human beings we tend not to take risks and analysing your niche will reveal all the negatives involved which will cause most of us to shy away from the prospect.
- You have to work hard at it
- There is no such thing as a perfect time to start.
- Don’t shy away from something that scares you a little (or a lot)
- Get out there and get started
Now that article is tailored at businesses. But I think it is relevant to anyone working online. If you thing about it, almost everyone working online as a contractor is indeed a business. So the same applies to you.
Looking for something new?
If you are one of those that have the resources in place to tackle something new then great. This is how entrepreneurs are made. No entrepreneur that I know of has ever had a very cosy start in business. In fact most fail at their first attempt. The difference is that an entrepreneur does not look at that as a failure but rather as a stepping stone. For me failure was at the forefront of my mind and prevented me from starting a lot of potentially viable online entities. That was true until I realised that I needed to ‘fail’. Every failure comes with lessons learned and I wasn’t going to learn those lessons if I didn’t fail.
Whether it is starting a blog or selling a product or service the best place to start is to research online trends. Historically, this was very difficult to figure out, but as the internet took off and people started using it as a primary point to ‘find stuff’ it soon became a rich resource for identifying what people were looking for. For example, Google has a program called Adwords. All the tools within Adwords are free to use. It is an advertising platform that allows you to advertise your services, products, or website. But what many people don’t realise is that within this facility is an amazing keywords research tool. With this tool you can analyse the search trends of in your target market. You simple type in one or more search phrases or keywords and Google will present statistics that they have accumulated over their many years of being a search engine. I think that for any online contractor or company, this is an invaluable tool. I use it all the time.
There are plenty of companies out there that are selling products that provide you with similar statistics. Some of them are good and some are pretty useless. But why pay for something if you can get it for free from one of the largest search engines in existence. You will see that I follow this trend of pay-for-what-is-neccessary-and-get-the-rest-for-free throughout this blog. While it is great to purchase high end products and services, as someone starting up with minimal capital, I don’t think you should be paying for much.
If there is one thing that I would like you to take away from this post, it would be:
Don’t ever pay someone to assist you in finding your niche! Ever!
Once you have identified what you want to do, you then need to know how to go about it. I will cover more on this in up coming posts. More importantly how to create an online presence and why it is important. The pro’s and cons of free websites vs paid for hosting. In the mean while, I’ve got a Walkthrough describing how to create a Bluehost WordPress website in a few minutes with minimal investment. You can find that here.
Welcome and thanks for being one of the early readers of this site.
Good luck with your online journey.
If you subscribe below I will send you a free copy of my simple Getting Started eBook which contains more than 200 sites that facilitate work and about 500 affiliate offering sites that you can promote as a potential money generating mechanism. I would say that the affiliate portion is targeted more at someone with an online presence but have a glance anyways even if you don’t have a high traffic site.