Redundancy in 2001 spurred me on to start a business for several reasons:
Going from cleaning clothes and ironing to online marketing and Google Ads (AdWords) was both gradual (to start with) and accidental.
I was doing manual jobs part of the time and I also wanted to offer my experience as an IT and Telecom manager to small and medium local businesses in our area in a freelance or consulting basis. This would likely earn more. I really had no clue how to best go about it though, so I ended up doing a few of the traditional things like newspaper ads and email marketing. Ads were a total failure. I bought a small email list from a marketing company and was very selective about the kind of businesses I was going to email.
I expected some addresses were out of date and about a third were. From what I had read at that point about marketing it seemed like you could expect a 1% “conversion rate” of email to get a lead. I had about a thousand names so I was hopeful to get about 10 leads from it. I only ended up getting one! (0.1% conversion rate, pretty bad). However, they interviewed me and I got a regular day a week work then for a couple of years looking after their IT network and telecoms.
I then realised that it was crucial to have a website and show up on Google when people look. I built a website from scratch but had no clue how to get it showing up in search results. Then by accident, I discovered Google AdWords, tried it, and saw my ads almost instantly. It was revolutionary! I played with it a bit to start with then got more seriously interested it as I saw how powerful it was. It was also a fascinating environment and very technical, right up my street. As I got better at it I realised I had accidentally learned a valuable skill that others would both need and find hard, as I had to start with. Being from a technical support background I decided to try offering this service to other businesses literally around the world since I could do it from my home office.
The milestone moment when I knew that being my own boss was the right career move came as I landed my first paying client.
I was advertising my own service using Google AdWords and there were clearly people looking for it wherever I advertised. I realised it was only going to get more important for businesses to show up in search results on Google, and here was both the key and a secret weapon. I also knew how hard it was, even for a very technical person like me, so most everyone else was going to struggle with it (they still do). My first client was a lady in Real Estate in Houston Texas. She asked me how much I charged and I had to think of a number ($100 a month). Then I had to figure out how to take the money off her (my first Paypal account in 2005). From there I knew it was just a matter of time to get more clients and make more money from this service.
The advice I would give to others who have just been made redundant and are weighing up their options is to realise that there has never been a better time to get into your own business because of free and cheap ways to get your message heard in the world by people who will be receptive for the skills and experience you could offer.
There are many freelancer websites where you can offer your time and perform a valuable service and get paid, for clients all over the world. Even if you’re only a little bit better than they are, they will pay you money to save their time and get work done. You can get paid to learn and improve on what you can do. Do something you know and like, find easy and has value to others. Try and find a way to make it a recurring service so you don’t have to hustle for every single new customer all the time. Go to the library, trade shows, conferences, exhibitions and get to know people and be known by others. Offer value for what you do and prove it. If you can help people in their business make more money from what you provide, you’ll have a job for life. Get paid once to prove it works, then do more, better, and faster as you learn. Realise you don’t have to go to an office any more to create a paycheck for yourself.
David Rothwell is the Google Ads Money Expert and author of ëThe AdWords Bible for eCommerceí and co-author of the Amazon #1 best-seller ëSales Genius#1í. He has 13 years digital sales experience with Google Ads, Google Merchant Center and Google Shopping. David helps sell more products and services and make more money for selected professional services, digital sales companies and ecommerce merchants. His worldwide clients make money on a commission-only share of the profits created basis, not the typical agency model of a percentage of ad spend. This game-changing profit-center strategy means everyone makes more money, from customers, suppliers, payment processors to shipping companies.@DavidRothwell