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Subject:Re: Take the job or run the business from home? From:WandaJane Phillips <wjp -at- WRITELIVELIHOOD -dot- COM> Date:Tue, 1 Sep 1998 15:11:32 -0400
At 20:07 31/08/98 -0700, Doug Noyes wrote:
>I am setting up a technical writing business in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
Have we met?
>Although I would like to see this business thrive from here, I am
wondering if I can make it go from a small city.
>There seem to be numerous opportunities at nearby cities (Montreal,
Ottawa, Toronto, etc.) for full time and contract work.
It's true that most of the work is remote, from Kingston. I, too, live in
Kingston and run a contact business.
When I was starting up, I ran into these problems from potential clients:
* could I work on site as needed? they didn't seem to feel confident that I
would hop into my car and drive for 2-3 hours to meet with them.
* they didn't know me, I wasn't part of the local scene.
* did I have the right equipment to do the job off site?
I spent most of my start up money in the first month and a half driving to
and from meetings in Ottawa, printing brochures, cards, and setting up a
I spent hours on the internet searching for leads, contacting people, and
not getting very far at a turtle's pace. Eventually, a fellow I knew gave
me a lead and his name got me in the door and with that contract nailed
down, I began to get more. My name is spreading.
One thing I did, to help convince people that I did have an Ottawa
presence, was to rent a space in Ottawa. Expensive, but the effect has been
that people feel more confident that I'll be available. If you have friends
in the other cities, use their addresses as a touch-stone, to show that you
are committed to being available to clients in your target cities. I've not
even considered Toronto, but I am starting to investigate and explore
Montreal. My meat and potatoes, as it were, come from Ottawa.
I have invested a lot of money in equipment for my home office, which
includes a laptop that mirrors my desktop machine.
I spend a lot of time driving back and forth. I worked out that on a week
that I have 37 hours of billable time, I spend nearly another 20 driving,
meeting potential clients, corresponding, and other business-type
activities. So, my glorious dream of my own business is expensive, but as
the contacts develop, the time spent raising business may decrease.
Another problem that I encountered early on involved pricing my services.
The benefits of living in Kingston, as opposed to any of the larger cities
near by, were quickly eaten into by the cost of the commute. I don't charge
for the commute time, but try to absorb the cost. I try to keep my rate
competitve and my work clean. I put extra effort into being on time,
although I'm not always successful. I try to be starting up my next/new
project before I finish my last. And I try to make use of those trips to
Ottawa, calling on potential clients on my way in or out of town.
I'm sure there is more. But, I'm running behind here, gotta go.