I've been reading blogs written by small business owners for many years. Like this one and this one and lately this one. I've never really been interested in owning any kind of business. I was in sales once and I hated it. I hate asking people for money. I prefer the (somewhat) stability of a regular paycheck.
But I've been listening to the Dave Ramsey Show online a lot the last several months, and I even read his book EntreLeadership, which is about starting and running a business. Frequently on his show, he is talking to people who have lost jobs or aren't bringing in enough money. Frequently he can just generate ideas to make money off the top of his head. I even heard him do it for an 11 year old kid. One of his constant themes is, you need to have the right income. You need to learn how to WIN in the MARKETPLACE.
I don't think I have ever "won in the marketplace." I'm way ahead of most librarians because I actually know there is a marketplace, and that you've got to reach it. But the whole winning thing... seems intimidating.
Still I have been thinking a lot lately about what I can do to make money. My usual go-to ideas involve getting a second job, but my spine problems keep me from waiting tables or working at Target. I've looked for and applied for other types of jobs, with no luck. I didn't do very well at my one attempt at a community yard sale.
But now I have an idea. I thought about what I know how to do. What I'm good at. What I like doing. What I spend my time doing. And I wonder... would anyone pay me to do that?
I'm thinking... yes.
Right now I have no idea what to charge for my services. No one else offers what I want to offer. There are some businesses nationwide that do similar. However, I will be local. I will make house calls. Instead of dealing with some company and reading some website... you'll be dealing with ME. And learning from ME. And getting results from ME.
I have absolute confidence that I can offer better service and better quality than the national services. I can see already that I have features and benefits they don't. Like a Masters degree in this area and 13 years of work experience. I read some of these websites and I plain disagree with some of what they are saying. In fact, I plain ole think some of these people are lying, if not just misleading their potential customers. Unless they don't know that what they say is false, in which case,do you really want to hand over your precious family memories to them? I wouldn't. I'm kind of indignant about it.
But geez I have no idea what to charge. Because no one is doing what I am thinking.
I am also working on an idea for a name, and I am thinking up some branding ideas. Maybe thinking up a name doesn't seem too important, but it is to me. The name conveys the feeling of the thing. The colors. The logo. The design. It has to address my potential market. it has to connect to who I am as a person, because I'm the one you're going to get.
this idea and design. I love the idea of making a series of short statements about what I do. In grad school we were taught how to develop and deliver a 30-second 'elevator speech" as a part of library advocacy and leadership. This is a similar idea. A short series of statements as to what I offer. What the idea is. What I envision.
I scan things. I preserve digital memories. I help you share your memories. I love photos and mementos. Old photos are MY favorite.
I don't think the rainbow effect is quite what I want to go for, and of course, the difference is that my statements are about me, not about others. Her statements were drawing connections between herself and her customer. We love the same things. We believe the same things. Awesome. I love that. You could easily take her "I" statements and put them up on your own inspiration board and have the statement refer to yourself. What a great way to get people to save your card, and connect to you personally.
But what I want to offer is not a way for people to do what I do because we love the same things. It's more a way for me to get people past the hurdle of I want to do that.... but first I have to do this... and this is too confusing... so I just don't do it... which means that never gets done either.
this idea, where she has just one defining statement about what she does, very reduced, and it is repeated over photos of her projects. She makes stuff. Here is what she makes. I love the idea of showing proof of your statements on the cards. However I do not want to show a picture of a scanner because that is not very exciting to most people. But I can see a split shot with a before and after side by side. I am also thinking of a photobar with a selection of my own old photos from the 1950s, 1970s, 1990s that I have scanned and fixed.
So right now I am just doing research. I am looking around on Craigslist and Google, seeing who else is in the market, what they offer, how they explain their services, and how much they charge. I do have enough of a marketing background to be able to look at their copy, their feature and benefits, their mission statements, and see how it works.
I talked to my best friend about it. She had some great ideas. She even had a cool idea for a business name, which was a play on my own last name. But when I Googled I found other businesses had that name, Not that I can't adapt it, but the name was used for things like christening gowns, baby photos, and funeral markers. This is not exactly the realm where I want to position myself. I'm a little more cutting edge than that. But I also want to be accessible.
Nothing's really coming to me, but I feel sure that if I could just get myself that hook, then I could leapfrog from there. I know this because this is how my creativity functions.
If I can get a concept going, and figure out pricing, then I can put together a website, a flyer, some cards, and then contact local public libraries and set up local digital preservation workshops for people, and all the people who come will then be potential future customers.
But first... I need a name. A cool name. A good name. THE RIGHT name.
Usually I cite where I got my photos from. But this blog post on small business was so sarcastic, negative, and mean spirited that I just don't want to send anybody there. I'm sure if you Google the image you can find the blog post.
Photo 2: Rainbow business cards. From: "The new business cards." Elise Blaha Cripe Weblog. LINK.
Photo 3: I Make Stuff business cards. From: "New blog business cards." Elise Blaha Cripe Weblog. LINK.