My Small Business Grew Slowly - But I Did It! and So Can You
My name is Nidhi. I am pretty cool with the level I have raised my small business to. I am however constantly reminded of the initial struggle and frustrations.
Today, people, both young and not so young, meet me regularly for tips to start business on similar lines.
I do give them my sincere counsel. I started from scratch in the middle of 1990s. Two of my friends who did an advanced course in computers with me had set up a centre for teaching and preparing young kids.
I wish to share how they inspired me to set up my own business gaining from their experience all along.
1. I quickly realized that centres for prepare young kids (called ‘playgroups’ in India) were coming up in a big way. They depended on their own staff to prepare lists of items needed and make a visit periodically to the prime shopping centre. I could see they suffered avoidable costs on individual travel as also lack of that little extra commitment on which could hardly be expected from hired staff.
2. I started by explaining to the centre heads how I could help them professionally by (a) identifying play equipments they needed, (b) listing up other materials that would make their set up more impressive and (c) having computers installed to supplement infra-structure quite meaningfully.
3. How to keep costs down? I told them I would collate exhaustive lists of similar products needed by other playgroups and then negotiate on the price front with wholesalers from a much better position of strength.
4. While the response of some was reassuring, others were not so forthright. I noticed that employed centre heads, in particular, were not that open to my ideas.
5. On the whole I found I might not survive unless I created an extra margin in individual purchases. My knowledge of computers came in very handy. Internet had by now arrived. It was easier to contact the manufacturers directly, get their rates, negotiate for bulk orders and finalize deals all online. This allowed margins much higher than I had ever expected.
6. The number of playgroups who initially agreed to give me a try was quite low. For my day to day living, I depended on my friends’ support as I did for their insight into the new line of my work.
7. In moments of despair, they both comforted me to not lose patience. I guess they too must have gone through similar tribulations. At certain points, I did feel I could go no further and quit. One factor that also kept pushing me was the freedom I enjoyed compared to the shackles of employment!
8. My business grew slowly but it did. I took full advantage of network marketing by joining a professional course to learn tips. The hard work I had put in visiting most playgroups now got converted into an impressive data base. I was now in communication with most of my clients through emails saving greatly on travel costs.
9. I got into tie ups with some standard brands of suppliers and organized direct deliveries at individual centres. These included printed books, educational cassettes and audio/video CDs which I made it a point to personally listen/view before recommending.
I am well set now in my line of MLM though on a scale limited to what I can personally manage. I have started a consultancy to give tips, in particular, to smart housewives. I derive satisfaction when anyone comes back telling me how much this kind of work has enhanced their self esteem by being financially independent to an extent.