What does it really mean to be street smart? Being Street Smart really comes from Experience. It means you’ve learned how to take what has happened to you, good or bad, think about it, and learn to improve from it. The purpose of this post is to help you, who has taken the bull by the horn to create your own opportunities. As much as I would love to say its an easy ride,I would be plain honest, it can be pretty difficult when you are just starting out on your own as you may not have the luxury your mates in paid employment might have. Let’s not deceive ourselves not been sure where the next income is going to come from can be nerve wracking, however with patience, consistency and doggedness the rewards are beautiful at the end of the day.
You probably realize that as a young graduate in Nigeria today, you need to create opportunities for yourself instead of wallowing in self pity. I know not everyone is cut out for Self-employment and that’s fine really but if you are like me who is not willing to sit idle staring at the ceiling and waiting for a messiah to come and give you a job then this post is for you!
I deliberately use the word Self-Employment because the word Entrepreneur is used very loosely;most people we call entrepreneurs are either self employed or startup owners. For the purpose of this post, let’s stay with Self Employment. As a Self employed graduate, you need to generate business and actually bring in revenue into your business. Though you are a one man shop, it is important you set your priorities straight from day one; you are in business to make money if not go and set up a charity.
Please try and come to terms with the fact that you are in business and cash flow is extremely important for a self employed person. This means you need to create sales and generate cash flow.
Now this is the part where it might actually seem difficult; you are new, fresh and without much experience and nobody really knows you business wise so you go the route most people take;
1. Offer your products or services for free,
2. Sell your products at a ridiculously cheap price if you are into a product based business or Bill clients cheaply for services rendered.
Now this route though it looks noble, would lead you to a land of ALWAYS BROKE and you would attract nasty customers or clients who don’t respect you. Don’t blame them you gave them the impression they are doing you a favour by patronizing you.
How do you generate cash flow?
1. ALWAYS BILL CLIENTS FOR SERVICE RENDERED; NEVER OFFER YOUR SERVICE FOR FREE:
There are those people who would want to pick your brain or ask for advice that if they go elsewhere they definitely would pay for such advice, bill them for whatever service they want you to render. This might sound harsh as I know you have a kind heart, however you need to protect yourself. It’s called the morality of self interest.
Bear in mind that your skill can’t be gotten just anyhow else they won’t come to you in the first place. It costs time, sweat, sleepless night and yes money to acquire that skill. Or did you not pay tuition fee in the university? Okay lets even talk about the process of getting the job done,whatever your product or service might be,its going to cost you time,energy and years of practice to produce an excellent product. So my friend the freemium model doesn’t work here.
You might offer a discount or come up with a payment plan but never grant freebies when it comes to providing your professional service. Even when giving discounts,ensure you tell them the actual value of your service,so they appreciate your magnanimous gesture.
2. WHEN SKILL IS NOT IN DOUBT BILL APPROPRIATELY:
Most self employed people are afraid to bill appropriately for service rendered. Those that manage to bill,charge their clients meager amounts. You might justify this somewhere in your mind by thinking ‘If I bill to high I won’t have customers’
This reasoning is flawed because the average person believes that ‘cheap’ is synonymous with low quality and High quality is synonymous with being expensive. I am not saying go over your head and bill people ridiculously. No all I am saying is be aware of the going rates for services and bill within that range but never go very low with the reasoning that you will get customers. Yes you will definitely get clients/customers but they will be low quality clients/customers and trust me such people have plenty wahala you would wish you never got involved with them in the first instance.
Most times, this issue of billing is always about self confidence! There are people who may not be half as skilled as you are,but are very confident in themselves who earn more than you do. Its not about lack of skill but the lack of self confidence.
For example, last year a company contacted our training company to handle a training program for their staff. They initially offered to pay N50,000 per session as it was a two day training program. We negotiated and told them our base fee for each session was N200,000. Guess what they agreed! In two days we earned N400,000 for talking to people.
Assuming we lacked self confidence,we could have settled for N50,000 and it wouldn’t have been a bad deal too. The same service you collect N5000 for someone else is collecting N50,000,000 for! The very same thing.
Its the real world the other party is negotiating too so get comfortable with billing. People really don’t have the time to babysit anyone so shine your eyes and enjoy the game.
How much do you think you are worth? That’s the value people should pay for.