On the face of it, the unemployment rates in some English-speaking countries don’t seem all that dire — 8.2 percent in the US, 7.2 percent in Canada and 8.1 percent in the UK. Of course, how the unemployment rate is determined varies by region, and the unemployment rate itself varies depending on where people live in a country. In Canada, for example, the unemployment rate in Newfoundland and Labrador is currently 12.3%, while that in oil-rich Alberta is only 4.9%. Regardless of the actual rate, life can be very stressful for those who are unemployed and struggling to find work.
Income matters. Even living a minimalist lifestyle.
Question: What can a person do when they are not working?
Answer: Solve a problem.
I have a German friend who immigrated to Canada a few years ago. She is a trained technician in her home country, but her credentials are not transferable without some upgrading in Canada. She signed up for several English courses to prepare for the upcoming academic challenges.
But money is tight. She needs to earn some income, not much but enough to keep food on the table and buy some necessities. Studying on an empty stomach is difficult.
She applied for a few jobs, but no one was hiring. And those who are eligible to choose from a large number of candidates, which makes it difficult for foreigners with German accents and marginal English language ability.
So she decided to start her own business.
However, she faces many obstacles — no car, no money, no credit, no marketing materials, no plans. With no transferable educational credentials, she knew intuitively that she needed to find a business that would add value and have a low barrier to entry. So she assessed her skill set. One of the things she is best at, which many people have praised, is her housework. She is really good at cleaning the house. She knows from experience that many people who use cleaning services are disappointed by their provider’s work. This is a real problem and maybe she has a chance, even without a car and no money to buy cleaning supplies.
She decided to start a residential cleaning business not because she was passionate about it, but because she was good at it and needed some positive cash flow. She prices her services below market rates, assuming she uses the clients’ own cleaning materials and vacuums. The only thing she provided was a cleaning cloth.
She contacted an insurance company about the cost of the bond. She then created a flyer full of friend testimonials and free quotes on her friend’s home computer, printed it on a dot-matrix printer, and printed hundreds of copies at the local library. She then drops flyers in the mailboxes of families within walking distance of where she lives. When she got her first client, she paid the bonded fee. Directly from those 200 flyers, she gained 5 regular clients. Within two months, through word of mouth alone, she had 14 clients, enough to run her own business, enough money to enjoy the basics of a happy life, and time for her studies and family life. Although she received more referrals over the next few months, she declined gracefully.
Some might say that all she did to start her own cleaning business was get herself a job. But I think she stumbled upon the minimalist business – no overhead, works when she wants, has negligible waste, high value to customers, and an ongoing, zero-cost, referral-based Marketing Plan.
In the absence of a plan, she creates scarcity for her services, which increases her perceived value. For someone who just wanted to make a few extra bucks, she’s done a great job of turning her skills into an income generating business.
Leave a Comment