In Business

Officially, I am now self-employed.

Unofficially, there’s nothing much to show for it just yet. That’s the tricky thing. Though I’m spending money on business items such as a phone contract, tools, equipment, stationery and marketing, there is no money coming in yet, and I don’t expect there to be for a little while yet.

As the phrase goes, you gotta speculate to accumulate. And I sure am speculating. I really have no idea how this is going to go. It could be a massive failure. It could be a big success. More likely it will be somewhere inbetween, but that isn’t a particularly brilliant bit of foresight – it’s just an educated guess. 

The realisation of the size of the gamble grew on me a couple of days ago when I drew up my first cash flow sheet. The income column had one potential source: sales. The expenditure column was a huge list of potential and actual things I will be spending my money on. And it is my own money. Though there’s not exactly a huge amount of cost involved, it is my risk to take. No grants, no loans, no money from grandparents… it’s all me. 

The key now is getting the message out. Within a few weeks I need to be able to say that there is potential here, though I’m not going to give up too easily. To me, almost every house has a computer now. And every computer is under constant pressure from viruses and spyware and endless Windows Updates. To me, that is a lot of possible customers. Yes, I know a lot of people know how to fix their computers, but I’d say the majority don’t. In fact, if the problem is hardware related, I’d say the vast majority don’t. 

So then the question boils down to whether there’s enough competition. I would say that there isn’t. But only time is going to prove that one either way. We’ll see.

I’m wondering, with more than a little nervousness, when my first call is going to come and what the problem is going to be. I’m also left thinking where they are living too, as transport could be a bit of an issue for me if I don’t work this out correctly. Hopefully they are just around the corner – that would make it even easier. Once the first job is over with, I’ll start to feel more confident about where this is all heading.

In the meantime, once again I’m having to play the waiting game. My life seems to be filled with it at the moment. Everything is a huge case of “wait and see”. Even Prison Break, of which I’ve now got just one episode left of Season 2, is making me wait, putting me on a wonderful cliffhanger.

In my student days I would have watched the final episode right now. But I can’t. For the past week now we’ve had work going on in the house, finally to give us a renovated bathroom and a real shower. I can’t wait. But for now, there is lots of knocking and banging and general disruption to put up with. And all of that makes the dog even worse than ever. Not good at all.

Back to the clock watching…

One Step Forward

In the past week or so I have been fortunate enough to have been kept occupied with at least some work. It’s not work I love getting up for in the morning, but it is still nice to have something to do.

And yet, it’s work that I have always been able to do, that I have done since I could do it, and at one point thought that it was going to be the right choice for me as a career.

Computers. Love ’em or hate ’em, they have a terrible habit of breaking. And even more so now than ever, thanks to the internet, insecure operating systems and web browsers, and generally more and more clueless people using them.

The thing is, now that computers are so easy to use, it means that people with less computing knowledge and getting stuck into the wild, virus laden world of the internet. Generally, people click on links with reckless abandon. And it is the links saying “Your computer is infected! Click here to install Honest Dave’s Spyware Annihilator!”

Naturally, these programs are all fakes and just excuses to put tonnes of tracking software on your computer that serve up ads, hijack search engines and generally fill the computer with nastiness. But people install them anyway. How are they to know that they are rubbish? In fairness, some of these things are very hard to spot, whether you’re a seasoned computer pro or a complete novice. They use pretty vicious tactics to fool you into downloading their malware.

It is because of these that I’ve had something to do lately. Two separate instances, each of which netting me some cash, which have required serious intervention by me to rescue their computers. They have been extremely frustrating, because generally with computers every time you think you’re making progress you suddenly reach the next brick wall which then leads to a further complication, and so on. One step forward, two steps back.

And that is generally the way I feel about computers. For all my life people have always said to me that I should run my own computer fixing business. Even when I was 12, family members used to say to me when I’d go with my dad to fix their computer that the both of us should have our own business. I had grown up thinking that this was a great idea and that I should do ICT for a GCSE, an A-Level and then a degree.

Somewhere along the way that plan went AWOL. I think I decided that I spend so much time on computers already that I didn’t want to do it as a career as well. But this was before computers became essential for virtually every job in existence, making my previous argument redundant. Now there is no escape, I might as well have studied the very thing that I’m very good at, mildly enjoy and could have made me a decent career, whether that’s working for myself or working for any organisation that needs IT support.

So while I work away running spyware scan after virus check, my mind can’t help but wonder if there has been a seriously missed opportunity in my life. Did I pursue the thing I enjoyed but with no obvious career path over the thing that had serious and obvious uses in the modern world?

At this point, as things go from bad to worse in my life, I would say the only answer to that question is yes.